I Know I Like You If I'm Not Repulsed When We Cuddle

by Candice Jalili

I was 20 years old, and he had just taken me on my first real date.

It wasn’t a frat party he invited me to as his “date,” it wasn’t a college bar where we decided to meet in the wee hours of the night, and it wasn’t a morning-after bagel he chivalrously bought me for breakfast before I walk-of-shamed back to my place. It was a real-life proper date. One of the ones where we actually MET UP SOBER for drinks (yes, I was 20, but I had a killer fake ID — sue me) and then dinner and then — get this — he took me to a CONCERT. This guy planned out a whole entire night for us, and it was fantastic.

At the end of the night, we walked back from the concert to my dorm room, holding hands and completely lost in conversation. I invited him back to my room and, interestingly enough, what I remember most about that first night together wasn’t our hookup. I mean, it was only two years ago and I don’t suffer from Alzheimer’s. I remember the hookup. It was good -- great, even.

But what was special about our night wasn’t that. It wasn’t even our fantastic date, because time went on and I met other great guys who took me on other great dates that didn’t involve frat parties or morning-after bagels. It was how I felt when we cuddled.

I was under the impression that I absolutely hated cuddling boys. And, for that matter, girls. You know what I’m talking about: There are always those girls who love to snuggle with their friends on the couch while eating a tub of ice cream and watching their favorite shows. Count me in for the shows and the ice cream. Count me out for the cuddling.

Then there were always those guys who wanted to hold me tenderly after we hooked up. But the thing is, that tender embrace felt more like a creepy prison made out of chiseled man-arms. It felt like a gross thing I had to suffer through to avoid offending the guy I was seeing. I never enjoyed it.

And I could never sleep! I have so many memories of myself lying wide-awake and miserably uncomfortable as I was trapped inside of yet another nice-but-not-for-me guy's arms, counting down the milliseconds until it was morning and it would finally be socially acceptable for me to break free.

Basically, if you were not my mom, my dad, my sister or my nephew, the thought of being locked in your arms was an absolute nightmare.

But there I was, in bed with this guy after our great hookup that took place after our even greater real-life date, and I didn’t feel creeped out or gross at all. In fact, I felt comfortable. I felt happy.

And what's probably the most surprising thing is that I FELL ASLEEP. There's another first for me that took place that night: The first time I actually let myself fall asleep in a guy's arms.

Now, here's one last "first" I'll burden you guys with. That boy happened to be the first boy I ever really actually liked. Yeah, that's right. I get it. It took me 20 years to find someone I actually had real feelings for. But whatever, I've said it once and I'll say it again: I'm PICKY.

But the point is I didn't realize I liked him as much as I did until we had that moment after our hookup, when he held me in his arms and instead of wanting to vomit, I felt safe.

Feelings are usually difficult for me to navigate. They aren't my strong suit. I don't typically catch them, and when I do, I have a really hard time realizing I ever even caught them in the first place. Since that one boy, I have really only liked two others, and there seems to be one common emotional thread that set them apart from all of the rest: Instead of making me feel like I want to die sometime in the very near future, snuggling them actually made me feel like I had already died and gone to heaven.

Corniest thing you've ever read, I know. But it's true.