Cuddling. Hugging. Snuggling.
In one way or another, most likely these have been a part of your life since you were born and your mom cradled you in her arms. Cuddling for some seems to be second nature. It’s where they feel safe and happy and it comes very naturally to them.
But where do you begin if you feel you are not a real natural cuddler?
Maybe you met someone new and they are very warm and great at cuddling. So, you want to learn how to cuddle, but feel like you don’t know where to start. Never fear!
We are here to guide you through the whole cuddling process from why we do it to how cuddle.
Why We Cuddle
Humans are social beings. We long for deep and meaningful relationships with others.
Our natural bent is to seek relationships that will offer us affection and attention throughout our lives. We need to share our joy and happiness as well as our pain and sorrow.
There are different types of body language and other non-verbal communication signals we all give and receive to varying degrees.
One of the most common non-verbal ways of communicating our love is through touch-namely cuddling and hugging. You may think the two of these are the same. But, actually, they are not!
Hugging is usually something between a group or just two people. It’s actually quite a short-lived embrace oftentimes when meeting or greeting or at goodbyes.
Hugging is initiating very brief contact physically with someone, perhaps squeezing a little, and then letting go. Hugging is accepted in the majority of cultures across the world.
However, there are always exceptions to the norm. There are some cultures that find it inappropriate or just don’t do it, particularly when it comes to acquaintances rather than family or friends.
In fact, most Asian countries find hugging people uncomfortable, particularly if it’s cross-gender hugging.
In China, cuddles are reserved for female relatives within the close family. It would be considered unusual for a woman to hug an uncle or grandfather, for example.
Most Muslim dominated countries also struggle with physical contact in this way. In Saudi Arabia, there aren’t even cross-gender handshakes.
Cuddling: What it is
Cuddling is different from hugging.
Cuddling is a much more intimate experience in that it lasts for a considerably longer period of time. It could be between a mother and child, whereby the mother holds a baby or child while they sit or fall asleep.
Cuddling between parent and child is a form of love and reassurance and helps instill security. It is a non-verbal form of love and nurture.
Cuddling between two partners is different in that it is more intimate. It is holding each other because it feels nice, expressing love, trust and familiarity.
It’s not always acceptable in public, especially in some cultures. It is generally a mutual act, but it could also be a one-sided affair.
The Science Behind The Cuddle
So, imagine you are snuggling up to your partner on the sofa. You could be watching a movie, holding hands, or lying next to each other. It sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Physical touch and skin-on-skin contact release the “love” hormone, oxytocin.
This is why cuddling is good for us. Oxytocin is nature’s own natural feel-good drug.
And we can’t get enough of it. So, we understand that there is a great physical rush that comes from cuddling, but do you know how to cuddle?
Best Cuddling Positions
Some people live to cuddle with their partner. These natural born cuddlers typically have physical touch as their primary love language.
Others are more reserved. Either way, we’re going to have a look at some cuddling positions and teach you how to cuddle!
If you’re a novice and cuddling doesn’t come naturally, you will have a much better idea of where to start.
1. The Slide Up
- Slide up to your partner. If you are both sitting on the sofa, it’s important not to sit far apart.
- You should slide on right up to him/her so that your bodies are pretty much touching.
- If your partner’s arm is over the back of the sofa, it’s a welcoming “come-and-cuddle-me” sign.
If you’re trying to watch TV or a movie, this cuddling position is ideal. You’re close to your partner but can still watch all the action.
2. Arms Around
- Once you are next to each other, the next step is simply touching in some way.
- You may want to pull him/her closer or just put your arm around your significant other.
- As you pull the person closer you may want to put your head on your partner’s chest, resting below his/her neck.
- You could also look up and smile at your fellow cuddler. This will let them know how much you are enjoying the cuddle.
Also, why not reach down and hold hands too? You could stroke your partner’s hands or fingers, should you wish, to send any non-verbal messages that you desire.
3. The Recline Cuddle
This one is perfect if you are a bit bored of sitting in one cuddling position with the both of you facing forward.
- You could both lay down, one of you in front of the other with your back toward the person behind (rather like spooning).
- You will be in your partner’s arm, with his/her other arm draped over you.
Another reclining cuddle is where you face each other.
- This sends different messages than with one of you facing away such as when you are watching TV for example.
- Facing each other is an altogether more intimate cuddle.
- Don’t stack your bodies on top of each other completely though. The person on the bottom is bound to get uncomfortable fairly quickly!
It will probably lead to kissing, so only cuddle this way if it’s what you both want!
4. Sitting Spoon Cuddle
This is a classic move in the cuddling game.
- You both sit with arms around each other, your legs folded and turned to your partner.
- The other partner should have their legs below yours, on the ground.
5. Little Spoon
The traditional ‘spoon’ cuddle is a well-known cuddling position!
- You need to lie down on your sides.
- The little spoon is the one in front, facing their back to the ‘big spoon’ who drapes his/her arms around the little spoon.
6. Big Spoon
The opposite spoon to the described position above!
- This time, you are the big spoon, draping your arms around your partner who is lying in front of you and facing away from you.
- For both of these positions, your bodies should be in a “C” shape and facing the same way.
7. The Honeymoon Cuddle
If you are in a honeymoon period in your relationship, this is an ideal position for cuddling.
- This position is almost an entanglement of limbs.
- In this “honeymoon cuddle” position, you are facing each other and wrap your legs and arms around each other as much as possible.
It’s one of the closest cuddling positions there is!
8. The Sweetheart Cuddle
If you are needing a bit of nurturing, this is for you.
- Your partner lies down on his/her back and cuddles you whilst your head is resting on their chest.
- It’s a very comfortable cuddling style, allowing you to feel protected, trusted and giving you an overall sense of wellbeing.
9. The Lap Cuddle
This one is where one person rests their head on the other’s lap. It’s a good position for watching a movie (and stealing a kiss should you wish!).
10. The Arm Drape
If you want to add a little romance, the Arm Drape is perfect for eye contact.
- Face your partner and drape your arms around him/her.
- It could be a bit distracting if sleep is what’s planned though. People struggle to sleep while being stared at!
When to Cuddle
Now that we’ve looked at a few cuddling positions and how to cuddle, we are going to look at the best time to cuddle!
Should you Cuddle or Not?
Some people, such as Esther Perel in her book Mating in Captivity, believe that cuddling can stop erotic passion.
She suggests that couples who want to be more passionate in the bedroom should stop cuddling.
She supports this by saying that the love hormone connection is the contrast to passion in the erotic sense. Because you end up being too close to your partner, your lustful feeling might diminish.
Other psychologists and researches have different ideas thoughts.
A leader in the sex research and relationship community believes that cuddling is good for a relationship. John Gottman also supports his claims with 40 years of research. He listed 13 things that are great for the sex life of a couple.
Number seven on the list was cuddling. Cuddling creates closeness and connection.
Cuddling and Gender
Research has shown that, for women, cuddling is something that promotes a higher desire sexually. Some research shows that cuddling before sex is many women’s preference.
Being close to a partner helps a woman build up to intimacy.
Men feel the same way. They often notice their sexual desire increasing during a cuddle.
For some men, a mere touch can bring out their sexual urges. But, in comparison to what was described earlier, cuddling for most seems to fuel sexual desire and doesn’t dampen it.
Cuddling: Always a Lead-Up to Sex?
Despite what we’ve explained, cuddling shouldn’t always go further.
Even though it does increase the desire for some, you need to make sure that there is a balance between sexual and non-sexual touch. Cuddling, hugging and kissing should all be important and should not always be the lead up to sexual intimacy.
One of the reasons why cuddling should not always be a pre-cursor to sex is that if a partner does not feel like it, they may reject all physical contact.
This is not good for any relationship.
It is important that at times there is just non-sexual touch as well as more innocent cuddling that doesn’t necessarily have to lead up to anything.
Maybe you end up falling asleep in each others arms. Maybe you just hold each other while watching a good movie.
As well as pre-coital cuddles, cuddling after sex is pretty standard for many people. It has to be said, cuddling should not stop just because the deed is done!
In fact, it is all the more beneficial for your love life if you cuddle after sex.
Research has shown that longer you cuddle post-coitally, the greater their satisfaction in their relationship.
Why You Should Cuddle More
Obviously, cuddling feels good and it also has numerous benefits.
We have mentioned the fact that cuddling releases oxytocin, the love hormone, and how this benefits us. This ‘cuddle drug’ isn’t just for intimate partners though.
As mentioned, it exists between parents and children and between friends too. It leaves you with a feeling of connection and love.
It is, therefore, all the more important for social bonding generally.
Cuddling and the Immune System
There was a study in 2010 that showed how people who had Swedish massages had their immune system boosted.
They had more lymphocytes in their blood to fight disease.
They had less arginine vasopressin¸ which is a hormone that increases cortisol, the stress hormone.
Additionally, the experienced a decrease in their existing levels of cortisol and in cytokines, which cause inflammation. This shows that touch and caresses are a great boost to the immune system and health.
Cuddling certainly falls into this remit.
Cuddling and Communication
Cuddling also helps people to communicate how they are feeling. It allows people to demonstrate gratitude, loves, and sympathy to others.
Sadness and happiness are also communicated in this way.
Cuddling also calms people and lowers blood pressure.
Regular cuddling and physical contact should be a part of anyone’s daily routine but especially for those with high blood pressure.
Anxiety and Stress Relief
Cuddling increases serotonin and dopamine in the body. These are both neurotransmitters which regulate mood.
Dopamine is the pleasure-center regulator too!
When a child falls over, what’s your natural reaction? It’s usually to scoop them up and cuddle them in some way. There’s a reason this happens. Cuddling is a known therapy for pain relief!
Girlfriend has menstrual pain or some other type of physical malady? All the more reason to scoop her up into a cuddle!
No Partner but Want to Cuddle?
You’ve learned of the benefits of cuddling. It is very natural to crave another human’s touch.
But what if you’ve no one to cuddle? Who would have thought it!
If you’ve no one to cuddle, you can hire someone or join a party!
Cuddle parties are a real thing. It might sound strange, but they’re there just for cuddling.
They are definitely not to hook up with someone.
The people are there simply just to cuddle. That’s one sure-fire way to get your oxytocin high!
However, they are usually made up of a bunch of strangers. This might make it a bit weirder for you though!
Apparently, there are cuddle parties all over the USA now and even in other countries like Australia and our Canadian neighbors.
If you’re not quite sure if a cuddle party is your thing, then in Maryland North Carolina, among other locations, there are even cuddle shops! It may sound strange but people pay to spoon with a stranger!
Rather unbelievably for some, professional cuddlers are a thing too.
One woman invites others into her apartment and asks them how they would like to start cuddling with her.
It’s an interesting occupation but one that is apparently on the rise. This is no surprise in our culture that is increasingly touch-starved.
People can even be trained as professional cuddlers, such as with cuddlist.com. To work as a cuddle expert, there is a protocol to follow. Both parties must agree to what they want to do before any cuddling happens.
We’ve talked about pretty much everything that there is to do with cuddling. From your first cuddles to your future ones, we’ve discussed it.
We’ve looked into the best cuddling positions. We’ve also outlined the benefits and where you can find someone to cuddle should you not have anyone.
So, we are hopeful that with all this new-found knowledge you can start cuddling. Try out a few different cuddle positions. Try different ones depending on your mood and your location.
Want to be intimate? Try a face to face cuddle. Want to relax in front of the TV? Try spooning or the lap cuddle. You could even invent your own.
Whatever you do, be sure to take advantage of the power of human touch and all the benefits that it provides.
Now you know how to cuddle, you can reap all these advantages for yourself. Boosted immunity, lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, reduced pain.
What’s not to love about the good old old-fashioned cuddle? Go ahead, give it a try.