How many of y'all remember the beginning scene in the movieObsessed where Sharon (played by Beyoncé) and her husband Charles (played by Idris Elba) walked into their new home and saw a mirror on the ceiling of their bedroom? Sharon wanted it to come down because it was tacky, but, as you're about to see in just a sec, she probably should've left it up there and then added a few more throughout the house.
Erotic self-focus. I already know that some of y'all read the title and thought, "Shellie, where do you get some of this stuff from?" Here's the thing—while this is not something that is a daily topic of conversation, believe it or not, it's actually been the center of several scientific research studies (like this one, this one and this one). Men's Health once even did a feature entitled, "Erotic Self-Focus | Why She Wants You to Watch"—so yeah, it's a bigger deal than you might think.
It also might be a practice that can take your sex life to new heights. Here's why I say that.
Poor Body Image Issues: A Main Cause of Sexual Dissatisfaction
When you've been a marriage life coach for as long as I have, it's kind of a trip what you tend to hear over and over again. On the sex tip, a lot of wives say they wish their husbands were more spontaneous. As far as husbands go, guess what I hear more than just about anything? That they want to have sex with the lights on more often. It makes sense when you think about the fact that men are stimulated visually. And since reportedly, 56 percent of women aren't satisfied with their overall appearance, I also get why this can be so much of a challenge.
The solution? First, I would recommend having very open and honest communication with your partner. Real talk ladies, we tend to be FAR MORE (I'm capitalizing that on purpose) critical of our bodies than men are. I know guys who find bellies, stretch marks (remember when Kendrick Lamar shouted them out?) and even cellulite to be mad sexy. Why? A big reason is because they're real. Real men like real women (imagine that!). It really is a reality check to admit that, a lot of us are hard on ourselves, not because of what men think but because of what the media crams down our throats and because we put ourselves in competition with other women. But goodness, that's another conversation for another time. My bottom line is this—don't project your own insecurities onto your man, just because. You might be floored by hearing what he loves about your body, if you'd just ask them.
That said, yes, if you do happen to struggle with loving your body, just as it is, I know that getting to a place where you are able to celebrate it may not happen overnight. Well, that is where the second "remedy" comes in.
Erotic self-focus is all about getting you to a point and place where you are excited about looking at your own damn self and absolutely loving what you see. And yes, sis, that is indeed very possible. And in order to have a consistently fulfilling sex life, very necessary.
What Exactly Is Erotic Self-Focus and Why It Can Help with Sexual Pleasure
With articles out here is cyberspace like "Women Want To Be Desired" (and them saying things like, "If a woman's desire significantly decreases 2 or 3 years into a relationship, it's quite likely because she is no longer being courted in the same way where she feels the heat and passion of being desired. She may become somewhat bored with the same old partner if their sexual intimacy has become routine and uninspired.") and "Men Need to Feel Desired by Their Partners, Too" (with them saying things like, "Men who wanted a more egalitarian pattern of sexual initiation indicated that they found initiating regularly was too demanding and that they wanted to be seen as an "object of desire" by their partners.), it's clear that desire plays a very relevant and essential role in sexual pleasure and fulfillment. As it relates to this particular topic, two definitions of desire are "a longing or craving, as for something that brings satisfaction or enjoyment" and "sexual appetite or a sexual urge".
Y'all, even as I'm typing this, Tweet's old-school jam "Oops (Oh My)" is playing softly in the back of my mind. Although I'm pretty sure that it's 100 percent about masturbation, there are a few lines in it— "I looked over to the left/A reflection of myself/That's why I couldn't catch my breath"—that definitely can apply to erotic self-focus. The reason why I say that is because, in a nutshell, erotic self-focus is the practice of desiring yourself, just as much as you want your partner to (and probably does).
So, how do you go about putting erotic self-focus into actual action? Because the true practice of it isn't just about "liking what you see", but tapping into all of your senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste) as much as possible, here are a few suggestions:
SIGHT: Put that mirror up! Even if you don't want your bedroom to feel like a 70s hotel room by putting a mirror up on the ceiling, at least make sure that there's an adjustable mirror nearby. Position it to where you can get a good view of yourself during foreplay and the act itself. While it might seem awkward at first, you might be surprised by how sexy you find your reflection to be during certain acts and positions. As a bonus, you'll definitely enjoy paying attention to how your partner looks when he's turned on by you.
HEARING: In the article, "We've Got Some All-Natural Ways To Increase Stamina & Sensitivity", something that I shout out is the powerful relevance of dirty talk in the bedroom. In fact, there's a science to it in the sense that it stimulates the biggest sex organ that we have—our brain. I know a lot of people who use "dirty words" in order to turn on their partner, but next time you're gettin' it on and in, pay attention to what you're saying—and how you're saying it. Chile, there have been many times when I've taken my sexual experiences to another level, just by listening to my tone, my breathing and my words. (If you need some inspiration, check out Kinky Quotes. They've got "nasty" one-liners for days!)
TOUCH: One of my male friends tells me often that nothing turns him on more than watching his partner touch herself. I get it. Women are beautiful and to witness a lady enjoying her own company can be a very sensual experience. The ladies here at xoNecole ain't even a little bit shy about talking about masturbation, but even if that's not personally your thing, do make it a point to pay attention to the parts of your body that are stimulated the most by your own touch. It can help you to learn how much pressure you want or don't want in certain areas. Plus, as they say, the best one to teach what turns you on is you.
SMELL: A lot of times, women put on a perfume, cologne or essential oil that they think will turn on their partner. But I'm here to tell you that if you are turned on, your partner is going to be regardless. So, the next time that you're out shopping for a fragrance, look for something that not only smells good to you but makes your mind…wander. I don't know about you, but to me, there's something about being in a room that has a luxurious scent that makes me want to swing from the chandeliers a whole lot quicker.
TASTE: Epicurean—"fond of or adapted to luxury or indulgence in sensual pleasures, especially with eating and drinking". That's the word that comes to mind when I think of this last point. If you were to bring a condiment into the bedroom, which one would you enjoy most? Chocolate syrup? Whipped cream? Honey? Incorporating a flavor that you like can also be a major turn-on. It can also make it easier to do some additional, umm, exploring (check out "Are You Ready To Amp Up Your Oral Sex Game? Try This." and "Oral Fixation: 6 Ladies Share Their Best Oral Sex Tips and Tricks").
Remember, erotic self-focus isn't vain or arrogant. It's simply a practice that gets you used to embracing how sexy you are which ultimately builds your confidence. And a confident woman in the bedroom? She's a beast. In the best way possible. Ask any man that you know—he can totally co-sign on that.
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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 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.
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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