Everybody loves cuddling, right? Wrong. My idea of romantic bliss isn’t feeling someone’s breath rattle my eardrum while our bodies collect a pool of sweat in the space between where our back and front sides meet. My ideal evening with a lover involves me sprawled out on my end of the bed, while he sleeps peacefully a safe distance away. Call me crazy, but that sounds heavenly.
Many of my friends do, in fact, call me crazy for my dislike of cuddling, and even go so far as to accuse me of having intimacy issues. According to them, if I don’t enjoy having a guy intertwine his hairy, sweaty limbs with mine for eight hours straight, I must have a serious fear of letting someone be close to me.
I like to believe that I can possess a hatred for spooning and a willingness to be in an intimate relationship. But what if my friends are right? What if my resistance to snuggling is what’s keeping me from finding love? What if I’m going to die alone, a cuddle-hating old hag, just because I prefer to not have someone snoring into my mouth while I’m trying to sleep? An overreaction, yes. But I wanted to find out more.
What exactly does cuddling signify when it comes to intimacy and relationships? One of the better studies on the correlation between post-sex affection — snuggling, kissing, caressing — and relationship satisfaction, found that couples that engaged in cuddling felt more sexually satisfied, and thus more satisfied with the relationship.
The research, which was published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, focused on cuddling as an activity that takes place after sex. First, a survey was given to people who were in romantic relationships. The questions drew answers that pointed towards an association between post intercourse cuddling and higher sexual satisfaction. Next, the couples that participated in the survey were asked to follow up three months later. Those who changed their day-to-day post sex affection habits — aka upped their snuggling game — experienced an increase in relationship and sexual satisfaction. The science seems to be pretty clear here: Couples who cuddle after sex are more satisfied, both sexually and romantically.
^^^ Ugh ^^^
Great. This is wonderful news for the sweaty, clingy set. This information, however, won’t change my position in either sense of the phrase.
To be clear, I’m not a monster. I won’t bite your arm off if you try to hug me after sex. A little light snuggling post doing the dirty is fine. The particular brand of cuddling that I’m complaining about is the one that lasts all night. That and the casual midday snuggle session. Okay, sometimes cuddling Netflix more enjoyable, but it makes me unable to concentrate on the movie because I’m too distracted by how my entire arm is going numb.
Chelom Leavitt, a sex and relationship educator and current Ph.D candidate at Penn State, conducted a study about the association between physical intimacy and relationships that was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. The results found that physically intimate activities like cuddling lead to more satisfying relationships.
However, when I spoke to her, Leavitt pointed out that intimacy can be initiated in many ways, and cuddling is but one of them. The spooning-averse, she said, “need to be verbally intimate and communicate that their dislike of physical touch is not a reflection on their partner, but instead sensitivity to touch or some related issue.”
Since cuddling is essentially a way of letting your partner know that you want to be close to them, you can voice this desire in other ways. So long as you communicate with your partner about your desires, needs and preferences, you can continue to grow closer as a couple, sans spoon-sessions.
What’s more, Leavitt also mentioned that “Some people have a heightened sense of touch, and consequently some types of touch can actually be irritating.”
Irritating. That’s the word. For me, cuddling is irritating.
So. Some people love cuddling. I do not. The act is a great way to bring intimacy and satisfaction to a relationship, but it’s not the only way. I’d rather bond over chocolate pie and a graphic game of ‘Would You Rather.’ So long as you and your partner are engaging with one another and are clearly voicing your desires, intimacy will not be an issue.