Whenever I'm talking to single women and the topic of sex comes up, if there's a common question that I get, pretty often, it's "How do I know that it isn't just sex when it comes to him?" Listen, not to sound like y'all's grandma or anything yet I certainly get why a lot of the elders are like, "That's why you might wanna wait until there's a solid commitment in place."
Because, although I'm going to touch on a few points that can definitely give you more peace of mind, there is something to be said for waiting for a long-term commitment or—gasp—even marriage because those kinds of relationships tend to come with intentional promises and/or vows. Y'all, some things may seem traditional or antiquated. Still, that doesn't mean they're all bad. Real talk.
Now that I've made grandmas, aunties and church mothers proud with that lil' PSA, let's get into how you can avoid being able to relate to articles on this site like, "Don't Mistake A Great Sex Partner For A Great Life Partner". If you're seeing a guy and either you're already having sex or you're considering doing so, here are six ways to know if there's more there than just the physical.
1. There’s a Solid Connection Outside of the Bedroom
There are people who've gotten together off of a one-night stand. There are people who've divorced, even though they were virgins on their wedding night. So, I'm not gonna sit here and say that everyone who has sex quickly is headed for disaster and everyone who waits will experience marital bliss for the rest of their lives. What I will say is the more open you are to taking your time, the more you can establish a real connection with another individual.
And just what does a true connection look like? You've had some serious conversations. A level of mutual trust has been established. You care about each other on a mental and emotional level. You've had a few disagreements or areas of conflict and have been able to resolve them. You make time for one another besides just when you want to have sex.
I'll be the first one to admit that lust can be one hell of a drug. It can cause you to become a little delusional, if you let it, because when you're really into someone physically and/or the sex is off the charts, it can cause you to think that something more is there when that actually might not be the case. Making the time to establish a connection that has nothing to do with copulation can help you to feel like "he" is spending time with you, not just because he wants to get the goods. Time can make you feel more confident that he actually values you and enjoys you as a human being. That you're not just some glorified sex doll.
2. It’s Not the Only Thing the Two of You Have in Common
Something that I find really sexy in a man is wit. To me, it's the perfect blend of intellect, humor and great timing. So, if you're already attractive in my eyes and you're witty, I'm already super intrigued. Anyway, when I think back on all of my sex partners (check out "14 Lessons I've Learned From 14 Sex Partners"), something that most of them had in common is they were super witty. They found me to be that way too, so the back-and-forth light sparring was basically a form of verbal foreplay. Oh, but when you peeled that back and took the sex away, when it comes to a handful of those men, we really didn't have that much in common. Matter of fact, when it came to a couple of guys, we actually got on each other's nerves.
Wanna know why some people get married and then basically end up hating each other's guts? A part of the reason is because, while there may have been really strong sexual chemistry—so strong that they thought there was more to their relationship than there actually was—they didn't have much in common past that. Ask any married person and they will probably tell you that great sex with your partner is amazingly indescribable; still, if you don't have some other things that you both enjoy, that you both are interested in, that you both value, you still could be headed for relational disaster. So, what things do you and he share a common ground on? The answer to that question can reveal…A LOT.
3. Sex Is the “Icing”. Not the “Cake”.
I know some dating couples who, whenever they have a disagreement, they "fix things" by having sex. Although I get it—and back in the day, oftentimes even did it—that isn't a smart move. For one thing, running to sex all of the time is usually a sign of fear. You don't really know how to effectively communicate or connect any other way, so that becomes your go-to. Because that is the case, sex is no longer simply a pleasurable act; it's a crutch. Another challenge that comes from taking this approach is it can have you out here thinking that you're in something healthy and beneficial when all you're really doing is having great sex with someone. And real talk, y'all—you can do that with hundreds, if not thousands of people on this planet. Yeah, never EVER assume that mind-blowing sex means you're in a great relationship. Some folks can experience passion with someone they don't even like or respect very much. I can speak from personal experience on this.
That's why it's so important to look at sex as the icing in a relationship, not the cake. Icing makes cake sweeter. Icing makes cake more fun. Icing can be an unexpected surprise or welcome addition. At the same time, if there was no icing, the cake should still be bomb. When it comes to your relationship, can you honestly say all of this about the current state of your dynamic?
4. You’re Both Careful with Each Other’s Feelings
Something that I like about the R&B artist Joe is he writes songs in such a way that certain lyrics can really hit home. Take his throwback jam "If I Was Your Man", for example. One of my favorite lines in it is when he sang, "Got rid of everything that I knew was hurting you". Come on, Joe. Preach it. When two people are in something that is merely sexual, they don't really care all that much about anything other than what happens in between the foreplay and the climax. However, when two individuals are engaged in something that is more than just sex, they definitely care about not hurting each other's feelings and doing what they can to make the relationship better.
That said, I'm not saying that if a man cares then he will comply with all of your expectations or that he will want the same kind of relationship that you do (one day, we'll have to talk about the problem with sexual manipulation; even if it's self-sexual manipulation). What I am saying is your feelings, your concerns and even your needs will not be something that he shies away from. He will see value in you beyond sex. His words and actions will prove it.
5. You Feel Like Your Partner Is Having Sex WITH Rather than AT You
It was close to this time last year when I wrote the article, "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?". The gist of it is when someone is good for you, they are going to benefit you in a holistic way. Well, along these same lines, when a man is having sex with you, by the definition of the word "with", he is not only interacting; he is making a true connection. On the other hand, when a guy is having sex at you? Hmm. I think I've shared before that there's one past sex partner I had who liked to have sex in front of mirrors. Mind you, it wasn't so that he could watch both of us in the act, he liked to look at himself. Like sometimes I would catch him posing. WTF and LOL all at the same time. What he taught me was that some people can be good in bed and it still has absolutely nothing to do with their partner. Their performance is an ego boost for them, more than anything else.
So yeah, another way to know if sex is more than just sex is if your partner is fully present with you. You don't feel like it's "performance sex". Instead, it feels like he relishes being in your presence and sex is just a part of the reason why. Between the two of you, there's intimacy. You feel comfortable. You feel seen. You feel safe.
6. Things Can End Well
You know what they say—all good things must come to an end. And while this isn't automatically or necessarily a guarantee when it comes to you and your current sex partner, what I will say is that if there's a mutual respect for one another, should you both decide that it's time to transition out, hopefully neither of you will feel used, slighted, embarrassed, neglected or even hurt. You might miss each other (or the sex); still, there won't be battle wounds from the situation because even though sex was a big part of the dynamic, it was never just about that. Shoot, you might even be able to remain friends—or at least cool—after it's all said and done.
And even, for whatever the reason, that ends up not being the case, at least you won't have to look back and feel totally mortified because you shared something so private, so real, so special with a person who didn't embrace the experience with the dignity that you deserved. You can see things for what they were—a season of sex that, on some level you enjoyed and quite possibly learned and grew from. No regrets. Because the sex…wasn't just…sex.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Over 6 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer's, and it is anticipated that by 2050, this number will almost double. With staggering rates of this disease impacting senior citizens and the families caring for them, the need to boost awareness around this neurological condition is greater now, more than ever.
November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, which presents an opportunity to educate the public about Alzheimer's disease and increase understanding of its causes, symptoms, and impact on individuals and families with loved ones who have or could develop the condition in the future.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to the CDC, Alzheimer's disease, the most prevalent form of dementia, is a progressive condition starting with mild memory loss and potentially advancing to an inability to engage in conversation and respond to the surroundings.
The disease impacts areas of the brain responsible for thought, memory, and language, significantly hindering a person's capacity to perform daily activities.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
The warning signs of Alzheimer's disease can differ among individuals and typically emerge gradually. While Alzheimer's is not a normal aspect of aging, age is the best-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Memory problems commonly represent one of the initial indicators of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, especially if they worsen over time.
In addition to this, Healthline notes that symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may show up as one or more of the following:
- Alterations in mood, personality, or behavior.
- Disruption of daily life due to memory loss, like becoming disoriented in familiar surroundings or repeating questions.
- Difficulty in accomplishing routine tasks at home, work, or during leisure activities.
- Diminished or impaired judgment.
- Misplacement of items with an inability to retrace steps to locate them.
Who Does Alzheimer's Affect?
The prevalence of Alzheimer's in the United States is rapidly increasing, with an estimated 6.7 million among those aged 65 and older in 2023. Approximately 73% of individuals with Alzheimer's are aged 75 or older, and the overall rate for those aged 65 and older is 1 in 9 (10.7%), according to the Alzheimer's Association.
One out of every three seniors passes away with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, surpassing the combined mortality of breast cancer and prostate cancer. Elderly Black Americans have approximately twice the likelihood of experiencing Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia compared to elderly white individuals.
Prevention and Support of Alzheimer's Disease
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease remains unclear, and scientists believe it is likely influenced by multiple factors such as age and family history, but genetics do not determine one's fate or outcome.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's, and caring for a loved one with the disease can take a financial, mental, and emotional strain on the family as the disease progresses. Caregivers face daily challenges, adjusting to changing abilities and behaviors, and as the disease advances, more intensive care is often required.
As more research and awareness spreads around Alzheimer's, taking the proper measures to improve and manage brain cognition is essential. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption, and not smoking, may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Raising awareness helps reduce the stigma associated with Alzheimer's and related dementias and can foster a more supportive and compassionate community for individuals affected by the disease.
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