Sunday, January 6, 2008

When Black Love Gets Stale: Perking Up Your Love Life

by Gina Streaty - Your Black World

Romantic relationships get stale. Sexual interest wanes. The Midas touch can mislay its golden stroke, and that magical feeling that once made you levitate can lose its conjuring power. It happens. But just because those fireworks that used to light up a room whenever you and your Boo connected have fizzled to a puff of smoke doesn't mean the passion is dead and can't be resurrected. It simply means you have to work a little harder to get those fires going again.

What happens is we get all wrapped up in the romance initially. We start out so excited to be with that special someone that it's the thrill of being together that makes the relationship hot. The way he looks at us, touches us, and talks to us sends those butterflies in our tummy into frenzy. Then over time, as we begin to take our "togetherness" for granted, romance is relegated to the backseat of our relationship and what's left becomes a boring, yawn-inducing routine. We start doing the same things over and over again or cease doing them altogether. For example, dining out is replaced with leftovers in front of the TV, and the TV remote control unit becomes our partner's preferred companion. Spontaneity peters out. Cuddling and talking with each other falls by the way side. Bedroom activities are toned down or abandoned. Even something as intimate and intensely erotic as passionate kissing is swapped for a quick peck on the cheek, lips or forehead. Togetherness becomes less than exhilarating, losing much of its magic. And we're left wondering when and how the romance in our relationship crashed and burned.

Many women (and men!) say it is these kinds of disenchanted feelings that give way to infidelity or, at the least, thoughts of playing dangerously close to temptation. As a friend of mine once said, "If a man is boring and doesn't excite me, it makes me want to have an affair." She described her MIA romance as the result of her boyfriend's lackluster boudoir performance and general inattentiveness. However, if our men are romantically handicapped, a great deal of the blame could fall on us. These totems of truth can be substantiated, if we take the time to be honest with ourselves. First, if you're one of those women going around complaining about how mundane your love or sex life has become, ask yourself why that is. What changed? Second, if you're in a committed relationship with a man you love, there is no reason for you not to be turned on by him. If your man really loves you and you can articulate your needs and desires to him, you should be getting romance and sizzling satisfaction in every aspect of your relationship. I have yet to meet a man "in love" who doesn't want to rock his woman's world.

If he's not able to accomplish the mission, then you need to help him. Go back to elementary school, ladies: Show & Tell! Teach him. Buy a book or video, if you have to, to help him get it right. Quit pretending it's copasetic when you know you're discontented. We’ve got some pitiful, risible men strutting around like peacocks thinking they're God's gift when it comes to romance and sex, and the reality of it is they are sorely misinformed. Why? Because some woman (or women!) has lied through her teeth about his abilities. We have a tendency to stroke a man's ego with hyperbole to spare his feelings or shroud his shortcomings. And we end up frustrated and dissatisfied. That's not our man's fault. He can't improve if he isn't aware that he needs to. Furthermore, we get lazy in our relationships. We expect the man to do all the work. Cater to us. Buy us gifts. Take us out to eat. Rub our feet. Massage our shoulders and back. Initiate sex—every time. Ladies, men like to be catered to too! They have sore feet and aching backs. They like to be taken out to dinner. Let's turn the tables once in a while and spice things up for our man.

I have a friend who constantly complains about her man's lack of interest in her. She "loves [him] to death," as she puts it, but finds him mind-numbing. "All he wants to do is sit at home and watch sports. I've got all of this luscious play equipment"—she gestures to her bosom—"and he acts like he doesn't even know it's there. It makes me want to find someone else who does." I know for a fact that home girl never communicates her feelings or needs to her man without harshly criticizing him. I also know that she's never tried gussying up her "play equipment." She will be the first to confess that she's all about comfort when it comes to clothing: warm-up suits, baggy sweats, oversized T-shirts, and granny drawers. Forget sexy lingerie, enticing, form-fitting outfits, and plunging necklines. In the beginning, when she was trying to snare him, her style would have given Beyonce a run for her money. But now that she has him, no need for extra effort. That's backward thinking and it's no wonder she's bitching. Ladies, we can be the best cook in the world, but if we used to fix our man steak and now we're giving him the same soup warmed over, he’s eventually going to get tired of it. Sometimes we have to “kick it up a notch” for him, add a few more ingredients, or serve it with a side dish, ladle it in a fancy bowl, throw a steak in there for old time’s sake. And instead of waiting for him to "come and get it," take it to him! In other words, be creative and initiate. Men LOVE that. Make him feel like he's the sexiest, most romantic man in the world; and tell him exactly what he has to do to keep you feeling that way about him. He'll be so excited to think he's doing something right for a change; he’ll hang on to your every word.

Remember, men are visual creatures. So always offer him an eyeful. Give him a vision he'll commit to memory and will want to replay again and again. Once when I was in Victoria's Secrets, a man walked inside the store and right up to me and said, "There's something so sexy about a woman buying herself lingerie." His woman was two steps behind him and shot out, "You have to excuse my friend. He's ignorant! I told him you must be in a new relationship." I informed both of them that I wasn't in a relationship at all, but rather, I love lingerie. He seemed surprised. She looked at me as if she thought I was lying, as if I couldn't possibly be interested in lace bras and red velvet thongs just for myself. When he suggested that she pick something out for herself as a gift from him, she quickly rebuffed the offer and declared, as she walked toward the door, "Boy, please! I don't need anything riding up my butt making me feel uncomfortable. Let's go!" Before I could respond, they were outside the store and he was licking his lips and winking at me through the window, his eyeballs walking all over my backside. I never forgot that incident. I made a vow that day that I would never be THAT woman; that if I was fortunate enough to find a good man, my lingerie drawer would stay filled to the brim with mind-blowing whatnots—no matter how much they rode up my butt—and scintillating romance would epitomize our relationship.

We have to try harder, if we want to add zing to our relationships. We also have to stop being so critical of our bodies and our men. Men love it when we're confident and comfortable with our sexuality. They get high off of it. One of the happiest couples I know is an attractive, successful man in a long-term relationship with someone many would describe as a less than average-looking “big girl” who makes him feel like Adonis. He says all the time, "She's the sexiest woman I've ever been with in my life." She dresses sexy. She walks around like she's Halle Berry on the red carpet and no one had better tell her otherwise. He buys her gifts, gives her flowers, and takes her on romantic weekend getaways—things he says he rarely did in previous relationships. He is madly in love with how she makes him feel. She won't hesitate to call him on the job and tell him what she wants and to "come home and take care of my needs." That's a happy man—and a smart and satisfied woman!
We were just like Big Girl once upon a time. We were a virtual buffet of sexy, romantic offerings and our man was catering to our every whim. Before his first plate of us was licked clean we were slinging another in front of him. We need to think back to those times and how we interacted with our man. We need to remember what it was about us that knocked him to his knees, made him salivate and grin from ear to ear, and had him treating us like a queen. We can still give our man the equivalent of a drug induced high, if we want. Greet him at the door and wear nothing more than gauze and 4" heels. Call him up and invite him out to his favorite restaurant, and show up looking like dessert. Set the mood at home: candles, music, mirrors, sex toys, massage oils, a pole for dancing, whatever! If we put our mind into it, our body and our man will follow. And he WILL return the favor, believe me!

The key is to keep it fresh, exciting, honest and reciprocal. If it doesn't feel like the 4th of July in our world after that, then we need to check his pulse. Bottom line, we can resuscitate our love life. Just remember that, when it comes to love, romance and sex, sometimes the more we give the better we receive.

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