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Cuddling has always been deemed a "feminine" action, be it through its portrayal in movies where an actress is seen sobbing into a man’s arms, or through the growing "lad culture" where men are encouraged to be more physically aggressive to assert dominance. Whatever the reason, it has progressively been snubbed by young men in most of the western world. But are cuddles actually that bad?
Scientists don’t think so! One survey of 1,000 adults found that the majority of middle-aged men yearned for cuddling more than females. Why? Because it builds a better relationship bond. This finding also echoes the age-gap between acceptances of cuddles; younger men reject it while older men embrace it. Another finding also discovered that gender and sexuality do not affect your love for cuddling at all. So whether you’re heterosexual or gay, you’re equally likely to enjoy cuddling!
So why should you? Well, other than the health benefits of destressing, relaxing, and ensuring a more comfortable sleep, it actually boosts sexual activity. On top of this (forgive the pun), it allows for deeper intimate moments before and after sex, and can often result in increased comfort within your own body—a significant point given that a large percentage of both men and women, regardless of their sexuality, dislike their own bodies. Cuddling can also work as an act of dominance. A man who can accept and enjoy cuddling is often regarded as a “better lover,” as one report found, and is largely favored over those who disregard it. It is not only a masculine act, it is an act appreciated by all identities.
Here are just a few forms of cuddling and explanations of how, for a man, they can be largely beneficial. From sexual factors to factors of protection and dominance, each type caters to a different purpose.
There are countless different forms of cuddling, from the conventional frontal cuddling and spooning to lesser known positions such as “the couch cuddle.” However, most people agree that the classic frontal cuddle leads to the best results. What exactly is it? Simply lie down, facing each other, and allow your head to rest on the crook of your partners arms.
This is most often used at night, when winding down for bed, or on the build up to sexual activity. What are the benefits? Well, this position allows for intimate eye contact to be created. Be creative! You can either playfully flirt through your eyes and mouth, or simply get lost amongst each other. This position provides an overwhelming sense of security. Had a rough day? Dropped a plate at work? It’s all going to be fine as you get lost in the moment.
In terms of sexuality, this can actually assert a "masculine" image, contrary to what some believe, as it does provide this sense of security for your partner. This position can lead to a variety of sexual activities; lip biting, body caressing, and intimate grinding are all incredibly easy for here. As above, get creative and find your own rhythm!
- Sexually intimate.
- Builds vital relationship bonds.
- Boosted confidence.
- If you’re not that "intimate," it can be pretty awkward.
- Dead arms.
Perhaps the most commonly referred to by younger people, spooning is simply wonderful. Aside from the "Netflix and Chill" craze blowing around, it has an overwhelming range of benefits for an intimate couple.
Spooning requires a "big spoon," the embracing partner, and a "little spoon," the one being embraced. By acting as two spoons joined together, the couple engages in closeness unseen with other positions. This often leads to a heightened sense of comfort, safety, and sexual satisfaction. After all, someone’s ass will be grinding up against someone’s pelvis!
If you’re upset or stressed, this is probably your go-to position. Equally, if you’re feeling slightly horny or frisky, you might want to consider this one to help get your partner in the mood. So what can come from this? Almost anything! Anal, vaginal, and foreplay are all incredibly accessible from here to satisfy all possible needs.
- Who doesn’t love grinding?
- Intimate, close, protected.
- Dominant and possessive.
- Awkward boners.
- Face full of hair.
- Dead arms.
This one isn’t so much of a cuddle, but more of a reassuring presence. The partners lie on the bed, facing opposite directions, yet still hold hands. While this promotes independence and a comfy position in bed (because, let’s face it, cuddling can get tedious and achy sometimes), it does still maintain intimacy.
By holding your partner's hand yet maintaining independence and "isolation," you reassure them that you’re still there. It’s an act of eternal security and protection, and also presence and shared responsibility. So what are the benefits?
Everyone agrees that we need time to ourselves. It’s what allows us to destress without hurling abuse, or a coffee mug, in anger. It allows us to reflect on issues calmly without worrying your partner. However, too much time to ourselves can lead to worries and doubts by your partner. “Did I do something wrong?” and “Was it my fault?” can be common thoughts. By opting to hold hands, you reassure them that you’re still there, that you’re still connected.
As for sex, well, you’re out of luck. This position is usually used after sex—so calm down! If not, it is typically used when you or your partner is feeling upset or reflective—not the best time for sex. So if you find yourself in this position, don’t push for anything. Instead, recognize that something may be wrong with your partner. Take the time to explore this issue, and take control by reassuring and working things out.
- Independence and isolation.
- Comforting and reassuring.
- Promotes a break from sexuality and relationships, without actually ending anything.
- Can lead to over-thinking.
- Your partner may feel guilt or to blame.
- Not that intimate.
The Friendship Cuddle
Another cuddle form that, usually, doesn’t lead to sex! This is often a spontaneous embrace by one friend to another, regardless of gender or sexuality, in the spur of emotions. This can be platonic, or not, depending on the recipient and the giver.
The friendship cuddle can take any form; from an open dual embrace with arms spread by both people, to a one-sided cuddle wrapping an arm around the recipient’s shoulders.
So what exactly does this do? It brings you closer to your friend! By engaging in a non-sexual form of intimacy, you develop a closer bond than those that don’t. Of course, this is only a generalization, but embracing in friendly cuddles can also boost confidence and trust between the pair. On top of this, it can be quite a dominant action by the initiator—from a co-worker praising their friend in the office to meeting a mate at the pub, it is universally understood and universally enjoyed. Just make sure your partner is prepared, otherwise it can make for an awkward experience (think of the missed high-five).
- Dominant and assertive.
- Intimate, but not sexual.
- Not sexual.
- Can be awkward if you fuck up.
- Both partners must be willing, so can be awkward to know when/if to initiate.
The Purpose of Cuddling
As you can see, each type of cuddling has its own purpose. Whether you’re both seeking sexual intimacy, or simply reassurance in a saddened place, cuddling can fulfil your every need. If you both want an increase in sexuality, option for spooning. If you’re upset and seek reassurance and comfort, try the rejected cuddle. If you want to develop your love and lust for your partner, take some time to explore their eyes in the frontal cuddle. Each type has its purpose, and largely, it’s about exploring to find what works for you. Similarly, these aren’t the only types. In my research, I found thousands of forms. From the obvious explained above, to the obscure such as the satirical “127 Hours”—allow your partner to fall asleep with their head on your arm, try to move them gently, fail, and saw off your own arm with a pocket knife to survive.
As sexologists implore you to explore each other’s sexuality, take time to explore what cuddles work for you. Who knows, it could be a turning point for your relationship!
While some men, typically younger, reject cuddling as a feminine and "weak" activity, real men acknowledge its worth. They acknowledge its ability to boost dominance, its ability to protect, and its potential to grow intimacy and sexuality between their partner and themselves. Above all else, real men know when and where to do it in a safe manner that both partners appreciate and want. As described by author Aniekee Tochukwu, “The world becomes empty as you cuddle in the kiss.” Own your masculinity, become a man, and cuddle! Your partner will really appreciate it.