When I think of the most traumatic stories one can experience, breakups are among the firsts that come to mind. Losing someone that we love can become the source of such a wrenching pain, it draws an indelible trace on our hearts and leaves us changed forever. As bizarre as it may seem, breakup stories are my favorites to write. It's true that they involve a lot of darkness and negativity that the world would gladly pass on. But the reason I find it essential to tell these stories is that they involve the darkness and negativity that most of us go through, yet often refuse to talk about because of fear.
Fear of being judged, fear of being misunderstood, fear of being alone...sometimes we even fear talking about a breakup because it'd mean that we acknowledge and accept the fact that the relationship is over.
For this particular reason, I recently asked four women* about the worst ways they've been broken up with with the intent to share their stories on xoNecole—I wanted to show you that alone and misunderstood is something that you, who's reading this, will never be. Indeed, there'll always be someone out there going through the same things that you're going through. There'll always be someone experiencing your pain. In fact, what you're experiencing is called life, and life is something that happens to every one of us.
Sharing stories you can relate to isn't the sole purpose of this article, though. What was also important to me was to show you that each of these ladies has somehow found a way to bounce back after hitting rock bottom. Each woman was able to find the good in goodbye. Each was able to find joy and glow again. These stories are reminders that no matter how low you may feel, eventually, you'll bounce back too.
*Names have been withheld for the ladies to maintain their anonymity. Pseudonyms have been used so that the ex-lovers could maintain their privacy.
I Moved To Another State For Him & He Dumped Me Soon After
*Thomas and I met through mutual friends. He's always been pretty upfront about his attraction and desire to get to know me and I wasn't against it. We'd gotten the opportunity to get together (with our friends) on several occasions and I enjoyed our conversations; I thought that he was a cool and funny guy. When he and I began to date exclusively, we did so for almost two years. Within this timeframe, we were serious enough for our families to meet as well as to discuss the serious steps that we wanted to take together as a couple. The first big step, we agreed, was to move from Ohio to Atlanta, GA, where he's from.
At the beginning of our relationship, our similarities, the connection that we had, the way we clicked...the feeling that I was getting from it all was that "we" were too good to be true. But a couple of months in, it became obvious that I'd simply crossed paths with a good person—my person.
Or so I thought.
Thomas was in his last year of law school when I started preparing for our move. Well, it wasn't really our move, it was more my move. I'd decided that, in order to establish myself as well as my professional career over there, I'd move before Thomas graduated so that I could take the time and space I needed to do so. Three months before the big day, what I hadn't noticed was uncertainty at the time began to settle in. "Are you sure you want to do this?" He'd ask me. "Maybe you can wait, just so we can move together?" Neither he nor I were the kind to let doubt creep in during moments or conversations like these. My soul inevitably perceived his words as him looking out for me, not wanting me to go through this on my own while he'd still be stuck in school, unable to protect me should anything happen.
I believe the moment I started feeling that something was off was when I was offered a job in Atlanta. I noticed a significant gap between both our levels of excitement; he wasn't as thrilled as I was. On top of that, there was the fact that, days later, he didn't come to help me move out of my apartment.
My gut feeling, which I was trying my best to ignore on that day, told me that it wasn't normal. Apparently, my cousin didn't think it was either. Being a man himself, I remember him advising me to only move if I wanted to—he, too, was getting a strange feeling from my man's absence.
The moment everything turned upside down came two weeks later, as we were driving to visit an apartment for me. I'd temporarily moved in with my grandmother and was therefore looking for my own place. Since I'd landed in Atlanta, I'd been hanging out with Thomas—who was there to visit—and his family. Despite the good times that we were having, I'd noticed a shift in his attitude, and some things started adding up. All of which started giving me an uneasy feeling. So uneasy that at some point, I felt drawn to ask: "Do you still want to be in this relationship?"
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"No," he said. "There are things that I don't like about you which I feel you'll never change because this is just who you are. And the truth is, I don't see myself married to someone like you."
This whole car conversation was a gut punch. I was furious—and extremely sad at the same time. I'd move to Atlanta for a very specific reason, him, and he was bluntly showing me how huge the mistake I'd just done was. He left me. I found myself isolated in a new city that had broken its promise for a future filled with love and which then lost all its appeal.
Both physiologically and psychologically, having my heart broken changed a lot of things: I lost thirty pounds in the matter of a month, and navigating life was very painful. Later finding out that he'd been cheating on me didn't help. The only way for me to get over Thomas, I figured, was to run away. As far as possible. So, I used my connections. I called one of my friends who always told me to feel free to reach out if I was ever looking for a job and he did all he could to help me pave a way out of Atlanta.
The distance, time, having something to do career- and purpose-wise, meeting new people, allowing myself to fall in love again is the medicine that helped me fix my broken heart.
Over the years, I became open to receiving feedback from the men I was dating. Some of them pointed out the same flaws in me which eventually made me realize that I was probably not the easiest person Thomas had to deal with. No excuse for how he did what he did; he should have broken up with me. He just should have done it differently. All in all, my breakup with Thomas was the catalyst for me to grow up and learn how to take full ownership of the role I play in my relationships instead of just blaming the other person.
Our New Year Resolution Talk Led To The End Of Our Relationship
I believe that human beings fall in love three times during their lifetime. The first time, obviously, is our first attempt at love. We tend to believe that we'll spend the rest of our life with that person—which may happen—but basically, this is mainly the first experience. Then comes our second love: the hardest. It's the love that teaches us about ourselves and changes us at our core. And finally, the third love, which is supposed to be our happily ever after.
*Dorian was my second love. Had I not experienced life with him, I wouldn't be the woman I am today. I wouldn't have been able to know exactly what I want in a relationship, I'd still be insecure and trying to find somebody to fill the void.
When I was introduced to Dorian, I was still dating someone. Funny enough, the work friends that we had in common and who wanted me to meet him believed that my boyfriend at the time wasn't right for me, so they insisted for me to hang out with them all so that Dorian and I could get to know each other. To make a long story short, Dorian didn't impress me at all in the beginning, although I did think that he was a cool guy. With that said, because we shared the same workplace, we got to spend a lot of time together, and, eventually, we built a bond. A bond that I must admit rapidly became ambiguous as, even though Dorian didn't impress me when I first met him, I grew to like him enough to break up with the guy I was dating.
Our relationship wasn't all sunshine and rainbows, though. We loved each other deeply, indeed, but because we both had a lot of growing up to do emotionally, it didn't take long before we somehow began tearing each other down. As I said, I was insecure—and he was too. He didn't know how to express himself, so he would often project his insecurities on me. As for me, I kept some parts of my life before him to myself because I feared he would reject me. The lack of trust is something that truly affected him.
One day into that new year, we agreed that, after being together for almost four years, it was time to start off on a clean slate. We spoke a lot on the morning of New Year's Day. However, when I felt safe enough to finally share my truth with him, the conversation took a turn that I did not expect. I thought he'd be understanding and that he'd give me his support. Instead, he completely blew up on me—and put an end to our story.
Losing my best friend isn't the way I expected the first day of 2019 to go. Generally, New Year's Day is supposed to be a little happier than that. At worst, meant to recover from a strong hangover from the night before. But being broken up with? I wasn't prepared for that.
The days that followed were terrible. I felt as though I had nobody to turn to anymore when things turned bad. Back in the day, I was diagnosed with high-functioning depression and panic disorder. Dorian was the only one who'd seen me have panic attacks and the only one who actually tried to help me overcome that. He used to be my rock—and now I was left to deal with life on my own. Until I remembered that this is what therapy is actually for.
The first four times I saw my therapist, all she heard me talk about was [my relationship with] Dorian. I was going through a roller coaster of emotions and had the hardest time grieving. But once the whole topic of "us" was covered, it was then time to shift the focus of the conversation on me. Me, my feelings, the reason why my love for him was so strong, the necessity for my well-being to move on, and my inabilities to let go.
The most defining lessons that I learned while going to therapy are, one, although my love for Dorian was real, the reason it grew so big was that it came from a place of self-doubt. I was dealing with self-esteem issues and was unconsciously depending on him to fix me.
However, the cure to our problems can't be found in other people. They must be found within. If you are to love someone, it's because that person adds to your life, meaning you're already whole all by yourself. Two, things start getting better from the moment you decide that they will.
My separation from Dorian forced me to level up to a higher version of myself. When I started elevating, taking some distance, I began seeing the situation from a whole other point of view. I was able to witness the bigger picture and as soon as it happened, I knew I'd just been provided with all the evidence I needed to believe that, in the end, I was better off on my own. At least during that season of my life.
He Broke Up With Me Through A Text & Took Off To Africa
Until he decided to abruptly end our relationship through text and take off to Africa right after pressing 'send', *Cameron and I dated for a year. Our story was special. We'd known each other for approximately 10 years before we started dating; it was the kind of love story you see in Hallmark movies. You know when the man has the longest crush on his friend but she has no idea, although she has a lot of love for him as well. And then, the timing of their respective love life never gives them the chance to explore what they don't know exists between them until, 10 years later, singleness finally finds them both at the same time. Yes, it was that kind of romance.
The both of us together formed a great pair; we had the same sense of humor, had a strong connection, traveling was one of our favorite activities to do together…
I couldn't say that our relationship wasn't healthy—if anything, we were best friends who were romantically involved and there have never been any signs of a red flag in sight. This is probably why the breakup caught me so off-guard; everything was fine.
However, when I visited him in Boston that time I had no idea it would be the last—I'm from New York; we were in a long-distance relationship—I noticed a shift in his energy. He was strangely acting as though my every move, not to say my presence as a whole, bothered him. I couldn't pinpoint what it was that I did or said that put him in such a mood. Of course, he wouldn't tell me either—later after the breakup, he admitted that his behavior had nothing to do with me and was in fact due to the struggles he was going through at the time. That was the most uncomfortable I've ever felt around him—and frustrated because he'd asked me to come only to make me feel unwelcome in the end.
Eventually, the time finally came for me to travel back home and get back in my own space and to my own routine. His bad mood had faded a bit before I left, but my senses were telling me that something was still off. And indeed, as well all know, intuition never lies.
No more than 24 hours after I left Boston, a notification popped up on my phone. It was a text from him, a goodbye text. I was at work going through a roller coaster of emotions while reading all these paragraphs that he'd written. So many words simply to tell me that he didn't want to be with me anymore and that, on top of everything, he was about to board a plane to Africa.
It was hurtful. Not so much the breakup, but his behavior. You know a person for so long, you have this built-in trust with him and then, he lets you down... It's hurtful. It makes you question everything, especially who can you trust if you couldn't even trust the person you thought you knew so well? I debated whether or not it was worth responding to his text for a week. After endlessly writing, erasing, and rewriting my response, I ultimately got it off my chest. I had to.
Sometimes, people will tell you to "kill them with silence." While it's a wise thing to do, I believe that there are some situations where you must stick up for yourself. That was one of those for me.
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You see, long-distance relationships come with a lot of sacrifices, whether it's time, money, or [something] else. During that weekend, the sacrifices that I made weren't considered which was very disrespectful, so I had to speak up for myself and show him that what he did wasn't right, nor was it fair.
All in all, it was the worst way I've been broken up with, but I'm happy to say that it didn't shatter me. Quite the contrary, it made me realize what he was capable of; his exit was so big and intense, I couldn't go past it. And focusing on that instead of all the reasons why I loved him opened the way for me to heal and move on quite quickly. I must also admit that the timing couldn't have been better for it happened at a moment in my life where I was finding myself at an intersection. I'd just graduated from college, I was being presented with tons of opportunities, I could decide to do whatever I wanted to do, become whoever I wanted to become; the only one I'd need to look after was me.
A month or so later, I received another text from him, this time saying that he missed me. "I get it," I replied. "I'd miss me too."
After Fake Proposing To Me, He Confessed That He Wanted To See Other People. “People” Included His Homeboy.
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Have you ever found yourself in a relationship that you initially didn't want, yet you ended up the most hurt when it ended? That's exactly what happened to me with *Devin, the most toxic spiritual encounter I've ever had in my life.
I met Devin at a bookstore located in Flint, MI, where he happened to work. My spiritual advisor introduced us. Devin was different from all the other men I'd met before. He was this fine, chocolate man with big almond-shaped brown eyes. He wore his hair like a Black nerd—but a sexy Black nerd. He was nothing like the men I'd dealt with before.
Somehow, that bookstore became my new coworking space. I'd go there to get some work done and whenever he had some free time, Devin would sit with me to help me and give me new ideas for my projects. I remember we'd also talk about entrepreneurship—he was trying to get his feet wet in public relations—and spirituality. The best part was that we started by building a friendship by connecting intellectually, which made him even more attractive to me.
With all of that being said, believe it or not, I wasn't trying to date him. At the time, a relationship wasn't part of my priorities at all; all I wanted to focus on was school and my future. But I'd be lying if I told you that the latter stopped me from accepting his invitation to take me out on a date.
If anything, this man whom I considered my friend made me feel safe. I was comfortable with him, comfortable enough to completely allow him into my life. By that, I mean allowing him to spend time with me at my place and sometimes stay overnight, plus introducing him to my family.
After some time, though, his actions began reminding me of a manipulation technique called love bombing. He would overwhelm me with love, shower me with gifts, and would become passive-aggressive when he'd hear me say that I wasn't ready to commit to him. The times he visited me at my place, I noticed, he'd leave some of his stuff around, probably as a way to mark his territory. In all honesty, the situation began giving me a strange feeling, I wasn't at ease. But my friends kept insisting that I was overthinking it. In their eyes, Devin was only a good man and they maintained that I should just accept receiving his love.
Eventually, spending so much time together led us to become more intimate. Not because I wanted to, but because I felt giving myself to him was the right thing to do as he'd been such a gentleman to me—and according to other people, I'd been so hard on him.
I'll never forget that night when I saw a Black figure leave my room as he was getting off of me. Immediately, I knew that something had changed within me spiritually-speaking. It was like I'd just lost my mind.
From the moment we had sex, we created the strongest soul tie. I couldn't get rid of him, even in spite of the many signs that I received from God urging me to run away. If I felt safe in his presence before, being involved with him then made me feel depressed. I was also sure that he'd brought the spirit of pestilence into my home, added to the fact that I found myself at the hospital quite a few times because of ruptured cysts and twisted ovaries. One night, as I was dealing with my suicidal thoughts while on my way back from work, a deer suddenly hit my car. The accident shook me so much, I knew it wouldn't take any more signs for me to understand that it was time to save myself. With a lot of difficulties, I ultimately found the strength to tell him that we were over.
Fast forward to several months later, Devin reached out to me again. He was being very apologetic and told me that he wanted us to meet up. I know I shouldn't have but I agreed.
At the time I was still really suppressing and dishonoring my intuition. Somehow, I began questioning whether I'd made the right decision when I left. I thought that maybe I was really missing out on something, so I gave him another chance.
Soon after Valentine's Day—that he celebrated with his new homeboy, whom he'd met during the time we were broken up because I was out of town—he came over to my house. It was a sweet moment because we hadn't seen each other in a long time. And at some point during the night, he pronounced some words that sounded a lot like a proposal to me. "If I was to propose to you, would you marry me?" he asked. Although I'd said that I didn't want to commit to him before, the fact that life seemed to keep bringing us back together despite our arguments and disagreements, I was then convinced that he was my soulmate. So, with a glowing heart, ready to hand him my hand, I said, "Yes, I would."
Until, Devin flipped the script on me. Immediately, he admitted that he simply wanted to hear what I'd respond, which was far different from what he'd imagined because to him, it was clear that we weren't a good match in the end. He also briefly mentioned his desire to see other people. Other people that, from my understanding and to my greatest surprise, included the man he spent Valentine's Day with.
If there was one lesson to learn from my story, it'd be to never doubt the signs that God is sending you. I was upset at myself for not listening, also very angry because choosing to get involved with him was similar to choosing to abandon myself.
One of the ways that I found to bounce back from this emotional deception was to get back to my roots, to the essence of who I am. I moved back to my hometown, started spending more time with my family, and my childhood friends. I went back to visit the places that held cheerful memories and made it a priority to do more of the things that made me happy. On the bright side, however, even if this whole experience destroyed me inside, it was the catalyst that allowed me to live my dream to write a book and become an author. All of which has shown me that, if you let them, major breakdowns can actually lead you to the biggest breakthroughs.
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The most Gemini woman you'll ever meet. Communications & community enthusiast, I run a media platform centered around spirituality, and I'm always looking to connect with fellow creatives. Follow me on Instagram & Twitter @savannahtaider
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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A dead bedroom can kill any relationship. In all long-term, committed relationships, couples experience various phases, from the initial passion to a more complex and enduring connection. Yet, as time passes, sex may decrease, which introduces an issue often referred to as "bed death."
According to Advance Psychology Partners, 'bed death' occurs when individuals in a committed relationship experience a decline in the frequency of sexual activity and fall short of the desires of both or either partner. It is sometimes labeled a "sexless relationship" due to the infrequency of sex. In the U.S., an estimated 20 million people find themselves in such relationships.
This shift is a significant change for couples. Let’s face it: no one wants to be in a sexless marriage or relationship. But how can couples effectively confront the impact of fading physical intimacy on the overall health of their enduring partnership?
"I have found that many factors influence one's desire to dive, and it is often not a majority of just one thing. Most people assume that if they don't desire [sex], they are no longer physically attracted, but in my experience, that has little to do with it most of the time," explained Brittanni Young, LMFT, CST.
"Some of the heavy contributors that I see most often include excessive goal orientation towards orgasm, people not prioritizing their own sexuality, and the landfill of ‘should’s’ that develop from toxic sexual scripts created long ago in upbringing," she added.
Furthermore, these issues are not exclusive to any particular orientation, but it does manifest differently.
Young is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sexologist, and board-certified sex therapist who practices in Georgia and Florida. She has worked in the sexology field for over a decade. Young helps couples and individuals looking to get through challenges of all facets facing sexuality and intimacy, such as desire mismatch, over-compulsion, and dysfunctions. She recently launched a deck of intimacy connection cards called "Show Me Your Cards." Young is working on another product that helps teach children to consent and negotiate appropriate touch. She sat down with xoNecole to discuss what causes the decline in the bedroom, the myth of 'lesbian bed death,' and recommendations on overcoming "bed death."
The Decline In Intimacy
Intimacy often dwindles within relationships, a phenomenon triggered by various factors such as stress, the insidious monotony of routine, and the toxicity of unresolved conflicts, to name a few. While couples manage daily life, exchanging intimate desires and concerns may take a backseat. Sadly, this gradually erodes the closeness once shared in the relationship.
"Typically, the first thing I do when working with a couple on desire challenges is rule out medical causes by referring them to their primary care physician or other provider they are working with," Young shared. "There are times when unmanaged or mismanaged conditions factor into low desire levels. Also, many medications can wreak havoc on keeping desire levels up, such as antidepressants, SSRIs, anti-anxiety, and blood pressure medications, to name a few."
Jeff Bergen/ Getty Images
"Next, I look at the state of the relationship. If there is dissatisfaction in the relationship, then it definitely affects how close and intimate one wants to be to another. There are also plenty of individual factors one can bring into the equation, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, feelings of shame or guilt around one's own sexuality, and external life stressors that can get in the way. I find that life stressors can be a big one for folks, as once you get in the habit of not prioritizing sex, it tends to stick," she added.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent "bed death." It can involve prioritizing your wants and open communication about sexual needs.
"What tends to be effective for all couples is taking an inventory of how satisfied they are with their sexual behaviors and engagement. Being truthful in this vein can be the start of unlocking inhibitions that can keep you from seeking out and being genuinely vulnerable in intimate spaces," Young explained. "Next, I suggest opening up lines of communication around these truths. When people assume that nothing can be done, hope is lost."
The Myth Of 'Lesbian Bed Death'
The notion of "lesbian bed death" perpetuates a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype about the sexual dynamics within lesbian relationships. Contrary to the myth, the experience of a decline in intimacy is not universal among lesbian couples. The diverse spectrum of relationships among women challenges this oversimplified narrative, emphasizing that the complexities of sexual dynamics extend beyond stereotypical assumptions.
"The notion of 'lesbian bed death' is based on a research study done by Pepper Schwartz in 1983 that found that lesbian couplings fell behind in sexual frequency compared to heterosexual and gay male couplings," Young revealed.
"Several other studies [after] have replicated these findings but give very little information about sexual satisfaction. Despite there being more research needed overall in the sexuality field, more recent research did find that when it comes to the length of sexual encounters, lesbian couples had the longest duration of encounters. To that end, sexual quality over quantity is a better marker of satisfaction, and that is what I pay most attention to in my work. With that said, dissatisfaction can happen in all couplings over time," the sexologist continued.
Factors influencing reduced intimacy among lesbian couples may include communication challenges, societal pressures, and individual variations in libido. Menstruation can also play a role, with some couples navigating discomfort or hormonal changes during this period.
"There are certainly some nuances that come into play with lesbian couples that differ from heterosexual or other-oriented couples. As I stated earlier, physiological factors can factor into the rise and fall of libido. The hormone fluctuations that come from menstruation and menopause can impact desire levels, and it is double present in lesbian couples. Another nuance is the lack of a sexual script from society on lesbian sexual behavior. There are patriarchal roots to sexual research, which have created our societal norms that tend to leave out anyone who isn't heterosexual," Young stated.
Overcoming The Challenges
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While 'bed death' challenges couples, solutions are within reach. By identifying and addressing the underlying causes, couples can rekindle the flame of intimacy and ensure a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
"In the words of Esther Perel, another sexual professional in the field, 'love enjoys knowing everything about you; desire needs mystery.' I recommend keeping it in the front of your mind, prioritizing, and keeping it interesting. Be open to learning more about your own sexuality every day, as well as your partner. You are always growing; what worked for you 20 years ago may not be the same today. Stay curious with one another and be open to exploring new ways to pleasure. You deserve it," Young said.
For instance, Young advised that couples should "keep sexual encounters light and playful." And not be afraid to introduce new elements, such as toys.
"Touch often in ways that are consensual and feel safe! I made 'Show Me Your Cards' to serve this purpose specifically. Just because you do not feel in the mood to go all the way does not mean you aren't in the mood to hold hands, exchange body massages, or dance together. Connecting often in any physical form, as long as it feels pleasurable, still counts as 'being in the mood,'" she said.
Overcoming the hurdles of "bed death" and debunking myths surrounding 'lesbian bed death' offers a unique perspective for couples grappling with the difficulties of sustaining a connection. Learning the proper ways to work through a sexless relationship can help foster a healthier, more fulfilling relationship.
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