Questions about Karezza and Healthy Sexuality

Submitted by recoveringsobriety on
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*******This post originally appeared on our website's blog ( I'd appreciate helpful comments!

Karezza seems to be delivering on some of the things it claims, but not because it's easy. In fact, it's training me to be more self-controlled than I've been in a very long time, but in a way that makes me actually desire to be self-controlled so that I'll have a greater reward. The benefits of exercising such self-control are currently outweighing any temporary benefits I might get from masturbating or climaxing with my wife. I feel like our relationship is stable, loving, and affectionate. I don't want to be sexual with other women or look at porn (though I might find them sexually appealing), because what's going on in my relationship is much more exciting.

For instance, the other night the suggested Karezza exercise was to gently and comfortingly place our hands on each other's genitals, without any movement or stimulation. Just sending peace and love was the idea. Neither of us was ready for this. We had gone 1.5 weeks without much sexual intimacy at all, but rather mostly (platonic) affectionate behaviors that one would do with his own children (hugs, looking in each other's eyes more, gentle massage, comforting touch/back scratches, etc. So needless to say, when we touched each other in an explicitly sexual area for the first time in a while, it was tough not to go crazy with arousal! I actually felt more controlled than my wife, who got very heated. It wasn't long before we were in our usual orgasm-driven foreplay routine. It was very hard to stop once we started, but we eventually did. This also made it very difficult to fall asleep.

The fallout from this was interesting. For me, it was like being in the courtship phase of our relationship again, when we used to be sexual without having sex (due to religious reasons at the time). The day after this little escapade, I've felt more romantic towards my wife than I have in a long time. I'm interested in sex, sure. But I also have all these romantic feelings. I want to woo her, do things for her, etc. Things I don't usually feel when I see her as a housemate and sexual object. She sees the difference, too, and likes it. This makes her more interested in me, and helps her feel safer with me as well.

However, she woke up feeling a little depressed (figures!). She told me she hasn't felt any depression the past 1.5 weeks while doing Karezza, but feels so now. Could it be related to our sex-charged night, where both of us were driven mainly by desire (dopamine) rather than intimacy (oxytocin)? If so, why did it affect me so positively, but her negatively?

I'm not sure. I'm not sure if Karezza is a healthy sexual practice or not. Most of the time, it feels like it's at least an emotionally healthy practice. But what is healthy sexuality, anyways? How do you know when you have it?


I wish I knew all the answers

but I do know that ups and downs are part of the process while your brains are adjusting to the new routine. I would try to just observe them without assigning huge importance to them, or the mysteries they create, in the short term. I suspect her mood will level out again shortly.

It's certainly true that getting close to orgasm can set off a sort of "hangover" sometimes. For some people that's a "down," for others it's intense cravings for more. Do You Need A Chaser After Sex?

Not sure if this answers your question of "what's healthy sexuality," as it's related to recovering porn users who aren't typically trying karezza, but I think some of the concepts might be useful.  How do I know when I'm back to normal? | Your Brain On Porn

This might also be inspiring: Guys Who Gave Up Porn: On Sex and Romance

Let us know how it goes.


Thanks Marnia! Great to hear

Thanks Marnia! Great to hear from you, loved the book.

It's helpful to hear that these differences between us are normal, etc. The information was helpful.

One of my lingering questions from the book and related to this issue is: why does my wife display all the symptoms that you mentioned of the post-orgasmic hangover after she has sex *without* having an orgasm? It doesn't seem to matter if she's had an orgasm or not, she's depressed and moody. Whereas for me, the more sex I have with her, the more I want it (I've never been the guy who falls asleep immediately after, or wants to leave right away, etc). But I'm also more needy, moody, etc. My fear is that once we start introducing Karezza, even if neither of us orgasm, we'll still experience (or at least she will still experience) all of the passion cycle effects. Are you saying that this will level out if we just push through, or are we doing it wrong?

Well, based on the research we've read,

intense stimulation can change the brain in two ways, which, if it's repeated a lot, leads to addiction in some people. (This makes sense because addiction hijacks the brain mechanisms that evolved for sex and survival activities.)

The first change is "sensitization" (increased reactivity to related cues). And I think that's behind the "chaser effect."

The other change is a down-regulation of D2 receptors (a type of dopamine receptor), which creates a feeling of "meh" and dissatisfaction with life's pleasures. I think a mild version of this is what your wife experiences. This is a response to high dopamine - not just to orgasm per se - so just the elevated arousal of your session is probably what kicked it off.

But in internet porn addicts, the final result of chronic overconsumption is both: hyper-reactivity to porn cues and deadened response to other pleasures.

In lovers, it seems to go more one way than the other in each lover. Not sure why. It think it can differ from one encounter to the next too. "It's a mystery."

getting really excited...

does cause the orgasm-like aftermath for me. In fact after a few days of a lot of dopamine triggered arousal, it's hard to get hard even. And it can result in a bit of feeling down...absolutely.

I always marvel at how unaware I was of all this before, and how it didn't sink in when now it is *so* obvious.