1. Tell yourself you deserve great sex, out loud.You probably spend enough time being there for everyone else; now it's time to take care of you. Throw your shoulders back and tell yourself, I am beautiful, I am sexy, I deserve to feel good. Repeat ten times a day, preferably in front of the mirror. And by the way, this doesn't work if you're dressed in granny panties. So treat yourself to something lacy and beautiful.
2. Get to know yourself.
Give yourself a decadent massage with a luxurious lotion. Start with those gorgeous hips of yours and let your fingers do the walking. In other words, masturbate, masturbate, masturbate. "It amazes me that women will touch a stranger sooner than they will touch themselves," says erotica author Zane. Discover what you like, then show him how it's done.
3. Play with toys.
If you're having trouble reaching your full-pleasure potential, a vibrator will kick things into gear. Women-friendly sex-toy emporium Good Vibes (goodvibes.com) will mail one to you wrapped in plain brown packaging. As an added bonus, the Web site features customer reviews detailing everything from noise level to overall, um, effectiveness.
4. Visualize your most secret desires.
For the ultimate turn-on, let your mind wander to your most private fantasies. Don't worry, no one is judging you for getting aroused at the thought of doing it with four men at once. In fact, no one needs to know.
5. Write an explicit sex-capade you'd like to have.
When you're done, slip the note into your partner's pocket before he goes to work. You'll make his day and, we hope, your night.
6. Curl up in bed with a naughty book.
Imagination running on empty? Don't worry, there's plenty of erotic literature written especially for Black women to get you in the mood. (For a great selection, go to goodvibes.com and type "African American" in the search field.) Devour it alone or share it with your mate. Once he knows what's up, you can text him that you want to read him a bedtime story. He'll rush right home.
7. Make a list of your biggest hang-ups.
Zane suggests you tackle them one by one. "Write them all down and really think about them," she says. "Like, if I go down on him, will the sky fall in?" After you put your fears in perspective, choose a few of your taboos for a sexy must-do list, crossing off one a week.
8. Study the professionals.
"A lot of women find porn disgusting," says Zane. "But it's a great education tool." And some of it is made specifically for us. There's an erotic DVD to suit almost every taste, from the down and dirty to the cerebral, like AfroDite Superstar, directed by a Brooklyn-bred sister who goes by the name Venus Hottentot (candidaroyalle.com).
9. Check out a steamy instructional video.
If the idea of watching erotic movies doesn't appeal to you, at bettersex.com you can find Sexual Techniques for Lovers and Advanced Love Skills, two educational videos made just for Black folks. With demonstrations by attractive couples and no-nonsense narration offering suggestions, the material is explicit, but there's nothing sleazy about it.
10. Do it for the sake of the relationship.
Still skittish about trying something new? Think of overcoming your inhibitions as your own personal form of couple's therapy. "Good sex with your partner cements a relationship," says sex researcher Bean Robinson. "It connects people in a way that nothing else can."