Karezza Is Basically Hygge Sex, and It’s the Only Kind We Want to Have This Winter

Photo: Getty Images/Xuanyu Han
Winter is coming, which means that we’re about to enter full-on hygge territory. Think: plush socks, candles, and canceled plans whenever possible. Thanks to the Danish term, coziness abounds this time of year, but one thing that's often excluded from ideal hygge visions is sex. In fact, hygge is just about as sexy as a belly full of macaroni and cheese and long underwear pulled up to your bralette. Well…at least that's what I assumed until I became acquainted with the karezza method.

Karezza (pronounced kar-RET-za) is, to put it simply, hygge sex. It focuses more on the journey than the destination. It’s when you’re more concerned about the means than the ends…if ya know what I'm saying. The premium here is on cuddling and eye-contact, not on HIIT-worthy moves and a heart rate to match.

It turns out experts regard this kind of sex as positive for relationships. “One of the main things I do in my practice is help couples reframe their thinking about sex away from focusing on the orgasm or the finish,” says sex therapist Amie Harwick, PhD, MFT. Rather, she asks couples to focus on sex as a whole in order to reduce importance of an orgasm.

“If sex were all about orgasm, why wouldn’t we just use a vibrator? It’s because great sex is about connection.” —Lila Darville, sex and intimacy coach

Sex and intimacy coach Lila Darville, a Well+Good Council member, agrees—noting that karezza is totally the hygge-est sex ever. “It is essentially sex without being goal-oriented; sex without an agenda, where the energy between you and your partner dictates what happens.” she says. “If sex were all about orgasm, why wouldn’t we just use a vibrator? It’s because great sex is about connection.”

To foster that connection between partners, karezza calls for focusing on positions that create intimacy (think, spooning and missionary), without the strong emphasis on orgasming. So basically, no jackrabbit-style 30-second trysts. The goal here is to prolong the act and increase closeness.

Beyond the benefit of increased emotional intimacy with your partner (and an expert-backed excuse to have leisurely-bordering-on-lazy sex), karezza may also be a mental-health win. “Having the focus away from orgasm and on connection and pleasure reduces anxiety and depression while increasing pleasure,” Dr. Harwick says, adding that it can can also help cultivate intimacy outside the bedroom, too.

And while it's common to regard orgasm as the goal in sex, Darville says this mind-set can be so limiting, sexually speaking. Dr. Harwick suggests simply being aware that this shouldn't be the case as a way to course correct. “The orgasm is not the goal of sex so much as it is something great that can possibly happen,” she says. Start out with gentle touches, and move slowly through intercourse. Focus on the different sensations that pop up for you during sex instead of racing to the finish. “It sounds common sense, but most people don’t think this way,” she says.

And really, what could be cozier than snuggling up with your partner and experiencing a slower, more intimate way of having sex? “Instead of using the tried-and-tested ways of achieving orgasm, karezza brings the focus back to connection,” Darville says. “And from there, a world of possibilities and pleasure opens up.” That sounds like some hygge we can get behind (or beneath or beside).

Check out sexpert-approved ways to rev up your libido. And here are nine stretches that trainers say will improve your sex life.

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