Suppose you are thinking of attempting Synergy with a new partner. You’re obsessing about when you will next see each other and you’re having unaccustomed trouble sleeping. In short, your honeymoon neurochemistry is at a fever pitch. You know that if you engage in passionate kissing, let alone genital contact, sparks will fly and you’ll find yourselves nose-diving back into the familiar fallout after conventional sex. In short, you’ll get nowhere with Synergy.

Alternatively, suppose you both sense that you aren’t right for each other long term. Yet you feel a mutual desire to nurture each other safely and perhaps explore the blissful exchange of loving energy as a way of preparing for the future…whatever it may hold. Or suppose that due to age or ill health, intercourse is off the table, and yet you sense that loving, nurturing, selfless intimacy would do you both good.

The path of fin’amor

Can you still get closer? Absolutely! Try fin’amor. This “pure love” practice gained popularity in the late Middle Ages in Occitania, a region that incorporated most of the southern half of France. Its inhabitants spoke Occitan (also called the Langue d’oc or Provençal), which was closer to Latin than French. Catalan, a cousin of this language, is still spoken today in eastern Spain.

So, what was fin’amor? A practice in which lovers strove to learn about divine love by preventing their encounters from being driven by conventional fertilisation-driven sex. To achieve this they cultivated mutual, selfless, erotic adoration, while deliberately not consummating the sexual act.

This aspect of fin’amor was a kind of initiation or trial, along the lines of a tantric ritual. According to the French Wikipedia page on this trial,

Several authors (including Jean Markale, Emmanuel-Juste Duits, René Nelli) have compared courtly love to an initiatory journey, close to Hindu tantrism or the practices of Chinese Taoism, aimed at channeling and intensifying the energy of desire. It would then be a true psycho-sexual process, tending to allow a deep modification of the being. This interpretation seems to be supported by certain courtly love texts, which describe the change of state of the lover and the lady, illuminated by the Joi.

In other words, with fin’amor, lovers viewed the experience as a transformative spiritual path. A way to taste a heightened experience of love and perhaps a sense of direct connection/oneness with the divine. It was also a way of displaying mastery over the forces of materiality.


According to scholar Rai d’Honoré PhD,fin’amor arose among the Cathars. The Cathars were a Christian sect, much esteemed for their sincerity and dedication to their spiritual principles. Alas, the French ultimately joined forces with the Church to wipe them out, in a campaign known as the Albigensian Crusade.

D’Honoré shares some background about fin’amor and courtly love, in a video about troubadours. She emphasises that fin’amor tapped the power of loving another selflessly as a path to transcendence and self-improvement. The relevant bit of the video begins at minute 5:22 and ends at about 9:20.

D’Honoré describes courtly love as a worldly cousin of fin’amor. However, the term “courtly love” wasn’t coined until 1883, by Gaston Paris, an historian of medieval poetry. Thus, many scholars treat fin’amor and the courtly love tradition as somewhat synonymous. Both arose in a region that shared the same language, lifestyle, poetry, music and troubadour tradition.

Some scholars define fin’amor as “fine love”, “fine as fine gold, glowing when purified by fire.” Others point out that in French (and perhaps Occitan), the word “fin” has the idea of completion or perfection.

Some say fin’amor refers to the respect and attention paid to human feelings and sensations. In this context, it is the respectful and true love of a man for a woman, and of a woman for a man. If both parties follow the rules of the game, it helps them to reach shared joy and pure happiness. It can be thought of an art of living based on the research, respect and rigorous and constant application of the rules governing human and love relationships. Lovers seek to achieve a perfect symbiosis.

It’s possible, however, that the essentials of fin’amor date back far earlier than the Cathars. They may, in fact, date back to a practice so ancient that it underlies sacred sex traditions around the globe. Such traditions include tantra, Taoist lovemaking and early, so called gnostic, Christianity. Certainly there is evidence of a sacred marriage practice among early Christians, which was conducted along the same lines as fin’amor. It lingered for hundreds of years during the Current Era. Perhaps it simply surfaced again among the Cathars, and later among other Western sects.


Selfless love is the key to fin’amor. However, as is the case for all Synergy approaches to intimacy, the mundane ingredient in the recipe for fin’amor lies in what lovers don’t do. Loving affection is encouraged, but intercourse and orgasm are not.

Prudent lovers relax into mutual adoration, stroking or holding each other. Kisses that cherish, rather than “heat,” help prevent the distress of sexual frustration. Not surprisingly, however, some courtly lovers treated their unions more as a game in which the man sought to prove his self-mastery by pushing his lover into risky territory. “The more meritorious the ordeal was for the lover, the more it became for her, and the more perilous it was for her honour,” according to René Nelli, ‘Sur l’amour provençal’, Les Cahiers du Sud.

If you’re trying fin’amor with a new lover, definitely pursue the calmer approach. Consider channeling your desire upward when it builds, and pause regularly to breathe deeply and slowly.

Of possible interest:

Assag (courtly love) (~12-13th centuries)

The heart of chivalry