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In a classic 1970 psychology experiment, Stanford researchers offered children a marshmallow treat, but said the kids could have two marshmallows if they waited 15 minutes to eat them. Follow-up studies showed the tykes who were willing to delay their gratification ended up as more successful adults, with higher SAT scores, incomes, and more.
Those patient kids-turned-adults will probably love “edging”—a.k.a., the stop-and-start method: Alone or with a partner, you work yourself up to the very precipice of orgasm . . . and then you stop. After you’ve calmed down a bit, you resume sex or masturbation and do it all over again—as many times as you can stand it. It’s the sexual equivalent of the Stanford marshmallow experiment. (You might have recently seen it on Orange Is the New Black.)
What’s the point? “When you finally allow yourself to orgasm, it will feel much more powerful and rewarding,” explains Emily Morse, Ph.D., a nationally recognized sex expert. Edging requires time—and a lot of patience. But there is a payoff at the end, she says.
It’s just like sex—without the effort or payoff. After inserting your penis into your partner’s vagina, you simply lie there, Morse explains. Because pre-marital sex is off limits for some religious groups, there are reports this practice evolved—some say among Mormon college students—as a way to skirt the rules. Since there’s no movement, you could argue you’re not having sex, Morse says. “But it doesn’t seem very pleasurable,” she adds.
Apart from not being fun or rewarding, it’s also not clear if this is really a trend, or just an urban legend, says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., a sex researcher from Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute. (In case you were wondering, Herbenick says there’s little to no risk of impregnating a woman if you don’t ejaculate into her.)
You could consider this a variation of edging. In its simplest terms, karezza is an attempt to shift you and your partner’s focus away from orgasm and on to the rest of intercourse, Morse explains. You engage in slow, passionate sex while keeping your mind glued to the pleasure of the moment—as opposed to anticipation or eagerness for the big O at the end. “For some people, denying the orgasm is more rewarding than having orgasms,” Morse says. “Karezza is about going slow and enjoying the journey without worrying the whole time about orgasm.”
These are huge right now, Morse says. If you’re not familiar, a penis ring is just what it sounds like: it goes around your manhood and slightly constricts blood flow, which can keep you from ejaculating and make you harder than you normally would be, she explains. Also, many types vibrate, which is great for your partner. “The ring hits her clitoris and stimulates her right where she wants it,” says Morse, adding that men report liking the vibrations a lot as well.
Part of the broader, Eastern meditation concept of tantra, this style of sex is all about “connecting your body to your partner’s body” through techniques like coordinated breathing and reciprocal massage, Morse says. While there are many, many ways to practice tantric sex, the key is to throw off any sense of taboo or shame you may associate with sex and embrace it as a powerful and liberating experience, she adds. She recommends starting your evening with an hour of massage, which will arouse your senses and make you both more aware of each other’s body.