How often do you cuddle?

Maybe you curl up with your special friend to watch TV. Or you have regular cuddle puddles with your kids. But how many of you have a cuddle friend… an adult friend with whom you curl up simply for the joy of getting cozy?

Easy to say if you’re in a couple. You probably cuddle all the time (at least, we hope so!). But what if you don’t have someone in your life? Adults in cities all over Europe and North America are hosting cuddle parties: non-sexual, cozy and friendly cuddle sessions where the only goal is… to snuggle.

To you, this may sound adorable. Or it may sound downright icky. We get it. The key here is: people are getting together to cuddle for its own sake. It’s not a pre- or post- sex thing.

Producing cuddle chemicals

It turns out that cuddling is central to our well-being. Not only does cozy time strengthen our relationships, it produces all kinds of happy chemicals (like oxytocin and dopamine) in our bodies, which in turn build up our immune systems and increase our collective sense of well-being. Regular cuddling sessions reduce stress, strengthen social bonds, and soothe physical and emotional pain. Overall, incorporating a cuddle or two into your week can make you feel a whole lot better about yourself and your life in general.

It’s amazing to think that many adults limit physical contact with one another to only a few things: sex, a quick hug, or a trip to the dentist. That’s a pretty narrow space in which we can share touch; it’s either very intimate, or associated with discomfort. We’re not made this way.

The lucky among us get a professional massage once in a while. But even then, we’re often seeing a massage therapist to cure an ailment, not for the simple pleasure of being touched. Medical care and haircuts are the last vestiges of what our primate relatives do every day: groom one another to communicate, build social bonds and strengthen their communities.

How to get your cuddle on

Social media has reported on an explosion of professional cuddle boutiques in recent months. Yes, you can hire someone to cuddle with you, for a fee. There is an app called Cuddlr that lets adults arrange casual cuddle meetups. And cuddle parties are a thing; you just have to do a little homework to find one in your area.

Cuddling for its own sake with people who are not your intimate partner trickled into the mainstream thanks in part to rave culture, which encourages non-sexual cuddle puddles at events and festivals. Most of these events have cozy areas that allow attendees to settle down and publically snuggle, no strings attached.

While techno music and fake fur may not be your thing, the ravers were onto something: it feels pretty good to get close to other people, particularly when it’s understood that snuggling doesn’t automatically mean sex (unless you both want it to). This is what makes a cuddle session so lovely: it’s innocent, it comes naturally, and the positive effects trickle down to almost every aspect of your daily life.

Cover photo by flickr member ArtBrom