A first-of-it’s-kind question landed in my inbox a few days ago…
Here it is in its entirety (shared anonymously with permission from the sender):
“I got out of a relationship a few months ago (okay, six months ago) and I’ve been doing pretty well. My life is going well, I like what I do, and I have a good group of friends that I spend time with on the regular. I’m not in a rush to get back into a relationship anytime soon, but the one thing that I miss about having a partner is the physical contact. I’m a really touchy-feely guy and I miss having someone to cuddle with. I was thinking of reaching out to a female acquaintance of mine and asking her if she would be down to cuddle with me periodically in a legitimately non-sexual way. Any ideas on ways I can go about asking for this without seeming like a weirdo/sociopath?“
Great question! Solid intention! And there’s nothing weird about it at all.
I mean, yes, there are definitely weird ways that you could go about asking for your cuddle request to be met, but the intention of wanting to cuddle with someone is totally normal, healthy, and great.
(Side note: if you’re looking for a quick dose of platonic touch you can always get a hair cut, a massage, a pedicure, or a manicure. Or you can cuddle with a friend’s dog or cat (if you don’t have one personally). But it’s so much more fun to cuddle with a cuddle buddy on an ongoing basis that you feel comfortable with. Hence, why I felt compelled to write this article.)
Why Cuddling Is Awesome
Cuddling is the best.
Human beings are a social species, therefore we were made to connect with each other. And one of the main ways that we connect to each other is through physical contact.
Regardless of whether you and your partner’s clothes are all on, partially on, or completely off, the benefits of cuddling are numerous.
Why Cuddling Is Good For Your Health
Cuddling balances your immune system. It releases tons of oxytocin (aka the connection hormone that bonds people naturally) and dopamine (aka the happy chemical). It reduces pain and tightness in your muscles. It reduces stress, social anxiety, and lowers your blood pressure and your risk of heart disease. Plus, cuddling is a natural anti-depressant/mood booster!
I could link to a bunch of boring science-y websites throughout the above paragraph, but I don’t feel like it. Just trust me. I researched it all. Health benefits galore. We’re a social species… we’re meant to touch each other. Cuddling feels good for a reason.
How To Ask Someone To Cuddle Without Being Weird About It
So you know that cuddling is awesome, you know that it’s good for you, and you’re ready to ask your special person (or people) to have a cuddle fest with you. Well… you’re almost ready.
So how exactly do you go about asking someone to cuddle with you without it being weird?
First, you have to have two quick conversations with yourself about it.
(Believe me, this necessary pit-stop is worth it. It’ll make the cuddling that much more enjoyable when you get to it.)
The first conversation you need to have with yourself is about whether or not you think it’s weird. The second conversation is about what exactly it is that you are looking for from your cuddle buddy arrangement.
One of the only guaranteed ways to make a cuddle request seem weird is if the person requesting the cuddles thinks it’s weird.
Weird asker: “Hey, I know that this is super out of the blue… and kind of weird… but do you think that you’d maybe want to ever get together and, like, take off some of our clothes and cuddle for a bit? But, like, NOT AT ALL having sex. ‘Cause that’d be even weirder than what I’m asking you. Please don’t call the cops.”
If you go into the situation (whether in person, on the phone, or via any kind of digital message) with the mindset of “OF COURSE this is a weird thing to ask someone” then it’ll come across in the level of tension in your voice and in the word choices that you subconsciously make. They’ll know that you think it’s weird and then they’ll reflect back the weirdness of the request to you – reinforcing your belief that, yes, this is a weird thing to ask someone no matter how well you know them.
So first, you have to have the conversation with yourself.
Do you think that this is a weird thing to want? Is it a weird thing to ask someone you know really well/know kind of well/barely know at all to do? Is cuddling normal, healthy, and great?
Get comfortable with how you feel about making the request first… and remember, there is nothing strange about wanting physical intimacy with someone in or outside of an intimate relationship. You are allowed to want to cuddle. It’s totally fine and normal.
And the second conversation to have with yourself starts, and ends, with this question:
What exactly is it that you’re looking for in your ideal cuddle scenario?
This is your chance to sit with yourself in personal brainstorming / self-reflection time.
What is it exactly that you want from your cuddle buddy?
Do you want a one-time cuddle? A semi-regular cuddle buddy (like once per week)? Do you want the cuddling to be fully clothed? Semi-clothed? Will kissing be allowed? If so, is kissing on the lips only allowed or just on the body? With music or no music? On a bed or on a couch? How well do you want to know the person you’re cuddling with in advance? Would you prefer a close friend that you’ve known for a decade, an acquaintance, or (kind of) a stranger?
You get the drill. Dig into your desires. What is your ideal, best case scenario? Don’t worry about what you think someone else will or will not go for… this is the time to check in with yourself and be as selfish as possible. What does your heart/gut say? What is your authentic desire in terms of your ideal cuddle setup?
Sit with that until it becomes quite clear for you, and feel free to write it down somewhere to make it more concrete. Once it’s written down, that doesn’t mean that it can’t change later (in fact, it very likely could change when you and your cuddle buddy negotiate any differences of opinion for what makes an ideal cuddle situation). But for now, just check in with yourself, and get your best case scenario down in writing.
How To Not Make Your Cuddle Request Weird – Be 100% Clear
The trump card in removing the weirdness from your cuddle request is to be 100% honest and clear when you present it.
Don’t soften your request to make it seem more politically correct or gentle. Politely ask someone for what you want (someone who you’re somewhat sure would be open to hearing your request) and be clear about what it is that you’re looking to get out of your cuddle arrangement.
You can text/phone/message them or ask them in person. Even if you don’t feel like it’s a weird thing to ask, you might still be a little bit nervous… and that’s totally fine. Asking for our needs to be met (in any kind of a relationship) can be nerve-racking. We’re vulnerable when we let our needs be known… but the payoff of asking is (at least) a growth in the overall amount of personal courage that you have available to you for having asked, and (hopefully) a new cuddle partner!
How To Go About Selecting Your Cuddle Buddy
Maybe you already someone in mind, maybe you have no clue where to start searching.
Filtered through my personal biases, here are the top five places that I think you should search for your potential cuddle buddies.
If you have the kind of friends that you’re comfortable with and there isn’t any sexual vibe between you, why not start with them?
Friends are great. They don’t judge us… they know how we work… and they’re probably similar to us in a lot of ways. Hopefully, one of the ways that they’re similar to us is that they also like cuddling.
Start with close friends, and if your ideal picks of your social circle don’t pan out for your cuddle buddy, then keep moving down the list.
2. Exes that you’re on really good terms with
An ex that you’re on really good terms with is basically just another kind of friend, but likely someone that you don’t spend as much time with as your core group of friends.
If you have an ex that you get along well with, and you both know that you don’t work well as intimate partners, then ask one of your exes if they’d be available for some cuddle action.
3. Acquaintances that you’ve felt comfortable with every time you’ve met them
Even further outside of the concentric circles of your social life are people that you wouldn’t label as close friends, but they’re people that you’ve met a handful of times and generally get a good vibe from.
Based on that description, write down whoever comes to mind, and send them a message/call them up and let them know your cuddle plans. You might be surprised at their reaction. Maybe they’ve been waiting for a cuddle partner just like you.
4. Old crushes that never went anywhere
Similar to the acquaintances, but with a bit of a sexual charge (either back then, or still today).
Maybe you bumped into each other at a club years ago… or you matched on OKCupid or Tinder and it fizzled out… or you were both always dating other people whenever one of you happened to be single. Whatever your history with your old crushes, this might be the perfect opportunity to resurrect their name in your contacts list.
Remember, be clear with what your intentions are before you reach out (more on this in one of the upcoming sections), but you might just find a treasure trove of cuddle buddies in your old laundry list of ‘what-if’s’.
5. Online dating websites/apps
As somewhat of a last resort, you can always use online dating apps/hookup apps/cuddle-specific apps to search for people to cuddle with.
I put this one last because you might already want some pre-established rapport with someone who you’re going to be cuddling with, but who knows, maybe not. Maybe you’d prefer to cuddle with someone brand new because you feel safer doing it with a stranger. Whatever floats your boat. Just make sure that you’re safe about it and you take whatever safety precautions you need to make sure that both you and your cuddle buddy’s boundaries will be respected.
The Ask – How To Be Clear In Your Request
So you know what you want, you know who you’re going to ask, and you’re almost ready to ask it. Now it’s just time to structure your request and send it off (either verbally or in a written format).
Personally, I find that something short and sweet works best.
Take any of the three following examples, choose whichever one you like the best, and then calibrate the language to come across as more of the way that you speak.
Example 1: “Hey! I’d love to cuddle with you sometime. Would that be something that sparks your interest? Let me know and we can talk details and get something in the calendar.”
Example 2: “Hey! As you know, I’ve been out of my last relationship for a few months now and, to be honest, I miss the physical affection. Would you be interested in meeting up every now and then and cuddling up? Purely platonic, and purely awesome. Let me know if that sounds fun to you and we can talk specifics.”
Example 3: “Hey, super random. I know we haven’t talked in a bit, but every time we crossed paths I feel like we have a good, easy connection. Any chance you’d be down to meet up and cuddle as friends every now and then? If that sounds appealing, let me know and we can set something up in the next week or so.”
Pick one, put it in your ‘voice’, and then call them up/message them with it!
Setting Boundaries – Asking For What You Want
Assuming that one (or several) of the people that you reached out to said they’re interested in cuddling with you, it’s time to negotiate a bit and manage each of your expectations. So far it’s been a dialogue between you and yourself, and now it’s become a dialogue between you and your cuddle partner. Yay progress!
Let your soon-to-be cuddle buddy about all of the things that you laid out as your ideal setup. Don’t do it in a “this is how it has to be and I’m not flexible on any of it” kind of way (unless you’ve only written down things that are non-starters/hard boundaries for you). Treat this stage as the negotiation, getting to know each other phase.
Express what you want, and then let them tell you what they’d like/expect from your cuddle party.
Setting Boundaries – Saying No To What You Don’t Want
When they tell you what they would like to see happen, always remember that you have the right to say no to their requests, just as they have the right to say no to yours.
If they say “I would hope that our cuddles would turn into sex within the first week or two of hanging out” then you’re allowed to say “I wasn’t thinking that. I was hoping that it would just be platonic. We might be looking for things that are too different after all.”
It’s all up to you. If you want clothes on or off, that’s fine. If you want your cuddles to lead to sex (immediately, in the short term, or down the road) then that’s up to you too. Remember, it’s all a discussion. You get to dictate your side of the bargain. Honour yourself throughout the entire process and it’ll all be a lot easier (and that much more satisfying when it happens).
Are Your Motivations Clean? Or Are You Hoping It Will Turn Into More?
We can never be assertive/honest for other people (that’s up to them), but we ourselves can be assertive and honest.
Make sure that you aren’t setting up a cuddling arrangement with someone with the secret underlying hope that your agreement will turn into sex and/or a long-term relationship. It’s totally fine to want those things (in general, and with this person) but just make sure that you’re being honest about your intentions along the way so that your cuddle buddy knows what your thoughts and expectations are.
When it comes to managing expectations in advance, there’s rarely such a thing as too much communication. When in doubt, talk it out.
So you’ve set up your cuddle date, and you’re getting ready for the cuddle party of a lifetime. Here are some last minute tips that might help you relax that much more into the situation.
You’re going to be intertwined with your cuddle buddy for the next few hours (or however long you’ve agreed upon). You’re going to be in each other’s close personal space. So why not respect them and their cuddle-willingness by getting yourself as ready as possible to be all up in someone’s business.
Make sure your nails are short and under control (so you won’t be scratching up their flesh with any gnarly toe nails). Make sure you’ve recently showered and brushed your teeth (scent is important if you’re going to be cuddling close for any length of time). And make sure you’re wearing whatever kinds of clothes you’ve both agreed upon cuddling in… pajamas, street wear, underwear that you feel comfortable in, etc.
Do all of your house chores in advance so your mind won’t be racing with all of the laundry/dishes that need to be done.
Prepare your music, lighting setup, and light any incense or candles if that’s something that you’re into. Have some drinking water nearby if you think you or your cuddle buddy will want any. Invest in making the environment feel as comforting as possible and it’ll pay dividends into how much each of you can relax into the moment.
Revisiting Agreed Upon Boundaries
Before they come over, make sure that you look over the agreed upon rules/boundaries/etiquette that you’ve both agreed upon. Kissing/no kissing? Potential for sex/no sex? How long did you say you both wanted to cuddle for? Talking/no talking?
Give your boundaries a once over just to make sure that you’re not about to unintentionally cross any personal barriers.
Time To Cuddle!
All of this preparation and boundary setting has probably made you hungry… FOR CUDDLES!
Go to town. You’ve earned it. Enjoy your cuddle session.
Take some deep breaths and settle into it. And remember… have fun!
Shifting Feelings And Using Proactive Assertiveness
Over time, how you feel about your cuddle buddy might shift (or how they feel about you might shift). That’s totally fine and normal.
Just like any relationship, make sure that you’re always checking in to make sure that the relationship dynamic is still working for both of you.
If you both start developing romantic feelings for each other, then discuss whether or not you’d want to upgrade the arrangement into a partnership.
If one of you starts developing feelings for the other and it’s more of a one-way street kind of thing, then you’ll probably have to discontinue the relationship (but it depends entirely on your unique relationship and what you’re each looking for). Generally, if one person is starting to fall for the other and the feelings aren’t reciprocated then it will often lead to pain and resentment for the one whose feelings aren’t being returned. It’s usually better to thank each other for the experience, sever ties, and go your separate ways.
All The Cuddles, All The Time
I hope that this guide was helpful for you and that you feel better prepared to go on with your cuddling adventures.
Be safe, have fun, be honest, and let that delicious oxytocin flow.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you might also love checking out my article 7 Ways To Get Your Physical Touch Needs Met When You’re Single.