Boy. It's only March and 2020 has already been on one. Big time. If it's not the chlamydia that's in the Artic Ocean (yep, you read that right) or the fact that there are monkeys with herpes in Florida who are running rampant (is it just me or is Florida always good for a crazy story?), it's kids on TikTok treating empty toilet paper rolls like they're straws (eww). But man, if there's one thing that definitely tops everything I've seen thus far, it's got to be, what is now a pandemic across the globe. You know what I'm referring to. The coronavirus. And contrary to what some people are saying on Black Twitter, "No, Black People Aren't Immune to Covid-19".
There is simply no way around it. If we're not hearing about it in the media, we're noticing it when we get in our cars and realize that there is significantly less traffic on the roads. Or, we're going into grocery stores, only to realize that there is absolutely no toilet paper in sight. Then there are those of us who are trying to figure out how to juggle our jobs with the fact that our kids are out of school (check out "As Schools Close Because Of Coronavirus, Nearly 300 Million Kids Aren't In Class"). Or, it's the fact that more and more of us are unable to visit our elderly loved ones in nursing homes, we're spending hours in airports trying to figure out if—or how—we should catch a flight or, we're wondering when we'll see the people in our lives who are in the military again (due to the travel ban that has been placed on them).
And y'all, if you're looking to our fearless leader (I hope you can just hear the sarcasm that's just oozing from my keyboard to your monitor) for accurate information or even comfort, well, I'll just refer you to Trevor Noah's "Trump's Coronavirus Address, Blooper Reel Included". Make sure to wait for the bloopers. Trump never ceases to amaze, man (you might also want to check out "The sick joke of Donald Trump's presidency isn't funny any more").
I won't lie. Even with the coronavirus relief bill that was recently passed, the projections of what this pandemic has the capability to do is pretty mind-blowing. As of March 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 214 million Americans could be infected. That's nothing to Kanye shrug about. But with all of the information—and misinformation—that is out here, I thought it would be important to share some actual facts. Because, as we all know, "knowledge is power". Plus, the more truth you have about this virus, hopefully, the more inner peace you can gain about how to approach it in your own life.
As a heads up, this ain't a short read. That's because, I tried to be as thorough as possible. But I'm hoping that these 12 points will provide you with what you need to come to a place of knowing that, yes, we are in some trying times. Still, it shouldn't paralyze you with fear. With a little pre-planning and intentional precautions, we can get through this. As Black people, we've certainly been through worse, right? I'm sayin'.
1. What Exactly IS the Coronavirus?
So, just what is the coronavirus (COVID-19)? It's kind of a long and sordid tale, but probably the best way to sum it up is, it's a virus that comes from a family of other viruses that has the ability to infect both humans as well as animals. Someone was diagnosed with it in December 2019 (more on that in a sec), and it's related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). It's highly-transmittable and while—please make sure you catch this part—many people who get it end up with a mild case, the huge cause for alarm is, sometimes it can lead to pneumonia, fluid build-up in the lungs or kidney failure (check out "Here's what coronavirus does to the body"). To date, the virus is less deadly than SARS and two percent of the reported cases of the coronavirus have been deadly.
Just where did it originate? I want to be careful about taking us all down that rabbit hole because new information is constantly coming out. What I will say is if you heard that it came from a Chinese person consuming bat soup, while scientific reports can confirm that there is definitely a coronavirus strain that comes from bats, what actually has baffled researchers is, there appears to be a different animal who served as the "intermediate host" between bats and humans in this case. What is factual is it originated in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province, presumably from an animal at a seafood market. Yes, it did come from China. However, let's use common sense. Chinese food is not going to give you the virus (any differently than taking the risk of eating out anywhere would) and—please stop—Corona beer definitely won't (goodness).
2. Who Is the Most Vulnerable?
As far as who is most vulnerable, according to the CDC, it's older adults (in China, 12 percent of the cases involved people who are over 70) and individuals who have medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. And what if you happen to have asthma? According to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, because it is a condition that affects the respiratory system, you should be extra cautious too. Some studies state that men are at a higher risk than women as well. So are individuals who are taking care of anyone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Currently, children are at a lower risk than adults.
3. How Can You Get Infected?
How can you get coronavirus? From what I read, it is spreading due to droplets that come from people's noses and mouths. One science article stated that, standing less than six feet from an infected individual, for more than 15 minutes, can put you at high risk for contracting it.
For now, the incubation period appears to be 14 days from the day you are exposed, you would need a laboratory test to confirm that it is indeed the coronavirus and, as far as treatment? Yeah, that's another area where I want to be careful. From what I've researched, because the virus is viral and not bacterial, it doesn't respond to antibiotics. While scientists and medical professionals are trying to find a cure (and a vaccine), what is recommended in the meantime is to 1) self-quarantine (or your doctor may admit you into the hospital if it's a severe case); 2) to drink plenty of fluids in order to remain hydrated; 3) to keep the fever down and 4) if it's severe, supplemental oxygen may be needed.
It is important to keep in mind that, at least for now, 80 percent of individuals who get the virus are able to recover without the need for hospitalization or even extra-special treatment (reportedly, 70,000 have recovered in the United States as of March 12). The reason why self-quarantining is such an imperative thing to do, even if you have a mild case, is the person you could infect may have a compromised system. The less the virus spreads, the safer those around us can be. That's why more and more companies are requiring that their employees work from home right now. Makes sense, right?
4. What Symptoms Should You Look Out For?
OK. Let's talk about symptoms for a minute. When I read about a woman who freaked out to the point of being kicked off of a Jetstar flight, all because a man was coughing on it (we normally cough, anywhere between 1-34 times a day), I was like, yeah, I definitely need to throw the symptoms of the virus into this. So, here's the deal. If you want to see for yourself what makes the coronavirus stand out from the common cold, the flu or even allergies (since we are heading into allergy season), a chart that I checked out stated the following.
- Fever: Common
- Dry Cough: Common
- Shortness of Breath: Common
- Headaches: Sometimes
- Aches and Pains: Sometimes
- Sore Throat: Sometimes
- Fatigue: Sometimes
- Diarrhea: Rare
- Runny Nose: Rare
- Sneezing: No
Now, information about the virus is ever-evolving. Another article that I read is discovering that some people who have coronavirus are even asymptomatic. But what I am confident in recommending is, if you happen to have several of these symptoms (not just a cough, unless it isn't going away after a couple of days), you should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
5. Good Hygiene Should Be a Given Regardless
Everything in life has silver linings; it's all about whether or not we choose to see them. When it comes to the coronavirus, two linings that come to my mind is, during the (potential) quarantine season, it could create more quality time for families and two, it should also remind us to use common sense when it comes to hygiene.
For instance, although I'm not sure I get the logic behind why The Real's Adrienne Bailon thinks that there's no real need to wash your hands after using the bathroom, so long as you're at your own house (bacteria is bacteria, y'all), believe it or not, she's not an exception in this case. A couple of years ago,The Root published an article, citing the fact that only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women wash their hands after going to the restroom (what in the world?!). Y'all, all kinds of germs and bacteria is not just coming from bodily waste but countertops, doorknobs and cellphones—all of which are in our house. Outdoors, there are things like steering wheels, shopping carts, gas handles, ATMs…need a sistah go on? So yes, wash your freakin' hands, please. Use warm or hot water. Definitely use soap. And, make sure that you lather up and wash for no less than 30 seconds and then rinse thoroughly. Wash them after using the bathroom, after you come in from outside, and after you cough or sneeze too.
As far as other precautions that you need to take, it's not too much different than what you (hopefully) learned in early elementary school. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Avoid touching surfaces, as much as possible, in public places. Also, keep your hands off of your face, your fingers out of your mouth, and keep your house clean and disinfected (this includes tables, light switches and desks, not just toilets, sinks and faucets).
Now the "extras" that you should factor in, just to be extra safe, include avoiding crowded spots and staying six feet away from people as much as possible; doing a fist-pound instead of a handshake, even with people you know; avoid touching surfaces, as much as possible, when you are in public (try opening doors with the sleeve of your shirt instead of your hands), and nixing the whole in-store product testing approach. At least for now (Sephora and Ulta Beauty won't let you anyway; again, at least for now).
If you happen to be like a friend of mine's husband and you feel like you can't give up the gym, no matter what, take a second to check out "Coronavirus and the gym: Be 'super careful' at public facilities, doctor suggests". Speaking of men, fellas, you can keep your facial hair (praise the Lord). It was a rumor that you needed to cut it off, but you don't.
And what about your pet? Rest easy about them. Reportedly, "The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from humans to humans. There is no research to support human to animal spread at this time." Yeah, I caught the "at this time" part too, but until we know something different, don't stress about Spot, Fluffy or whatever your dog or cat's name is. Treat them as you normally would—unless you kiss yours in the mouth or let them sleep on your pillow. Then…don't.
Oh, and what about the whole mask-wearing thing? According to the World Health Organization, you only need to put a mask on if you are actually ill and disposable face masks should only be used once. Otherwise, you can chill on that.
6. Use Soap More than Sanitizer
While I'm still trying to figure out what the obsession with toilet paper is right now, I totally get why hand sanitizer is flying off of the shelves. If you can't seem to find any at your local store, I wouldn't trip, if I were you. There are a substantial amount of sources out here that say a good old-fashioned bar of soap is more effective anyway. One article said that it's because soap has the ability to loosen bacteria and viruses from the skin (it also said that, when you're in public, it's best to go with liquid instead of bar soap). Another article that I checked out stated soap is one of the most effective ways to get rid of the virus because it removes the fatty layer that coats the virus. The New York Times also recently published an article entitled, "Why Soap Works". So, instead of thinking that you've got to take the risk of standing in line at a local drugstore for some sanitizer or that you should figure out what DIY recipe actually works, pick up some soap instead. It's totally got your back. Again, there's plenty of data to prove it.
7. Pay Attention to What’s Happening in Your Actual State
If you're feeling overwhelmed, I'd venture to say that, a part of the reason why is because, not only are you watching what's happening on our continent, but what is transpiring all over the world. While it is essential to be aware of what is going down globally, remember that it's essential that you are most knowledgeable about what is happening in your actual state (or where you are traveling to). For instance, in Ohio, health officials believe that 100,000 people are already infected while (at the least at the time of me writing this) West Virginia is the only state to not have a coronavirus patient yet. It's also important to know how your local officials are handling the situation. While I'm here, shout-out to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance, who may have read articles like, "Coronavirus to impact low-wage, black workers the most" and already decided to halt water disconnections for the next 60 days.
You can go to your favorite search engine and seek out US maps that track how many people are infected based on where you live, or you can go to a search engine and put "coronavirus" along with your state (or even your city) in order get the updated info. Make sure that you do.
8. Here’s What You Need for a 14-Day Quarantine
I went to the store to stock up for about three weeks a couple of days ago. I'll be honest with you—it wasn't so much due to the virus as the fact that so many people are panic shopping that I wanted to make sure I actually had something to eat in my house (because eating out is gonna be a no-no for me right through here for a little while). But whether you're shopping to stock up "just in case" or because you have been told to self-quarantine (or see the need to self-quarantine because you recently came back from Italy or something), you don't need to go broke by buying up the entire store. Here's basically what you need for about two weeks of staying in your house.
Dried and canned goods. It's pre-packaged (unlike fresh produce). Plus, I wouldn't 100 percent rely on electricity, if I were you. If the entire country goes on a lockdown, well, that's people who work at the electric company too and you just never know. Plus, I live in Nashville and was without electricity for a week after the tornadoes that we had a couple of weeks ago. Throwing out a freezer full sucked. Anyway, whatever you decide to get, make sure it's a 14-day amount for each individual who lives in your home.
Frozen foods (and a cooler). Again, the dried foods and canned goods are a precaution (they also last for a long time). Hopefully, your electricity will be just fine, so also get some frozen foods (they last longer than fresh produce) and a cooler, if you don't have one. That way, if your electricity does happen to cut out for a moment or two, you can put the ice in there and store your frozen food a bit longer.
30-day prescription of medications. Even running out "for a hot second" could infect you or someone around you. So, just to be on the safe side, have a month's worth of the medications (and vitamins or supplements) that you already take available.
Over-the-counter meds. If you do happen to have mild symptoms and your doctor encourages you to recover at home, you'll need some ibuprofen to help with body aches and your fever (although some experts are actually recommending paracetamol instead); cough syrup to manage your cough and some cough drops to soothe your sore throat. Stock up on those.
Paper products. Toilet paper, paper towels, you get it.
First-Aid kit. If you've got kids or a man who likes to tinker around the house, a kit is paramount.
Ladies, don't forget about sanitary products. If your period is scheduled to come on during the quarantine, make sure you've got what you need to handle it. Personally, since I've been using a menstrual cup, I've got just one more reason to be in love with it; I only need to use one and I only have to purchase one every 10 years. I'm set.
Water. They are saying that the virus won't affect our water supply. But again, if there is a nationwide lockdown, that somehow happens to affect the employees at the water company and how we get our water (you never know), having a 14-day supply of bottled water, per person in your household, is a good look too.
I could go on, but USA Today published a pretty comprehensive list. You can check it out here.
9. Yes, You Need to Budget
The shoes can wait. So, can buying up 10 plane tickets or purchasing whatever else is on your current high-end shopping list. The main reason why I say that is, in the midst of the pandemic, please don't miss some of the shadiness that is going on. Things like "Court cites coronavirus in blocking Trump administration's food stamp cuts" (yep, this administration is actually trying to cut people's food stamps during a pandemic. Wow.) and "For the Love of God, Why Is the Trump Administration Blocking Medicaid Access to Fight Coronavirus?". Moral to the story? Don't assume that the government is automatically gonna have your back right through here. If there was ever a time to create a budget (and stick to it), save and be frugal, it would be now.
Case in point. I have a girlfriend who is a speech pathologist in Maryland. Maryland and Ohio were the first two states to shut down all K-12 schools due to the coronavirus. She's married with four kids. When I asked her what all of this meant, she said that she would be paid for the next two weeks, then there's spring break and then…we'll see. You can't pay a mortgage on "we'll see". Spend and save wisely, y'all.
10. What About Air Travel?
As far as travelling, about half of the people in my intimate circle have been on a plane, at least once, since the news of the coronavirus broke out. They are still healthy and pretty "Omarion" (you know, unbothered) about it all. Good for them. Still, for as long as the government allows us to fly (check out "Are restrictions on travel within the United States coming soon?"), it's still important to take precautions. That's why you should have some sanitizing hand wipes in tow and you should also wipe down any surface that you plan on touching on the plane; to drink as much water as possible (it will flush out your system, keep your immunity in good shape, and help to prevent headaches, body aches and fatigue); and, that you have some Vitamin C on hand. It is a holistic way to fight off airborne germs. I'm hoping it's a given that you would cover your mouth and turn your head away from others if you cough or sneeze (you might want to do it into your sleeve rather than your hand, just to be extra safe).
When it comes to some avoid-getting-sick-while-flying hacks, NPR did a good feature last month. It included booking a window seat as much as possible, and also keeping in mind that the office where you work is probably nastier than any plane you've flown on, so stay calm. Peep this—"In the course of her research, Hertzberg's team took more than 200 environmental swabs on 10 transcontinental U.S. flights and didn't find a single respiratory virus in the sample (though there was plenty of bacteria)." Again, knowledge is power.
11. Make Sure to Keep Your Immune System Strong
The stronger your immune system is, the more equipped you'll be able to fight coronavirus if you do happen to get it. Stay hydrated. Eat healthy (especially consume lots of antioxidants like spinach, citrus fruits, beans, eggplants and dark chocolate). Get plenty of rest. Exercise (even if it's just in your house). Take a multi-vitamin. Open up your windows (indoor air pollution is 2-5 times higher than outdoor air pollution). Get some comfort foods for your quarantine but don't overdo it on the junk. Make green tea your friend. Have sex with your partner (sperm is like a mega-multi vitamin and a woman's vaginal fluids are the ultimate probiotic). In short, be as proactive as possible about your health. It's an extremely worthwhile investment.
12. Fear Helps Absolutely Nothing
Being concerned is one thing. Being paralyzed with fear is something else. The first is productive. The second? It really does nothing but make matters worse. That's why it's so important to embrace every moment, to remain as tranquil as possible, to operate from a place of wisdom, knowledge and discernment, and to choose to not fear. Because, as my Bible following family knows, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7—NKJV); love and a sound mind—for real, for real—are what's gonna get us through this.
If you need a little more encouragement, Hot New Hip Hop recently posted an Instagram message from hip-hop artist Lecrae that I thought would be a fitting way to close this out. Here's some of what he said.
"I stayed up late doing as much research as I possibly could. I was on the phone earlier today talking on the phone with someone who is very close to a biotech scientist who spent their 50-year career working with viruses such as corona and actually on coronavirus. COVID-19 is a new strand of coronavirus, so corona has been here for a while. This is a new strand." (He's right; reportedly, the first strain was described in the 1960s.)
"God is in control. We live in a world that is broken. There have been pandemics, there have been wars, there have been bombs, there have been plagues since humanity's been here. It is not an excuse for us to act inhumane and for us to act as if God is not in control and as if he's not a God we can trust. He's brought people through it. Not without pain and not without suffering, not without loss. This shows me where my true rewards are, where my hope really is, where my faith really is."
Yes, sir. If I were around you, I would give you a fist-pound for sharing this. Come to think about it, hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco also had a word in due season:
"As this thing grows and gets a little more out of hand, remember that corona is what you make it. If you make it a crazy, panic-driven, fear-filled thing, then that is what it will be. This disease isn't just the disease itself; it's also the reaction to the disease, and in some cases, for most of us, what we will be experiencing is the reaction to the disease."
The coronavirus isn't something I'm thrilled about, but with the info that I have, it's not something I'm terrified of either. Stay aware. Stay focused. Stay calm. Like all crisis, sis, this too shall pass.
Now get off of here and go to the store before all of the toilet paper runs out. #justsayin'
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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. ;)
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.
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It’s semi-consistent that someone will hit me up based on an article I’ve written and will say, “Where did you come up with the idea to tackle that?” Although I do spend a good amount of time hanging out in cyberspace to see what folks are talking about, you’d be amazed how much inspiration comes from my clients, chile. And today’s topic? You already read the title, and yeah, it really is wild how much of an issue this is in a lot of relationships — marriages included.
How in the world folks let something like this get past them before jumping the broom, I will never (EVER) know because even if you and your partner decide to practice abstinence before saying “I do” (yes, some people do still do that), intimacy isn’t just about sex. And so, if you plan on vowing “until death parts us” to another individual, conversations need to get hella extensive, deep, and personal when it comes to what each other’s wants, needs, and expectations are — both inside of the bedroom as well as outside of it. And yes, oral sex applies.
Listen, I tell people often that you are in over-the-top denial if you think that someone is going to sign up for monogamy (the original definition of that is marriage, not dating, by the way; “exclusivity” is a more appropriate word for dating dynamics) and either end up in a sexless marriage (which is sex that transpires 10-15 times a year) or one where their sexual needs end up going unmet (especially on a consistent basis).
So, if cunnilingus is a big deal to you (and sis, I totally get it if that is indeed the case) and he’s either not interested in, umm, “meeting you where you’re at” or even if he’s simply less than enthused about doing so, please don’t just grin and bear it in silence. THAT IS A PROBLEM THAT IS ONLY GOING TO GET BIGGER.
That said, let’s look into how this issue can be addressed…
What’s His Reason?Giphy
Remember how I said that my clients inspire me a lot as far as content goes? Well, I’ll never forget sitting across from a man who was an elder at his church. Chile, he was a real trip because while he had no problem with his wife going down on him (more on that in a sec), he said that there was no biblical stance behind him “returning the favor.” Don’t get me started on how many times church folks act shocked by how much Word I know, and you know what? I am very aware of the fact that sex is mentioned in the Bible quite a bit.
For instance, I Corinthians 7:5 tells married couples not to deprive each other; and that sex needs to happen consistently. The Message Version of I Corinthians 6:16-20 speaks to sex not being designed to be casual. The Song of Solomon? Chile, that book is so graphic (if you know how to read in between the lines). And then there is Proverbs 5:15(NKJV): “Drink water from your own cistern and running water from your own well.”
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: a cistern is not only “a reservoir, tank, or container for storing or holding water or other liquid,” it is also “a reservoir or receptacle of some natural fluid of the body.” That second definition? Yes, the vagina would certainly qualify — so thinking that there is some spiritual reason to not engage? I don’t think there is one. Not for married folks.
Still, I’m using this as an example because no one comes up with something like an anti-oral stance without some sort of reasoning behind it. It might be how they were raised. It might be some sort of religious thing. It might be because they had a bad first (second or third) experience. It might be because they are afraid and are too scared to (openly) admit it. It might be because they are simply selfish individuals. Whatever the case may be, if you’ve got a partner who is against cunnilingus, remember that good sex typically includes some levels of emotional intimacy. Don’t just accept what he’s saying — talk to him about it.
Does He Expect Fellatio, Tho?Giphy
Many of us know the position that DJ Khaled was on a few years back; you know, when he said that he expects oral sex from his wife, yet he doesn’t give it. Now, to be fair, there is probably some cultural and religious stuff behind it all, but still: he was talking about being a king, and that is why he should be serviced — and how could we not see a lot of ego in all of that?
Personally — and if it’s TMI, I apologize in advance — I never found myself in the position where oral sex was going down, and reciprocity wasn’t present. I did have one sex partner where it never happened, yet it wasn’t for a lack of him trying or offering (I just didn’t want to for some reason). For me, my sexual history consisted of people who were my friends…which means we knew each other really well…which means we knew each other’s sexual needs and expectations way before anything ever transpired.
However, even if that’s not the case for you, if “head” hasn’t gone down yet, talk all of this out. If it has, and it seems like you’re the only one on the giving end, you need to bring it up. After all, closed mouths don’t get fed — or eaten (I mean…). If he gives you some DJ Khaled rah-rah, that’s gaslighting to the billionth degree because if it’s a religious thing, most religions promote abstinence outside of marriage. If he comes at you on some what I once heard R&B singer Keith Sweat say at a concert here in Nashville, that “real men don’t need to go down on women” because their penis should be enough — that’s nonsense.
For one thing, if you should be fine with just his penis, he should be fine with just your vagina. Secondly, a lot more women climax from cunnilingus than vaginal penetration alone — so, if he’s a pleaser, he’s gonna want to make sure that you get pleased. And if he isn’t one…that means sex is mostly about him, and he sucks (no pun intended) for thinking that way.
And what about you? Should you keep on…pleasuring him in that fashion if he’s not willing to “return the favor?" My vote is “no” because you are rewarding his selfishness, which is something that we’ll get more into in just a moment. That said, I will put on record that since every successful relationship includes levels of compromise, there is something else that you should consider.
Is He Open to “Compromise”?Giphy
Compromise. On so many levels, it is the foundation of pretty much relationships. And how do you compromise when it comes to something like this? Compromise can be how long he’s down there for (because if you’ve ever been with a man who enjoys going down, you know that he can be there for quite a while…and we appreciate it!). Compromise can be bringing sex-related condiments like whipped cream or honey into the dynamic. Compromise can be “counting up to 69” (if you know what I mean) so that he can be receiving pleasure while he’s giving it (which can serve as an absolutely awesome distraction). Compromise can be not expecting it every time sex goes down.
Would I compromise with a man who wasn’t big on cunnilingus? Probably not because that’s how big of a deal it is for me. However, I get that sometimes you can meet a good man, and his not being interested in “being a giver” isn’t exactly a deal-breaker for you. If that is indeed the case, compromise is the middle ground that just might work for you.
Okay, but what if you can’t bend in this department?
Is It a Deal-Breaker for You?Giphy
A few years back, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “These Are The Deal-Breakers You Shouldn't Hesitate To Have In The Bedroom.” And although “no oral sex” wasn’t on the list, I don’t think it’s shallow in the least if that is something that you just can’t seem to do without, especially if you’re gearing up for (or are already in) an exclusive type of situation. Again, it can’t be said enough that when you sign up to be someone’s one-and-only, and they do the same thing for you, this means that you are to be looking to them, and them alone, to get certain needs met.
And here’s the irony about deal-breakers: what they basically mean is two people came to the negotiating table and couldn’t find a middle ground. And while, I don’t think that anyone should feel bad about not doing something that they don’t want to do, if your man’s reason for not going down on you is simply, “I don’t want to” and he’s not even open to trying to find some workarounds, you’re probably going to find yourself very unhappy and sexually unfulfilled up the road and that means that there is a huge potential for other problems down the pike too.
It can’t be said enough that a deal-breaker is something that can’t be worked out after two people have tried to work things out. If the two of you have openly discussed the topic and he’s not willing to try to bend and you’re not willing to give oral sex up — no, it’s not shallow to end the relationship. Dating is about seeing who meets your needs, and it’s more than fair to see oral sex as a bona fide sexual need.
Do You See Signs of Selfishness Elsewhere?Giphy
Are there some people who just don’t like oral sex, no matter what? Of course, there are (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”). Hey, I even wrote a while back about some people who aren’t fond of kissing (check out “Umm, What's Up With These People Who Hate Kissing?”). Now I will say this: for the very few I know who don’t like to give or receive, they don’t apply when it comes to what I’m about to address that is probably the issue for everyone else who takes a pass on oral sex: selfishness. And since we’re talking about guys who don’t go down, specifically, in this piece — selfish men.
Do you know what I’ve noticed about those types of guys? They tend to be selfish in other areas too because, what they are essentially saying is, that they want you to do what pleases them while not being interested in returning the favor. And that tends to manifest in other reasons. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself the following questions, and then be real with yourself about the answers:
Do you find yourself doing most of the work to keep the relationship going? Are you the bigger giver overall? If you weren’t the one initiating calls, dates, etc. would you even be in a consistent relationship? Does he rarely compromise? Do you keep putting other needs that you have on the back burner? Does he make you feel like other wants that you have aren’t that big of a deal or that you are blowing things out of proportion for not getting them met? Does he try to make you feel guilty for having certain expectations?
A wise person once said that good sex is 10 percent of a relationship while bad sex is 90 percent because the bedroom sets the tone for the rest of the room of the house. That said, if you’ve got a man who won't go down on you (or acts like it’s a chore if he does), it’s clear that your bedroom has some issues. And so, I can’t help but ask: How’s the rest of your “house” doing? If it’s selfish elsewhere, that’s an even bigger red flag.
All You Can Do Is Ask. Discuss. Then Make Your Move. One Way or Another.Season 1 Doesnt Work Like That GIF by The Roku ChannelGiphy
The reason why I decided to provide some things to think about instead of writing what I think a blanket solution should be is because the reality is that when it comes to stuff like this, no two couples are the same; there are so many nuances to sexual needs that it’s impossible to cover it all in just one article.
What I did want to make sure of is you knew that 1) your sexual needs are legitimate; 2) the way to address getting them met is to not suppress or make assumptions; you need to address them head-on, and 3) if he’s not willing to give you what you need (or want, if you choose to see cunnilingus in that fashion), you’ve got some serious thinking to do. Because, again, going the distance with someone who isn’t meeting a sexual desire that satisfies you can be a setup for all kinds of drama that could be avoided if the two of you aren’t kind enough to each other to say, “You know what? Maybe we’re not as right for each other as we thought.”
Sex is the only thing in a relationship. NOT. AT. ALL. At the same time, I’ve been working with sexually unhappy couples long enough to know that if you don’t take your needs seriously, “snowflakes” have a way of turning into avalanches.
If he won’t go down on you, address it. If he’s not willing to budge, don’t feel bad for making a move… on someone who wouldn’t even dream of this being an issue in the first place.
And sis, there are PLENTY of men out here who are just like that. TRUST.
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