(Marnia) That's an individual choice, but they are certainly an option for most of us.
Like it or not, humans are pair bonders by nature. Our brains reward us with anxiety-reducing good feelings in response to close, trusted companionship. This is why socializing, flirting and pairing up appeal to us. In this respect, our brains are wired differently from cattle, rats and even our closest genetic relatives: chimpanzees. All of those animals belong to the 97% of mammal species who mate and move on, never forming lasting ties. We fall in love because our brains are wired for it. It’s that simple.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean we’re wired for lifelong sexual exclusivity, although many pair bonding mammals and humans do remain sexually exclusive. A practice like karezza can make that a lot easier, assuming sexual exclusivity is a goal.
That said, there’s a tension between our bonding inclinations and our inclination to spread our genes around. In other words, we're also programmed to stray—when novel, willing mates beckon fervently (even two-dimensional ones). This tension apparently served our genes over the millennia. We fell in love, at least for long enough to bond to our kids, and then, if temptation knocked, we perhaps did it all again with a new mate to increase the genetic variety of our offspring (and maybe their number).
This tension between the desire for an exclusive bond and the urge to fertilize novel mates has created a degree of instability for millennia, but most cultures managed it one way or another.
Incidentally, the capacity to stray does not indicate unlimited capacity for sex. After all, once the evolution of pair bonds allowed human babies to be born with larger skulls, young women could no longer do the parenting job alone with good results. (And fathers no doubt got tired of supporting pregnant daughters indefinitely.) Willing mates desiring casual sex grew scarce.
Male sperm production, and possibly other neurochemical realities, have scaled down accordingly. Human sperm-count data suggests that, in contrast with our closest primate cousins, we are not built for prolific ejaculation. According to author Tim Birkhead, "The rate of human sperm production is lower than that of any other mammal so far investigated." (See: Today’s ejaculation advice may be wrong for our species.) Most human males also evolved to find bonding behaviors very appealing.
The urge to keep fertilizing if novel mates appear, the Coolidge Effect, is a sort of genetic whip designed to override sexual satiety...even if it does collateral damage to us. It was used relatively rarely simply because opportunities were not plentiful.
Thanks to the mechanism that drives the Coolidge Effect, novelty has the potential to lead to overstimulation. It can lead to the need for even more novelty—an addiction process known as "tolerance." Getting hooked on novelty undermines pair bonds because it makes familiar partners seem less stimulating by comparison.
Karezza counters this effect. See An Uncanny Love Potion. It's simply one way to strengthen our programmed pair-bonding urges, and quiet sexual habituation and restlessness. Its major principles have turned up over and over in different cultures under different names.
(Anonymous young guy) Thanks so much for sharing this, Mario. I'll have to find a good place for it in "Karezza Korner."
It was very brave of you to make the suggestion. Hope you get to try the ideas, too, before long.
How's it going? Any recent breakthroughs in your inner work?
[quote=Mario] My friend and I've been friends since age 16. He has a great 3-year long relationship with a great girl whom he presently lives with. Around two years into their relationship I noticed that he would start talking about wanting to leave her. He said they have so many "great times together" but sometimes she gets into a vague 'state of being' that annoyed him and made him want to withdraw from her.
With my minimal first-hand knowledge of intimate relationships I felt there wasn't much I could say to him except "Well there's this book I happened to find that sounds like it might help". So I told him about Cupid. He was already familiar with the slower, more intimate form of sex in karezza but he was skeptical about the passion-cycle and forgoing orgasm. So he didn't try it (though he made an effort to be more conscious about bonding behaviors). I dropped it for a while after that. Months passed, but then again, every few weeks, he had this strong urge to end the relationship which he would express to me over and over.
So I brought the book up once again and this time he was open to trying it out. They tried it out and he said it really made their relationship stronger. He said his girlfriend tried it too and enjoyed it. That was a few months ago. We haven't talked about karezza much since then but they seem closer now and he seems more accepting of all parts of her. Everything's not perfect and life's still stressful but they seem to be happier together than they used to be. I'm going to ask him how it's going at some point but I don't want to be nosy.