How to get a man to try the Exchanges?

Submitted by CuriousFellow on
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Let me quote from the post at
[quote=christopherd]This morning we had a different sexual experience where we did not go to the high stimulation but had intercourse in a more mellow relaxed manner.

Afterward I realized that I felt much better and closer and less wanting to push away. I still felt a little of the "wanting to be apart " from her. Could this be because I did get over stimulated even though it was minimal? But overall the afterglow was much more pleasant and less painful than previously.

This was the most enjoyment I have experienced sexually during and after.[/quote]
Christopher duplicated an experience I had more than 20 years ago early in my marriage. There were a few times when I started to make love in the morning about five minutes before I had to get up and go to work. I always liked to take my time and enjoy a lot of cuddling, and five minutes seemed too rushed. So one time I didn't finish with an orgasm, and I got my wife's agreement that I could "finish" later.

That experience has really stood out in my mind over the years, for a couple of reasons:

- I was quite surprised at how "normal" I felt a minute or two after disengaging and getting out of bed. There was no feeling of desperately wanting to have an orgasm. Nor did I feel particularly horny throughout that day.

- I felt good. I had a nice afterglow feeling all day.

I'd like to point out to Marnia that Christopher found the experience pleasant and enjoyable enough to write about it -- as have I, many years after my experience.

The reason I'm mentioning this is that I think Marnia's program of Exchanges, as described in Peace Between the Sheets, is not presented in a way that is appealing to most men. Suppose the woman wants her partner to try the program. I can imagine the woman saying something like "Honey, let's try this program, where we don't make love for two weeks..." (at which moment the man feels like the room is starting to spin, and he grabs hold of his chair to hang on) "and then we can make love but don't have orgasms." (at which moment the man becomes stone deaf and catatonic.)

Even Marnia has said that she doesn't expect most people to try the program until their backs are to the wall.

I'd really like to find a way to present the program in a way that is more appealing to men. What I suggest is that rather than asking the man to make a HUGE leap of faith (that the program isn't one of sexual privation -- followed by more sexual privation!), that instead the program should begin with the suggestion that the couple make love in the morning without orgasms (or getting close to orgasms), see how the man feels during the day, and THEN, if he feels ok about it, begin the Exchanges.

I'm betting that most men will have the same astonishing but pleasant discovery that Christopher and I have had, and will suddenly become much more willing to continue on with the rest of the program.

A few more notes: I recommend that the first time a couple tries the karezza experiment, that they do it in the morning, rather than at night. The reason is that the man is less likely to be anxious about being able to get to sleep. There are lots of things going on during the day that can distract one away from any horniness.

I imagine that a lot of men may unintentionally have an orgasm the first time they try making love after the two weeks of celibacy in the Exchanges - or at least that might be a worry. Trying karezza at least once before beginning the Exchanges gives the man the opportunity to find out what it's like at the outset, at a time when it is probably easy for him to avoid orgasming, and would also give him some incentive to be careful and avoid having an orgasm when the Exchanges finally allow intercourse.

If the man is in the habit of driving toward orgasm like an express train, he will need to be trained to slow - way - down and enjoy the journey. I assume that for such men, sex equals orgasm (and nothing more), so any suggestion to "give up orgasms" will not be considered for even a millisecond. Thus, I would suggest doing this "training" before even thinking about proposing trying the Exchanges. To do this training, the woman should just ask the man to lie still for a couple of minutes after entering her, and also ask him to not pull out immediately after orgasm, but instead to lie still and cuddle for a few minutes after he orgasms, until his erection subsides and he slips out.

Many men who are in a relationship are frustrated with wanting to make love more often than their partners, and thus often feel uncomfortably horny, lonely, resentful, etc. when he wants to make love and she doesn't. I think one of the benefits of the Exchanges and permanently switching to karezza is reducing the frequency and intensity of episodes of uncomfortable horniness. This is another pleasant surprise discovery that one may make, but it may take several weeks of orgasmic celibacy before one really notices the lack of horniness. (I think in my case it took at least six weeks, maybe even longer, before I really noticed "Hey, the cravings are gone!") Anyway, I think this is an important benefit -- an attractive selling point for the program: regardless of how often your partner may want to make love once you are on the program, you won't have those uncomfortable cravings that you may be having now while you are on the orgasm rollercoaster.

You're very persuasive

And I will give this suggestion even more serious reflection. I'm sure that there should be a way to at least share some portion of the above with readers, perhaps in your words. I'm sure a lot of men will relate to it.

Just know that making love without orgasm once in a while does not tend to lead to consistently avoiding it. Ask Sood. One remains convinced that orgasm is still necessary. Therefore, whatever benefits one sees, one doesn't tend to experience what it's like for both partners to be free of neurochemical hangovers.

In my experience, some back and forth occurs anyway, so, in theory, a delay for this type of experiment doesn't matter. But in practice, I just don't know if it is likely to lead to anything but a holding pattern. Of course, the Exchanges aren't a *guarantee* of progress either. And in this new book, I even suggest that couples return to regular sex after the three-week period so they can compare states of mind over TWO several week periods.

I am also concerned that your suggestion may be more likely to lead men into "rushing up to the edge and stopping" behavior. That is dangerous for the prostate. In karezza the idea is to move one's awareness away from the body, and fall into total relaxation and a sense of effortless merging that could go on forever. Having sex for a few minutes and then stopping would urge many to "squeeze as much vigorous in-and-out into the experience as possible." That is more likely to produce frustration tha five minutes of quiet sex, for various neurochemical reasons. In my experience, it's very hard for someone to experiment with "not doing." People can even read about it - and just not register the words. They think, "No orgasm? I can do that once in a while. But not "go for the goodies" (try to stimulate myself as much as possible)? That *can't be right!"

With the Exchanges, there's a more gradual approach that makes "not doing" seem more natural (I hope...).

Thoughts anyone??


[quote=Marnia]Just know that making love without orgasm once in a while does not tend to lead to consistently avoiding it. Ask Sood. One remains convinced that orgasm is still necessary. Therefore, whatever benefits one sees, one doesn't tend to experience what it's like for both partners to be free of neurochemical hangovers.[/quote]
Sure, I understand. What I'm suggesting is something like what they do in food stores: offer samples, and hope you'll buy a box of the product. I'm envisioning that a man might try making love without orgasm in the morning, and in the evening say, "That was kind of neat! Sure, lets give this program a try." So the experiment only "delays" the program by half a day, but it might also make the difference between the man willingly trying the program vs. not being willing to try it at all.
[quote=Marnia]I am also concerned that your suggestion may be more likely to lead men into "rushing up to the edge and stopping" behavior. That is dangerous for the prostate.[/quote]
Well, you can add whatever warnings you think are appropriate. And maybe some people will ignore your warnings. But if they ignore your warnings at the beginning, are they any more likely to heed your warnings later on?

By the way, you keep mentioning danger to the prostate. Do you have any evidence to back that up? I would think that any fluid buildup in the prostate would just leak out or be reabsorbed, if it is not ejaculated. (As evidence of leaking out, it is claimed, elsewhere on this site, that women sometimes get pregnant while the couple is practicing karezza.)

Emotional key

I wonder if emotions are the key to this question as well. Our culture indoctrinates men away from emotions, but emotions are a powerful tool for them too. We are sold orgasm as a substitute for this power, effectively keeping us in the lower freqencies of existance: survival and reproduction.

Having lived somewhat like a guy--since I was trained to hide my feelings--I also substituted orgasm for real emotional experience, or bonded relationships. I thought I had liberated myself from that old trap of women wanting relationships/men wanting sex. I'd just make sex my God, and be done with it. I didn't know it at the time, but this is a miserable way to live. That phase of experimentation thankfully over.

Clear thought powered by true emotion creates reality. So it is best to learn how to play this instrument well.

It IS important

to recognize the power of our emotions in what we create.

I made a similar experiment to yours. In college and law school, I thought, "well, maybe the guys are right that relationships aren't important and sex is everything." I experimented a bit on that basis, but it was not only an empty experience for me...I could see that, quite honestly, it wasn't doing them any good either. They weren't finding it deeply fulfilling, even though it temporarily quelled their urges. Also, even when I wasn't seeking commitment, they bolted. That's how I knew that something very weird was going on, that didn't fit the popular myth. As it turns out...nothing weird was going on. Biology was just at work, doin' its job very efficiently!

I think one reason we have "gotten lost" in sex is that we didn't realize that we are pair-bonding mammals - both men and women - despite individual differences in the strength of these urges to bond (and individual childhood/past experiences that make bonding seem more, or less, appealing). That is, we're wired to find close companionship rewarding...and not just sex. 95% of mammals don't get any buzz from pair-bonding. They just get a buzz from sex (and other common survival activities, such as eating, drinking, etc.). For them, constant promiscuity works just fine, and doesn't leave them feeling like something is missing.

An innate pair-bonding program may be why sex alone - thrilling as it may be - just doesn't completely cut it for us pair-bonders. Even if we think we don't "need" a mate, there's an empty hole at a neurochemical level when we aren't with one. It's very easy to slip into filling this innate neurochemical sense of "lack" with sex, drugs, drink or rock 'n' roll. But that risks addiction.

Spiritual paths teach us that there are *other* ways of filling it than a mate...feelings of union with the divine, making music, companionship with non-lovers, nurturing touch, generous service...and yet the simplest path may be right in front of us...mating behavior that *doesn't* trigger the desire for a novel mate. When we master it, it can meet both our built-in "sex" need *and* our built-in companionship need.

Here's some interesting research that suggests that pair-bonding mammals are more susceptible to addiction than non-pair-bonders. This means that the "neurochemical hole" from being a pair-bonder may be very real. That is, if we don't address it by learning to sustain companionship with a mate, it leaves us vulnerable to addictive substances and behavior (like porn use).

Interestingly, married people have lower rates of addiction than singles. And it certainly seems like addiction is on the rise, as pair-bonds are proving more and more fragile (as more and more emphasis is placed on sexual satiation, i. e., achieving orgasm). Food for thought.

Here's the abstract:

Amphetamine effects in microtine rodents- A comparative study using monogamous and promiscuous vole species
J.T. Curtis and Z. Wanga

Accepted 12 July 2007.
Available online 17 July 2007.

We compared amphetamine-induced dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens of vole species that exhibit differing mating systems to examine potential interactions between social organization and substance abuse. We found no species or regional differences in basal extracellular dopamine, however, monogamous voles had greater and longer-lasting increases in extracellular dopamine after amphetamine treatment than did promiscuous voles. We then examined whether amphetamine-induced increase in extracellular dopamine could induce pair bonds in monogamous voles. We found that, despite increasing dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, amphetamine administration did not induce pair-bonds in male prairie voles unless the animals were pretreated to preclude D1 receptor activation, which is known to inhibit pair-bond formation. These results support suggestions that social attachment and substance abuse share a common neural substrate.

Key words: mating system; pair-bond; dopamine; nucleus accumbens; addiction; microdialysis


Our (my wife's and my) experience of Karezza so far, over a period of many months, is that is is an exceedingly pleasant adjunct to orgasmic lovemaking; but in no way a substitute or replacement for it. Far from making us less horny or diminishing our sexual cravings, it seems to increase them, to the point where we can barely keep our hands off each other. We get like a pair of teenagers, even in public, which becomes embarrassing. The only thing that quells this 'heat' is orgasm!

As a half way house to doing the Exchanges, I doubt Karezza is much use, unless the long term motivation to avoid orgasm is already there. Why forego orgasm unless you really want to; and if you really want to, you would probably be sufficiently motivated to attempt the Exchanges. Once the Exchanges are under your belt (assuming things go according to plan, and you enjoy both the process and the results) Karezza would come into its own.

Of course, I may be misunderstanding the term 'Karezza'. When Marnia says: "In karezza the idea is to move one's awareness away from the body", I'm not sure I know what she means. It seems to me, awareness of the body - the two bodies - becomes so all encompassing, everything else recedes from view. There is 'only' body awareness: the warm, unified glow of two bodies feeling like one becomes the ongoing reality.

Concerning 'uncomfortable cravings'. I have cravings in all walks of life. Cravings for various foods and drinks (cheese, lettuce, coffee, water), cravings for different behaviours (walking, cycling, riding, tennis), cravings for inactivity (slumping, slumbering, sleep) and cravings for sex (stimulation, foreplay, orgasm). I enjoy my cravings, for the most part. However, when cravings are for something other than they appear to be, problems might arise. Then the activity in question becomes a 'pain drain'; something that is sought to assuage an inner turmoil that has little to do with the activity itself.

Unfortunately, I find it's not always easy to tell the difference.

Thanks for sharing, Sood.

Have you abstained from orgasm for long enough to have been able to observe a difference between that state and the post-orgasm state?

If you don't mind my asking (Curious me...) do you stay inside and cuddle for a while after orgasm? I have a theory that doing so mitigates the alleged bad effects of orgasm.

I mentioned "uncomfortable horniness" to distinguish that from pleasant feelings of horniness that some people seem to enjoy. "Uncomfortable horniness" for me occurs about four days after an orgasm, and involves a skin-crawly sensation and difficulty getting to sleep. I would be tempted to masturbate, or, if I was sleeping with my wife and she didn't want to have sex, I might feel frustrated and resentful.

Questions and answers

"Have you abstained from orgasm for long enough to have been able to observe a difference between that state and the post-orgasm state?"

I'm not sure if by "long enough" you mean time between orgasms, the duration of individual lovemaking sessions, or the duration of our Karezza experimentation period; but in all three cases, the answer is yes. For me, the post orgasm and post Karezza states are very different, though I can't speak for my wife, who doesn't seem to exhibit any marked behaviour changes, whatever we do, and doesn't venture her opinion on her internal state that freely. As I mentioned, I enjoy Karezza, but the afterstate is usually one of wanting more of the same; it leaves me satisfied, but still hungry, if that makes sense. Orgasmic sex leaves me shell shocked, in a thoroughly enjoyable way. These are 'immediate' impressions. Longer term impressions, I'm more unsure about. We've gone without orgasm for more than two weeks a number of times, but if anything, this seems to have created distance between us, and a lack of interest in being close; but I must emphasise these periods of abstinence were forced on us by circumstances, rather than chosen, and those circumstances also made the alternative bonding behaviours Marnia recommends difficult. We've yet to do the two together, properly. All in all, though, we've practised Karezza and orgasmic sex side by side for long enough now for me to thoroughly appreciate both, and not see any downside to either. I would like to get deeper into Karezza, but not at the expense of giving up orgasm altogether. I should also add that my wife's orgasmic life has flowered like never before ... largely through the practice of Karezza!

"If you don't mind my asking (Curious me...) do you stay inside and cuddle for a while after orgasm? I have a theory that doing so mitigates the alleged bad effects of orgasm."

Usually, our orgasms happen just before sleep. So, yes, I stay inside, and cuddle ... eventually, I slip out, still cuddling. Things are little different, when we don't orgasm, except I 'slip out' less soon.

"I mentioned "uncomfortable horniness" to distinguish that from pleasant feelings of horniness that some people seem to enjoy. "Uncomfortable horniness" for me occurs about four days after an orgasm, and involves a skin-crawly sensation and difficulty getting to sleep. I would be tempted to masturbate, or, if I was sleeping with my wife and she didn't want to have sex, I might feel frustrated and resentful."

I can't say I recognise this sensation. I can get frustrated and resentful, but this seems much more a mental than a physical state, characterised by insane, churning thoughts. I wish I could, but I can't, correlate the presence of those thoughts, in me, with the number of days since orgasm. There seems to be no connection. Maybe I need to create a chart, and mark off our orgasms, write my moods down, note where my wife appears to be behaving differently, and figure things out from that. Off the top of my head, though, it's all random.


This may be stating the obvious, but aren't you one of the only people here with a willing partner who hasn't yet tried the Exchanges? Do you have anything to lose?

Good point!

When I first read Peace, I was horrified at the prospect of doing the Exchanges. Not because I wouldn't be able to have an orgasm for two or three weeks, but because they called for lashings of the sort of behaviour I (and my wife) don't feel particularly comfortable doing. Eye gazing, serious, emotional talk, periods of relative stillness. I seriously doubted (and still doubt) we could see it through without one of us (probably me) causing a deliberate derailment.

Then I thought maybe what I feared most was the possibility the Exchanges would work so well we wouldn't want to have orgasms again. We love orgasms!

Now, I'm still fearful, of both doing the Exchanges and the possibility of them 'working'; but I'm slowly coming round to thinking, in the spirit of enquiry, we ought to give them our best shot, especially if I continue frequenting this site, bleating on about orgasm having no ill effects on us.

Don't count the days, though. Without wanting to sound melodramatic, the Exchanges do represent a major stride away from our comfort zone.


You know, I think that if your comfort zone was really so incredibly comfortable, you wouldn't be here in the first place. Don't you owe this to your sense of adventure?


Comfort zones are like old clothes; badly fitting, threadbare; but they still feel like a second skin.

Of course, you're right. If everything was absolutely hunky dory, I wouldn't be here; but I'm not sure my sense of adventure is what I should be appealing to. I suspect this is largely controlled by my lizard brain, which might steer me in the direction of lap dancing clubs, given half the chance.

I have no explanation for my unwillingness, other than that contemplating doing the Exchanges feels like being asked to walk naked down the high street, which I've done far too many times in my dreams to want to repeat in real life.

I wouldn't be so quick

to dismiss your sense of adventure. A lap dance might be thrilling, but where's the real challenge in it? This is no reckless dive into self-defeating implusiveness; it's a calculated assault on your well-ingrained but self-defeating habits. Something has to be there to propel you to make that naked walk into the unknown. You're right that there's an element of terror in it, but if the fear really means that you're confronting something important, doesn't it make you want to try it even more?

Take your time

You'll know when (if) the right moment arrives. Besides, the effects are unlikely to be quite SO dramatic. (If you do walk down the High Street naked, take a picture for us.) Wink

Very interesting thread

I've been delaying chiming in because I wanted to post this article first:

I think it's an explanation of why some lovemaking without orgasm leads to mild frustration building up...and why some doesn't. What do you gents think?

Also, no CF, I don't have evidence of prostate damage...but I do have a very clear memory of overheating (I almost wrote "overeating"....) Gary once, and it leading to sharp pains in his prostate that went on for about a day. That *can't* be good for delicate equipment. I've also read in Lloyd's work, his suggestion that overheating is not good.

Another doctor I talked with in CA, who was into tantra, said he thinks the key to safety is avoiding a sense of "strain" in favor of "moving the energy well." All this is why I don't think it's good to rush to the edge, or employ vigorous control mechanisms of the type Chia least not as a steady diet. In any case, as I say in that article linked to above, such techniques are performance-oriented, and they may actually *prevent* the merging experience that can happen spontaneously when totally relaxed.

It seems the sacred sex folks from various traditions may be right. The energy has to be "transmuted through the heart" before it leads to true fulfillment - and that process may work best when we are relaxed and focused on bonding, not arousal.

I know Sood recorded one experience here of "melting" with his wife, which he said he would have been happy to sustain indefinitely. Instead, if I recall correctly, they ended the session with orgasm. I wonder how he would have felt if they hadn't. I think that "melting" feeling is the key to not feeling frustration afterward - because of its effects on the nervous system. But, I admit, I'm still learning, too.

Two ways of getting close to the edge of orgasm

Marnia, what you say above and in the Neotaoism and Karezza article make a lot of sense to me.

I think there are two ways to get "close to the edge": One way is to rush toward orgasm, then slam on the brakes and hold on for dear life to try to avoid going over the edge. The other way is is to approach the edge cautiously, a step at a time, getting more and more cautious as you get close to the edge. I've practiced both ways.

I learned the "hold on" technique about 15 years ago, mostly as a way to have an orgasm without ejaculating. (What can I say? I'm just Curious to try lots of different things. I've also figured out how to ejaculate with only a weak orgasm.) Anyway, I just squeeze the muscles that prevent peeing. If I stimulate myself to orgasm and clamp down hard enough (Kegel exercises help), the ejaculatory muscle spasms occur, but there is no external discharge. Probably the semen stays in the prostate. I've mostly done that while masturbating. I might have done it once while lovemaking. Anyway, it's not very satisfying. Orgasm without normal ejaculation seems "incomplete". Often I would masturbate again a few seconds or minutes later, the second time with normal ejaculation. This practice may also be unsafe, as Marnia says. Within a few months of learning the technique, I got a case of epididymitis (inflamation of the sperm storage tissue behind the testicles - makes it uncomfortable to sit down!). And a year or two later, while occasionally practicing the technique, I got it again.

The other technique I have been practicing for most of my sexual career. I would do it while masturbating, if I felt like spending the time, and I would almost always do it during lovemaking. In lovemaking, the first 15 minutes or so would typically be alternating vigorous pumping to try to stimulate my wife, mixed with lying still when I got somewhat close to orgasm. Then the last 5 or 10 minutes would be much slower, gentler pumping and lying still, getting as close to the edge of orgasm as I could without going over the edge. This was an exercise in relaxing the muscles that control peeing (there must be some other mechanism that prevents peeing when sexually aroused, because I would never pee while practicing this technique. Or, alternatively, I might be confused about what muscles I'm controlling.) It's an adagio - a very slow, careful balancing act, staying close to the edge while being very careful to relax and not let the orgasmic/ejaculatory spasms start. It's sort of like trying to cure hiccups by deliberately relaxing your diaphragm to prevent the spasms - very tricky. I very much enjoy this practice of staying close to the edge, and haven't noticed any bad effects from it. The feelings are quite intense, almost as intense as orgasm itself.

I suppose, if I ever get a chance to practice karezza in the future, that I may have to avoid getting close to the edge. For one thing, since the feelings are so intense, it may be a high dopamine event, with effects similar to orgasm. For another, the practice involves a lot of inward focus (although I have sometimes done it with eyes open, looking at my wife), which seems contrary to the spirit of karezza.

First Post

* First Post by a newbie *

I have just finished pressing my F5 key I don't know how many times on the random Exchanges page. I was blown away by them. As a guy, I am familiar with the drive-to-orgasm feeling but I am also sensitive to my wife's we-didn't-climax-together sense of failure. We seem to apologize so often after sex. To me, this is a lovely way to get rid of expectations and just be in the moment together.

If my wife had said, "Tonight is about cuddling. It's about putting your arm around me and just holding me. It's about lying side by side and looking into each other's eyes. It's about back rubs and foot rubs. Tomorrow can be passionate. Tonight is just for being together," how could I have said no? We only made love once a week at best. I would gladly have done Exchanges the other 6 days and I think I could have extended the time to two weeks without having the whole explanation.

Not all guys are testosterone driven sex machines. If you search beneath the surface quest for sex, I think you'll find that what a lot of guys really lack is intimacy. To me, that's what the Exchanges are all about. I'm going to try the cuddling speech on my wife. I think she'll be very surprised that it's coming from me, but I expect she'll dive right in.