I went through a number of disastrous relationships. Finally, I decided, "Why date real people? Who needs the nonsense? If I have porn, I don't need anyone." So I closed myself off to the world, worked, watched TV, watched porn...and got fat. A few years ago, I took a long, hard look at myself, and decided that I could not keep living the way I was. I used to be very active and an athlete. I had basically fallen into "the pit."
A recent study assures us that romantic, sexually active, long-term relationships are possible...for a mere thirteen percent of lucky couples. These "swans" would of course comprise a far smaller percentage of the total mating-age population. Incidentally, the mean relationship length of the "swans" analyzed was about 8 years.
For the rest of us, it can be just plain annoying to have the brain of a pair-bonding mammal:
Throughout this life I've been doing my best to follow love's lead, but it has been like sensing my way in the dark, repeatedly bumping into sharp obstacles that hurt. I feel like I'm diligently trying to put a puzzle together that's missing pieces.
Tired of bruises, many of us would enthusiastically opt for self-sufficiency permanently—if it were a feasible solution. However, perhaps because of our evolutionary heritage as tribal pair-bonders, a contented union seems to help us regulate our moods, improving our well-being and even making it easier to cope with stress. No wonder we keep trying to pair up. (Of course, connections with friends benefit and soothe, too.)
This post is for those of us who are not natural "swans," but still want a harmonious union. It's about a little-known lovemaking practice that is, in essence, affectionate, gentle intercourse without the goal of orgasm. It has many names, among them, "karezza."
Perhaps because it sidesteps the extremes of the neurochemical cycle that affects some lovers after orgasm, it can make harmony more effortless than standard sex. This is especially true after the one-time honeymoon neurochemical booster shot wears off. In short, karezza may give us non-swans (who, alas, appear to comprise the majority) the boost we need to find lasting contentment. Perhaps this is because it emphasizes the very bonding behaviors that appear to be especially effective in other pair-bonding primates: frequent comforting non-seuxal contact with a bit of sexual activity thrown in (often without ejaculation).
Our current culture often equates "liking sex" with "liking goal-oriented sex." That narrows our focus by exalting some lovemaking styles while subtly painting others as somehow flawed, or "sex-negative." Karezza is for people who really, really like sex—so much so that they like it gentle and "floaty" too. And often. In fact, among those quoted below are some who once struggled with sex addiction or chronic porn use.
In Another Way to Make Love, I recounted how I stumbled upon this unfamiliar practice, variations of which have been around for thousands of years. Other couples have made the same discovery. Just in case any readers are curious enough to give it a go, here are some of their insights:
- My wife and I have been on the non-orgasmic journey for about 12 years. Of course it took a few weeks to break certain established patterns and ideas. As a male it was hard to have this new sort of goalless/directionless sex. The male psyche likes direction. This was so amorphous, kind of floaty. She was concerned about whether she was satisfying me. It's interesting how orgasm has become the mark of whether we are pleasuring our partners. Also she told me, somewhat sheepishly, that having me ejaculate was an effective way to get rid of me when she wanted her own space, since I would lose interest in her afterward. But once we got over the shift, we never looked back.This may be the single most valuable discovery I have made in my entire life. It transformed my relationship. I never tire of her, and pretty much can never get enough of her. Also, I appreciate and enjoy her feminine way much more than when I was ejaculating. Women used to be a kind of aggravation. I would fluctuate between the extremes of strong desire and "You're driving me nuts." The idea of orgasm is totally of no interest. It's even hard to remember that I use to like doing it. I feel much more rooted in my masculinity. We pretty much engage in the Karezza embrace every morning. We both swear that she continues to look physically more beautiful and younger. Even people who haven't seen her in a while remark on it. Knowing there are other couples having a similar experience is wonderful. So often, our enthusiasm for this way of sharing and expressing falls on deaf ears.
- HIS WIFE: I voluntarily stopped orgasming after about 10 years of practicing with a non-ejaculating husband. At this point, it has been about two years since I have mostly not orgasmed. I say "mostly," as I slip over the edge sometimes, not fully but to a point that diminishes the intensity. I find that when I fully orgasm, I am not interested sexually any more. Orgasm changes the focus, whether male or female. It's goal-oriented. When I quit, we experienced another shift. I would say we moved into the Karezza-mode. I can't quite explain it, but there is a difference, and it is related to there being no goal, nothing to achieve. Almost Zen. Instead of knowing where you are going, you follow the thread of the experience, which may take you somewhere else, and usually does if given enough time.
- Our exploration of karezza has been like a rebirth in our relationship. We have been together for 20 years, but the last few weeks have been like finding light at the end of a long dark tunnel. It is really cool. In the past, between encounters I would look for a way to try to relieve the build-up sexual tension. This usually led to me fondling myself and ultimately masturbation and orgasm. Now this energy can take a totally different direction. I really have no desire to self-satisfy. Instead, I think about our Karezza experiences and that energy seems to re-distribute throughout my entire body. I particularly notice the flow of energy to my lips and chest and heart. It's a warm full feeling that feels really nice. I'm just floored by the fact that for 30 years I've been pursuing orgasm as the goal toward sexual satisfaction and contentment and I never knew that it was a false promise. Our society (and to some degree our biological programming) really does a number on us. This past weekend I found myself in a constant state of wonder during our lovemaking, and I found myself repeatedly saying to myself on multiple occasions, "I'll be damned!" (Not literally of course, to the contrary I feel really blessed).
- After 16 months of this approach there are no issues on the wife's part. She really loves it. She does not miss orgasm and has no desire to have any more. In the past, she had extremely powerful orgasms. They were quite fun to participate in and watch! I asked how she could be so powerfully orgasmic, but not want them anymore. She said they left her wiped out for days. I never knew that.The longer I go, the less I miss orgasm and the less I want to have one. I love the feeling of becoming minimally aroused and having it gently taper off towards the end of the session, to be replaced by an inner calming.We both agree this has been wonderful for our marriage! We are closer than we have ever been. We are more affectionate and more openly in love. We played around with frequency of intercourse and find that we gravitate more towards the weekends, although we cuddle and caress nightly. Bonding that includes intercourse is VERY fluid, non-goal oriented, and wonderful! Sex is relaxing and stress free. After only a few weeks, we noticed that we kind of went into a zone during sex. Best way to put it. It is blissful and satisfying. We have adopted a mindset of if an orgasm happens, it happens. We are aware of the changes that happen after an orgasm, so we definitely avoid it. As I relax more and more into this, I am discovering exquisite feelings that I had never noticed before. We have eliminated traditional foreplay from our bedroom. It is simply not necessary. Life is not perfect of course, but so much BS has been removed from our marriage by the simple removal of porn / lust for other women / masturbation (especially to fantasies of other women). Discovering Karezza has added immensely to the foundation we had already established.
- Last night, very lovely Karezza. So much love I had to cry. I have never cried while making love from feeling so much love and tenderness and effortless ecstasy. I am truly blessed.
- The wondrous fallacy of the orgasm has been shattered and I now see that the old paradigm had very little to do with love. Penetration is not such a compelling essential and too much genital friction takes us away from the gentle relaxation into the excitement zone. Been there too often, and don't like the destination! Sometimes karezza can seem like two people meditating together. Only it's easier because the focus is more powerful and compelling. And I can feel my partner's response when she feels that I am in the moment with her: the warm, fuzzy feel of the old oxytocin coming in. We seem to fall into syncing our breathing easily. It's early days, only a couple of months together, and we are taking it easy. Not living together and no big plans yet. At the moment it's easy. Doesn't feel like any kind of toxic high I have had before. Less lust more love. Time will tell. We are both rather tired of all the failures of relationships we have had in our lives and would like this one to be long and enriching.
- I convinced my wife to try Karezza gentle intercourse. It went fantastically! We managed to bond this way for a solid 15 minutes or so. When we were done—no orgasms—the glow of the connection lasted for days.
- Lovemaking without orgasm continues on after the act. Because you never really 'finish' making love, that energy you build, layer upon layer, is sustained. It flows beautifully through every limb and every action, soon enough every part of interaction becomes lovemaking. The power of this phenomenon cannot be overestimated. It far surpasses any kind of ecstasy I've known. At first, I could not understand what I read about karezza, but now I understand it completely.