Have you ever cuddled with a casual hookup? I have and it was as awkward as you'd expect. I'm not exactly sure how we got there but one minute we were making out and the next we were half-spooning uncomfortably, listening to the nervous grumbling of each other's stomachs. I could tell that both of our bodies had tensed up and that neither of us knew how to get out of this tangled mess. For anyone who's ever wondered what your cuddling position says about your relationship, this particular situation screamed, "SOS!"
Don't get me wrong. I love cuddling. Being intimate while also being lazy? What's not to love? Say what you want, but science proves that cuddling is beneficial to your health and to your relationship. Cuddling with another human being releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, reduces stress levels, and creates a mutual bond where no words are necessary. While it might not be the ideal way to spend time with that person you met a couple hours ago at the bar, it's definitely a plus in an actual, romantic relationship, and anyone who tells you they don't have a favorite cuddle position is lying. There are even apps designed to help you find a cuddle buddy and actual cuddle cafes where you can pay to be cuddled. In fact, professional cuddler is an actual job title now — just ask this guy.
You might doubt whether or not your go-to cuddle position actually reveals anything about your relationship with your partner. Body language expert Tonya Reiman says it absolutely does. Here's what Reiman says about the three most common cuddling positions and what they actually mean.
Cuddling with your partner as you both face each other is a telltale sign of a very intimate relationship. This is true of long-term relationships, where both people are still very much in love, and new relationships, since it allows both people to lean into (literally) this new bond. Reiman explains that this position allows for close eye contact, which helps to create an emotional connection between you and your partner. Without saying a word, you and your partner share a moment of vulnerability and trust.
Regardless of whether you're the big spoon or the little spoon, this cuddle position conveys feelings of strong communication, affection, and satisfaction. While this display of intimacy is typically reserved for long-term relationships, Reiman says that newer couples may engage in post-sex spooning if both people are comfortable and satisfied. The close physical contact of spooning also releases dopamine, a chemical that increases sexual desire, which explains why this position is most often associated with sex.
"Lying head to chest is a display of dominance and submission in the same way it is a demonstration of trust, affection, and love," Reiman says. She explains that a woman will rest her head on the chest of someone she trusts. This position allows her partner to wrap their arms around her, which in turn makes her feel protected.
It's not just how you choose to wrap yourself up in bed with your partner that matters. How often you cuddle also says a lot about your relationship. Reiman says, "If these positions are present during a relationship and then begin to wane, it becomes a red flag that things might not be working out." One of you is no longer interested in having a physical connection, which is a sign of deeper problem. She adds, "If cuddling isn't present early on, it demonstrates a lack of connection and affection," which explains perfectly why cuddling with a random made me feel nauseous.
However you do it, cuddling with your partner is essential to your relationship happiness — and happiness in general because of all the oxytocin. If you don't have a partner to cuddle with, give that professional cuddler a call.
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