BlackDoctor.org shares real talk about Black love. Meet our expert panel, some of the nation’s leading voices and personalities when it comes to relationships, intimacy and sex:
Click here for full post.
Love and relationships require a ton of sacrifice. We all know this. It’s all fun and games in the beginning and during your honeymoon phase. But being in a relationship, like anything else that is worth having, requires work.
I am all for compromise and trying to make your significant other happy. But I am also all for making sure you’re not giving up your entire life for a relationship. When people do that, and neither they nor the relationship, tend to end up very well. So here are five things you shouldn’t have to give up for your boo.
1. Your fundamental values and beliefs
Who you are, begins with what you do. Or so we’ve been told. And whether you take this literally or metaphorically, at least some of it is true. The problem with giving up your beliefs for another person is that you give up the core of what makes you, you. And the truth is if you have to give up the things that make you, you for the love of another person, what does that say about the kind of love they are willing to give you?
2. Your friends and family
Everybody has a different relationship with their friends and family. But if someone you are in a relationship with is harming that relationship or making it worse if it’s already fragile, you need to question why. Our romantic relationships should not take away from the other relationships we have with our loved ones. In fact, they should enrich each other. If you find yourself losing touch with family and friends because of your boo, you should be on guard. Something isn’t right.
3. Your peace of mind
I will never understand the desire to make love harder than it is. Yes, I know we all have baggage and issues and a past. But it’s not a reason to make your relationship a real life soap opera. If you have time for that, you are not nearly busy enough. Or you are probably in a relationship with the wrong person. Trust that you are one million times better off alone than with someone who is going to further complicate your life and bring you nothing but drama. Keep your life and love peaceful.
4. Your financial independence
Money is a difficult area when it comes to relationships. And there also can be a gender bias in some relationships that could threaten how people feel. Either way, know that it in this day and age, there is no substitute for financial independence. Whether you make more or less than your partner, your financial independence should not be something up for compromise. Certainly, depending on how you plan on building a family, decisions will need to be made surrounding finance and career, but the communication should be clear and amicable for everyone.
5. Your future
The future is a delicate thing because you can only put so much planning into it. But there have been way too many cases of people giving up all their hopes and dreams and goals because of a relationship. It shouldn’t work like that. While you will have to compromise because that’s what relationships are all about, it should be exactly that – a compromise. Your boo, who should also be your friend and supporter, should want the best for you and your future.
Should I be friends with my ex? It’s one of the golden questions of relationships or perhaps rather, post-relationships. It makes people shift in their seats uncomfortably and begin to sweat profusely. There are side-eyes to be had; shade to be thrown. Basically, drama.
If you remain friends with your ex, how long should you wait to do so? Should you wait at all? No matter how many times we discuss this subject, there doesn’t seem to be an answer that leaves us satisfied.
There shouldn’t be a straightforward answer to this question. After all, every relationship is different. And thus, it follows that every end to a relationship will be different. Perhaps you were friends with the person before you started dating and so you want to maintain the friendship. Perhaps things ended in an amicable fashion and you’ve decided they’d make a better friend than significant other. Perhaps you just know a lot of the same people and you just can’t escape each other’s company. There are a plethora of reasons why you can technically remain friends with someone after dating them.
But still, should you be friends?
Depending on how long you were in a relationship with your ex, chances are you were in love with them. And regardless of the reason you broke up with them, that love most likely didn’t evaporate into thin air. Life would be so much easier for all of us if things were that simple. On the other hand, when a relationship ends, it is very easy to hold onto it in your head, all in the name of “friendship.” And in that way, it prolongs the healing process that a person needs to really truly get over someone and move on. You can’t just transition to friendship from a relationship in a way that doesn’t leave you vulnerable to getting into a messy situation.
When you end a romantic relationship, I think there’s a certain kind of death that happens, in a metaphoric way. If you think of relationships as something where two people come together and create meaningful love between them, when it’s over, the relationship died. Again, that doesn’t mean that the love died ,but it does mean that there is an ending. And there is a part of me that thinks trying to maintain a friendship from that sort of ending is a recipe for disaster.
There is of course another side to the death of the relationship which can give both people new life and a new perspective on things–and maybe even on each other. And maybe this new perspective can allow them to see each other as friends. But I have the feeling that before this can happen, both people need to be in a good space for it. And rather than staying friends what needs to happen is that you become friends with each other (again). But if this is not for you and your ex, I think that’s okay too. As that Uma Thurman quote goes, “I still love the people who I’ve dated, even if I cross the street to avoid them.”
Hopefully, regardless of how our relationships end with the people we once loved or liked a whole lot, even if we’re not friends with them, we can be big enough and brave enough to wish them well. Your exes weren’t perfect and neither are you. There is no need to romanticize the pain of having loved and lost. But there is no need to prolong suffering from it either. I believe that holding onto anything negative from the past affects your ability to live in the present, much less try to live the best and happiest life you can in the moment.
By Dr. TaMara Griffin –Blackdoctor.org
So you thought she was beautiful! He was the most handsome man that you’d ever seen. You fall head over heels into a whirlwind romantic relationship. The relationship becomes increasingly intense, your hormones are raging and the two of you decide to have sex. And because you’re “in love” you do not even think about using a condom; a decision that has now put you both at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infection (STIs).
When you enter into a sexual relationship, it is extremely important that you take the time to get to know your sexual partner. Failure to do so may result in dire consequences, like becoming infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Before taking your relationship to the sexual level, consider taking the following precautions first to help reduce your likelihood of becoming infected with HIV and/or other STIs.
Get tested for HIV together. If you and your beloved are serious about taking your relationship to a sexual level, then consider going to get tested for HIV together. More importantly, go back and get your results together. When getting tested for HIV, you may also want to consider getting tested for other STIs. Some STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea are asymptomatic and may go undetected. Additionally, if a person has an STI, he or she is five times more likely to get HIV. While getting tested is great, it should not be your method of prevention. Changing behaviors that put you at risk for HIV, open and honest communication and mutual monogamy should be your goal.
Click here for full article.
We might be in 2015, but that doesn’t mean that we have to throw out all old-fashioned dating rules.
Some things are timeless and should remain! Check your dating style and see if you need to borrow from yesteryear.
1. The direct approach
Walking up to someone and asking them out has always been somewhat of a nerve-wrecking activity. But can we please all stop acting like asking people out in real life is tantamount to walking on hot coals? It’s not. Here’s the thing about asking: Before you ask, you’re already at a “no.” And if you get rejected, well, you’re back to where you were. It may be ego-bruising or even hurtful but it is no skin off your back! And if they say yes, well you got what you wanted, didn’t you?
2. Taking it slow
The common mantra for building a relationship used to be “Let’s wait a while” in terms of how quickly you get to different stages. Much like the way we eat, work, live and play, the way we love has become “Let’s do this as quickly as possible.” Your momma wasn’t lying when she said good things take time. These days you can meet, kiss and make a baby with someone all in the same 24 hours! Please slow down everyone. Slow and steady wins the race.
3. Defining the relationship
There are so many substitutes for dating now, we can’t even keep up. The biggest one of course is, “hanging out.” Isn’t hanging out what you do after the relationship has been established and not before? If you don’t want a serious relationship, well to each his or her own. But if you do, don’t be tricked into one of those hanging out situations. Commitments are not about holding anyone down, they are about knowing that both of you want the same thing. Let’s bring that back.
4. Picking someone up from the door
It has become far too common to text people every little detail when you’re about to meet up with them. “Be there in 5 minutes.” “About to walk in.” “In your lobby.” You could just ring the doorbell and go to their apartment and pick them up. I think it’s a function of not seeing how little things make a big difference and community social anxiety about dating.
5. Writing letters
It gets pretty tiring only getting bills, paid notices and offers we didn’t even ask for in the mail. When you’re in a relationship and especially when you’re comfortable, it’s cool to do unexpected things like writing letters for each other. Yes, you might feel a little corny at first but as long as it’s heartfelt, a little corny is acceptable. This is especially great for long-distance relationships.
6. Keep your relationship out of everyone’s business (and off social media)
Bet your parents and their friends didn’t tell a bunch of strangers and acquaintances everything that is going in your relationship. The temptation of social media to either display your picture perfect relationship or go on passive aggressive rants exists but trust that you will be a better person for staying away from the temptation. A happy birthday shout out? A cute picture of the two of you ever so often? Great. A lengthy confession of love or lover’s rant? No, just no. Keep your business between the two of you.
7. Actually making them a priority
This one is probably the most important old-fashioned rules. We all love to be I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, and not “needy” and all that. That’s great. But don’t mistake that for being someone who acts disinterested in the person they’re with or want, all for the sake of not being needy. Someone that you are romantically involved with should be a priority to you, not another thing you have to check off your weekly list. If you are blessed enough to find someone to fall in love with, let that love flourish.
By Tyomi Morgan –Blackdoctor.org
There are many aspects of sexuality that aren’t spoken about enough, especially within the African American community. One of those subjects happens to be sexual consent. Before getting into any type of sexual activity, consent needs to be granted on both ends for sex to commence in a peaceful and enjoyable fashion. Unfortunately, sexual consent isn’t something that is always secured before sex occurs, and this type of commandeering often leaves its victims feeling violated and abused.
We often hear about rape in the context of a random stranger pulling a woman off the street, date rape or a school teacher having sex with her underage student, but what we rarely hear about openly are the stories from women who have been forced into sex by someone they trust and love.
As quiet as it is kept, rape within relationships happens far more than what one would expect and it is a situation that can make any woman feel trapped, alone and worthless. According to one national study, “based on the findings of the largest U.S. study of violence against women to date, it is estimated that over 7 million women have been raped by their intimate partners in the United States (Mahoney, Williams & West, 2001; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).” Further research goes on to state that “one out of every 8 adult women in the US has experienced at least one forcible rape in her lifetime.”
Even within the confines of a marriage or committed relationship, consent still needs to be given clearly for both partners to play responsibly, but sometimes a man’s desires and his previous interactions with his partner can lead him to believe advancing in a sexual manner is okay. In reality, it’s not.
The words “no”, “stop”, “not right now” or other words that signify a negative response to sexual advances should not be taken lightly or viewed as playing “hard to get.” Negative body language such as sitting with arms or legs crossed, facing the body away from a partner, or the limbs being placed close to the body are also signs of non interest.
If a woman does not give full consent for her body to be touched or used sexually and activity commences despite her lack of cooperation, then this constitutes rape. The worst part is, many of the men who fall into the “forcible sex” category see absolutely nothing wrong with the act, and many of the women who face these types of situations have no idea how to bring this topic up without making her beloved feel like a criminal or a creep.
There are ways for men to ask for consent without sounding clinical or awkward in the process:
Ask her what she wants in a message.
Sometimes, what we can’t verbalize is better said in a written message. If sex is on the brain for the evening, send a message of interest placing the power of the experience in her hands before assuming she has the same activity in mind. Send a message that reads something like, “Baby, I can’t wait for our personal time tonight…it turns me on when you tell me what you want me to do to you,”and wait for her response. The goal is to allow her to call the shots so that her comfort, safety and consent are placed as a priority. If she doesn’t respond positively to the text, then opt for a movie night.
Give her control in the bedroom.
It’s her body that has to be entered before sex can commence, so by giving her the control over when sex is happening and when it isn’t secures her safety physically and mentally. A woman must feel safe in order for the arousal stages to properly set into place. One of the major reasons why women do not orgasm regularly is because of anxiety being held in the mind. Help her relax and gain her proper consent by relinquishing control in the bedroom during the initiation phase, and always check in with her to ensure her satisfaction is being met during intercourse.
Make her beg for it.
A fun way to determine her level of interest and receive a woman’s absolute consent for sex is to entice her to beg for what she wants. This is a true definition of playing hard to get. If she is aroused and has given the green light in positive verbal confirmations and in her body language, then deflecting her advancements playfully will not only intensify her desires and signify her consent, but will give the male partner an ego boost in knowing he is desired.
Sometimes, it takes simple communication to clear the air about what is appropriate and what isn’t when it comes to the initiation of sexual activity. Remaining in constant awareness of these standards is critical in maintaining a healthy and positive dynamic between lovers.
If non-consented sexual activity is happening within your relationship and you are seeking help to break away from the abuse, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). Or, log on to https://www.rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-hotline.
As romantic as the notion of marriage may be, most people don’t stop to think if they are actually “marriage material.” Many think that simply because you fall in love and date for a year or two, marriage is the natural next step – but it’s not for everyone.
Make sure you’re honest with yourself about what you bring to the table. After all, you can’t attract a man who possesses the traits of a good husband if you don’t display those traits yourself (and of course the same applies to men).
There’s several factors that go into marriage and many of us haven’t even begun to soul search enough to uncover these things. So while you’re all googly-eyed, looking at your lover, focus and go through this checklist to make sure you’re ready.
Are you ready for commitment?
Sounds obvious, but many people only begin to think about commitment because it’s “time.” Their friends are getting married and family members are being pushy so they feel pressure, but internally they are not sure they are ready.
Is it more important to be happy than right?
We all know the type of person who always needs to be right. It is draining and can destroy a relationship. Can you set aside your own wants and needs for the greater good of the relationship?
Are you still in love with your ex?
Do you stalk him/her on social media? Do you care if she/he is dating someone new? Do you think about your ex all the time. If so, you are not ready for a new relationship and should consider professional help to move forward. We know your friends are exhausted of hearing about your drama.
Do you share a common vision or belief system?
There is nothing wrong with not liking or wanting children – it’s not for everyone, and it doesn’t automatically exclude you from being seen as marriage material. However, you have to keep in mind that if you’re dating someone who wants children, or who has children already, and you don’t like children, then it won’t matter how much you are in love, it’ll never work.
Can you remain faithful?
This is not to say that once a cheater, always a cheater – but most people who are repeatedly unfaithful in relationships don’t change unless they truly are ready and they want to. But if you haven’t finished sowing your oats, then remain single until you can remain faithful.
Are you ready for a lifelong partnership?
Maintaining a long-term relationship requires compromise, so if you can’t handle not having everything your way, your relationship will not progress smoothly. Compromise includes everything from family decisions to finances, in-laws and even domestic chores.
Dating advice to women from eight different men. Are you rolling your eyes? We were too, until we read “Single Man Married Man” and met the group of authors (Dr. Jean Alerte, Rae Holliday, Pervis Taylor III, Frank Gateau, Jickael Bazin, DJ Fadelf, Zangba Thomson and Kel Spencer), all ranging from single to divorced. These are the men who are offering their solid advice on dating. And just in case you want to make a Steve Harvey comparison *cough* “Think Like A Man” *cough* don’t! This book is allowing women to take a peek inside the minds of real men and how they perceive us.
“Single Man Married Man” is set up on the inquiry, “If every man wants to get married, why aren’t they marrying you?” Sounds harsh, but we don’t need smoke and mirrors and fairy tales wrapped in a bow, we need the real deal–tough love. When celebrated author, Dr. Jean Alerte opened up Brooklyn Swirl with his wife and business partner, he had no idea that the presence of his best friend, Frank Gateau would be the start of “Single Man Married Man.”
Alerte told #TeamBeautiful that women would come in for frozen yogurt and spot Frank and wonder how in the world he was single?! Every woman that walked into the shop wanted to know what was “wrong” with Frank. And Dr. Alerte wanted to get his friend married off, so he started a conversation with him that turned into a book that was to be written by the both of them–a single man and a married man.
But something was missing. Dr. Alerte and Gateau needed more people. That’s when they tapped life coach, Pervis Taylor III, business resource consultant Jickael Bazin, media personality and editor Rae Holliday, songwriter Kel Spencer, author Zangba Thomson and DJ Fadelf–all men who are either single, married or divorced, to chime in. They surveyed hundreds of women and used the top 10 frequently asked questions as the foundation of the book. Each man answers the question based on their marital status and experience. The result is a relationship book like no other! We just had to have these handsome Black men in the office, giving us all the tea on the things we want to know most: social media or nah, what’s this “hook-up” culture about, should women stop wondering about their status in a relationship and more.
In some conversations that I have with women regarding a man they are just starting to date, or even one they have been with for awhile, I often hear how he is not as verbal as they would like when it comes to showing their affection. Many things I suggest in my article suggest open and free communication between men and women in terms of showing how they value each other, but the truth is, it takes a certain kind of man to frequently put his feelings into words for you.
It is not better or worse, it does not mean more or mean less, it just shows that men all express their affection in their own ways (as do women, of course).
So, even if your guy isn’t telling you how he feels, here are some ways he might show you.
1. He brings you around his friends.
Or family. Or whoever is closest to him. When a man starts to make you part of the important things in his life, it is a good sign that he is serious about you. He wants others to experience the happiness that you bring to his life (and maybe show you off a little bit — in a good way because he is proud to be with you).
2. He stays close to you physically.
It could be keeping his arm around you, hugging you randomly, or cuddling up on the couch — a man who truly cares and enjoys your company will always want to be in close proximity to you. Physical contact, even when ‘innocent,’ sends non-verbal messages that are worth paying attention to.
3. He really listens to you.
One of the major things that men often get accused of is being terrible listeners. Whether we don’t remember that it was your friend’s birthday this weekend, or which scented candle was your favorite one at the store — the small details matter most. A man who really cares for you will listen intently and do his best to absorb all of the details that he can. It is his way of showing you that he values you and what you have to say.
4. He is all smiles after you kiss.
You know, that feeling…
5. He stays in touch with you just because.
Two people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company don’t need a reason to talk to each other. If he texts or calls you just to say hello, to see how your day is going, or to say good morning and goodnight, it is a clear sign that he thinks about you often and wants you to know it.
6. He doesn’t care what you do, as long as you’re together.
Oh, you have to go grocery shopping today or go out and get things for your party this weekend? Count him in. For the man who wants to spend as much time with you as he can, it’s not just going to be on date night or when you are intimate together. A meaningful relationship is just as much about sharing in everyday things together, as it is about the exciting things.
7. He mirrors your behavior and body language.
While some of us recognize this as an effective form of communication as well as a method to make someone more comfortable around us, many people will just become so in-tune with the person they are with that they subconsciously start duplicating gestures, positions, or postures. If you find him touching your arm after you touch his, uncrossing his legs after you uncross yours, or leaning in to you during conversation after you lean in to him — it shows he is paying close attention to you, whether he realizes it or not.
8. He puts thought into the gifts he gives you.
While, obviously, special occasions are not the only time that a man (or woman) should do something special for you, they are more traditional in the sense that it is an opportunity to slow our lives down and show somebody how much we appreciate them. Whether it is a gift you have wanted or an experience you have desired to partake in — a man who really cares about you will not just pick up a stuffed animal and some flowers at the store. He will do something special that is clearly specifically for you.
9. He compromises.
No great relationship was ever built on the foundation of “what’s in it for me?” A man who is just playing the field will have no reason to sacrifice his own self-interest for somebody… unless he feels something deeper for them. When we begin to develop love for someone, we want to see them happy, even if that means putting our own self-interests aside for the sake of theirs. Her happiness becomes our happiness.
This is not to say he will become a doormat — there is a big difference between compromise and sacrifice. It goes both ways.
10. He will go pick up your dry-cleaning.
Or whatever it is that you don’t have time to do yourself. He will put in the effort to help you out in order to make your life easier, just because. A man who is not serious about you will not be around often enough, nor willing enough, to do these things.
11. He asks for your advice.
If a man asks you for your advice on a decision he is trying to make or a situation that he is in, it means he values your opinion enough to take you seriously and actually use it as a guiding light in his own life. If a man values your thoughts, it means he values you.
12. He will always make you feel safe.
Men are naturally protective. Millions of years of biological evolution has brought us to the point where we naturally want to protect those we love, whether they need it or not. It could mean protecting you from getting hurt emotionally or physically, but protecting nonetheless.
A man who loves and cares for you will make you feel safe. He will never make you question whether or not he will be there for you in a time of need. He will stand by your side when he must, in front of you when he must, and behind you when he must. He will be your teammate through life.
A man who loves you will make you feel it in his own ways. When he really cares, you will know it — if he doesn’t, you will be wondering all the time if he does.
This article originally appeared on JamesMSama.com.
The couple that plays together stays together? The couple that prays together stays together? When asked what keeps their relationship loving and lasting, there are many things that couples swear by. The same thing might not work for every couple, but we can say with confidence that spending quality time together is the key to staying committed and connected.
But as the years go on it’s easy to become complacent and not put in as much effort as you used to when you and your beloved were, well, new news. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things you can still do even in a long-term relationship to make your love feel fresh each and every day.
We decided to get some advice from our Facebook followers on what they believe couples should do together regularly to make their relationship last. Check out our list and add your own suggestions in comments below.
1. Travel together.
Even if finances are tight, don’t write this one off. It doesn’t take a pricey luxury cruise or even a plane ticket to get away from it all and explore. When you get sick of the same-old routine, nothing gets you out of a rut like a change of scenery. Book a romantic weekend in a bed and breakfast and enjoy the tranquility of the countryside. Or take a day trip to a town nearby with a museum or other attraction you’ve always wanted to see. Experiencing something new is exhilarating, especially when you do it with someone you love, and will it create a lasting memory and give you something to talk about for years to come. As Facebook follower Lynn Terhar put it, “My first thought was ‘clean the house’ but travel is good, too.”
2. Laugh together.
We all know that life is hard and the only way to get through it is to develop a sense of humor. Since laughter really is the best medicine, comedy can provide all of us with an escape from the day-to-day grind. It could be something as simple as diffusing a potentially tense situation with a funny comment or popping in a funny movie or ‘Seinfeld’ rerun to watch together. Or if you want to venture out, check out a comedy club.
3. Go on dates together.
Just because you’ve been together for a long time doesn’t mean you can’t still go on dates. Setting a date and time each week or so to go out, get away from the responsibilities and just focus on the two of you is essential for keeping communication open and the romance alive. If you’re sick of your routine, this will also give you both a chance to dress up and hit the town. Go to that new restaurant you keep hearing about. Pack up a picnic basket and hit the park. Or get sexy with a salsa class. All that matters is you’re spending time together, just the two of you. Oh, and put away your phones!
4. Work toward a goal together.
It’s easy for lives to drift apart when you feel you’re nothing more than roommates, between managing finances and raising your kids. Compare your bucket lists. Find something you both want to do and go for it. It could be setting a goal like dropping 10 pounds. Or it could be a home improvement project you both have been neglecting. It will give you something else to connect over as well as a sense of partnership. As Facebook follower Brieanna K. Boswell put it, “Work toward a shared goal, always… be it a vacation, project around the house, or bowling league. Something to keep both connected and focused on a positive goal.”
5. Hold hands. Always.
Intimacy is an important part of any relationship — but we sometimes forget that it doesn’t just mean sex. Even simply hugging or touching can release endorphins and make your brain a little happier. So next time you’re browsing around the mall, mingling at your office party or taking a walk through the park, grab your partner’s hand first. Besides being a romantic gesture, the physical act of connectedness will translate into emotional closeness as well.