Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Platonic Cuddling

I was hanging out in the Pace University library today, and the question came up as to whether platonic cuddling was possible. Now, before I begin my logical rant, I want to define what I mean by platonic cuddling. Platonic cuddling is a close and affectionate (and often prolonged) embrace that is not sexual in nature. Earlier today, I learned about another definition of platonic, from Anja, my friend. She explained to me what I now know was one of Plato's philosophical views, whereby a person or relationship is platonic, or free from physical desire. Urban Dictionary also has a definition for platonic cuddling, but it sounds more like a friends with benefits situation. I have also seen platonic cuddling between members of different species, like the tiger and the girl picture in this blog.

But in this blog, I merely want to talk about cuddling in a platonic nature. Is it possible in theory? and, probably more importantly: in what situations will platonic cuddling be acceptable?

Cuddling is a purely physical act that is done for many reasons. Usually it is for comfort but it may be used as a falling action after climax (sex), or before sex as a form of rising action, most commonly known as foreplay. However it doesn't always have to deal directly with sex. Many times people cuddle just to be comfortable, and to feel a certain closeness. That closeness is what most people find non-platonic about cuddling.

However, it is my personal belief that platonic cuddling can be achieved without the closeness usually felt in cuddling. Another friend of mine disagrees. She believes that cuddling that is platonic in nature is not achievable, merely because the closeness, and emotional aspect of cuddling would overcome any friendly aspect of a relationship. Again I disagree. Cuddling is a physical act, while usually associated with emotion, and closeness, it does not necessarily need to be associated with them. If a close embrace, like a hello hug, need not be emotional, then why does cuddling need to be emotional? Especially when it is done merely for the physical comfort and not for any emotional comfort.

Some forms of cuddling are undoubtedly platonic, and include an emotional aspect, that one might call love. I think any type of cuddling between best friends, are platonic. Many times people feel a love for their best friend, that is non sexual, but one that is more reminiscent of love for a family member. A mothers embrace for a child is platonic, as well as embracing a friend to comfort them, such as when they are crying after an emotional day. Embracing a close friend and giving them a shoulder to cry on is an ultimate form of platonic love, and it includes cuddling.

But cuddling can also be done horizontally (like on a bed, floor or couch, where both parties are lying down), which may, to some, seem like something more. Many people might argue that horizontal platonic cuddling does not exist, but in theory, I can think of at least 3 situations in which it does. Accidental, Purposeful, and Group Cuddling can all be considered platonic forms of horizontal cuddling.

Accidental horizontal cuddling can best be explained by example. Lets assume we have two individuals, who happen to be friends without sexual, or physical desire for each other. These two individuals may be doing some mundane task, such as watching a boring movie, fox news, or homework. Lets now imagine that these two individuals fall asleep, and while unconscious move into a position that is comforting for them both. When one of them wakes up, they may find comfort in the other persons warmth. While this is a physical pleasure (much like the pleasure we all feel in the morning hours when we are warm under our blankets), it is very much platonic in nature.

Purposeful cuddling can also be a form of horizontal platonic cuddling. An example of this can be cuddling to prevent cold, cuddling to give a person a shoulder to cry on, or cuddling to fight some sort of political agenda (like cuddling for peace). This type of cuddling is also dangerous, and can easily be cheated by any one of the party. How many times have we not seen a movie or television show where two people are freezing and the male suggests to the female that they both get naked and cuddle since the best heat is body heat. Now you know it can be cheated, and you have been warned.

Cuddling in a group is one of the last ways cuddling can be platonic. Think it does not exhist? Here is proof!

Now, I don't know what you readers think, but these people look extremely comfortable! Peaceful, nonsexual group cuddling between friends, unfortunately, is something not often practiced here in the U.S. I believe this type of cuddling has a very calming effect on the human psyche. I also believe that if people cuddle more often in groups, we may care about each other more. Perhaps it is only when we feel each others warmth, when we look into each others eyes, and when we pay attention to the awareness within our friends, that we can really know the true value of a human life. Platonic cuddling may not be widely practiced, but used in this way, it has the power to prevent wars.

On a slightly different note, the reason this blog entry exists is a statement to the nature of the human condition in 2009. In my opinion nothing could be more beautiful than caring so much for another person that you decide to simply take some time out to pay attention to them. Paying attention to what someone is saying is gratifying to the person talking, but paying attention to a persons inner being, the awareness or presence within the human body is another level of communication in which words cannot describe. This type of comfort may make a person feel vulnerable, which is why so many of my friends object to the idea the platonic cuddling is possible.

In reality the vulnerability they feel is normal. How often do we have someone peer into our true being without having to go through words, race, class, gender, or sexual identity. Cuddling is a form of breaking bearers between people, and, by paying attention to another person (and not just the physical person, but the awareness which is in each of us now), then true closeness and clarity can be achieved.

The fear of vulnerability may not be the only reason my friends are afraid to admit platonic cuddling exists. It may actually be deeper, such as a fear of intimacy. How many times have we actually felt someone else's awareness and presence? How many times have we stopped to acknowledge someones existence, not through words, or showing compassion, but by just lying down and enjoying someone else's ability to share a moment, and a space with you? If this seems too intimate, then it is unfortunate. I firmly believe that acknowledging someones presence can easily be done with cuddling, and the awkward intimacy someone might feel comes from not being payed attention to enough.

People are always on the cell phones, or trying to be funny, or showing a persona that is not them true selves. I am not a word, or a personality, or an emotion. I am a human being. I go through ups and downs, and the only part of my being that is consistent is the being within me that is attentive. The one that is here now aware of my surroundings. The presence of a sentient organism. Perhaps those more spiritual than me may even go as far as to call it a soul. We have lost touch with each other, and perhaps noticing each others soul is the only way to reconnect. It may be the answer to all of our problems.

Platonic cuddling should not be shunned as impossible but should be sought after. Only through love can we end war, even if it is just the love of a friend, or the love of an embrace. It need not be sexual or embarrassing, or awkward. Love is simply this: the ability to notice another persons soul. The sun does it every morning, with it's warmth upon my face. I can honestly say, I have never felt more alive and present than when I am cuddling. Not sex, nor happiness, nor excitement can emulate the emotion of calm, warmth, and attention given to me when I am being embraced by a close friend or girlfriend. Cuddle away. Love each other. And please, for the love of one another, and to show respect, keep it platonic.


  1. Hey thank you so much for posting this topic about cuddling. Lately, I am struggling with some issues regards to my bf who cuddled with his bestfriend, who is a girl, in her bedroom. That day we were fighting and so I was wondering why he did that but thanks to your explanations and such and yes, I agree about platonic cuddling to your close friends.

  2. ..and oh she wasn't his bestfriend, she was just his friend but he dated her once. So can you assure that they did the platonic horizontal cuddling at the time when me and my bf were fighting? I am really bothered atm though.

  3. Dear anonymous reader,

    I tried to stay away from discussion cuddling in terms of people being in a relationship precisely because each individual relationship is defined by the people in it. To some people a relationship is a serious commitment, on both people involved, to stay with each other, and to have exclusive rights over the activities both people do with each other, such as cuddling.

    Others define a relationship as two people who prefer to do things with each other. And a relationship can also be defined as two people with plans to marry each other, but who do nothing with each other.

    Your boyfriend and you had a fight, and he went off to cuddle with someone else. I assume you are bothered because you feel he did something inherently wrong, as in, more than "cuddled". I cannot comment on whether he did or didn't, mainly because I don't know him personally. But even if he did just cuddle, the question remains as to whether this necessarily constitutes cheating.

    The answer is, it depends. Was he open to you about cuddling with the other person? Is it hearsay? Were they "caught"?

    If he was open to you about it, then obviously he doesn't think it was cheating. Why would anyone admit to their significant other that they were cheating on?

    If it was hearsay, or if you, or someone else caught him, then perhaps he was cheating, or at least being untruthful towards you.

    But nothing I said above really matters now does it? Is it really worth fighting over this thing he has done, as far as you know, only once? I think keeping the peace should be held to a higher priority, than arguing over past possible infidelities. Cuddling with him might make it better too. As this will bring you closer. You know you don't really want to fight with him over it, and you know he doesn't want to hear you fight with him over it.

    Suggestion: ask him to call her up, and invite her over, and both you and him could cuddle with her. This other woman who is his friend. Sounds weird? It need not be. Spend time with her. She may be a nice person. Perhaps even the type of person you may want to cuddle with yourself.

    And if it really is that important that your definition of relationship means "me and only me, and no one else, or else" than break up with him. It seems to me that if his action upsets you, then it is not the action itself that is upsetting, but his more liberal definition of what constitutes the relationship he currently has with you.

    Thanks for the comments, and please feel free to reply, or email me,

    Your NY Blogger, who tries to (mostly) keep the peace and spread the love, Jonathan

  4. I really enjoyed your post. Dude I am all about some platonic cuddling. It's funny though, it took me going halfway across the world to be able to let go and allow myself to experience it. I spent several months in Africa in a culture where it was actually considered rude if friends of the same sex didn't hold hands when talking, even out in public. Throw 150 young adults from the Americas & Europe who have been starved of emotional & physical affection because of cultural taboos into a culture like that and you end up with lots of what you see in the above picture. Since then, I have enjoyed the freedom of being able to cuddle and hold hands with friends who are open to it - guys and girls alike. It is completely non-sexual but I find it does bring a closeness to my friendships that was lacking before, which I really enjoy. I find that I hug people longer than I used to, I feel happier, and I am finding a deeper fulfillment in my friendships.

    I think the only drawback is you have to really watch things with the opposite sex. I know I have been burned a few times by girls who, after sharing moments like cuddling on the couch watching movies and holding hands walking on the beach for example... end up saying, "I'm sorry, what made you think I ever wanted to be more than friends?" That *sucks* when you feel like things are progressing towards a dating relationship. So I feel like I kind of have to shy away from cuddling with girls because I don't want to send the wrong signals. And I don't have many guy friends who are comfortable enough with themselves to enjoy a good embrace because they're afraid people will think they're gay. Our culture is messed up isn't it? When you can't enjoy platonic physical intimacy without going against taboos. Makes me want to move to Africa. LOL

  5. Yes, I totally agree with the fact that each individual relationship is defined by people in it. And yes, I have my own definition of it.

    Oh well, I am really bothered even though it happened a month ago and we went over this already, but it seems to me like it just happened yesterday, weird thing is, it occurs to me every single night especially when I'm alone.
    And yes, I was thinking if it was more than cuddling and such but I can't make sure of it since it wasn't hearsay. He directly talked to me about it and he knew it was wrong but I was bothered how he told me that he felt good that night and then unfortunately, that day we broke up. So he didn't really explained much deeper about it and so at that moment it feels like awful and I was left with questions unanswered.

    But to make it short, we were back again.

    I wanna ask, if it wasn't cheating, then why was he getting rid of that story and not explain to me why he did that?

    I totally agree with your statement about, ''...keeping the peace should be held to a higher priority, than arguing over past possible infidelities." and I am absolutely working on it. But it's hard since I was thinking if ever we fight again, will he do this thing again?

    Right now, both of us are fine but I got this weird intuitions and I feel that there's something that he doesn't want to say that might hurt me. But then you said that, " don't really want to fight with him over it, and you know he doesn't want to hear you fight with him over it. " and it is true. I just hope that my intuitions are wrong.

    It might be a great idea to call the other woman, maybe have some few chats with her if I have time. But I can't be sure if it'll be great idea to be that close to her. But thanks for the suggestion though.

    And no, I am not that kind of person who is very possessive and I let him hang with his friends as long as he knows the limit. Everyone does, right? I have my own limits as well about how to socialize with close friends.

    Thank you so much for the reply. I appreciate it.

  6. Thank you so much for this post, bro! It really clears things up in my mind over what happened to me last night.

    My close friend and I went out last night drinking and got pretty drunk. His mom really doesn't like people sleeping on the sofas so we've always shared the bed, though nothing happened until last night. Upon our heads hitting our pillows we passed out. Sometime in the middle of the night I woke up and he was wrapped around my arm with one of his hands on my stomach and nose pressed into my shirt. It felt awesome, yet at the same time I had a feeling it might be "gay" and since I'm not into other dudes I moved, even though it was pretty cold in the room and I only had a thin blanket. Something about the physical closeness was nice, and even relieving that it wasn't just some dumb girl wanting sex but my best friend.

    Several hours later I woke up again and somehow I was spooning him with my arm draped over his body and he was just lying there.

    We are really tight friends and I think of him as if he were my brother (we look and act so similar that sometimes people mistake us for brothers). Even though we were both asleep for most of it, at some point during our sleep -- and perhaps semi-consciousness -- we had decided to snuggle, and it was a wonderful feeling. I never was hugged much as a kid as my parents were not big into physical displays of affection so it has always felt awkward for me when I get hugged or give hugs.

    I'm glad I let myself enjoy it for a bit anyhow last night. I hope it happens again. There's nothing like cuddling with your best fried. Even though we were asleep at the different times this occured, it was nice that we were close enough to share the same bed and each other's physical presence without it being sexual. This post really helped clarify what was going on.

  7. the last guy who wrote a post, i completely agree. Same situation, best friends and we have just randomly cuddled, but it is honestly the best feeling in the whole wide world. It's just comforting knowing ur close to someone and when u wake up, ur not gonna be by urself, but right beside ur best friend. I love cuddling and this helped clear things up. thanks a lot

  8. Me and my best friend are closer then just friends. We don't even call what we have a friendship, its a sisterhood :). One day on a dark bus ride home we were having a very serious talk about her only wanting to live because of me (she was going through alot) and when we were done I saw she was leaning towards me. I got up the guts and put my head on her shoulder and to my suprize she put her head on mine :)! We both just sat there together untill we were almost home. A little bit later we were texting and I got up the courage to say I felt so close to her I wanted to snuggle up with her. Again to my suprize she felt the same way. Twice now we have snuggled up together and neither of us want anything more. Everyday at school even we make it a point to give eachother a hug before we leave. We even look into each others eye ofter. If you think this is weird just understand that we do not want anything sexual from the other we just are very very close. If you still think it's a little odd then I pitty you because you obviously have never felt the amazing comfort of a best friends love. What her and I have is what I wish there was more of her in America. We are so afraid to show affection to other people here! Take my advice and don't be afraid to show affection to those you love. Embrace the world! And even though this may be a little off topic go out into the world and spread God's love.
    thaks for reading my blog :)

  9. I'm a gay guy and I have a boyfriend. We've been in a super long distance relationship for 2 years now and honestly it gets really lonely staying home alone. Well anywho, a really good friend of mine knew I'd been feeling depressed lately and asked me to chill at his place to watch movies and stuff. I don't know why but after a few minutes into the movie I laid my head on his shoulder and he tossed his arms around me. I wouldn't feel so weird about it if we were just friends but he's told me he has feelings for me. I really don't want anyone other than my boyfriend but I really like feeling close to someone rather than be lonely in my house. Is it wrong for me to do that? This other guy knows very well I don't want anything from him but I'm not sure if its acceptable when he still wants to be with me.

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