Whew. The more that I read, write and talk about sex, the more I realize that there will never be a time when I’ll learn all that there is to know. And honestly, that’s kind of what I like so much about it — sex has got layers and layers and even more layers to it. So, let’s use that to our advantage in 2022 by making this the year that we’re absolutely determined to have some of the best sex EVER, starting with implementing some monthly themes; ones that can help us to experience more when it comes to how we see ourselves, how to please our partner and how to enjoy sex on a whole ‘nother level!
Let me tell it, one of the main reasons why a lot of New Year’s Resolutions don’t work is because people try and implement new habits before purging out some of the old mindsets that caused the bad/unhealthy/counterproductive patterns in the first place. Sex fits into this point. Whether it’s poor sexual communication, faking orgasms, fantasizing about past sexual partners (while you’re engaging with your current sexual partner), getting horrible sex-related advice from other people, being too hard on yourself when it comes to your body image, or lack of sexual confidence (check out “10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem”) — whatever the case may be, use the first month of this year to really purge (to rid, clear or free) whatever you think is hindering you from having the best sex life possible.
If you need a little help with narrowing down what those things may be, “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)” and “Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey” may be able to help you out.
Here’s what’s a trip about this point. Whenever I’m in my sessions with couples, it’s not just the wives who talk about wishing that their husbands lasted longer. Once husbands get their second wind (with round two), a lot of them say that their wives become worn out quicker than they would like to as well. It’s actually pretty Google-able that men only need around five minutes to climax while we sit somewhere at around 20 (including foreplay). Yet who said that sex — especially when it’s really good sex — shouldn’t go for longer than even that? This is where stamina comes into play. Not just physical stamina (check out “We’ve Got Some All-Natural Ways To Increase Stamina & Sensitivity”) but mental stamina too (check out “What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation?”).
By honing in on ways to make sex last longer, it can help you and your partner to learn more about each other’s sexual needs and how to make sex about more than just “reaching the mountaintop” at the end. This includes all kinds of sex, by the way; not just intercourse (check out “12 Things You Should Do During Oral Sex (That You Probably Aren't),” “Want To Have Hotter Oral Sex? STOP Doing These 8 Things.,” “Are You Ready To Amp Up Your Oral Sex Game? Try This.,” “If Your Man Sucks At Oral Sex, This Is Probably Why,” “How To Make Him Better At Oral (Without Putting Him On The Spot)” and “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
MARCH: Daily Sex
So, here’s a question. When’s the last time you had sex, every single day, for a month straight? Whenever I’m dealing with a sexless couple (who is physically capable), this is oftentimes what I will recommend. The reason why is because, while there are dozens of reasons for why people in long-term relationships allow sex to become less of a priority, one of the main ones is they have simply stopped being intentional about it. It’s hard to get into the habit of treating something like it’s absolutely essential if it’s a part of your daily routine, so why not use the first month of spring to either get your sex life back on track or to find new ways to get closer to your partner by committing to some sort of sexual activity, every single day of March (and yes, I know that it’s 31 days)?
If you need a little help figuring all of this out, “Having Sex Every Day. For A Month. Straight. Can Transform Your Marriage.,” “10 Simple Ways Married Couples Can Make More Time For Sex,” “How To Make Sex Easier (& More Fun) When You've Got Kids,” “Why Couples Should Engage In 'Midnight Sex' More Often,” “Here’s How To Make Morning Sex...Sexier,” and “The Truth About Period Sex” can offer up a few insights.
When it comes to the definitions of nostalgia, one that I personally like a lot is “a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life.” That said, isn’t it interesting that when we talk about taking walks down memory lane on the romance tip, recreating first dates immediately comes to mind but not really recreating first sexual experiences? When it comes to the first time you had with your partner, what are your favorite memories about it? When it comes to the best sex you’ve ever had with your partner, what qualifies it to have that title?
Setting the stage for some of your moment cherished and treasured times, sending each other random texts and emails to talk about it, returning to the “scene of the crime” by booking the exact same reservation in a hotel room that brings a big smile to your face — make that the theme for April. It will help to cultivate warmth and familiarity that can set the stage for May.
Aside from the fact that experimentation can help to keep boredom from settling into your sexual relationship, there are other benefits that come with trying things that you’ve never done before, entertaining ideas that you’re super curious about, and/or doing certain things that you haven’t experienced with your current partner as of yet. Sexual experimentation strengthens communication. Sexual experimentation helps you to learn more about your (and his) erogenous zones (check out “So, What If ‘Typical Erogenous Zones’ Annoy TF Outta You?”). Sexual experimentation can tear down walls of fear or intimidation that you may have about certain acts or activities. Sexual experimentation can intensify your orgasms. Sexual experimentation can introduce you to a side of yourself you may not have known existed — because you never really experimented before.
One of the best ways to get this month going is to either create or share your sexual bucket list with your partner. And because this month is all about experimentation, try doing the things (on his list as well as yours) that challenge you the most…first. You know, one of the best things about experimenting, sexually, is it’s all about trust — and the more you trust your partner, in every facet of your relationship, the better your relationship will become over time.
There is something special about people who don’t mind having sex in the daytime or with the lights on. Whether they realize it or not, it conveys a level of self-confidence that only makes sexual interaction that much better…and hotter. Besides, it’s absolutely no secret that most men are stimulated visually, and trust me, it’s also the case that we tend to be WAY HARDER on our bodies than they are about them (men tell me this all of the time). So, meet up for midday sex and refuse to close your blackout curtains. Cook dinner sometimes with nothing or only panties on. If you’re not sleeping naked already, what the heck is holding you up?
If it’s been a minute since you’ve TOTALLY DISROBED (because I know people who like to keep something on during sex, every single time) or even took off your wig or weave (I also know men who have NEVER seen their partner’s natural hair) — it’s June which is the first month of summer. It’s hot, so why not use this as an opportunity to wear as little as possible, for as long as possible. Your partner won’t complain one bit. I can promise you that.
JULY: Orgasms. Lots and Lots of Orgasms.
Since I’ve been writing for this platform, there really is no telling how many articles I’ve written on orgasms. The reason why I’m so passionate about making sure that we tackle this particular topic, just as thoroughly as possible, is because if there is one thing that all women deserve to have, as much as absolutely possible, it’s orgasms. Not because sex can’t be good without them but because if you’ve ever had one before, you know the kind of true fulfillment an orgasm can bring. So yeah, in the month when fireworks are going off more than any other time of the year, strive to have as many orgasms as possible. Can’t think of a more satisfying way to live life. Can you?
AUGUST: Dirty Talk
Personally, my top love language is words of affirmation, so it doesn’t shock me in the least that I am a HUGE fan of dirty talk. I mean, HUGE. If you want a scientific reason for why a lot of us are turned on by “dirty” words, it’s because hearing them stimulates the part of our brain that brings us to physical sexual arousal; this makes complete and total sense when you consider the fact that the biggest sex organ that all of us have is our brain. That said, just like there are some people who hate kissing (what in the world?), I know some who aren’t turned on by, as Kelly Rowland once put it, verbal “Motivation” either (again, what in the world?).
Still, if you’re someone who doesn’t participate in dirty talk because you are self-conscious or scared of “not doing it right,” this month has your name written all over it. Start off my reading erotica with your partner (take turns with chapters). Verbally describe what you like doing to him and what you like him to do to you. Talk about the last sexual memory you have that drove you up the wall in the best way possible. Think about the words that you like to hear most when you’re aroused and ask him to whisper them during copulation. Amp up your sexting game (check out “Let's Talk About Sext: 30 Sexts You Can Send To Bae Right Now”).
If you’ve never really done much dirty talking before, I get how the thought of it could make you a little shy. Look at it this way, though — if you’re comfortable with letting someone literally enter you, stepping out of your comfort zone to verbally “go there” shouldn’t seem quite as frightening or frustrating. I don’t know one man who hates some nasty dialogue. And personally, I can’t think of one way that dirty talking would make sex worse instead of better.
When you get a chance, check out “How About Having A 'Mindful Orgasm' Tonight?.” Something that I have always been a fan of is mindfulness because it’s all about 1) staying in the moment; 2) being self-aware; 3) getting still; 4) remaining focused; 5) becoming curious; 6) being attentive and 7) getting out of your head and enjoying things as they come — and how can any of this not be the recipe for great sex? So y’all, September is pretty simple. Get together with your partner to discuss things that you both can do, sexually, that check off the boxes of what it means to be mindful.
Take all of the clocks out of your bedroom. Talk about what your deepest sexual desires and urges are. Do some deep breathing and mutual massaging. Be intentional about not allowing anyone or anything to distract you while you’re cultivating intimacy with your partner. Explore each other. Ask non-triggering sex-related questions that you’ve always been wanting the answers to. Pay attention to your partner’s responses and reactions to different things that you do. Don’t overthink your actions or techniques — just have fun. Sexual mindfulness is pretty underrated but it shouldn’t be. Use this entire month to make it something that you become a lasting fan of.
OCTOBER: Fulfilled Fantasies
An aphorist by the name of Mason Cooley once said, “Fantasy mirrors desire. Imagination reshapes it.” I think all of this is a great way to set the stage for October’s sexual theme because I personally believe that having fantasies and wanting to fulfill them with your partner is an essential part of having a satisfying sex life because it does just what the quote says — taps into desires and builds on imagination. I can assure you that both you and your partner have some fantasies that have gone unfulfilled; it’s just that rarely do these things come up unless one is prompted to discuss them.
So, whether it’s playing dress-up, having sex in a “taboo” location, experimenting with certain toys, taping a session (check out “Before You Make A DIY Sex Tape, Read This.”), engaging in some prostate milking (check out “What In The World Is 'Prostate Milking'? And Chile, How Do You Do It?”), becoming a squirting expert (check out “Is Squirting Really Worth The Hype?”) — whatever is running around in that brain of yours — so long as it won’t damage the integrity of your relationship and you both are down to try it — use this month to make it happen. Fulfilled fantasies are always fun!
NOVEMBER: Emotional Intimacy
Last fall, I wrote an article for the site entitled, “6 Genuine Signs You're Making An Emotional Connection With Your Sex Partner.” One of the points that I made in it is, I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman or what the age of the individual might be, I don’t personally know anyone who doesn’t think that sex is better when there is some sort of emotional connection that’s established. So, if it seems like there is a bit of a “disconnect” between you and yours, set aside some time to get back on the same page. Go on some dates. Share some recent aspirations and goals. Affirm one another. Talk about your current feelings and be a good sounding board for him to do the same.
Do gestures that express appreciation. Toast each other with glasses of wine or apple cider. Turn off all of your gadgets (at least a few times a week) so that you can engage in some pillow talk. Admit when you’re wrong (without justifying or deflecting) and apologize. Forgive him when he does the same. Come up with a list of things neither one of you has ever done before (outside of sex) and do them together. Emotional intimacy cultivates safety and sex is oh so good when you feel safe with the one you’re having it with.
DECEMBER: Topping Yourself
After 11 months of themes and exercises, it’s my hope that your sex life has only gotten better. Prove that to one another by using all of December to create the environment to have some of the best sex either of you has ever had — not just with one another but in your entire lives! In fact, if you can, try and plan some sort of sexcation. It’s January now, so you’ve got plenty of time to save some coins and book a reservation. I’m telling you — when it’s purposed in your mind to make each experience better than the one before, there’s no way that sex can’t become more pleasurable, more exciting, and more gratifying than ever!
Oh, and if you’re like me and you try to support Black-owned businesses as much as possible, Condé Nast published an article last spring entitled, “Black-Owned Hotels Throughout the World” that I’m thinking could definitely be the icing on the cake of your sexcation, chile. ENJOY!
Featured image by Giphy
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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The face of tennis is changing, and it’s about time. Over the years, if you were asked to name any Black tennis player, two would come to mind: Serena and Venus Williams — and rightfully so. But as new tennis sensations like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka rise to fame for their athleticism and tenacity, it’s clear that there’s a new era of tennis taking shape to bring forth a fresh take on representation and reclamation on the courts.
For that reason alone, there’s no better time than now for Black Girl Tennis Club co-founders Virginia Thornton and Kimberly Selden to lead the charge of making tennis more accessible to Black women and girls so the next Serena and Coco can emerge.
What began as your everyday lunch chat between friends to discuss their mutual dream of owning a boutique hotel turned into a proposition to start a tennis club together. With Virginia being a tennis player since adolescence and Kimberly entering the sport as a hobby in her adult life, the two jumped at the idea of making a space where Black women could discover a new hobby and not feel like the “only one” on the tennis court.
“The club kind of started for selfish reasons, but not in a bad way,” Virginia tells xoNecole. “We realized that there was actually a need for this.”
Kimberly adds, “Now we're literally disrupting a whole industry. We didn't plan it, but it felt divine; like we were called to do this. Black Girls Tennis Club has been a catalyst for personal growth in all areas of life, and we would have never anticipated that.”
Since establishing the Black Girl Tennis Club in 2022, the two have made it their mission to cultivate a space for “Joy Equity and Radical Wellness.” Their platform serves as a means to inform, inspire, motivate, and reshape the narrative around Black women and girls in the tennis world while highlighting the transformative power of sports and play for liberation.
With approximately 78% of tennis players being white and only 6.8% being Black, and the average cost of a private tennis lesson being $60 per hour, racial and economic disparities within the sport are vast. To help close this gap, the two founders have banded together to develop free tennis instruction clinics for girls aged 8-18 and local tennis events that bring adult offerings through programs like the Self Love Tennis Club and Cardio Tennis Classes to HBCU campuses in Virginia.
Both Virginia and Kimberly understand the power of their mission and believe that they were brought on each other’s path to execute it together. “It’s the power of alignment,” Kimberly says. “I think when you're doing the right thing and you're obedient, and answer the call, that’s when things start to happen, and the universe conspires to make them happen.”
We caught up with the founders to discuss their mission, the importance of representation, and how they plan to disrupt the tennis industry one court at a time.
xoNecole: Could you talk a little more about your CARE pillars with change, access, representation and exposure?
Kimberly Selden: As we started to do the work, we saw that there were so many equity issues. Although we knew from our own personal experiences that there are barriers to tennis being an expensive sport, we just acknowledged it as the culture of tennis. Because it's predominantly white, that transfers over to the fashion, the dynamics on the court, the attitudes, and the mindset. And so we knew this required a culture shift for us to ever really feel comfortable.
We were exposing kids to tennis, and then after the clinics, they're like, "Okay, now what?" It's still expensive, and they still may or may not have had access to it if they're not with us. We don't want to just pop in like, "Hey, here's a clinic, bye!" So, the culture change is just a reflection of what our existence looks like. Access is about being able to access the sport through courts, programs, or a coach. Representation is that we can't believe it until we see it.
Granted, there are a lot of pro Black women tennis players taking off, and we love that. But we think about media representation as well [as] representation within the USCA, in the boardrooms, and the people that are making the rules around the game.
xoN: Why do you all think it’s important for Black women and girls to reclaim their space on the tennis court?
Virginia Thornton: It's rare, at least in my world, where you're in a space and see nothing but women who look like you. But it makes me feel great when I can be my authentic self, especially on a tennis court. Just shedding all the weight of pretending to be anything else. You feel at home when you're around nothing but Black women. Even small things like seeing a young Black girl being okay with how God made them is amazing.
KS: [In] the Atlanta clinics we did, everyone was crying. It's just clear how desperately we need it. Connection is the key to a long life. So many of us — especially from the pandemic and working from home — are isolated. With every clinic, it's just fun to be there, and it just fills you up. I think people need hobbies. I think a lot of people, especially people in big cities, feel that way and were confronted with that during the pandemic.
xoN: How did sports play a role in helping you two find your voice and confidence both on and off the court?
VT: I think what people don't realize is that tennis is such a mental sport. You could be a 4.0 player and have a bad mental day, and you will play like you've never picked up a racquet before. So, the mental piece is super important. For me, it's like ‘you against you,’ even though you are playing somebody.
If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court. I had an issue on the court where I have a habit of saying, "Sorry," — I think a lot of Black women do, honestly. Then I realized that they wouldn't say sorry or they’d use my kindness as weakness. I've learned a lesson in that because everything translates on and off the court.
"If you're able to work through those mental pieces with yourself on the court, that will translate off the court."
KS: It's easy for me to do things that I'm good at, but it's not easy for me to do things that I'm not good at. Tennis is still challenging for me, but it pushes me. It’s a reality check for me; I know when things are aligned, and when they're not. It feels like a big metaphor for me because it's pushing me to do something that's uncomfortable and makes me work for myself more.
xoN: What do you hope the long-term impact of Black Girl Tennis Club will be?
VS: We want to have a space for people who might be workaholics or might be going through depression. It's always great to have a hobby, whether that's knitting, sewing, or what have you. For me and Kimberly, it’s about creating hobbies for Black women and girls but also knowing that it’s okay to not be amazing at it. You don't have to be amazing at tennis; you could hit around the court, and that's okay.
The next Serena or Venus might come from Black Girls Tennis Club.
Featured image by LumiNola/Getty Images