How to Use book and approach for Gay Men?

Submitted by vlepo on
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Since the approach seems to focus on healing the separation that occurs between the sexes, is it possible to effectively use the principles and techniques for a monogamous and intimate male-same-sex relationship?

From my still early read and introduction to this site and the book "Peace Between the Sheets...," it seems to me that same-sex relationships are viewed as one of the possible coping-mechanisms to the biologically influenced separation between the sexes. I am not resistant to this idea. In fact, I actually find it fascinating and worth continued consideration. It certainly seems to make sense. I just want to know if you think it's possible -- and worth the effort -- to seek a healthy and whole same-sex relationship according to this approach?

My initial guess is torn -- part of me suspects that if same-sex relationships are actually, on some level, a symptom (or coping mechanism) of the sex divide, then trying to make it work misses the foundation of true healing as well as perpetuating inevitable frustration. Whereas, another part of me thinks (and indeed hopes!!) that if balancing the chemical cycles of addiction can work in heterosexual relationships then it should work the same in homosexual ones.

If the latter is not true or possible, then I would think you'd have to say -- despite how heinously unpopular this would be politically -- that your program is the once mythic solution for same-sex orientation. Whoa!

And while I am certainly not looking for a solution to being gay -- it is not my position that it is a pathology -- I would certainly pursue eradicating it if indeed it were the only way to eradicate my current sexual addiction and the unspeakable pain and erosions that necessarily accompany it. But to repeat and be sure, my first preference worth fighting for at the moment, would be to create a truly healthy, whole, and happy intimate and monogamous relationship with another man. Is it possible or an oxymoron?

How would you answer directly and honestly? What ideas do you have to help?



It's good to have your perspective. I've always been struck by how my gay friends are so often openinded about the causes of alienation between the sexes. Makes sense.

Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to your questions, although I've thought about them a lot, too. At the end of the day, my view is that I'm probably not the right one to figure out which of these ideas work best in homosexual relationships. I've had enough of a challenge learning to apply them in heterosexual relationships!

Certainly my friends in gay relationships aren't immune to the post-orgasm fallout phenomenon, so it seems like the ideas might help them. But when I tried to write a chapter "for same-sex relationships," my computer lost it. Sad So I took a hint, and accepted that it's probably someone else's job.

I did feel it was my job to point out that there's unsuspected fluidity of orientation in sexual relationships. In this regard, have you read (lesbian) Lisa Diamond's book about sexual fluidity? She does a lot better job than I did. Wink

There's also some evidence that high dopamine can induce changes in sexual orientation. Not sure what to make of that, but if I were gay, I'd be intrigued.

Blog if you like.

Thank you so much!

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and warm reply! I am both humbled and enlivened to sense that on some level I can play my part in answering the questions I pose. I've actually been asking and struggling through them my entire life and am so grateful to have somehow connected with you and this powerful community, it seems -- but we know better -- by accident. I'll check out the recommended links. And I'm delighted to be a new participant to this site.

Also, I'm really loving your book! Thanks again!

You're welcome

Thanks for your kind remarks. We look forward to your future insights.

Since this forum is anonymous, I'll ask a question I usually wouldn't.;-) But it has niggled me a lot lately because I've been writing about how "supranormal stimulation" (meaning intense stimulation...that our ancestors wouldn't have been exposed to, like drugs, extreme porn, even too much refined sugar) can cause changes in the brain. And I remembered that a number of my homosexual friends (male and female) seemed to report discovering orgasm quite early in life (age 7, for example), and using porn quite early, too.

Recently I read that 80% of those seeking help for sexual addiction reported being sexually abused earlier in life. It dawned on me that an orgasm produced by a sexually sophisticated adult would definitely constitute "supranormal stimulation" for most of us...just because of the novelty and emotional charge likely connected with it.

The issue here is that these experiences may make the brain more likely to seek them again. And since superstimulants produce a big high (and a big low), they can more easily throw people in to an escalating search for novel or risky stimulation.

Straight men here, for example, have reported that once they get hooked on porn, they may even be drawn to gay porn just for the intense novelty/shock value.

Is any of this making sense or have I explained it too superficially? If it is making sense, my question is, do you remember any such early experiences...either through self-discovery or with the "help" of an older participant? I'm just sort of taking a poll here, so feel free not to respond if you don't want to for any reason.

Reply Regarding the Early Origins of Male-Same-Sex addiction

WOW! I am really fascinated by your question. I believe you've gotten right to the heart of it. What you state and ask make good sense, and it is not stated superficially at all. I personally am actually amazed that this entire conversation is not more prevalent within the gay community.

I can answer your question easily as my memory of my entire history is quite clear. Yes, I do remember this exact experience - as you state it -- of having early supranormal stimulation that I believe helped develop a life-long pattern of seeking novel and risky stimulation, most notably around, but certainly not limited to, sexual and Romantic promiscuity.

At the age of around 6 or 7 years old, my older brother, at the time aged 13 or 14 years, fondled me in the secret confines of our shared bedroom. The sensation ended in an explosion of, again (so well stated in its simplicity) supranormal stimulation. I remember feeling both ecstatic and terrified that such a feeling of pleasure could occur within my body. I was instructed to keep silent about this for fear of getting in trouble by our parents. This kind of thing occurred several more times over the span of, I think, about a year. My brother even engaged a same-age-male friend of mine, leading us to have sexual play together. Eventually, I resented my brother very much, and told him to leave us alone going forward. Instead, my friend and I continued to sneak around the neighborhood to re-enact our new sex-games. Literally, within the neighborhood bushes one day, my older brother appeared and ridiculed us for playing -- I suppose -- without him. I remember him calling us gay and saying that he would tell on us if we didn't stop. That was the very moment the fear of being outed began. My brother held this threat over my head for the rest of my childhood development, and I grew to hate him, especially into the teenage years. He never fondled me again, but the damage, indeed, had already begun.

While I have always made this connection between being molested as a child and my same-sex-addiction history, I have never really understood it with the simplicity and clarity of the way you've present it above. So, thank you for a very helpful way to conceptualize it. Moreover, this is the first time I see a useful and credible link between that early supranormal stimulation and the other characteristic aspects of my life in which I've been a seeker of the risky and novel. In retrospect, I can only be so grateful to sheer luck and my own relatively stable sense of self-restraint and judgement, that I survived three decades of this dynamic without contracting HIV as so many other unfortunate persons have. I am humbled by the thought of it.

Thanks again for a thoughtful reply and question, and please feel free to give me any information that will continue my interest and participation in not only figuring this stuff out, but positioning my experiences and interests in being able to provide useful help, research, and narratives for others. Goodness knows many people need it. I would liked to have been exposed to such information as early as my teenage and early 20s.

I'm glad

the information is helpful. I know it has been for me. I experienced a milder version of this phenomenon myself in the "sugar" realm. I lived on massive quantities of "Cap'n Crunch" for much of my childhood (a breakfast "cereal" which is mostly refined sugar). It didn't make me fat, but it did make me unusually sensitive to sugar.

I don't notice the highs when I eat refined sugar (which is rarely), but I notice that a few hours later I get shaky and HAVE to eat something else, even if it's not mealtime (could be middle of the night, for example). If I eat sugar again, the cycle just keeps rolling. I usually make myself eat nuts, or something else with some protein instead. That puts me back in balance.

So I can definitely relate to what a dopamine cycle can do, and how supranormal stimulation can get it rolling. I just posted a science article in this forum, under "Science." It talks about the research on how sugar can become addictive.

However, although it's easy to miss, it's not about *sugar* it's about *dopamine dysregulation* in response to supranormal stimulation (bingeing). The scientist who is quoted in the article once said in another article, "Highly palatable foods and highly potent sexual stimuli are the only stimuli capable of activating the dopamine system with anywhere near the potency of addictive drugs."

And I ask you, if bingeing on *sugar* can set up an addiction in the brain, how much *more* likely is it that super-intense orgasmic experiences (like your early ones) can???

I, too, would find this information important if I had been caught in this phenomenon. I've mentioned it to an academic list that posts lots of items on gay and transgender stuff, but they just ignore me. Smile (I'm not an academic, so that kind of condescension is normal.)

The more interesting issue is how someone caught in this cycle can move back toward *balance.* I think the challenges of the guys recovering from porn addiction show that this can be tough.

That researcher, Bart Hoebel, once said (about the sugar-hooked rats) that "withdrawal symptoms and dips in dopamine levels aren't evident when meals are moderate and regularly scheduled." Again, I've found that the only way to get off the sugar swing is by eating something without the stimulant (protein).

This is why I think the sacred sex traditions were onto something. They said don't stop having sex...just stop the extreme stimulation of orgasm (as much as possible). We need touch and intimacy. We just don't *need* superstimulation.

However, there's a very disconcerting withdrawal period that stands between anyone who gets hooked and a genuine experience of equilibrium. Some things can help with that. There's a list in this post:

If one doesn't go through the withdrawal (which can take one to two months...because of a protein that lingers in the reward circuitry called Delta FosB), then one remains on the dopamine-addiction elevator going from penthouse to basement - and back, without ever being able to get off at the middle floors. Wink

If you like, I can send you a draft of the chapter from the new book which talks about this phenomenon in more detail.

I admire your willingness to share this information with others. Let me know how I can help.


Thanks for your help already

You are already helping so much! Thank you! Yes, I relate to the sugar history and intense cravings as well. I'm proud to report that I've really gotten on top of these. I flat out avoid all the refined sugar foods, snacks, etc., structuring two scheduled cheat-days a week. I enjoy the ritual of it and manage it well because I feel so much better off sugar. I think what really enables me to win the battle with sugar is my dedication and love of being a triathlete. All the working out, I've found, helps so much with positive regulation. In my case, sexual addiction is the real dragon -- not as easily negotiated. I use that word carefully. I'm not a fan of our very Western way of wanting to slay things. I don't think it works. I place more confidence in the transformative power of acceptance/understanding over precept or and dogma.

I read the article about sugar and rats this morning -- so fascinating. Incidentally, I work as a management consultant, in which one of my projects is collaborating with a team of mental health professionals specializing in treating individual and organization psychological trauma. Most of our clients are social services and mental health agencies that work in the child-foster-care systems across the country (and some now in Europe, Israel, and Australia). The brain research foundation of our treatment model looks at the way in which early childhood trauma rewires the brain and sets up an automatic life-cycle of re-enactment. Our clients and families find our work fascinating because they tend to see, almost immediately, that their so-called bad behavior turns out to be the body-mind's way of coping with itself.

It is so exciting for me to see, right away, in your work that at the heart it is the same basic biological-human reality at play. Whilst our training model focuses so specifically on trauma, you could easily replace the allusion to child-hood trauma with your concept of the "supranormal stimulation." And indeed isn't that what the traumatic events amount to biochemically? To look at our clients' case histories, you see incident after incident creating the kind of super stimulation that the brain just can't easily forget. Fine. Call it traumatic and bad, but the brain must encode it similarly to the way it encodes reactions to sugar or childhood orgasm: being abaondoned by your parents for days on end; seeing a person murdered; witnesses the shocking sensation of violence in the home; getting burned by cigarettes, being yelled at every day; the list goes on to the point of cliche.

And, yet, I have to laugh, I suspect that most of my mental health colleagues are clueless about the same-said effects of the food they put in their bodies (including the Dunkin donut and coffee they have before each session each day) or the kind of orgasmic sex that's complicating their own Maslow theories at home each night. And, please, don't get me started about the academic gay community! I've had the same experience as you -- being ignored or challenged when raising the kinds of questions that scratch beyond the superficial politicizing of gayness.

Yes, I'd love to see a draft of the chapter you refer to. Again, being new to the site, I don't know what protocol you prefer to use. But I'd be perfectly happy to give you my actual email address offline, as an alternative to the anonymous public forum here. Either is fine. I'll follow your lead.

It's quite exciting

that you have so much parallel background! Yes, we would agree that trauma changes the brain, just like a superstimulant. It's all "learning." *I'd* like to hear how you undo trauma to help people! Sounds like fascinating work.

Interestingly, some of the visitors here who have been traumatized feel more balanced when they get off of the highs and lows of the passion cycle. It's my theory that (voluntary!) sexual equilibrium (for want of a better word) may someday be recognized as a way to speed up therapy. In my experience, the more balanced you feel, the easier it is to look at your "stuff" and realize that you're ready to let it go.

On another subject...after I wrote the last post, I remembered that some research shows a small, but statistically significant correlation between "gayness" and having older brother(s). After hearing your tale, I can't help wondering whether others have also been introduced to orgasm on the early side by eager older brothers just "lending a hand" as it were. Smile

I agree that dragons can't be slain. Much better to restore balance and watch them turn into harmless lizards. However, this particular dragon won't stop breathing fire over night, if that information about lingering Delta FosB (the "relapse" protein) is right.

In any case, knowledge is power, and it sounds like you don't lack for self-discipline. Keep us posted on what works for you. It'll help lots of folks here.

I'll contact you privately about sending the chapter.

Thanks for bumping this,

Celeste. I would agree, it isn't a disease. I could expound on what I think, but I don't see that would be relevant to the topic at hand. But I'd only say, everyone no matter their sexual preferences are fellow human beings that have to work out their own issues even as I do my own, and that's in part what this forum/community is here for. Not to put each other down, but to support each other in our quest to find healing within ourselves and our relationships.

But this older thread is one I'd not come across before, and reminded me of some discussions Marnia and I have had before, some of it in messages rather than on the boards. But the bottom line is I too had my first sexual experience at the hands of an older man when I was about 10 or 11. And whether that had anything to do with it or not, I don't know, but I've never had an aversion to homosexual sex, as in, "Yuk!" As a matter of fact, I've always been curious about trying it since I was a teen, but that opportunity never arrived, and where I'm at now, never will (don't think I would want it to at this point). If circumstances were different in my early life, I could easy have seen me going the gay route. But, I never disliked hetrosexual sex either, and was content to go that route, and leave the other a curiosity.

But I do wonder how much of those likes concerning homosexual sex could be attributed to that intense (and boy was it intense...I thought I was going to pass out) experience with another guy. He just used his hand, so no mouth or genital contact, but it was still with another guy. And when I was a small kid, my "friend" who lived next door did some sexual thing with me, though he never did anything that stimulated me, just weird stuff which I'm thankful never harmed anything. (Whew!)

What would be interesting for Marnia here would be to come up with Karezza for homosexual partners. What would that look like?

My thought is

that homosexual partners will have to work that one out for themselves. Smile I've had enough trouble figuring out some clues about hetero relationships!

Karezza for homosexuals.

I think the most important thing with determining if your homosexuality is from a "legitimate" source or not - whether it is just natural or from previous trauma is just to ask yourself if you feel fulfilled in your relationship. Are you getting everything you want, or do you feel forced into a box or restrained or held back somehow (even deep down)? If you don't feel held back, restrained, disappointed, let down, etc and you feel good then I think things are usually okay. I ask the same of people who identify as heterosexual but might be questioning homosexuality.

I think a lot of what works for straight people works for gay people too. Just being with each other. You can limit orgasm and engage in gentle and caressing sex with any kind of partner.

Sacred sexuality.

I personally won't be trying any kind of sex with a partner for a long time (not sure if I ever will actually) but I would like to read more about gay people trying karezza type sex. I searched for lesbian sacred sexuality and all I found was some Wiccan based stuff with the rhyming chants and stuff. It's not for me personally.


I think gay guys play around with some of the concepts. Do you know anything about "Body Electric?" I think that group talks about the benefits of delaying/avoiding orgasm, but I don't know any details.

It's possible

This is an old post, but I am new here (to the forum, not to Karezza ideas, this website or Marnia's work) I just wanted to comment that from my experience, it is certainly possible to have positive homosexual experiences. There are men, homosexual men, who are interested in practicing relationships based on sacred sexuality and sincere intimacy.

I have been in a relationship which had a good level of intimacy, affection, mutual respect, equality and intimacy. There were times where we practiced sacred sexuality, both in terms of taoist Mantak Chia style lovemaking, and karezza.

I think that Marnia's link to the ideas about fluid sexuality are interesting and relevant - a lot of people worry about sexuality, as though they have to put themselves in a box, to label their sexuality. Like that needs to be a core, fixed, unchangable part of their identity. And like one label is more preferable than another label.

Personally, I tend to think of sexuality as just a reflection of our emotional psyche and our relationship to ourself and others. We all have parts of ourselves that are more masculine and feminine. We all have physical and personality characteristics which are developed in some ways, and which could be developed more in others ways. And we are all able to appreciate those same qualities we admire or desire, in other people of either gender.

Our brain effectively is a pattern-matching organ, which attempts to identify problems that prevent us from meeting our biologically essential physical and emotional needs, and to select appropriate ways of making sense of these problems, but also of overcoming them. Our desires, feelings and thoughts and hence our impulses and choices, arise from unconsciously perceived imperatives to assist in our quest for survival. Pattern-matching is something that we evolved specifically to allow behavioural flexibility, and to ensure we continued to adapt to our ever-changing and unpredictable environment, by simply identifying structural or functional similarities in circumstances and events, and comparing them to our historical database of experiences.

The concept of homeostasis and allostasis show that there is a balance of always striving towards healing ( ie. an attempt to recreate circumstances in our mind and body, that make it easiest to function, using the least amount of energy and creating the least amount of stress) and managing ongoing challenges that necessitate compromised short-term function as an essential temporary or transitionary measure towards a future, balanced state.

The reason I consider these ideas important is because sexuality, as one of our most powerful motivational drives, represents an expression of these two things: Of our individual brains response to its unique environmental, historical experiences, and its attempt to achieve balance or harmonious functioning, in the face of ongoing environmental stressors that prevent the easy achievement of homeostasis.

We may never know for sure, to what extent sexuality is driven by nature or nurture, because no two people have precisely the same experience of sexuality. The kinsey studies illustrated the broad spectrum of sexual preferences and experiences, and with the increased sexual liberation, at an individual and societal level, over the last few decades, this spectrum may look completely different again. But what can see for sure, just from peoples experiences on this forum, and in society and cross-culturally, is that there is some element of response to our environment that influences our sexuality.

Our thoughts, preferences, feelings and desires are not only ways of motivating behaviours that our brain perceives to increase our likelihood of meeting needs (as interpreted from the perspective created by our unique experiences) - they also serve as an important feedback system or communication, to ourselves and to the outside world, about the way we are representing, understanding and responding to reality. About the way we organise and perceive reality.

If we perceive or organise reality in a way that is dysfunctional, or which creates more disharmony, this adds to our allostatic load, this can lead to negative consequences, not only to us as an individual, affecting our mental, emotional and physical health potentially. But may also lead to negative social consequences. Humans are strongly influenced by the thoughts, feelings and actions of others, and are affected by their consequences. The concepts of homeostasis (balance) and allostasis (adaptive balance to stressors), are not just part of our physical or psychological systems. They are part of our social systems too. Societies are collections of individual organisms and are expressions of the relationship dynamics between those individuals. Harmony and dischord within the relationships of all individuals in a society will have rippling consequences over time. Since humans have evolved to the point we have now, because of our ability to maintain social relationships to a sufficient degree that we can work cooperatively for common aims, this is important.

As a result, when our brain uses pattern-matching to generate our preferences, thoughts, feelings, desires and actions, it does so, at least initially, unconsciously, and later pre-consciously (partially available to our conscious awareness, with some effort, but largely taking place without our full conscious engagement or awareness - sort of like auto-pilot). These are an expression of the way we have learned to make sense of reality - and in turn, of what is possible, necessary or appropriate in the context of meeting our needs. We have a wide spectrum of emotional needs for things such as intimacy, giving and receiving attention, recognition and security as well as our sense of belonging, social approval, privacy and meaning/purpose. So if our feelings, desires and choices are reflections of these, then our sexuality will be a reflection of these things too.

If we have a positive range of experiences to inform how we can meet these needs, then our relationship to ourselves, and to others, both romantically, professionally, familially and socially, will reflect these. As such our pattern-matches will tend to reduce our allostatic load, individually, inter-personally and societally, and will increase the capacity for homeostasis, and therefore healing, as a result.

If we have negative learned experiences however, this could be damaging to us, and could increase our allostatic load. Allostatic load is our individual limit for tolerance to pressures - our capacity to cope with deviation away from homeostasis or balance/harmony. It is part of the healing process, but is also a compromise on the level of healing that really needs to occur, because of ongoing pressures. So our own learned pattern-matches, based on our experiences, may lead is to think, feel or act, in a way that actually generates more future stress - and may then impact on the stress load of others we relate to as well. Our sexuality may then be a reflection of this too.

What does this mean? It means that to some extent, our sexual preferences and the way we relate to our own self sexually, as well as the way we relate to others sexually, are just like photographs, or mirrors, to our own learned experiences about how to make sense of reality. They reflect the health of our emotional, psychological and inter-personal self. And the ways in which we need to heal, learn and grow, in order to achieve a greater level of personal harmony and equilbrium.

Another way of saying this is that we all project the things onto others that we feel like we need to see in them, in order to help us to bring something into our own conscious awareness in order to heal, and in order to bring something into the conscious awareness of those around us. These projections may reflect qualities that we like within ourselves, or dislike within ourselves. They may reflect our personal strengths that we do not yet recognise, or they may reflect strengths that we unconsciously recognise we need to learn from others in order to cultivate them within ourselves. They may also reflect patterns (structurally or functionally similar thoughts, feelings, or actions) that are destructive to ourselves and/or others, that have been learned from our experiences. Wounds that may need to be healed.
In this instance, our sexual orientation is irrelevant.

Why is all of this relevant to the original point about sexuality and sacred relationships? Because to some extent, all sexuality is based on projection anyway. Whether we are heterosexual or homosexual. Human sexual relationships provide an opportunity for growth, learning and healing. They provide a way to bring more of our unconscious - the good and the in-need-of-healing - into our awareness, and a way to deepen and improve the quality of our love for ourself and others, so that we can create a greater sense of harmony and homeostasis within our psyche - and within our relationships with others (ALL of our relationships with others, including that with the wider society).

Personally, I think that if we go into a relationship with the intention for it to be a sacred learning and healing opportunity, then it has the potential to be. Because no matter how it goes, we can learn something about ourselves and others. We all have the capacity to love and be loved. We all have the capacity to transcend gender boundaries and to connect with the real essence of the other person (you might even say soul, if you were so inclined). I think that the deepest love negates gender boundaries anyway. When we love someone enough, we see that their gender is irrelevant. They are a human being first and foremost. And they are innately beautiful and sexually attractive, no matter what. The only thing that prevents everyone from seeing that, is their own perceptual filters, based on the way their own brain has learned to pattern-match.

Many people consider heterosexuality to be the ideal norm. Personally, I think that bisexuality would be the ideal norm. Because if we are really just interested in sacred sexuality, in mutual personal development, in experiencing and expressing pure love for one another, then why would we want to limit our capacity to find happiness in the arms of another by excluding someone just on the basis of their genitalia? By cutting off 50% of the population, we immediately reduce our capacity for not only creating more happiness in our own life, but also in the lives of others.

Personally, I think that if we take the approach that relationships will reflect our own psyche to some extent, then the real question isn't "Is there someone of male/female gender out there who I can have a sacred sexual relationship with?" It is how do I need to improve the quality of my relationship to myself, and how I meet my own physical and emotional needs, and my own self-awareness, so that my brain will pattern-match (ie. filter and find) the sort of person that will reflect the same state of mind as myself?

By getting our own house in order, we become more emotionally healed, balanced and loving of ourselves. This, and not gender, will determine the health and efficacy of a sexual and romantic relationship.

If you made it through this far, well done :o)