I’m not a fan of casual sex. One reason is because I used to participate in it with several guy friends, and it can come with challenges and complications that you can seriously underestimate…until it’s too late. Another reason is that I know what casual means, and I have no desire, these days, to participate in random, apathetic, and careless activities.
And still, another reason is that it can sometimes make you very sexually self-consumed in a way that can make you a very impatient person when it comes time to bring true and authentic intimacy into a sexual dynamic — because let’s be honest: casual sex is way different than sex that you experience with someone who you’re in something serious with (or at least it should be).
When you’re sharing all of yourself with another person, you’ve got to be willing to not just “grade them on their performance;” you should be willing to allow them to learn you…as you commit to doing the same.
And that’s why I decided to ask 15 different women to share with me, what they did, as they transitioned from casual to something deeper, and figured out along the way that there was some “sex-related tweaking” that needed to be done. As they strived to keep their relationship flourishing, here’s how they helped their partners to thrive in the bedroom department.
1. Angelia. 43. Married for 12 Years.
“Now that I’ve got some time under my belt, it’s important for women to know the difference between your man not being good in bed and you comparing him to people from your past — most women confuse the two. For the first couple of years, I didn’t realize that was my issue: I was comparing. It wasn’t intentional, but it was happening. I realized that it wasn’t that my man didn’t know how to please me so much as his approach was different from what I was used to with other guys. That part, was my stuff to deal with.
"Once I purged it, I was able to be clear with my husband about what my likes and dislikes are and then give him the space and respect to allow him to ‘customize’ his approach. Bottom line, great sex is about consistent communication. Be honest, with yourself and your partner. The more open you are, the better the sex will be — or become.”
2. Dinah. 32. Dating.
“A big problem that I used to have was thinking that if a man was good in bed, it meant that he could figure out what I needed without me having to say much of anything at all. That’s until I was talking about it with some of my girlfriends, and one of them said, ‘Girl, we’re not “one size fits all.” Every time a man gets with someone else, he has to learn something new. You’ve got to speak up. Closed mouths don’t get fed.’ I took what she said to heart and learned to speak up when there’s something I don’t like or something that I really like.
"For a while, I was uncomfortable because I’m kind of shy. But guys seem to like knowing what we want in bed — what I’m saying is, they like to hear it. So long as you’re not barking orders, they feel like it’s a form of dirty talk. Now that I know that, I’m very vocal; especially during foreplay.”
3. Wrenna. 28. Engaged for 11 Months.
“My man is not the size that I’m typically used to. When we first started dating, I thought it was going to be a deal-breaker. Then I realized that you can be sexually pleased by a man who isn’t packin’. It’s all about learning about which positions work best based on his size. That’s what we’ve learned to master. Even if you put a pillow underneath you, he can ‘hit those spots’ when you’re in the missionary position that a pillow wasn’t needed for with bigger men. Being endowed doesn’t make a man good in bed anyway; working with you to get things where you need them to be does. My man rises to that occasion, in every way, every time.”
Shellie here: She’s right on the size thing. Check out “BDE: Please Let The 'It Needs To Be Huge' Myth Go” if you’re looking for even more confirmation.
4. Emily. 30. Married for Six Years.
“If your man isn’t the greatest at foreplay, do what I did and turn everything into a guessing game: guess where I like to be kissed, guess what my favorite spot is, guess what activity turns me on the most — then don’t tell me, show me. And if you’re right, I’ll reward you with a sex-related surprise. If you’re wrong, I get extra time ‘on the clock’ in those same spots. Men don’t have a problem with what they don’t know; men don’t want to feel emasculated or humiliated for not knowing it.”
5. Gemma. 25. In a Relationship for a Year.
“To each their own, but I don’t like guys who bring porn into the bedroom. Even if they learn how to talk from it, I’m annoyed because it’s not about seducing me; it’s about how nasty their words can get. I hate phrases like ‘good girl’ — it creeps me out. My boyfriend used to talk that way until I shared with him that I prefer questions instead of statements in bed: ‘How can I please you tonight?’ or ‘Baby, how does this feel?’. It took some getting used to [for him] at first. Now he likes it a lot because the questions get me there, and my answers get him there.”
6. Paula. 38. Engaged for Four Months.
“My man is GREAT in bed. I couldn’t ask for more. Our problem is that he couldn’t always ‘read the room’ when it comes to when I’m in the mood or not. He’s a morning guy and I prefer sex at night; not late at night either…sometime between 7-9. He used to think that because he can always ‘get me there’ that whenever he was down, I would be. Or he would come to bed after my window and then be frustrated when I didn’t want to wake up at five.
"Basically, we had to get our bodies on a bit of a sex schedule. We try to average having sex no less than twice a week, and yes, we both need to compromise. BUT if he wants to get me at my best, that 7-9 window is when it’s gonna happen. Once I figured that out, we’ve been pretty smooth sailing. We bust headboards, then. He gets a quickie or some amazing head otherwise. I think we’re both good with that.”
7. Tanisha. 41. Engaged for 18 Months.
“TELL MEN WHERE YOUR SPOTS ARE. Because even the most attentive man, someone who knows to not only focus on our breasts and vagina, is not always going to know what your specific zones are. Something that I discovered about myself is, as I got older, my spots changed. I used to love to have my breasts sucked — until I had kids. I used to hate having my feet touched — until a few years ago. It’s not fair to expect a man to automatically know what you’re still figuring it out. If you’ve got a good lover, he aims to please. Let him know how to ‘warm you up’ — and if those places switch up, who cares? We evolve sexually, just like we do everywhere else.”
8. Fredricka. 25. In an Exclusive Sex Situation.
“I stayed single until I could find a man who could eat the box properly. Why do these guys think that just being down there is doing something? The man I’m with now? When I saw that it had some real potential, I flat-out asked him if he was okay with me showing him how I liked to get head. He told me that so long as we could be each other’s instructors, he was down for anything. He had to humble himself, and so did I. Do people even talk about how much humility and sexual satisfaction go hand in hand? Yeah, interview me when you’re ready to break that down to everyone.”
9. Orpah. 34. In a Relationship for Three Years.
“My problem used to be, not that my boyfriend was a ‘minute man’; it was actually that he could go a really long time the first round and then be tapped out for the second one. So, what we had to do was find ways to shorten the first time, so that he’d have enough energy for 2-3 more. I think guys don’t realize that even if they can last a while, it can still take us the first round to warm up a bit. So, now what we’ll sometimes do is foreplay, sex for a few minutes, he goes down on me, and then we’ll have more sex. The goal is to keep him excited without him actually cumming. It works like a charm.”
10. Marina. 29. Engaged for Two Months.
“Did y’all see that nasty ass post of Kevin Gates spitting into that girl’s mouth on stage? I literally almost threw up. My man used to think that spit was a thing. I mean, it was for some of his other sex partners, so he assumed that I would like it, too. I. DO. NOT. What we had to do was have some hard discussions about what he was ‘programmed’ to think was sexy vs. what actually is sexually appealing — at least for me. It took some ego finessing because men tend to be like, ‘I’ve never had complaints before…’ and you have to find a way to convey that it doesn’t matter if you’re not happy. There can be a fine line there. Speak to him the way you would want him to speak to you.”
Shellie here: If you didn’t see what she’s talking about, just to be thorough, it’s here. Enter at your own risk, though. I could barely stomach watching it once, my damn self. UGH.
11. Lee. 30. Dating.
“I consider myself to be a tour guide. I have no problem moving a man’s hands to where I want them to be, using my mouth to explain to him where I want his mouth to go, or putting my own body in a position to get what I need from him. Too many women are afraid to hurt a man’s feelings in bed by showing some aggression. Hmph, let me tell you something: if there’s one place where a man loves that sh-t, it’s in the bedroom. I will forever die on that hill.”
12. Revelynn. 41. In a Serious Relationship for a Year.
“Want to know if a man has been used to making love or not? Pay attention to how often he looks into your eyes. If he avoids them, he’s been having sex but not really connecting with you. And while I like doggy style as much as the next gal, we spent some time in missionary, cowgirl — any sex position where he had to look me in the eyes. When men look at you, it makes them more vulnerable, and that makes the sex more intense…and that ends up making them better lovers. I am a witness.”
13. Karollynn. 32. Married for Five Years.
“With my husband, the sex itself has never been the issue. I was always fulfilled in that department. Our challenge was the ambiance. Girl, a man can have sex in a mechanic’s garage or a club bathroom, if you’re down. What I had to get my man to learn was, if you want to really get me in the mood — fold those clothes that are on the bed, light some scented candles, have some of my favorite food delivered if you don’t feel like cooking either.
"The reason why we as women show up as a different woman in hotel rooms is because we can relax there. At home, there is always something that needs to be done, so men need to learn how to make it feel less like a ‘home office’ and more like a place of escape. That’s the cheat code.”
14. Oren. 50. Married for 28 Years.
“I always feel badly for younger women who think that good sex means hopping from partner to partner; it’s like they assume that being the same person is toiling work. For me, it’s not. The more time I’ve been with my husband, the better the sex has become because our marriage has given us all the time in the world to learn each other — and sometimes relearn each other. My advice would be to not be in a rush to ‘be great in bed.’ Care about ‘becoming one’ with your partner. If you do that, the sexual satisfaction will come.”
15. Laylah. 46. “Rebounding” Her Divorce.
“Wanna hear something crazy? My husband and I divorced because I was so sexually unhappy — years of it. I loved him, but I’m sorry, I didn’t sign up for years of being ‘bedroom miserable’, and he seemed to be committed to not hearing me, so I ended things. It might sound superficial but when your partner isn’t meeting your needs in one department, it spills over…trust me. We spent a year apart and then started speaking and casually dating again. During that time, we talked about sex a lot.
"Then we took some sex classes together. We went to sex shops. We had sexcations. He started to act like a student of sex, and that changed everything. Because there is love and history between us, now that the sex is on track, we’re in the process of reconciling. I finally have everything I need. Ladies, get everything you need.”
You know, there is an author by the name of Abhijit Naskar who once said, “Without attachment, a naked body is merely a lifeless sex toy.” When it comes to what all of these women just shared, there is clearly some truth to that because what they all said, in their own way, is truly connecting with your partner is the key to the best kind of sex possible.
So, if your man is already a top-tier lover — mazel tov!
If not, purpose in your mind to solidify a stronger attachment with him by being honest, present, and real. Then watch what happens when you do — as your lover and…well beyond.
Featured image by Blue Images/Getty Images
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. ;)
How We Met is a series where xoNecole talks love and relationships with real-life couples. We learn how they met, how like turned into love, and how they make their love work.
I’m willing to bet that this is not the first time you’ve seen this couple. Dalen Spratt is a television producer, owner of a tailored men's suit line, and creator of Ghost Brothers: Haunted Houseguests, which is currently streaming on Destination America. Stacey Spratt is also a serial entrepreneur, focusing mostly on events and the nonprofit world, and she is the owner of two award-winning craft beer bars called Harlem Hops. But their accolades are not what united them.
The couple met years ago at their alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, when they were still working to create the life they have now, and if you had told them then that they’d eventually tie the knot, the pair probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Today, they’re new parents, flourishing in their careers, and each others’ “teammates.” When desiring love, Dalen recommends not looking to other couples for advice. And Stacey advises staying true to what you want. “Don’t put age or limitations on love and children. If God could do it for me, why can’t he do it for you?”
Here's How We Met.
How did you meet?
Dalen: We met in 2005 when she was advising the Greek sororities and fraternities in college. She was old as hell in college, and I was a young buck (laughs). Everybody had a crush on her, but I didn’t think much of it. Then, in 2007, we were in the same grad school class, but she still wasn’t trying to see me then either. I had to catch her five years ago; I was very patient.
Stacey: Yeah, everybody in our grad school class called him Young, Fresh to Death because he was always dressed in B-school (what CAU affectionately refers to as business major classes), and we’d just wear sweatpants (laughs).
So, I know Dalen was always attracted to you. But what about you? Did your attraction to him develop over time?
Stacey: So 2006-2008 – all the years went by. I don’t think we were really thinking about each other at all back then. Years later, I had an event in Dallas, and I booked him to be a speaker. Then, a few years ago, Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: "If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you." But I still thought he was too young at the time, and he started pulling receipts. Taraji P. Henson was dating someone young at the time, Gabrielle Union–
Dalen: First of all, I didn’t do that. You did that.
Stacey: Okay, I did. I thought he was a cutie pie, but that age thing was on my mind!
"Dalen posted a photo of him on Instagram, and I slid in his DMs. I remembered him being so young and handsome, and I’m like, I should hook him up with my younger cousin. His response was: 'If you’re not hooking me up with you, no thank you.'"
Talk to me about the first date. How did he change your mind?
Stacey: Our first date was at Tin Lizzy's in Atlanta. During that time, he was living in Dallas, so it was long-distance. But he came into town, and we just had a good time. We talked a lot, which we still do. It wasn’t anything fantastic.
Dalen: Don’t downplay our first date.
Then, walk me through your courtship. How did you get to the next level? What was that conversation like?
Stacey: I think he knew at age 43 or 44 I wasn’t playing around. But also, I think it just naturally progressed.
Dalen: Yeah, it just happened naturally. And I’m going to be honest, I don’t think initially either one of us thought it would be as serious as it was. She thought I was too young and I wasn’t ready for marriage, kids, and all that. I think we both thought we were just hanging out. But after spending so much time together, a lot of stuff started happening. Like, she had to have surgery early on. It wasn’t just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That’s why we still don’t have an anniversary date because we never really asked.
"It wasn't just time together; it was intimate time. Next thing we know, we just never left each other. That's why we still don't have an anniversary date because we never really asked."
What made you want to commit to each other?
Dalen: The moment I knew Stacey was for me was from a phone call. I don’t really like talking on the phone, and I can be really blunt sometimes. But we were talking, and I said, ‘I don’t really feel like talking anymore.’ And she was just like, okay, and hung up. I wasn’t trying to be rude, and she understood that. It sounds bad, but that’s how I knew she just got me. I felt like she could get my random awkward moments, and she does to this day.
Stacey: For me, I liked him as a person. Even when times get rough and tough, I could still like him as a human. He is my best friend. We have time. We laugh until we cry, and it’s just always like that. Even when we get pissed at each other, something happens, and we fix it. Also, how he treats his mother. That’s a momma’s boy, but I’m a daddy’s girl – so I get it. I know how I want to be treated, and I see how he is with her and that’s beautiful.
What are some important lessons you’ve learned about yourself through loving your partner in this relationship?
Dalen: I grew up an only child and she grew up with siblings. So, when you have someone who is used to doing things by themselves, there is definitely a learning curve when you get into a serious relationship. It’s funny now, but it was definitely a process.
Stacey: I agree – definitely the only child thing. There’s times I look at him like, did you ever live with anyone else? That comes from being momma's baby, too. I have to say, my “mother-in-love” spoiled him. But also with Axel (their daughter), that brings another level of patience.
Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images
What was the biggest challenge that you had to overcome together?
Dalen: We’ve gone through a lot within the years we’ve been together. We suffered two miscarriages – I’d say that’s the biggest.
Stacey: Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me. I was wondering if I can’t carry [a child] what that looks like for us. We had very real conversations pretty early in our relationship.
"Having those miscarriages and trying to understand what’s next and what our options are was a lot. I had two myomectomies (fibroid surgeries), and he supported me through that time. Also, still, it was on my mind that he’s eight years younger than me."
What do you fight the most about?
Dalen: Nagging. Stacey nags; she’s a complainer. She’s that momma that will look in a room and just hunt for something to complain about. Like, I’m worried for Axel when she's in high school.
Stacey: It’s because I like things to be in place. He leaves stuff all over the place. I can tell where he’s been in the house because something is left around. So he says I’m nagging – but it’s like, just get your stuff.
What are your love languages?
Dalen: Stacey is gifts all day.
Dalen: We’ve talked about this. xoNecole is about to cause problems in our home (laughs).
Stacey: Obviously I love you. *thinks again* It’s words of affirmation.
Dalen: That’s it.
What’s your favorite thing about each other?
Dalen: I’ve always respected her business-mindedness. That may sound superficial, but it’s not because I’ve never been with someone who thinks like me. It’s one of my most treasured things about her. I remember one day, I was just running through ideas with her, and each time Stacey had a suggestion on how I could make it better. It’s just very comforting. She takes whatever I’m doing and elevates it – including me.
Stacey: I love Dalen’s hustle and creativity. He’s been on multiple shows, and he continues to create, produce, and reinvent himself and the product he’s putting out. I love that we can create together and bounce things off each other. Even though we may be in different arenas, there’s nothing he can’t offer me great advice about. I love that drive.
Finally, how did you know it was love?
Dalen: Well – she said it – first. (laughs)
Stacey: And he looked at me and smiled! He didn’t say it back. We were on a trip, out of the country.
Dalen: We were arguing when she said it, and she just threw it out.
Stacey: But we continue to do that. We’ve spent holidays and everything outside of the country.
Feature image courtesy
Oh, the infamous man-child. Some of us have had the pain of encountering a man who has the mental and emotional maturity of a petulant child. I know I have. Between the weaponized incompetence, arrested development, lack of self-awareness, lack of impulse control, and lack of introspection that tend to come with this type of partner, the jokes can write themselves in the pursuit of a relationship with an evolved man who can actually meet you at your level.
As women, we are encouraged to keep our standards high, which ordinarily allows the man-child to stay in the wild where he belongs. Even though the current state of our dating pool is not giving what it needs to give all the way through here, standards and boundaries have long served as effective tools in weeding through the “potential” and showing suitors the door if they aren’t on our level.
But let’s be real; sometimes, an unworthy partner can fall through the cracks as their “representative” takes the lead during the courtship stage. Months and sometimes years later, you might not even realize the full breadth of what you’re dealing with until the proverbial mask begins to slip. Instead of being a help, he’s more of a hindrance. Instead of being an equal, he’s more of a dependent. And instead of being invested in the commitment of a relationship, he’s more into indulging in laziness and low-effort tendencies.
In essence, a man child, also commonly referred to as Peter Pan Syndrome, is a man who is stunted (read: emotionally immature) and refuses to grow up. Instead of feeling like you have a partner, you end up falling into the role of a second mama, and who wants that?
Be prepared to run, not walk, if any of the following signs apply to your guy.
1.They lack purpose and/or direction.
Who was it that said a man with no direction can’t lead you anywhere? Whoever said it deserves credit for doing the Lord’s work and then some. Purpose is how you know fulfillment. Direction sets the tone for the path you are taking in life. Without either or both, you can find yourself squarely in a dead-end relationship with a man who isn’t capable of leading the relationship. More than that, being directionless can manifest in other detrimental ways to the way he leads his own life. This can look like not having routines, procrastinating like a mutha, or even avoiding self-work or self-improvement.
The man-child is just going with the flow and taking one day at a time. While being present is always a gift, the man you’re with shouldn’t be afraid of setting long-term goals so that his present can inform his future.
2.They become paralyzed at the sound of a commitment.
“What is marriage? It’s just a piece of paper. Why do we need to move in together? Everything is going fine just the way it is.”
Being strung along is too common when engaging with a man-child. Common relationship steps considered to be pivotal in moving the relationship forward are things they wince at or things that they just act very indifferent about. It’s not an act, it’s a refusal to commit to the commitment, a paradoxical reality the man-child can write the book about. It’s why questions of moving in together or marriage are things Mr. Go With the Flow can see himself doing without.
A reluctance to truly commit could also be why the relationship might feel like it’s not on solid ground. He prefers to run instead of resolve and sometimes waivers under the weight of what should be viewed as a simple mistake. And if you don’t want to feel stuck in a loop of are we or aren’t we, or worse, plateaued forever, you might be better off letting the runner be the track star he so aspires to be.
3.They rarely (if ever) take initiative in big things and small things.
Whew, chile, can’t you just feel the brunt of emotional labor brimming from this one? Whether it’s meal planning for groceries during the week or even planning dates and trips, hell, even your own birthday – everything seems to fall squarely on your shoulders to get done. More than that, you know if you didn’t take care of it, it wouldn’t get done. A relationship is not a one-person effort, so there is no reason why you can see that things around the house need to get done or things in the relationship need to be maintained, but your partner cannot.
Newsflash: they are okay with being willfully ignorant and might even be serving you a side of weaponized incompetence on purpose.
A healthy partner is willing to look at your mental and emotional well-being and take the initiative to take things off your plate, not burden you with the task of upkeeping most if not all, of the expectations of a household. Let alone a thriving relationship.
4.They always have an excuse.
Couldn’t wash the dishes or clean the bathroom today? Excuse. Couldn’t communicate they’d be running late? Excuse. Couldn’t pick up the kids on time? Excuse. Couldn’t create a meaningful idea for his turn to do date night? Excuse. Couldn’t get groceries done this time but wants to eat? Excuse. Couldn’t be bothered to cook tonight? Excuse. Any behavior deemed bad or unreasonable that they have done? Of course, an excuse. Whatever the instance may be, the ownership is severely lacking with this one, and the blame is always on someone or something else that will rarely (if ever) have anything to do with them.
There’s even an excuse about why past relationships didn’t work out, and surprise, surprise, their exes are almost always the cause. Early on, the blame game with his excuses applies to everything and everyone outside of them. Just know, eventually, he’ll also blame you. Speaking of which, this brings me to my next point…
5.They can’t take accountability if their life depends on it.
Maybe he shuts down when you bring up anything remotely serious or shrugs it off as not being able to do “negative emotions.” Maybe he downright denies it when you mention something he has said or done is hurtful to you. Maybe he acts defensive or doesn’t allow you to take up space in the conversation and instantly dishes out a rebuttal. Something he did is not acceptable under the light of accountability, and so it becomes about what you did to him. You’re being “too sensitive,” that’s not what he meant, you’re “overthinking.”
Maybe all of this points to the man-child you’re clearly dealing with is one that refuses to take responsibility for his actions or his words when it comes to you. He deflects instead of owning, whether it’s his bad behavior or his own emotions. Who wants that?
6.They have standards that they can’t or won’t meet themselves.
It starts with a comment or two here or there while you’re out and about, but they make it known how high their standards are regarding cleanliness or upkeep. But let them get into a relationship with you, and the unsolicited criticisms about how you are and how you move are never-ending. It can start with something seemingly small, like commenting on your cooking despite not ever lifting a finger to cook a meal themselves. The complaints themselves are self-serving because while they attach a lot of expectations to you, they never have any intention of meeting their own strict morals or high standards.
Said man-child might also appear withdrawn or “pout” when things aren’t happening “his way.” It’s almost as though they want you to fit squarely into what they believe a partner should be, say, or do, all while knowing they have no desire to also meet those standards.
Honorable mention to the version of these types that are able to dish it but can’t take it and lash out whenever they feel remotely offended. Pot, meet kettle.
7.They are still attached to the teet.
Sometimes, the makings of a man-child and a mama’s boy do overlap, and honestly, when you think of the refusal to grow up or be responsible in both types, you can probably understand why. In the case of a man-child, this can also manifest as relying on his mom to cook his meals and do his laundry, or calling her for every little thing.
It could also look like wanting to be the center of attention at all times and questioning why he is not the focus when he wants you both to do something he wants to do. Mr. Man-Child is used to being doted after by his mother figure, and wants you to fill her shoes, and wants you to be just as self-sacrificing as she is/was while doing it.
Featured image by Dragos Condrea/Getty Images