If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. If you want to know what a man is really thinking, while your girlfriends—well, at least some of your girlfriends—can offer up some insight, you're going to be far better off picking the brains of your dad, your brothers or some of your male buddies. I can vouch for this because I can probably count on one hand, the times I went to a guy and then a girl for advice on the same issue and they both had the same perspective on it. Men and women are different. God made them that way. Simple as that.
That's why, when it comes to topics like how men approach marriage, emotional connections and sex, I think it's much wiser—enlightening too—to ask them directly than to be presuming or guessing with those of the female persuasion. When I asked several Black men about what turns them on, while the answers didn't surprise me much, some of the explanations behind them were interesting.
Sidenote: The actual turn ons are direct quotes, but because there was a lot of "streams of consciousness" going on during the interviews, I decided to simply summarize their explanations so that you can get the overall gist. I hope that's cool with you.
So fellas, what turns you on about women? Whoops, let me specify—about Black women?
“A woman who has a signature scent.”—Andre’, 32
OK. So according to Andre', a lot of women smell too much like, well, other women. "I think the scent that you wear is a lot like the style that you choose and real style doesn't pay attention to what's in or out. Ladies with style are interested in what works for them." He has a good point there. He also told me that he's into essential oil blends instead of perfumes. And a woman who puts her signature scent in her hair can get just about anything she wants from him. Good to know, Andre'.
“Someone who is comfortable without make-up—at home and in public.”—Isaac, 27
I'm a woman and still, I find it interesting when some women get offended when a man says he's not a fan of make-up or extensions. I mean, if it's true that ladies are "doing it for themselves" and not for a guy's attention, applause or approval, why should it matter what men think…right? Anyway, what Isaac broke down to me is, as cliché as it might be, he agrees with Drake (in his "Best I Ever Had" song) when he said, "Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin' with no make-up on. That's when you're the prettiest, I hope that you don't take it wrong."
"A woman who knows how to, what do the ladies say, 'beat' their face is an art form, no doubt. But it's not the most convenient for us. Make-up gets everywhere and their lips have residue on them. I dunno. I think a woman who can go out with nothing but lip gloss…there's something about her level of self-confidence that is super sexy to me."
“Manicured feet, soft hands and a sexy pair of shoes.”—Bryant, 40
When Bryant told me what his top turn on was, I smiled because it took me back to one of my male besties when I was in college. I had never seen a foot fetish quite like it; he even told her that he'd prefer pretty feet over a beautiful face or a bangin' body (for real?!). When I shared this with Bryant, he nodded in agreement. When I asked him to explain WTH that was all about he said, "Do you know how much a woman loves herself if she makes sure to pamper her feet?" And the shoe thing? "Guys love sneakers. I think we just appreciate a woman who's as knowledgeable about shoes as we are."
The hands thing, I got. Ash is the worst. No expounding needed on that.
“Great conversation and a wonderful sense of humor.”—Keith, 25
Talking to Keith about his turn ons was not surprising in the least, but it was fascinating. Not the sense of humor part because I believe most of us want that. No, it's what he said about conversing with a woman that especially caught my attention. "A woman who listens is amazing. I know a lot of women think that they listen, but they really don't. Their body language and the fact that a lot of them repeat back what they heard in their mind and not what actually came out of my mouth is frustrating. But a good conversation is about more than that. I love great timing, quick wit and the ability to walk away and know that I learned something new or I can appreciate a different perspective. A great conversation that has a lot of laughter is the greatest aphrodisiac around."
“A woman who knows a little bit about everything.”—Justin, 36
When Justin told me that a knowledgeable woman was a turn on for him, I didn't really look for him to expound much. It is for me as well, so I totally got where he was coming from. "It's just so hot when you can mention everything from an 80s rap group to a Scripture in the Bible to what's happening in politics and the woman across from you is not sitting with a blank stare on her face," Justin said. Then he paused and went on. "I think that's why Jacqueline had Marcus so messed up. She was fine, she was a business exec and she could enjoy a basketball game and a beer. That's my dream woman right there."
(In case you're wondering, that was a Boomerang [the movie, not the series] reference.)
“Stretch marks and an overbite.”—Lucas, 35Giphy
Lucas is a man of action more than words. So, when I asked him what was up with what drew him to a woman, he said, "Grown women have stretch marks and grown women are what turn me on." (shout out to my birthday twin Kendrick Lamar who basically said the same thing in his song "Humble".) And the overbite? "How X-rated can I get in this interview? Let's just say that an overbite is fellatio's very best friend." Yep. Moving on.
“Surprise piercings and tats.”—Marcus, 29
Talking to Marcus about his turn ons was cool; not just because I have 10 piercings (eight of 'em are in my ears) and three tats myself, but because I have a friend who said a woman with tats are a total deal breaker for him (yes, out of his own mouth, he said that he would break up with a woman if he found out that she had one). Why is Marcus the total opposite? "Tattoos are stories to me. I'm intrigued when a woman is willing to tell a story on her body; especially if it's a…private tale." (You nasty, Marcus.)
As far as the piercings go, Marcus pleasantly surprised me when he was able to tell me that I had a tragus, along with the names of other types of piercings. "I love a woman of mystery and so, it's so sexy to me when a woman appears super-conservative and then, when you spend your first night with her, she has a nipple or clit piercing. Man."
“I like a woman who enjoys sex more than she’s simply ‘good at it’.”—Damon, 43
Recently, I penned a piece about how grown women approach sex. One of the things I shared is grown women would rather have "B" (good) sex all of the time than A+ (totally off of the charts) sex every once in a while. When I shared this with Damon, he shook his head in total agreement. "I've been with women who made my toes curl, but their libido was on life support. A woman who lost her virginity late in life and has only had two partners but is enthusiastic about gettin' it in is way more appealing than a woman who's been told she's the best by all of her partners but only wants to have sex once a month." Damon, swap out woman for man in my case and I couldn't agree with you more.
“A woman who needs me without being needy.”—Timothy, 42Giphy
A little while back, I wrote an article for the site entitled "Are You In Love Or Are You In Need?" It gets into what it means to be needy in a relationship. Even as a woman, I totally get how that can be a total turn off. When I asked Timothy to expound on the point, he said, "You can tell when a woman is looking for someone to make her feel good about herself vs. a woman who enjoys a man's presence in her life even though she doesn't really need him to be in it." I looked to him for more clarity, so he elaborated. "I'm not saying I don't want to be needed but I think that should come once a relationship has been established. Not after a date or two." Agreed. (That goes both ways too.)
“Someone who doesn’t try to be sexy. She just is.”—Xavier, 39
"No diss to the IG models out here in the world, but they do nothing for me. It's like overkill. A woman who is comfortable in her own skin, that's sexy to me. She's got her own views, her own style and she's drippin' with femininity—I will eat that up. Literally." Whew Xavier, tell us how you really feel.
"I don't think a lot of women realize that once a man gets to a certain stage in his life, T&A is icing on the cake. A big brain, tons of self-confidence and a sexy walk will keep us more than a big booty and a smile will. A woman who carries herself like she knows all of this is the epitome of sexy to me." Indeed, Xavier. Indeed.
What's a trip about this is some folks are gonna read it and critique the responses. It's human nature. But my takeaway is if I want to know what turns someone on, I need to ask them and then accept it. It's not about what I think it should be; it's about what they tell me it is. By asking rather than assuming, I just might be surprised by what I hear—in the most pleasant way possible. Just as I was with these 10 Black men.
Featured image by Getty Images
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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. ;)
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.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images