You Need To Try Karezza, The "Hygge Of Sex"

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
This time of year is all about slowing down, making hearty stews that take hours, finally getting around to binge-watching all those shows, and having lazy sex with your socks on. Comfortable as cozy sex can be, if you're looking for a way to mix things up in the bedroom, you may want to experiment with the sex practice called, "karezza," which some have dubbed "the hygge of sex."
"Karezza" is a play on the Italian word for "caress," and as the name suggests, it's a sex technique that prioritises touch, connection, and intimacy, rather than just orgasm. In fact, during karezza, partners may intentionally delay orgasm to preserve their energy and focus on their emotional bond. According to experts, this method could be particularly useful for people in long-term relationships who may have grown accustomed to having a certain type of sex.
Karezza is the opposite of "friction sex," says Irene Fehr, a sex and intimacy coach in Denver. During "friction sex," there's a predetermined order of operations or expected progression: foreplay, intercourse, and almost always orgasm, she says. "In this kind of sex, connection is secondary," she says. "In that rush to orgasm, you have tunnel vision and may miss out on sensations or your partner." While this type of sex can feel exhilarating when you're first getting to know someone, and there's nothing wrong with that, it becomes limited. "You get diminishing returns over time, because the body gets used to routine," she says.
Karezza — or "connection sex," as Fehr calls it — gives you time and permission to savour connection and touch during sex. Sometimes, this will result in a climax, because "you actually give your body more chances to build up the energy to have an easier better orgasm," she says. But if doesn't result in an orgasm, that's fine too; you can still get a lot of pleasure out of karezza sex. "Creating that nourishing, safe, relaxing, playful context where orgasm just naturally overflows is incredibly beautiful," she says. "It's a full-body experience that's nourishing and energising rather than depleting."
If you're not totally secure in your relationship, broaching the topic of intimate sex might seem kind of scary. "It's so much harder and requires intimacy," Fehr says about karezza. "When you slow down, look at your partner, and allow them to see you — that's incredibly anxiety-provoking for most people." Talking about the idea with your partner is a great way to start, so they know what your goals are. Talk about your desires, what attracts you to your partner, and what it is that attracts you to karezza sex, she suggests. "This creates a context of curiosity, and in that, you can experiment and explore — but it has to be conscious and intentional," she says.
Besides simply slowing your pace during sex, and physically caressing your partner, Fehr suggests keeping your eyes open so you're aware of what's happening and the emotions that you feel. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but it's a great way to practice communication. To that point, you should communicate with your partner if something doesn't feel right, or if something feels amazing, she says. "When we slow things down, so much arises," she says.
Who knows? Karezza might be exactly what you need to spark things up in this post-Valentine's Day winter slump. And if karezza ends up not being your thing, at least you get a massage from your partner out of it.
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!

More from Sex & Relationships