(vrabie) [Background] My first boyfriend J., who I met as a college sophomore, was of European descent but lived in Asia through most of his childhood, and had developed an interest in eastern philosophies. It was from him that I first learned about certain Taoist and Tantic sexual practices, such as controlled breathing and channeling energy up through the spine. He had read a bit on the subject, and being drawn almost exclusively toward men, tried to adapt the ideas to homosexual relationships.
With him, at that time, the focus was more on enhancing the pleasure, seeking a more exquisite and longer-lasting experience, than on emotional connectedness. We were both barely 20, overflowing with more sexual energy than we knew what to do with. "Edging" was a big thing for him, meaning holding himself or his partner close to the threshold of orgasm for extended periods of time. We especially enjoyed this in the context of oral sex. He was quite adept at reading my reactions, keeping me at just the right place for an hour, sometimes more, which could be amazingly intense. I could lose all sense of time and place, and occasionally this even brought on a weak psychedelic or hallucinatory effect. I learned to do the same for him, but never to quite that level.
This was great fun, but could sometimes feel exhausting, even when forgoing ejaculatory orgasm. In retrospect we may have been doing it in excess (every day, often multiple sessions a day) and, orgasm or not, getting too much into the "hot sex" dopamine cycle. The act itself also didn't feel as intimate as I'd have liked... too performance/goal-oriented, no opportunity for a full-body embrace, and most of all inherently asymmetrical-- one person giving, one receiving. We each enjoyed both, and of course alternated, but the very idea of having to take on a "role" somehow felt less than ideal.
69 proved hopeless, for anything more than novelty and amusement value. This felt so awkward and unnatural that we abandoned it after the second attempt. Eye contact is very important to me, for one thing.
We also experimented with anal sex, which certainly had its share of problems. I appreciated that we could lie together, him holding me, kissing and caressing one another. He liked the penetration aspect, something I never cared much about. But the overall hassle factor was higher for this than other things, taking away from spontaneity. It was difficult to achieve any fine-grained control over stimulation, and we often seemed to be working against one another in that regard. The "role" issue was especially acute here, considering we each had a pronounced "top/bottom" preference; deviating from those didn't work out so well.
A month or two into our relationship, I talked him into a slight change, where every other time we made love it would be "just" to cuddle, face to face, arms and legs intertwined, enjoying the warmth and intimacy-- quoting "just" because I found myself looking forward more to this more than I did the actual sex! He liked it too, but sometimes got very passionate... intense making out, grinding against me and such, which wasn't exactly what I was hoping for.
His "grinding," though did give me an idea for another sexual practice we could try, which is basically to lie side by side, belly to belly, with our genitals pressed together between us, either in direct contact or offset slightly. Perfect symmetry, full body contact, and no role-playing silliness!
This is much nicer with a little artificial lubrication... I'd rather that wasn't necessary, but have to make some concessions to anatomical reality. We at first used things like baby oil, and various cooking oils mixed with shea butter (for less runniness; be aware that all these will stain linens and clothes, so put down a towel first!), etc. but later switched to less-messy commercial offerings. The water-based stuff would quickly dry out or become tacky, though. Products with a silicone or (since condoms aren't an issue here) oil base do so much better.
Anyway, that took some getting used to at first, and intensity of sensation is less than with oral sex, but it does convey very nice feelings to the most nerve-rich areas on the underside of the penis, particularly when neither person has had an orgasm for a while and is especially sensitive. Not much movement is required (my husband later joked that this would make for the most boring porn film ever Smiling). For maintaining balance and symmetry, if one partner is getting too close, very slight changes in angle and pressure can be enough to keep each of us where we want to be. After a while this starts to feel very natural, almost automatic, freeing up our conscious attention for one another.
When J. and I deliberately tried to reach orgasm by this method, we found it surprisingly difficult. I'm not sure quite why... the feelings can otherwise be quite exquisite. The quality of the orgasm was also less than we were used to, and of course there was a mess to clean up... so we only did that once, and with my husband now I've never even tried, though it did happen one time by accident. It's not like there aren't other ways of reaching orgasm if that's what one of us really wants, and the fact that it's harder to slip over accidentally is actually helpful.
J. and I separated after about two years, mostly because he graduated ahead of me, and took a job on the other side of the world, back in Asia. We've each become happily involved with others. I still have some feelings for him, and we'll occasionally talk (with our partners' knowledge and consent, of course).
From that time, until my husband and I met I'd put most of these ideas out of my mind. The two partners I'd been with since had zero interest in anything so "weird", and one responded with ridicule when I brought it up. I just reverted back to standard orgasmic sex for a while, occasionally abstaining myself, but my partners never did. Strangely enough, under the circumstances this didn't feel as depleting as I expected it to. Neither of these relationships lasted for even a year, though, so maybe we never got past the early limerence / puppy-love phase. We also never reached the same degree of intimacy I had been able to share with J, or later with my husband. Less gained, less to lose? Lower expectations?
My husband and I now feel that our two months of abstinence at the beginning was a very lucky happenstance, perhaps a silver lining on the ugly end to his last (and only other) relationship. That period of such great harmony and intimacy showed us what was possible, and gave us a high standard to strive for later, after sexual relations had temporarily thrown things out of balance between us.
My relationship with my husband began in an unusual way. Starting just two days after we met (and immediately fell in love), we started sleeping together, in the literal sense, almost every night. I've always had trouble falling asleep, and was amazed at being able to do so while snuggled up with him, our arms intertwined. That had *never* worked with anyone else. Probably helped that this was the dead of winter Smiling
During the day we devoted as much time as we could to one another, spending hours cuddling, talking, laughing, sometimes crying, enjoying the closeness and the blissed-out feelings. Though normally a very private person, I felt like I could tell him anything, and him me. Past relationships, family issues, insecurities, it all came out.
Less than a month after our first meeting, he moved in with me. This was a magical time, when everything we did together, from cooking, to furnishing and decorating our new home, to even more mundane tasks was always such a joy when he was by my side. On some level I knew this "new relationship euphoria" wouldn't last forever, but in the moment it was amazingly powerful.
One thing we weren't doing then, and didn't get around to for nearly two months, was having sex! People find this a little mind-boggling, but it's true.
The reason was that he had ended another relationship not long before, one which had turned abusive in the end. Some of the abuse had been of a sexual nature, which left him feeling traumatized, pretty much eliminated his sex drive, and made erections impossible for a while. That's just where he was in his life. I told him from the start that I didn't mind waiting, and didn't care if we never did the particular practice he had been hurt by. We talked sometimes about what had happened, and I felt in over my head (knowing nothing about counselling), but just tried to comfort him as best I could.
So, for about two months we slept together, cuddled all the time, sometimes kissed, but never went beyond that point. To me, at times this did feel mildly frustrating, yet also strangely exhilarating. He could tell I was getting very aroused, and would offer to "take care of me," but I knew that was coming from a sense of obligation, that his heart wouldn't have been in it, so I told him I'd rather just wait.
I learned during this time that intense sexual desire, in the presence of someone I love, can be a pleasant thing in itself. I chose to consciously reject the idea of having to do something about those feelings, trying instead to passively enjoy them for what they were. This eventually lessened the frustration.
Neither of us were masturbating either. He felt no inclination to, and while I was tempted, I've always made a point of avoiding that while I'm involved with someone (not that I've been perfect about it), wanting to save all my energy for him or her. For whatever reason, in every relationship I've been the one with the lower libido, so I try not to fritter away what sexual energy I do have.
Eventually his sex drive started to return. I was so happy for him, knowing this had been bothering him more and more, and taking it as a healthy sign that his psyche was starting to heal. The first signs came early one week, but I convinced him we ought to wait until the following weekend, so time wouldn't be a factor. After a few days he started feeling increasingly frustrated at having to wait any longer. We both really looked forward to being able to "consummate" our relationship, and had built that up to be a very big deal.
That weekend, moderation was the last thing on our minds. We did little beyond eating, sleeping, and having sex, and must have each had at least 12 orgasms. Of course it was delightful in the moment, but from even the second day of our hedonistic frenzy I started to notice emotional changes in myself, and and different behavior in him that I didn't like.
Come Monday, I felt like I was sleepwalking through the workday. At home that evening, there was a certain distance between us that I'd never felt before. He was amicable enough, but the warm affection that I'd come to take for granted seemed all but gone.
Tuesday morning, I think it was, I tried to cuddle with him right after we awakened, as had become our routine, and was rudely rebuffed! That really stung. I remember thinking, "Who is this person? This is not the man I fell in love with!"
Either later that day or the next, we got into our first ever major argument, which escalated to the point of shouting, over something utterly trivial. I locked myself in a room and cried. For the first time I could remember, we slept apart, that day and the next.
That was a horrible week. By Thursday or so we'd been able to reconcile, and some amorous feelings had started to return, but only weakly. Things between us had changed so abruptly that it was obvious what had happened, that events of the past weekend were somehow to blame.
I suggested we wait on having sex again at all until we were back to our usual selves, but he thought it had been just a matter of overdoing it, or perhaps that sudden shift from zero release (it'd been 4 months for him, going back to the breakup) to 12+ orgasms that had gotten our hormones out of whack.
I thought we should just cuddle that evening, knowing how healing it could be, and wait on sex until at least the next day. He agreed, but had great trouble staying at the "warm" level... suddenly this form of intimacy was just foreplay to him, rather than an end in itself. The quality of the experience was nothing like what I was used to. We just weren't able to feel very "connected" that night.
As you might expect, having sex the following night didn't do much to help matters. Only one orgasm each this time-- I would have just as soon skipped mine, but he pretty much insisted!-- so the fallout wasn't quite so awful, but there was still that lingering malaise.
After more trial and error, we finally figured out what was going on. I told him I hoped we could find a way to put things back the way they were before that fateful weekend, to regain what we had lost, even if it meant never again having sex.
We tried abstaining for a while, wearing more clothes to bed to help with that. The problem was that with his libido in full swing again (a lot more active then than I've ever seen him, before or since), holding off and limiting orgasm to even once per week was a struggle, something he found quite frustrating, and this bred some resentment.