Frequently Asked Questions

Marnia's picture
Submitted by Marnia on
Printer-friendly version

questionsHere are some questions that others have asked in the past. If you want to ask something visit the Forum and ask there. Don't be shy; if you don't find your question has been addressed here, or at the Forum, the chances are still good that someone is struggling with your issue.


How can one learn the practice of controlled intercourse?

Help! I think I may be addicted to internet porn. Any suggestions?

What do I do if I'm in between partners?

Why are passionate kissing, oral sex and other deliberate arousal techniques a problem?

What are the drawbacks of masturbation?

Why can’t I sustain an ecstatic balance without a partner?

What if I have very little sexual control?

How can I sustain an erection without passion and movement?

Why doesn't this approach work with short-term sexual encounters?

How does this approach compare with celibacy as a spiritual path?

What about prostate health?

Does this practice require that couples first be in relationship?

What do we do if one of us has a conventional orgasm?

Why am I always attracted to younger women?


How can one learn the practice of karezza (bonding-based sex)?

Here is an overview of the approach we used. Our goal was to gently leave the natural cycle of highs and lows that follows sexual satiety behind, but you can also use it to compare karezza, or bonding-based sex, with conventional, fertilization-driven sex.

harmonyThe best way to see your biological programming at work is to proceed extremely slowly and consciously for three weeks...with no driven sexual behavior, but lots of affectionate, selfless, physical contact with each other. Then, to compare your results with conventional sex, go back to having orgasm, and see if you notice any difference in your state of mind (or that of your partner) over the next two weeks.

If you don't stick with the alternative for at least three weeks, the process becomes a lot like playing "Chutes and Ladders." The more "chutes" you encounter (in the form of conventional orgasms), the more frustrated you will become with the whole concept of bonding-based sex. This occurs because each orgasm can cause you to lose (temporarily) the advantages you have gained, and you need another two weeks to get beyond the passion cycle that is built right into orgasm.

For those who like structure, Cupid's Poisoned Arrow contains a program of "Ecstatic Exchanges" to help lovers move safely through this delicate, initial, experimental period. It consists of nightly activities that encourage an affectionate exchange of loving attention, without resorting to traditional foreplay. For example, you may exchange foot massages one night, or dance together another night. The Exchanges can be so enjoyable that you don't notice you are going through a withdrawal from a cycle you may have been in since puberty. Couples often report, "We've discovered that everything is an Exchange!" Indeed, any exchange of affection without the hungry, uneven feelings that crop up during the days after conventional intercourse can make your partner glow in your perception.

Tapping your underlying pair-bonding program consistently is the key to sustained harmony. See The Lazy Way to Stay in Love.

During the Exchanges you sleep together every night. For the first two weeks, you avoid intercourse (and keep your underwear on). During the third week you gently add intercourse back in...but on a schedule. You continue to exchange energy in other ways, too, so intercourse never becomes your entire focus. Scheduling intercourse is critical, because it is reassuring and calming to both partners. harmonyIn contrast, both spontaneity, and wondering if you will have intercourse on a particular night, can send your dopamine cravings soaring, making it very difficult to maintain control.

You may find it helpful to watch this slide presentation or read this article about karezza for further practical suggestions. Return to list of questions

Help! I think I may be addicted to internet porn. Any suggestions?

This section has been expanded. Please visit Porn/masturbation addiction

You will also find The Road to Excess, an excerpt from Cupid's Poisoned Arrow, helpful. It recounts many men's experiences with this challenge. (pdf 329 k)

Return to list of questions

What do I do if I'm in between partners?

Friendly contact with others, vigorous exercise, yoga, martial arts, caring for pets, singing, tango (or other dancing), meditation, spiritual contemplation, service to others, massages, laughter with friends, and hugs all help with periods of celibacy.

no need to be lonelyA friend in Italy found that when he cut out masturbation, women approached him within weeks, and others have found the same thing. Another man, on the other hand, made little progress slowing down his fairly-active do-it-yourself program until he got together with a lover. Then he went "cold turkey" using this approach to sex and it was an amazingly smooth launch. He's still with the program after years and prefers it to his former habits.

You may find abstinence from orgasm for a couple of months very rewarding - especially if your goal is to unhook from porn addiction - but trying to avoid orgasm indefinitely while you're on your own is unrealistic. You really need to find a partner. Visit the Experimenting without a partner section of the forum for more insights.

Socializing is essential when you're on your own. After all, your brain evolved to find tribal life rewarding and health-giving. Isolation doesn't help.

Many wish there was a "magic bullet" for contented singlehood. Yet if there were one, then probably none of us would go through the hassle of healing each other of the scars inflicted by biology's mating program. Maybe our discomfort while single is a key piece of the larger plan to motivate us toward reunion. In short, the material at this web site is for those of us who still love the opposite sex...despite the current evidence that relationships always sour. Return to list of questions

What are the drawbacks of masturbation?

By now even most Catholics have freed themselves from the nonsensical notion that masturbation is sinful. Thank heaven, when sex is made "sinful" it also becomes more potentially addictive at a brain chemical level. Risky behavior - and the belief that something will displease your vindictive creator makes it risky behavior - causes dopamine to rise sharply in your reward circuitry. In other words, "guilty" sex can have an effect on the brain like a drug - as can Internet porn, and early, intensely stimulating, sexual experiences in children.

In any case, as the saying goes, "there is no free lunch." Masturbation, like all fertilization-driven sexual behavior, has unsuspected costs. (Yes, in an odd way, even masturbation is "fertilization-driven" behavior. Scientists surmise that masturbation serves an evolutionary purpose by ensuring that "fresh," i.e., more fertile, sperm are always at the ready. As sperm age, they break up. In other words, the longer a man waits between ejaculations, the less likely he is to impregnate his partner.)

According to ancient Chinese Taoists, you decrease your sexual magnetism by masturbating. And the more you retreat into your own private (emotionally "safe," readily available) world of self-gratification the less likely you are to attract a partner of the opposite sex for intercourse.

In fact, frequent orgasm can actually cause you to repel the opposite sex subconsciously (or attract partners who also believe that the point of having genitals is "getting off," not union). At an energy level you send out messages like "I don't need you. I can take care of my sexuality by myself - thank you very much," "Relationships are just too much trouble; I can't be bothered," "Sex is just a physical thing, so getting off is all there is." or "It’s hopeless….I’ll never have a loving relationship." In doing so you repel what you most need to sustain a sense of well-being: lots of affectionate touch and close, trusted companionship.

obsessionMedical research is now confirming that caring attention is perhaps the most precious gift of intimacy. It benefits both giver and receiver, countering the stress hormones your body pumps into you when you feed it messages of longing and isolation. For example, the caregiving primate parent (whether female or male, as in the South American Titi monkey) tends to live significantly longer than the non-caregiving parent. And Dr. Dean Ornish's Love and Survival and Cupid's Poisoned Arrow both contain lots of scientific research about the health benefits of loving companionship. It is, in fact, more protective of your health than exercise, improvements in diet, or stopping smoking.

Masturbation, rather than truly satisfying, increases your aching longing for wholeness. Moreover you can easily become addicted to its short-term "comfort." Then, even when you have a partner, your routine can interfere.

Even if you repeatedly exhaust yourself with physical stimulation it doesn't truly satisfy. It also sets off a sense of depletion or deprivation - for both men and women. When you masturbate regularly you may find interacting with others stressful. (In women orgasm has been shown to increase depression, and make men look less friendly and attractive.) Moreover, loneliness may drive you to seek additional comfort in the form of addictive behaviors.

This state of mind renders unlikely the self-discipline necessary to reach for higher union. Masturbation also tends to promote the use of sexual fantasy, carrying you away from deep emotional union with others. When you do have a partner you may even be convinced that you "can't get off" without your chosen fantasy - or without your partner playing a certain role. Sadly this traps you in shallow waters as far as your relationships go. In frustration you may tend to seek even harder for true satisfaction where it will never be found, i.e., in more intense physical or visual stimulation.

If you are on your own, it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to avoid masturbation indefinitely. However, you can cut back so you don't allow it to become an obsession. Regular meditation, energy circulation, and breathing exercises can help balance sexual energy safely. So can heavy physical exercise, dancing, and therapeutic body work. The best solution is a loving partner and a new goal. Return to list of questions

What are the drawbacks of passionate kissing, oral sex and other deliberate arousal techniques?

However clear your intentions may be when you crawl into each other's arms, if you engage in certain activities, your biological auto-pilot will take over and lead you toward hot sex followed by separation. You probably view many such activities as quite wholesome and it seems like they must fit into the picture of healing sexuality somehow. devouring manIn fact, however, lacy underwear, "posing" nude, frenzied kissing, crawling all over a partner naked, rubbing genitals on a partner, oral sex, viewing porn, and so forth, are all biological triggers.

Years of experience and frustration have revealed the unwelcome, but simple, truth. These activities don’t fit into the picture of healing sexuality. Innocent and pleasurable as they are, they actually prevent you from finding the heart-centered ecstasy you are seeking by pulling all your attention swiftly toward the physical gratification of the urge they awaken. Return to list of questions

Why can’t I sustain an ecstatic balance without a partner?

Most of us need the frequent (almost daily) loving companionship of a partner to transcend the genital orgasm reflex whether it shows up as masturbation, wet dreams, or peak orgasm during sex.
couple by the seaThis is not because we’re weak, but because we are so profoundly male or female. Our very polarity makes possible a powerful synergy when we harness it together correctly.

In the interim, however, spontaneous orgasm from time to time is normal. Think of a loose power line hitting the ground in a flurry of sparks - instead of connecting a powerful circuit of energy. Still, some find it beneficial not to intentionally initiate orgasm. Otherwise, it's easy to get caught in a cycle of using orgasm to self-medicate the lows caused by orgasm. That cycle often ultimately tends to increased isolation and dissatisfaction. Return to list of questions

What if I have very little sexual control?

The gentle approach suggested here is a useful remedy. For at least two weeks intercourse is not even an option. It therefore prevents performance uneasiness. This frees your attention and allows you to devote yourself to your partner’s comfort. You are also more likely to feel your partner’s loving energy and benefit from it in turn. Best of all, still, loving contact heals the underlying uneasiness and imbalance that may be behind the "instant orgasm reflex."

Here are some other things that help:

  • Deep forgiveness of all past hurts inflicted by the opposite sex.
  • Energy circulation, or any meditation.
  • Avoiding masturbation and sexual fantasy. Turn your attention to helping or comforting others instead.
  • Preceding intimacy with rigorous exercise, meditation, a warm bath, yoga or tai chi. Return to list of questions

How can I sustain an erection without passion and movement?

Healing the alienation between the sexes is not dependent upon sustaining an erection. Lovers who experiment with this approach notice that the man’s erection comes and goes, but the exhilarating flow of male and female currents on which this deeper harmony depends is unaffected. This is because the current between lovers is actually flowing beyond their bodies. Intercourse deepens the emotional connection between lovers, thus making a shared ecstatic experience more likely. But genitals do not cause it. Rather, it happens naturally when all uneasiness disappears.

passion volcanoThe search for passion, the use of Viagra, vigorous genital stimulation, and fantasy can all be attempts to over-ride lingering uneasiness about intimacy itself. These forced maneuvers seem harmless (although it has been suggested that Viagra can lead to sudden blindness), or even wise, according to much sex therapy. But they get in the way of true union. So it’s better to stick to non-performance oriented loving contact for weeks, if necessary, and allow sexual energy to arise spontaneously. Daily bonding behaviors are the key to increasing relationship depth and feelings of safety - not sexual performance. Return to list of questions

What are the drawbacks of short-term sexual encounters?

Short-term sexual encounters snare you in a very compelling high-dopamine, low-serotonin phase of relationship. (Biology wants us not to be thinking very clearly when we have a potential chance to make sperm and egg meet.) It's easy to get hooked on this drug-like state of mind, but the risk is that you can't discover the benefits of ongoing attachment.

For better or worse, you are actually a pair-bonding mammal and not just a "naked ape." This means that even the most reliable orgasm supply in the form of a parade of partners won't produce the feelings of balance and well-being that regular affectionate touch (including intercourse) and close, trusted companionship can sustain. Over the long haul, your well-being is better served by the latter than the former.

Falling in love, or lust, is thrilling, and may even masquerade as a profound spiritual experience. It can look quite noble on the surface. Perhaps someone you genuinely care about has a profession that ties her to one geographic location while yours ties you to another. Or he has a child and is convinced it would be unwise to expose the child to a relationship that is not yet a full commitment. Or maybe at least one of you genuinely believes you’ll be together some day, but you just can’t manage more than a week or so together for now.

In fact, in each of these cases, if you look closely you may see an "EXIT" sign flashing behind the head of your lover. That’s why you can feel safe to open your heart during a brief encounter - even though you have not cleared out your fundamental fear of on-going intimacy with the opposite sex. passionThis temporary lack of defensiveness accounts for the ecstasy that so often accompanies sexual dalliance. (A primitive part of the brain actually turns down its natural defensiveness in new make possible this undiscriminating mindset. But it has little to do with your partner, or even the unique chemistry between you.)

The ease with which you can open you heart (and experience this intense elation) in a fleeting encounter is a prime reason for infidelity and the relationship trauma it causes. If you want to clear out your underlying fear, take a gradual approach in a primary relationship.

Non-relationships, by definition, are dead-ends. Ultimately, they tend to be exhausting. Without a slow approach and an on-going relationship in which to stabilize the energy you are exchanging, you can rarely evade the biological reflex (seeking sexual satiety, which promotes habituation over time). The sexual energy of one partner or the other will destabilize - leading to "hot sex" and a downward spiral of over-stimulation. The fallout from your sense of loss is then swiftly reflected in your external circumstances. During the weeks after a fling you may often find that you are beset by illness, exhausting emotional scenes, unexpected financial drains, accidents, equipment failures, spiritual disorientation, and so forth.

Indeed, the hangovers from such encounters may then keep you away from the opposite sex for extended periods of time. During these recovery periods you starve yourself of one of the most nourishing forces on the planet (loving union). In short, you can completely lose sight of where your true best interests lie (daily affection and trusted companionship).

By the way, sex with no strings attached is a reflex from biology's "have sex and run" programming, which scientists call the "Coolidge Effect." It's hard on us, because our pair-bonding neurochemistry still seeks to "fall in love," rather than just have sex - like the other 95% of mammalian species. Falling in love in "impossible situations" is a way to try to yield to our underlying mammalian program, while tapping the temporary bliss of our pair-bonding program. It is a form of separation, but it can be habit-forming because of the neurochemical highs new romance affords us.Return to list of questions

What about celibacy as a spiritual path?

Celibacy is widely proclaimed the key to spiritual progress because conventional sex inevitably aggravates moodiness and confusion - dimming our spiritual vision. Yet if it’s true that behind the illusion of matter, we are all one and androgynous, then it’s doubtful that the Divine ever counseled separation from the opposite sex - except possibly as the best of two poor choices (deprivation or indulgence). Until you allow for the possibility that there is a third choice, superior to either, you may remain stuck in the false impression that God wants you to remain a separate ego recycling through swansphysical bodies indefinitely.

Celibacy does help clear spiritual vision. Unfortunately the resulting clarity appears to furnish a sound reason for separation from the opposite sex - leaving the fundamental separation unhealed, lifetime after lifetime. Celibates, basking peacefully in the relative comfort of chastity, usually fail to ask the Divine the next question: could joining male and female for a higher end lead to a spiritual state beyond peaceful contemplation of the Divine?

Various spiritual traditions have stumbled on this middle path over the millennia. Return to list of questions

What about prostate health?

One place it would be especially helpful to have definitive research on karezza is in the important area of prostate health. Here scientists have actually measured many separate factors and their relationship to prostate cancer: ejaculation, intercourse frequency, marital status, number of sex partners, and cases of sexually transmitted disease. (Karezza itself has not been evaluated, of course.)

So far, study results conflict with each other on almost every factor. Yet the popular press has made a lot of noise about isolated aspects of results that make good headlines. For example, in one study men who remembered ejaculating more during their twenties had lower rates of prostate cancer. This is touted by the press—not the researchers—as proof that “frequent masturbation will prevent prostate cancer.” Before you go (get?) off to improve your health, check your date of birth. The beneficial correlation was only seen in relation to frequent masturbation in one’s twenties.

However, a 2009 study found the reverse correlation: Those who were most active while younger had more chance of developing cancer later.

It seems likely that any practice that either discourages affectionate intercourse or puts a strain on the prostate gland is unwise. However, karezza is a very gentle form of intercourse—unlike tantra or some Taoist practices, in which forceful breathing and muscle-contraction techniques are often employed to resist orgasm. Trying to stay near the edge of orgasm is risky for lots of reasons.

I once asked a medical doctor—who has practiced sacred sex techniques for years—about prostate trouble and ejaculation. He said: “I don’t know of any research on this, but I have a strong opinion that the big consideration is whether there is a sense of control/frustration/holding back involved. If one is moving energy well, then congestion [stagnant blood flow] does not happen.” With karezza, lovers tend to make love for longer periods of time, and more often (over the long term), without fighting to control themselves or going near the edge of intense arousal. Also, erections come and go, which gently pumps blood throughout the entire prostate region.

A recent study on prostate health suggests that holistic lifestyle changes can turn off disease-promoting genes, and activate beneficial ones. In the study, the prostate health (of patients with prostate cancer) responded dramatically to stress management techniques (participation in a weekly support group, yoga-based stretching, breathing techniques, meditation, and daily guided imagery), walking thirty minutes per day, and dietary supplements. After three months, researchers repeated a biopsy of normal tissue in the subjects’ prostate. They found that genes associated with cancer, heart disease, and inflammation were down-regulated or “turned off,”while protective, disease-preventing genes were “turned on.” Researchers suggest that similar lifestyle changes may benefit all men, as the biopsies were of healthy tissue. Might soothing bonding-based lovemaking someday prove to be one such beneficial lifestyle change?

The scientists are undecided. Taoist master Lao TzuThe Taoists, however, with thousands of years of practical experience of ejaculation control, found that non-ejaculatory intercourse improves health. So did the author of The Karezza Method (Dr. J. William Lloyd). In a sense, today's medical profession is measuring "apples," while the others are talking about "oranges." Researchers are measuring conventional sex (with the goal of orgasm) in greater or lesser quantities against prostate health, while the others were gauging frequent sexual activity with an approach that circulates sexual energy without creating frustration.

Heart-centered lovemaking, with its many health benefits, may account for the improvements in health that can accompany karezza. In other words, learning how to stay in love may be the best bet for healthy prostate, and gentle, frequent non-performance oriented lovemaking is a good way to do that.

Exercising the prostate is no doubt important for good health, but one can exercise it without ejaculating. An older medical study theorized that prostate trouble may be associated with congestion, that is, stagnant blood circulation in the prostate region. Obviously, exercising the muscles in that area during sex is good. But ejaculation may be less important than frequent intercourse. The gentler the lovemaking the less the potential for unwelcome congestion due to over-arousal (too much blood in the prostate region).

As for semen, the body quite naturally stops producing it in uncomfortable quantities when demand decreases, and the body also continually reabsorbs any excess. However, ejaculation control is probably not advisable without a steady, nourishing supply of loving energy from a sweetheart, as intense sexual frustration can hardly be good for one's health.

You may also find this discussion on the forum of interest.Return to list of questions

Does this practice require that couples be in relationship other than for the purposes of trying the approach recommended in the website?

hands reaching toward each otherThe current alienation between male and female is deeper than most of us realize. We are subconsciously primed to guard ourselves against ongoing intimacy. Also, our habit of unconsciously trying to use each other is more ingrained than we realize.

So don't be afraid to begin this approach even though you are not in a firm relationship, as long as you are willing to snuggle once a day. In truth, this approach is the most solid basis for a long-term relationship. Long-term intimacy is quite likely to develop. Still, the initial commitment can be for a few weeks and "then we'll see."

True intimacy is far too scary for most of us until we strengthen each other mutually and selflessly. This approach lets us draw closer as gently as possible.

That said, issues will arise. They inevitably seem to point to whatever is holding people back from deeper intimacy. We found that if we stayed with the process, we tended to stumble upon the insights that helped us clear any uneasiness. However, different kinds of therapy, coaching and support groups can probably also do wonders to speed the process. Return to list of questions

What do we do if one of us has a conventional orgasm?

First, mark the event on a calendar so you can watch the timing of the hangover for yourself. You should be clear of the worst of the distress in about two and a half weeks. Then, fasten your seat belt because you're in for a rough ride. Intimacy builds very rapidly with this approach - but the downside is that a hangover of disharmony is extremely painful. Your hearts have been opened and you've come to rely on a very high level of communication and trust between you.

When your perception of each other shifts for the worse (and it usually worsens dramatically for both partners during the second week after someone's orgasm) it is excruciating. Some word or action generally triggers an old pattern and suddenly your partner looks just as horrible as the worst of all your past partners. He may look incredibly selfish and self-centered. She may look unbelievably needy and demanding, or vice versa.

argumentThe storm will pass, but there is no quick fix. The only place to solve the problem is where it began, i.e., preventing the error in the first place. But here are a few tips that are guaranteed to help with damage control. First, sleep together every night - even if you can't sleep, and even if every instinct in your body is telling you that you "need your space." Recognize that the voice screaming in your head is just your built-in Intimacy Sabotaging Device trying to do its job by destroying your precious relationship (again). Ignore the voice as best you can.

Second, promise each other you will not make any plans about the future of your relationship until two and a half weeks after the orgasm. Trying to resolve things while your perception of each other is skewed is most unwise. No matter how objective you try to be, you are drawing false conclusions based on exaggerated impressions. You are sure to see things differently when the hangover has passed. If the silence between you gets too
icy, you may each have to talk about your hallucinations, but try to preface your remarks with, "I know I'm going to see this differently in a few days, but…"

Third, even though you don't feel up to it, do little things for each other, without expecting anything in return, and without demonstrating your moral superiority by self-righteously announcing what you've done. Selfless service will keep some "giving" and "appreciation" energy flowing between you, which tends to open your hearts again.

Fourth, hold each other in silence and breathe through your hearts, as often as possible - even if it is not your turn to make a peace gesture. This is perhaps the single most powerful healing step you can take - though the benefits may not be apparent immediately.

ancient coupleFinally, decide that you'd rather be happy than right. That is, whenever you feel the least thawing between you, be ready to let go of your self-righteous conclusions and comfort your lover. You'll feel better instantly. This problem has been going on for a very long time, and forgiveness is appropriate.

It's wise to drop back into phase one (underwear on, and no intercourse) for the period of the hangover. However, if you are past phase one, and decide to have intercourse during the hangover period, stick to your schedule. And take care not to indulge in poor judgment or passionate maneuvers. Only have intercourse in scissors position, without any movement, and without trying to kiss during intercourse. Treat it as a healing meditation.

Be gentle with yourselves. You are trying something that is new for you. In the long run persistence will triumph, but only if you stay together. Return to list of questions

Why am I always attracted to younger women?

For the same reason that women select mates because they think they are handsome and attractive to other women. When biology is driving you, you tend to choose partners based only on the potential your DNA "sees" for replicating itself as much, or as soundly, as possible. peacockWomen unconsciously look for potential dads who are attractive to other women because their sons will then (presumably) have the same quality. They also look for potential dads whose scents indicate genetic immunity diverse from their own (which will benefit their offspring). Men unconsciously look for women young enough to have lots of babies. Even if both partners have decided they don't want children, everyone's instincts go right on selecting on the basis of biology - until he or she consciously reprograms.

When you begin choosing your partners for their potential as good "sacred sexuality lovers," you find yourself naturally drawn to partners who are equals, who balance you in some profound way. You look for someone courageous enough to chart this new territory with you. Material and physical considerations pale beside the feeling of wholeness and companionship such a partner can provide.

Meanwhile, women somehow think that their choices are noble, while a man choosing a younger woman because she looks more fertile is shallow. In fact, both are shallow. As long as we choose partners to meet such unconscious, short-sighted goals, we make little progress using relationships for healing, or spiritual growth. Return to list of questions