This is a long post ...
I have been keeping a detailed diary for a year or so, tracking our love life, the frequency of intercourse, our moods, our climaxes. On several occasions, we've gone more than a month orgasm free; but I can't say I've noticed much difference between those times, and the times we've had several orgasms in a row - on a superficial level, at least.
The only certain conclusion I've come to is that knowing there are potential pitfalls from too much orgasmic sex ensures I keep an ever open eye and ear that, as soon as they detect the slightest hint of alienation, set in motion the palliative balm of close, physical contact. In practice what this means is that we get together naked even - or particularly - if we didn't much feel like it.
This seems to work wonders, and makes me question which has the greater effect, dopamine excess, or oxytocin shortfall. If we have orgasmic sex, because I am aware - hyper aware - of the possible repercussions, I make sure we engage in as much bonding behaviour afterwards as possible. This seems to calm any stirrings. I am the ringmaster in all this; my wife seems quite happy to be my smiling assistant. What small degree of coercion I sometimes have to apply is on me rather than on her.
The stirrings I do sense are a slight edginess in my wife and a tendency to withdrawal in me. They are such feeble ripples, though, that I could easily be imagining them. The only other obvious effect of orgasm is my immediate disinterest in sex. This can last a day or two. It doesn't seem any better or worse or longer lasting than my disinterest in food for a few hours after eating well.
Deeper down, the story is different; but it is so complex, I've given up trying to make sense of it. There are heaps of small, and not so small, behavioural changes I've noticed have taken place over the duration of my diary keeping. I can't say when, or in what order, they occurred. The one that interests me most concerns arousal. For thirty plus years, I have generally become aroused well in advance of lovemaking. The mere idea of sex was enough to get me excited. My wife didn't have to do anything other than exist for this to happen. During this period, we both understood that my main task, once we got together, with a sexual agenda, was for me to arouse her. Everything I did, from kissing to overt touch, was done with this in mind. Sometimes it was easy, other times hard.
Without either of us intending to change anything, the tables seem to have turned, so that I now find I rarely get aroused in advance of lovemaking. I might think about it, or anticipate it, but that's all. Even when we are naked together, I am still not automatically aroused. Nor do I make much attempt to arouse my wife. My kisses and touches seem to be have become more for my benefit. Generally, at some point, she touches me - or, more specifically, she touches my penis - I become aroused, and that arousal causes her to become aroused, too. It works like magic.
I spent a lot of time in the past trying to excite my wife through attention to her breasts. She was never very keen on this, but I persisted. I've now given up on this, but I haven't lost interest in her breasts. However, instead of trying to turn her on, I am simply enjoying them for what they are. I feast my eyes on them, and touch and kiss them. I have no idea if this resonates with her (although she does occasionally cluck, contentedly, and covers my hands with her own) but it certainly does with me.
Something occurred in late summer that alerted me to how much my arousal patterns had changed. I was lying on a sofa with my wife, cuddling. We were fully clothed and I, for one, wasn't anticipating having sex. I slipped my hand inside her shirt and lightly cupped her breast. As I lay there, I was appreciating the softness of the flesh and its connection with my hand. To my surprise, I got a very persistent erection; but this didn't make me hanker after sex. I simply noticed it, was mildly intrigued by its longevity, but carried on cuddling.
Later the same day, I was searching online for a list of nudist beaches in France. We are planning on being there sometime next year and I quite fancy the idea of naked swimming. Needless to say, I came across plenty of accompanying pictures of people cavorting on these beaches. This, in turn, threw up links to beaches where 'exchangistes' met like minded souls whose predilection turned out to be having sandy sex in the company of strangers.
Photos, and then videos, of these scenes popped up. I was riveted by this, but it felt like watching a wildlife film. My arousal levels were at absolute zero, as I peered at these strange creatures, copulating freely, with my attention straying to wondering why they so often kept their shoes and socks on, why it was de rigour for the men to wander around holding their penis's, and why body hair, and specifically pubic hair, seemed to have become so deeply unfashionable.
I wondered what it would it be like to find myself amongst these hairless humans. Could my wife and I face going onto an even straightforward nudist beach, unshaven? We would stand out a mile. My mind wandered further. Wasn't it an enormous chore to have to consistently depilate the genitals? I found it bad enough having to shave my face. What was wrong with pubic hair, anyway? After ruminating on this for a while, I lost interest.
Something along these lines has happened to my masturbation habits. My penis has belatedly cottoned on to the fact my wife's hand is different to my own. When I touch myself, the response is increasingly one of indifference. I can labour away for a while, and get some result, but by then my mind has usually wandered. Overall, the allure of self stimulation has dissipated. It isn't that I don't think of doing it; it is more that I don't feel like acting on that thought, or if I do, that I don't get much out of it. It's okay, but not that good. A bit like snacking between meals. One point of interest is that any masturbation I do indulge in is strictly non ejaculatory.
Erotica is only slightly different. I still like looking at it, occasionally, but it doesn't arouse me in the way it once did. I don't think this is a case of over exposure. It is more of a resigned realisation that two dimensions, while titivating, are hardly a substitute for three. Erotica and arousal were always linked together for me, though this seldom resulted in masturbation, at least not directly. Masturbation tended to happen separately.
I have always had something of a problem with not particularly liking to initiate sex because of liking still less the feeling of not being wanted if my advances weren't met with equal enthusiasm, which occasionally happened. Finally, I seem to have put two and two together and recognised that there are times of day and places and circumstances when and where my wife enjoys making love so much it would be almost inconceivable for her to demur; and that there are other times, places and circumstances that no amount of persuasion will make her believe are right. By avoiding the latter, no 'rejection' can occur. In the case of the former, I no longer need to 'initiate', as we are both of a like mind, so we can go forward together.
Nowadays, we are indulging in occasional orgasmic but mostly non orgasmic intercourse, in a largely haphazard manner. For the time being, our schedule has gone out of the window. That is, the 'formal' schedule. Informally, we both know, the likelihood is strong, at certain times of the day and in certain areas of the house, we will get together. Sometimes it is for a cuddle; other times it is to make love. Every time we make love, it starts out as Karezza, but then might evolve into something else. Although we never set out to deliberately climax, often it just seems that to not let it happen would be flying in the face of some deeper need. Generally, it stays slow, no matter what we do. It is definitely more Stanley Bass than Diana Richardson, but it is neither, really. I would say, on average, my wife has an orgasm every third time we make love, while I have one maybe every fifth time.
Why did we still have orgasms? Partly it is because we have difficulty resisting them. We are definitely what I would call 'face flush' enthusiasts. Until our hearts are going at least fast enough to bring the blood to our cheeks, we feel we're not really making love, we're cuddling. When I press my wife, she admits she would still far rather have an orgasm than not; but as she's usually reliant on me to lead our, or match her, movement and tempo, she doesn't always get her way.
My take is slightly different, as I still believe, for men at least, occasional orgasms are essential for health, so I am unwilling to go for extended periods of non ejaculation, even if I don't enjoy them half as much as I once did. If I knew, categorically, that having no orgasms was better for my health than having one a day, or one a week, or one a month, or even just one 'occasionally', then I would feel more steady in any resolve I have. As things stand, I'm still uneasy repeatedly activating impulses that would have a natural culmination in orgasm without ever letting that come about. At the same time, I'm increasingly aware of how much more can happen if those impulses are thwarted.
One indisputable benefit from deciding it is physiologically healthier not to avoid orgasms completely, is that I no longer experience any sense of having a goal and being disappointed if I fail to reach it. It always bothered me that I would set off with the intention of not climaxing, only to give into temptation half an hour later. Now I find I no longer mind, one way or the other; and the effect of this is that I seem to have become less, rather than more, inclined to indulge.
What keeps us as Bass rather than Richardson followers has to do very largely with focus. I find there is a major qualitative difference between the sort of focus that comes naturally and the sort that requires effort. During 'cool' sex, I notice my mind wandering, and for me, when making love, this is definitely not desirable. The conclusion I've come to is that to stay in the moment, to stay fully engaged, I have to be doing, or feeling, something sufficiently strong to blank out the extraneous thoughts that hover constantly on the edge of consciousness, and tend to push their way through whenever there is nothing to stop them. I much prefer this to doing less and having to 'work' at maintaining focus.
Neither my wife nor I are very good at putting our attention where it isn't. Though everyone's different, I find if I have to cajole my mind to focus on something, it's likely that that something isn't what I am truly interested in. Letting our attention go where it wants to go, we tend to engage in activities that take our minds with us. Maybe that explains why we are not meditators, which requires the sort of attention we have to direct, rather than the sort we have trouble being deflected from.
Sexual fervour has always been something I could immerse myself in without trying. Part of the problem I've experienced with the cooler sort of Karezza, because there is no fervour, as such, is that my attention lapsed, and I lost interest. Having to persuade myself back on track doesn't come easily to me. Nor does it for my wife. In fact, I suspect she finds it even more difficult than I do.
For as far back as I can remember, I have fantasised about sex. Ninety five percent of my imaginings had my wife at their centre, and I always considered this a fruitful way of passing time in between actual encounters. I've noticed I'm not doing this anymore. More to the point, I can't do it. I find myself trying to crank a fantasy into action, and it is as if the mechanism is broken. I suspect this has something to do with the greater amount of lovemaking we are doing. I didn't need to fantasise, because there is less of a lack to make up for.
I vividly remember, a couple of years ago, travelling together in a Muslim country. We were on a tight budget, and were staying in grotty hotels where the sheets were seldom changed. We rarely exchanged touches or kisses in public, because we were mindful it might be considered inappropriate, even for married couples. We didn't feel like getting intimate in the privacy of our dispiriting hotel rooms, either. We stayed partly dressed in our lumpy beds, because we didn't like the idea of making too close contact with those who had slept in them before us. We took a lot of long bus and shared taxi rides.
On one occasion, I was cooped up in the boot of a seven seater Peugeot for three hours, and I found myself fantasising about continuous sexual encounters, with constant erections, detumescence, dribbling, momentary satiation, etc, so that by the time we arrived at our destination, and I uncoiled myself from the car, I felt utterly exhausted and in need of a complete change of clothing.
I assume it was the relative deprivation that led to, and allowed, this intense fantasy activity; and that a comparative time of plenty is causing the opposite; but, of course, there may be deeper currents at work.
A further observation concerns a peculiar reoccurrence every few months where I seem to reach overload and suddenly, overnight, my libido vanishes. It stays missing for anything up to a week. This was worrying the first couple of times, until I treated it as a time to step back, as much from my wife as anything else, because it seemed to centre around a confusion in some part of my brain between loving her and lusting after her, following an overdose on my part of the former. Put simply, the more time and effort I spent approaching her for bonding purposes, the more likely I seemed to be to eventually arrive at a point where the satisfaction from that squashed my underlying desire for sex.
I attribute this to a complicated process of reinfantalisation on my part. Given that babies when born are apparently poly perverse - that is, every pore of their body is equally sensitive - and that it isn't until later in life they start finding (specifically sexual) sensation focussing on one or two especially erogenous zones, it doesn't seem too far fetched to believe that through substantial whole body touching and bonding a similar state might be reached where nothing other than that became either desirable or satisfying.
Christmas found us, for an extended period, in the tropics, living in someone else's house. The temperature was consistently hot, it was very humid, the air was stagnant and the only time we could call our own was at night, in a far too small bed, inside an even smaller mosquito tent. Any sort of lovemaking that involved effort resulted in hours of intolerable perspiration afterwards, as our bodies desperately tried to cool themselves, for which there was no alternative recourse - no fans, no air conditioning - so we learned to not move much.
This definitely had an effect on my desire for orgasm, which more or less declined to zero. I remember having two ejaculations that were so dismal compared to the sensations that had immediately preceded them, I thought, why bother? My most recent climax had an entirely different genesis. I found myself wanting to 'give' my wife an orgasm, during intercourse, and this proved harder than I anticipated. The result was messy and sweaty, with my wife failing to climax and me suddenly realising I was about to go over the edge, the jolting sensation of doing so being akin to taking a shower where the thermostat momentarily malfunctioned and I got a jet of extra hot water for about three seconds.
'Giving' - or wanting to give - orgasms to my wife seems to be a problem I'm still tussling with. We had been discussing matters, and my wife had claimed she was losing out on orgasms as a result of me no longer aiming to have them myself. I pointed out that it was never a sure fire thing she would have an orgasm, anyway, from intercourse, no matter what I planned; and after thinking it over, we agreed she probably had about as many orgasms as a direct result of intercourse without me ejaculating as she had ever had when I, too, was climaxing. However, any shortfall had tended to be made up by me using my fingers or mouth, which I freely admitted, didn't happen during 'pure' Karezza.
Although my wife said she was perfectly content and fulfilled from lengthy intercourse without orgasm, and was only mentioning it to let me know that any resolutions of mine had consequences for her, something about this conversation seemed to affect me. It was almost as if I felt it a slight on my manhood to not be giving my wife what she had indicated she wanted - and at every available opportunity! As it happened, our 'too small' bed was so uncomfortable to sleep in with both our shoulders at the same end, we had taken to lying head to toe. Since excess movement was out of the question, we found we had far greater and easier access to each other's genitals than ever before; while intercourse was correspondingly trickier.
My intention was to evolve a sort of manual or oral form of Karezza. Unfortunately, the only lubricant we had access to that was not going to add uncomfortably to our already viscous state - oil was just too messy, in the circumstances - was saliva, and it didn't do the trick, at least with manual stimulation. Or maybe, secretly, I didn't want it to. I sensed an impatience in me to catch up on this so called 'shortfall' my wife claimed she was experiencing. The end result was a succession of orgasms for her, though none, interestingly, for me, even though she was far from passive.
At present, I would say I am now at a stage where I start lovemaking with barely a thought of orgasm, and only occasionally have them. There is no fight to avoid them. If they come, they come, but they're usually a disappointment. I'm not sure about my wife, and I'm still less sure what I should be doing in relation to that uncertainty. Asking her if she enjoys orgasm is as fruitless as asking her if she enjoys chocolate. Of course she does! But does that mean I should be plying her with the stuff? Especially as she clearly derives immense satisfaction from a chocolate free (ie, Karezza) diet.
I haven't been visiting Reuniting much recently, but I did take a look in the New Year and there were one or two discussions going on concerning the wisdom of otherwise of 'persuasion'. If two people are not of like mind about something, is there a place for it?
We've been staying near a beach, and would swim at most opportunities. Our host had fallen out of the habit of doing this, and used every excuse for not joining us - it was too hot, too cold, the sea was too low, too high, too calm, too rough; her bathing suit wasn't dry, or she didn't want to get it wet; it was too far to walk, it was not seemly behaviour, anyway, etc, etc. My wife took it upon herself to force the issue.
Within a few days, our host was happily leading the way down the path towards the sea. I mentioned to my wife the similarity of her approach to this to the one I had adopted with her in the past whenever she had fallen into the habit of finding sex too laborious an effort. She would say she was too tired, she had a headache, it was too late, she would rather watch television, hadn't we just done it a couple of days ago, etc, etc; that whenever I persuaded her to give it a go, she had revelled in the occasion.
Just how firm was my persuasion, then? I don't remember, for certain; but my wife's stance with our host was straightforward: she simply wasn't prepared to take no for an answer. Although sex and swimming are hardly the same, the principle seems eerily familiar. When someone who previously enjoyed an activity falls into the mode (assuming it is that, and nothing untoward has occurred) of no longer wanting it, I don't think there is much more going on than the insidious process of habituation. We all need to jerk ourselves awake if we are not to fall prey to this syndrome in virtually every area of life; and maybe sometimes we need to take the responsibility for reminding others, to help them do the same.
Since we've been back home, on our own again, in a cold house, I've noticed my interest in orgasm, even as an occasional, health giving treat for my prostate, has evaporated. Partly, this is because I'm realising, for the first time, just how complicated a juggling act it's become, to try and squeeze passion into a predetermined mould that seems to require above all else a mutually satisfying ending.
I began married, sexual life thinking of little but my own satisfaction, which was okay, after a fashion, though perhaps less so for my wife. For a long time, events were demarcated by my pursuit of orgasm, where I didn't make much attempt to pace myself. Later, I started to think more of my wife, which maybe made things better for her, but it seemed to leave us strangely disjointed. I became so wrapped up in turning her on, I began losing sight of myself.
Finessing the laborious process of simultaneous orgasm came next, and I like to think we got quite good at it, but I eventually recognised I was so caught up in orchestrating the rise and fall of our different arousal patterns, I barely had time to enjoy anything other than the satisfaction of fulfilling my role. Occasionally, things would work awe inspiringly well, and we would feel our souls merge; but generally it felt more like one of us slipped on a banana skin and then tripped the other up. Although slowing the whole process right down helped enormously, our sex life began to seem like my tennis game - great fun, fairly strenuous, but a bit ragged, in the style of a journeyman, with only the occasional ascent onto the ''zone', where good shots played themselves.
Recently, the quality of my orgasms has diminished to the point where they are less rememberable than ever, and I'm wondering if this isn't so much that they've changed (though they might have done) but because their backdrop has come so vividly to life. I'm starting to notice a richness and depth to what precedes any orgasmic stirrings that is positively fixating. Slow, deliberate, controlled intercourse, in pursuit of nothing other than the immediate moment, is forcing me to stop and pay attention, as never before. It's like being caught in my own headlight. It's doing the same to my wife too, and although we don't talk about this, other than acknowledging it, it's creating a tremulous quality that is entirely new and very refreshing.
I've been searching for an analogy for this, and all I can come up with is the formal handshake. Whether they are friends or strangers, for a duration of several seconds, contact is made between two people, with - usually - an undeniable sense of mutual presence. The hands reach out and clasp each other, eye contact is established, the changing pressure of palm and fingers creates a subtle feedback circuit, an undeniable connection is made; and then the moment is over.
Intercourse is massively different, of course, but it shares the magnetism of two people meeting, but then extends and magnifies it one thousand fold. I'm finding it is as if I am 'meeting' my wife, and making contact with her, in a sublimely pleasurable fashion, on the most fundamental level, again, and again, and again, for as long as both of is can sustain each other's presence. And to do this, we don't have to do anything but continue to be there. Fabulous!