Last week, I had a conversation with a young woman who shared with me how much she pretty much loathes this time of the year; although she did admit that it wasn't always that way. It's been the past three years when she has pretty much given Thanksgiving through Valentine's Day a symbolic middle finger.
"I just hate not having someone around the holidays," she said with a long Waiting to Exhale-like sigh.
At the risk of sounding like a corny PBS segment, can you guess what my response was? "Girl, you do have somebody—yourself. Problem is, single folks aren't encouraged to see all of the good that can come out of making the holidays be all about them instead of about being in a relationship with someone else."
I get that, between the mistletoe, fireplaces and marriage proposals, not having a boo might feel like a cosmic trick or some triggering b.s., but I promise that if you choose to alter your perspective, just a little bit, Christmas through New Year's doesn't have to be something to sleep right through. It can actually be kinda dope—if you simply choose for it to be.
Shellie, how I am supposed to do that? I'm so glad that you asked, sis.
First, Remember That Singleness ALWAYS Has Its Perks
Have you ever wondered why this time of year seems to be when so many folks are boo'ed up? Yes, a part of it has to do with cuffing season (chiiiiiile), but apparently it's also the time of year when couples get engaged the most. Yep, December is the most popular month for marriage proposals. With that, all of the romantic Christmas flicks that are in heavy rotation, and our relatives asking us, like clockwork, when we're finally gonna bring somebody home—yes, I get it if, deep down, you feel some type of way about being single this time of year.
But every coin has its flip side and if you check out articles like "10 Bona Fide Benefits Of Being Single", "How To Own The Power Of Your Single Season", "If You're Not In Love With Being Single, Ask Yourself These 6 Questions", "It's Okay to Be Single" and "10 Words That'll Make You Totally Rethink The Word 'Single'"—they all just might remind you that singleness has some real perks and pluses too. If those pieces still don't "scratch the itch", ask some of your married aunties to share with you what they miss about their single days.
Trust me, a (healthy) relationship is a beautiful thing, but it also comes with making compromises and sacrifices that we single ladies don't have to even worry about; things that auntie reminisces on in the midst of frying turkeys and getting your uncle yet another sweater that he's never going to wear.
Reconnect—with a Purpose
So, here's a peek into my present private life. About a week ago, on a "fluke" (meaning, I ran into his cousin and we exchanged numbers that way), I reconnected with my first love. Y'all don't have the time and I don't have the energy to get into how deep the saga goes. But long story short, after almost four hours on the phone and a dinner to follow, a table full of married white women got me out of the nostalgia of walking down memory lane with my ex. It wasn't that I wanted to get back with him; that ship has sailed. But we always seem to have an inexplicable connection; one that, if one lady in particular (shout out to Page) didn't say, "If you're not gonna pursue Shellie, what are you doing here?", our chatting probably would've gone on for six months rather than one night. (Thanks Page!)
Moral to the story—there's something about the holiday season that tends to make us more open to taking walks down memory lane and reconnecting with folks. It makes sense; just enter with caution, though. If there is not a real point and purpose to hitting up a blast from the past or even having dinner with a former friend, why are you doing it? Just to have something to do? Yeah, that's not even close to being a good enough reason because your time is way too valuable. Real talk, if you can't find five good reasons for why he/she/they should be a part of your future, leave them as ghosts from Christmas's past. Before you end up being haunted in an Italian restaurant parking lot like I was. SMDH.
Limit Your “Christmastime Chick Flick” Consumption
There are trials; then there are manufactured trials. What's the difference? The first are things that happen to us, sometimes whether we can control it or not. Then there are things that we do to make life more difficult. Buying shoes instead of paying rent on time? That's a manufactured trial. Getting into arguments with toxic family members? That's a manufactured trial. And spending hours of your time off crying while watching chick flicks and screaming out "Why God why?" and "When God when?"—that's a manufactured trial too.
If you know that you are triggered by the romance of this time of year, why would you keep hurting your own feelings by surrounding yourself with nothing but reminders that…you are triggered by the romance of this time of the year? Minus the fact that they don't have nearly enough Black folks on their channel (side-eye), I enjoy a Hallmark Christmas movie as much as the next gal. But I'm not gonna watch one every single day. There's more to life—and entertainment—than kissing under the mistletoe. Right about now, those are words to live by. Why not go to a movie, listen to a podcast or read a book instead?
Drink. With Wisdom.
So, according to Alcohol.org, while drinking does have a tendency to make us feel, at least temporarily happy, that's not the only emotion that it causes. It can also make us feel nostalgic, creative, anxious, overwhelmed, surprised, sad and scared (and horny; not sure why the article didn't mention that). You know what all of this boils down too, right? Having a little spiked eggnog or a Grinch drink might seem like a fun and festive thing to do, but if it's gonna result in you drunk dialing a former sex partner or worry one of your friends to death as you're crying non-stop on the phone about how horny you are (I've been there; without the alcohol), maybe you should push the glass back. Or at least not consume a ton of your alcoholic fave. Hot chocolate is delicious too. And if you go that route instead, you can trust that whatever it is you're feeling, it's all you—not the alcohol that's speaking (and acting up) for you.
Hang Around SUPPORTIVE People (Family or Otherwise)
Just yesterday, I was having a premarital counseling session with a newly engaged couple. As the soon-to-be-husband was asking me about what I thought one of the biggest mistakes that married couples make is, I said, "Knowing what their partner's triggers are and then continuing to push them." Not only is it disrespectful, it's an effective way to get your spouse to build up all kinds of ways in order to emotionally protect themselves.
I know you're not married, but where I am going with that is this—something else that can make the holiday season extra trying on your spirit is if you continue to put yourself around toxic energy. You know, people who gaslight you, narcissistic parents, envious and/or opportunistic individuals (whether they are family members or not). I know not all of us have the kind of personality that can leave, 15 minutes into dinner, if someone gets out of line, without giving it a second thought. At the same time, don't volunteer to be a martyr by spending all day long, several days at a time, around individuals who emotionally drain you, harp on your dating or baby status or don't make you feel esteemed as an individual.
People who are supportive are sympathetic, encouraging and helpful. If you're not catching those kinds of vibes, politely dismiss yourself so that you can get around those who are on a totally different vibration level.
Create a “Salute Yourself” Calendar
I'm pretty sure you've got at least a couple of off days coming, right? On one of them, pick up a 2020 calendar and then give it a "salute yourself" theme. What do I mean by that? Salute means "to address with expressions of goodwill, respect, etc." If ANYONE needs to be doing that for you…it's you. Jot down things, every month, that you plan to do that will boost your self-esteem, remind you to be kind to your being and to pamper yourself too.
Then get a big ole' jar. Listen, when it comes to married folks, I encourage them to have sex jars. When it comes to single women, they need to have a pamper one. Every time that you reach a goal, dodge a relational bullet or make a decision that benefits your mind, body and/or spirit (check out "Need To Make A Big Decision Quickly? Do This." and "If You Want To Get To The Root Of Things, Try My One-Word Test"), put some money in the jar. It can be fifty dollars or fifty cents. Then, at the end of the year, spend what you've accumulated on something that's all about spoiling yourself. I'm telling you, I speak from personal experience when I say that, the more you focus on celebrating your singleness, the less you'll be caught up in feeling some type of way about actually being single.
Go to a Hotel for a Night
Back when I was doing a significant amount of touring, the folks I would travel with would get pretty irritated with me. Why? Because while they wanted to take in the sights, I preferred to order room service and chill in my hotel bed. I must admit that while hotel beds are best when shared, I have some very fond memories of kicking it in them alone too.
That's why, I highly recommend that you book a night in one before New Year's. Go to a hotel in your city (or the next one) that you've always been curious about. It will provide a change of scenery, it will make you feel pampered, plus—there's something about lying up in a hotel bed for hours on end that has no guilt attached to it. You can sleep, eat, watch television—then rinse and repeat. Shoot, if you can find a hotel that offers in-room massages and facials, that's even better!
Take Some Sort of Social Media Fast
You're not going to be able to fully embrace all that comes with having some time off work if you are still plugged in to the good, bad and sometimes super-duper ugly of what's happening on the internet. So please take at least 48 hours off to do anything but clap back on Twitter or peep in to see what your ex is up to. There are all kinds of mental and psychological benefits that come from putting your smartphone down. Why not use that time instead to journal (even sex journal), write yourself a love letter or—here's a thought—do absolutely nothing?
One thing about social media is, although things are constantly happening, most of it isn't going anywhere. Like a soap opera (to a certain extent, there's a pun that's totally intended here), you can miss a week, come back and pick back up where you left off. Test that theory by spending some much-needed time away. You might be surprised by how little I exaggerated.
Do What Makes YOU Happy on NYE
Don't let the tube fool you. Although it might look like everyone and their great-grandma is out on New Year's Eve, a survey from a couple of years ago revealed that only about 11 percent of individuals actually party on that night. 45 percent prefer to hang with family, 24 percent stay at home and seven percent do something with their friends. So no, you don't have to feel like you're taking an L if you don't go out to watch some ball drop somewhere or if someone doesn't slob you down at midnight. It is perfectly fine to have sleepover with some other single friends or to even ring in the new year while soaking in your bathtub.
Many people believe that the way you exit one year speaks volumes to how the next year will go. Although I'll not even remotely superstitious, that has been the case for me for the past few years. So, don't call it a night at eight so that you can sleep New Year's Eve away. Instead, plan something that will set the tone for 2020. Then watch how the Universe responds to your effort.
Treat Your Own Damn Self
Do you wish that you were receiving a diamond this Christmas? Buy yourself a piece of jewelry. Are you hot about not being able to go to a romantic resort? Go on a weekend road trip. Wish you were cuddling in bed with someone? Get yourself some new bedding (in the meantime). One of the best things about being single, yes even during this time of year, is that you/we have the awesome pleasure of being our top priority. Short of being a single mom, you can buy for yourself—FIRST. You can do what you want without having to explain yourself (unless you want to). You can totally make this a season of real self-indulgence—unapologetically so.
So, don't dread being single over the holidays—relish in it. Someday you may look back and wish that you had. Don't say a sistah didn't warn you.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Here's How To Know You're At Total Peace With Yourself
What It Means To Find True Self-Love
Sanaa Lathan Wants You To Know She's Her Own Knight In Shining Armor
What Loving Yourself Actually Looks Like
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- 15 Ways Single Women Can Enjoy Valentine's Day - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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