At a time when the idea of consent and bodily autonomy is endlessly challenged, Karezza widens our jaded understanding of what truly constitutes ‘good’ sex

“If you don’t orgasm, it’s not sex.”

“You guys didn’t cum?”

“But what happened after the kissing and cuddling?”

These are some of the most common refrains proponents of Karezza hear, particularly when they try to expound that their idea of what is truly “orgasmic” has nothing to do with ejaculation or orifices. How do you explain to your partner that being cuddled to sleep and indulging in passionate foreplay is all you need to “finish”? You are not alone in wanting the kind of sex that does not tick the traditional markers of what intercourse should be like—here’s where Karezza comes in.

Cam Fraser, an Australia-based sex coach, explains that Karezza is a play on the Italian word for “caress” and involves an approach to sex that emphasises touch, gentleness, slowness and sensuality, in addition to the practice of avoiding ejaculation. “This is in sharp contrast to the hard and fast way that most people prefer to have sex, which typically ends in ejaculation. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but if it is the only way that you have sex. Exploring an approach like Karezza can really help expand your range of sexual experiences.”

[History of karezza]

Fraser adds that the first reference to Karezza in popular culture appeared in John William Lloyd’s 1931 book, The Karezza Method, in which he credits John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of the utopian religious society Oneida Community, with the discovery of the intimacy-first technique in 1844. “Williams wrote about Karezza being a way for desired pleasure to be more fully realised and undesired results to be avoided. One way of achieving this was by learning how to have orgasmic sex that didn’t involve ejaculation, perhaps by using certain breathing and energy circulation techniques.” [Note: In fact, Alice Bunker Stockham MD first wrote about karezza as a sex technique. She advised both partners to experiment with it, as did John William Lloyd. In contrast, Noyes focused only on “male continence”.]

If you’re looking to try something new and self-actualising in the bedroom, below are a few pointers on how to approach “coitus reservatus”:

 1. The emphasis should be on all-round intimacy

A person’s idea of intimacy may be radically different from that of their partner. To what extent, then, does Karezza form a distinct approach to looking at intimacy? According to Fraser, some strategies for engaging in sexual continence include “eye-gazing, synchronised rhythmic breathing, experimenting with not ejaculating, having sex without any goal in mind, full-body caressing, very slow penetration and a general emphasis on the sensuality and emotionality of the experience.”

 2. Always communicate

They say there is nothing like over-communication, particularly when it comes to having sex. As with any technique, consent must be dynamic in Karezza too: always ask, keep asking and keep understanding. Dr. Nive Manokaran, a dermatologist and venereologist from India and a sexual and reproductive health clinician in Sydney, believes that “consent shows that you respect your partner and respect itself can be arousing.” Many might not understand body language and may expect verbal communication. “If you feel like your partner has not understood physical cues, it’s important to communicate openly, expressing your needs and wants. At the same time, be ready to accept their reaction.”

 3. Don’t have goal-oriented sex

Approaching sex in a methodical, mechanical manner just spoils it. For many, orgasm is a must, but for others, kissing for a certain amount of time or trying at least four different positions is crucial. Karezza attempts to go beyond these fixed goals. “A major hindrance to engaging in Karezza is getting stuck in the mindset that sex needs to achieve something,” explains Fraser. “Many people have goal-oriented sex which prioritises orgasm and can lead to feelings of disappointment if an orgasm isn’t achieved. Karezza is not about achieving anything—it’s about being present with pleasure and removing goals, which in turn, it is believed, allows for more orgasmic sensations.”

 4. It doesn’t have to end in sex

Considering the mainstream ideas of what sex should ideally look like—which is heavily influenced by pop culture and porn—it can become near-impossible to understand sex beyond grunting and penetration. Dr. Manokaran believes that in order to have good sex, you must first be comfortable with each other’s vulnerable selves. “Being able to look into someone’s eyes is probably an act of caressing even before you touch them,” she says. “Unwinding after a long day by cuddling with our partner under a warm, cosy blanket and stroking their forehead or ears are probably some of the perfect ways to begin or end a night.” She adds that Karezza doesn’t necessarily need to end in sex, but it can be one of the most passionate, intimate and amazing experiences you have as “the emotional connection developed during caressing lasts a lifetime.”

 5. Understand your partner’s love language

Dr. Manokaran says that when it comes to Karezza, we often take it for granted that our partner also subscribes to the same principles of pleasure. Maybe their idea of intimacy does indeed involve penetration, and if that is the case, there is no point in shaming them or making them feel guilty for their approach to sex. “Sometimes, caressing may be overbearing for some, especially for those whose love language does not involve touching. Sex can then turn very one-sided, so always give your partner the space to be themselves.”

Original article by Arman Khan