The benefits of cuddling are outrageously great, so it’s no wonder that couples and friends alike engage in the act for a super boost of feel-good hormones!
Cuddling has been studied for years as researchers and scientists attempt to discover why the physical intimacy of the act boosts morale, relieves stress, and works better as a relaxer than most medications. With each study done on cuddling, more outstanding benefits are found. The intimacy of cuddling has been proven to reduce stress, fight against mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and increase longevity in high-quality relationships. It’s no wonder so many people do it!
But does cuddling change in meaning, depending on the gender? Many females—although not all of them!—are notorious snugglers, craving that physical and emotional intimacy with their romantic partner. Does cuddling mean something different to guys? Here in this article, we’re here to dive into the brains of men—Oh My!—to crack the code and decipher what cuddling means to guys.
What Is Cuddling?
First, the basics: What is cuddling? Cuddling is usually considered a full-body form of touch, but a broad definition includes any action that one or two people can physically initiate, like holding hands or hugging. It is used as an expression of affection, comfort, love, and trust. The act of cuddling is oftentimes used with a romantic partner, though it is not excluded to them singularly.
Culture, sex, age, and religion can all affect one’s viewpoint on cuddling. Depending on such, it can affect how a person will express their affection along with when or with who they will express it. Females are notoriously affectionate with one another, often found leaning, hugging, or hand-holding with friends as well as with family members and romantic partners. Males, on the other hand, are more likely to exclusively show their affection, like cuddling, solely with their romantic partner. Many are uncomfortable expressing this softer side of themselves in public, which has a lot to do with culture and toxic masculinity.
Cuddling can be expressed in a multitude of ways. Examples of such include snuggling in another’s arms, hugging, hand-holding, or even lying on another’s lap!
Popular Cuddling Positions
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular cuddling positions guys relish (although, of course, women love them too!). Though it’s important to note that not all guys enjoy cuddling, many of them especially seek out positions like The Little Spoon or The Big Spoon for maximum stress relief and to show their affection towards you.
The Big Spoon/Little Spoon
The Big Spoon and The Little Spoon are the two most common cuddling positions.
As the Big Spoon, in this position, a person will wrap their arms around their partner while both people are lying down on their sides. Normally this will involve the Big Spoon’s stomach pressing into the other person, or Little Spoon’s, back.
If there’s a Big Spoon, there’s a Little Spoon, too! Contrasting with the Big Spoon position, the Little Spoon is the person being held. When in this position, the Little Spoon will be wrapped in their partner’s arms, their back pressing against the stomach of the Big Spoon.
The Half Spoon
Similar to the Big and Little Spoon positions, the Half Spoon only requires one partner to curl on their side.
One partner will be lying on their back. The other partner, the Half Spoon, will curl on their side, latching onto their partner like a koala to its favorite eucalyptus tree. The Half Spoon can rest an arm over the stomach or chest of their partner and even bring up a knee to rest on their partner’s thigh or waist for maximum Half Spoon positioning benefits.
The Honeymoon Hug
This position can occur often in the middle of sleeping and is one of the most popular cuddling positions out there.
In this position, both partners will face each other while lying on their sides. It will involve entangling into each other’s embrace like a hug. You’ll be able to feel the beat of your partner’s heart, the warmth of their chest, and every inch of their body as you press into each other.
The Lap Pillow
A popular position during hangout time or while watching a movie, the Lap Pillow position is a more vulnerable cuddling position. It can be an effective, more playful moment between the two of you or induce an intimate tension that encourages kisses or more.
In this position, one partner will be sitting upright. They will be the designated “Lap Pillow.” The other partner will lie down, whether on their side or back, placing their head on their partner’s lap to use as their designated lap pillow.
The Benefits Of Cuddling
For guys and gals alike, cuddling has been proven to boast a wide range of benefits such as increasing intimacy and improving relational bonds with a romantic partner, encouraging vulnerability, and encouraging oxytocin to be released. It may be the ultimate relaxing bonding activity. All of these benefits play a part in shaping what guys think about cuddling.
Improvement In Sexual Intimacy
One study done on couples reported that couples who cuddled after sex boasted greater sexual and relationship satisfaction than those that did not. This finding highlights the benefits of cuddling and how it can lead to improved physical intimacy.
Improves Relational Bonds
A hormone called oxytocin is released during cuddling. Females receive higher levels than men, but they’re not the sole beneficiaries—guys get a big hormonal bang for their cuddling buck, too! During hugging, cuddling, or orgasming, oxytocin levels drastically increase, hence it’s commonly referred to as the “love hormone.” It has been verified that when in the first stages of a relationship, also known as the “honeymoon phase,” there are greater levels of oxytocin when compared to single individuals.
The benefits of oxytocin are many. This hormone fights anxiety, depression, and other health problems, while also being used to help during childbirth. Oxytocin also impacts social and bonding behaviors, aiding in the building of memories, psychological stability, sexual behavior, trust, and social recognition used during social functions.
Opens a Line of Communication
A study discovered that physical touch has the ability to form a line of communication between strangers. Now imagine what it could do for two people who know each other! This benefit can be especially important for guys (or anyone, really) who struggle with intimate communication.
Other research has verified that physical touch, like cuddling, is a form of expression or communication that expresses trust, love, affection, and gratitude between two people. This in turn can open a line of verbal or nonverbal communication depending on the people and the situation in question. This line of communication can benefit both people.
The release of oxytocin during a cuddling session can decrease the symptoms of stress for guys and girls alike by promoting happy feelings. Oxytocin has been proven to be an anti-stress tool that works by reducing cortisol and blood pressure levels. The hormone does this by stimulating positive social interaction, relaxation, and bonding.
When cuddling, two other neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, are released into the body. Like oxytocin, these also encourage happy feelings that in turn regulate mood. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter engaged with the reward system of the brain. It rises whenever something pleasurable is experienced. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has the purpose of regulating moods, such as happiness or anxiety.
Lower Blood Pressure
Through research, it has been concluded that blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, can be lowered in both sexes through short spans of cuddling, like hugging or hand-holding. Other studies have verified that physical touch has a calming effect that benefits as a stress-reliever while reducing psychobiological and subjective stress associations.
Tying into the topic discussed above, stress is also an important factor that is associated with blood pressure. By reducing stress, cuddling has the bonus benefit of reducing blood pressure through physical touch.
You Can Live Longer
Evidence in studies suggests that there are benefits to one’s life span, for both partners, that come with physical intimacy. This may be due to the social support provided through the bonding and other benefits received from cuddling and other physical intimate acts.
In another study, it was found that high-quality relationships were increasingly beneficial for not only mental health but physical health as well. Consistent backing from a combination of multiple other studies presented the improvement of longevity and protective mechanisms against mortality that are bolstered by a high-quality relationship.
A Happier You
From orgasms to snuggles, physical intimacy leads to happier guys and gals alike as those feel-good hormones—serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins—are released. These neurotransmitters bolster happiness by encouraging stress relief, relaxation, bond-building, and intimacy between partners during physical connection that can encourage emotional vulnerability and communication.
Building connections through the act of physical intimacy, whether cuddling or otherwise, can therefore be a great encouragement for a happier, healthier you!
The act of physical intimacy, like cuddling, can be a fantastic method of building a bond between a guy and his partner. It opens up doors to each other’s passions and fears by encouraging vulnerability. This opportunity is a great bond builder that grows trust and closeness in a relationship.
Cuddling, or physical intimacy, doesn’t have to be a therapy session (not that that’s bad!) every time. It can be goofing around, learning each other’s tickle spots, or indulging in favorite cuddling positions. It’s a way to get to know your partner and enjoy each moment with them, building that feeling of closeness and intimacy between each of you for quality time spent together.
To sum it all up: From improvements in overall happiness, immune response, and heart variability to a reduction in somatic symptoms and diurnal cortisol, physical intimacy is absolutely outstanding for overall health.
What Does Cuddling Mean to Guys?
Now that we’ve looked at the many benefits of cuddling for partners of any sex, let’s dive into what this act means specifically to guys.
He’s Interested In You
If a guy engages in cuddle sessions with you, he’s more likely than not very much interested in you as a potential romantic partner. He feels comfortable, safe, and relaxed around you. These feelings in turn promote a bond of trust and companionship between two people.
If you’re unsure if this means he’s romantically interested in you, look for other signs that he may be into you. Check the evidence! Do you catch him staring at you? Does he go out of his way to spend time with you? Does he like to run his hand down your arms and legs, or simply touch you as much as he possibly can during cuddle time? If so…he’s interested in you romantically!
He Wants to Be Close to You
Guys don’t cuddle with just anyone. If he’s taking the time to be vulnerable and snuggle down for a cuddle sesh, he is showing that he desires to be close to you. The physical contact he receives from you is soothing, relaxing the pent-up tension from work or life’s stressors that have been nagging at him all day. Either way, if he’s cuddling with you, that physical touch presents a feeling of companionship—he trusts you!
He Wants to Engage in Sex
Some guys use the act of cuddling as a stepping stone to engaging in sexual intercourse. This can be done multiple ways, though this highly depends on the guy in question.
Some guys may get the ball rolling by teasing and touching to encourage sexual arousal. For others, the springboard may be passionate kissing which then leads to teasing and touching. And for some, it may lead straight to foreplay—of course, this should always be consensual!
For guys and girls alike, it may be a turn-off or upsetting that cuddling always leads to sex. Sometimes people simply want to cuddle and snuggle, enjoying the affection and bonding of each other. For others, this may not bother them whatsoever. Either way, if it bothers you, it’s essential to have this discussion with your partner to make sure your emotional needs are met and not just your partner’s physical ones.
He Wants the Intimacy
There are plenty of guys out there who love a good snuggle session. The intimacy of the moment is the highlight of their day.
Many guys, though this depends on the guy in question, truthfully love being the Little Spoon in the cuddle session, finding it soothing. Not every guy is like this, so it’s important to verify what your guy partner likes the best. For some, certain positions can be uncomfortable or triggering, depending on past experiences, so double-checking that your partner is A-okay with being the Little Spoon is recommended.
He Wants to Be Vulnerable With You
It’s not uncommon for men to put on a front with the world, acting as if they can take on anything and anyone life throws at them. Although this may simply be a safety mechanism for many men, this is also commonly referred to as toxic masculinity.
Toxic masculinity is a set of harmful societal beliefs pressed upon men that tell them how to behave. These can be received through cultural, societal, or situational instances. What one society emphasizes as “manly” is pressed upon young boys, teenagers, and adult men, often altering their perceptions, opinions, and actions throughout life. Oftentimes toxic masculinity is exhibited through an excessive need for domination, “alpha” behavior, aggression, and homophobia.
Because of this unfortunately common attribute in most males in today’s world, men don’t often have the chance to express vulnerability. Cuddling with a person they trust can be seen as a chance for vulnerability for a male who may simply desire the peace and soothing relaxation of a good cuddle session, where they will not receive judgment or ridicule.
He Likes Making You Feel Safe
Many women like a good snuggle with their partner, their person who soothes the woes of their day’s stressors. For men, cuddling may satisfy a deep need to provide this type of soothing and make their partner feel safe. He may love knowing that you are protected, in his arms, as he shows his affection and love with his arms wrapped around his romantic partner.
It Bolsters Him
Cuddling can bolster a man, helping him feel important as he snuggles you close. Not only does it satisfy the protective instinct in him, that needs you safe and protected in his arms, but it also can provide him that physical and emotional intimacy that makes him feel on top of the world.
It Makes Him Happy
Physical touch has been proven to have a multitude of benefits through the release of feel-good hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. Cuddling with you genuinely makes him happy, giving him a rush of feel-good hormones that promote stress relief, happiness, and relaxing the anxious unraveling of a long day’s struggles.
It Helps Him Sleep Better
It has been verified in studies that cuddling with a romantic partner bolsters relaxation, calmness, and comfort, all of which help a person to sleep better. And, more interestingly, it was discovered that more couples will fall asleep in the spooning position than in any other cuddling position when falling asleep together.
So, if he likes cuddling you before falling asleep or as he goes to sleep, you may be helping improve his sleep quality!
He Doesn’t Feel Pressured
Though physical intimacy, like cuddling, can lead to sexual intercourse or foreplay, it doesn’t always. For many guys, cuddling is an intimate act sans the pressure of having to “perform.” There can be high expectations for males to go above and beyond during sex, adding a ton of pressure onto them. The act of cuddling removes that pressure and relieves tension. In fact, it could be the highlight of their day!
For a guy, cuddling can show that he doesn’t feel pressured to keep his shields up. He may feel safe around you, allowing himself to be vulnerable without fear of receiving judgment. There’s no pressure for him to be a professional snuggler, unlike during sex, where a high level of performance may be expected or at least desired.
A Reminder: All Guys Are Different
When it comes to cuddling, all guys are different. Some guys hide their love of cuddling because they think it’s “girlie” or they buy into toxic masculinity norms—but scratch the surface, and you’ll find they actually love to cuddle. Some guys only like to snuggle with their romantic partner, limiting that physical intimacy to solely them and no other (minus, of course, hugsies for their mommas!). Others may not care and will cuddle whomever they desire, regardless of whether they’re a romantic partner or a bro.
And then we have the ones that are just not into it. Which is okay! Not all girls or other romantic partners are into cuddling, either, which works out for both parties if they end up together.
There are loads of different things that cuddling may mean to a guy. It can mean they want to engage with you sexually. They could simply feel safe around you. Or they may want to pursue you romantically. Either way, it’s highly recommended that you speak to the guy in question to calm your nerves and obtain the answers to your questions.
You never know, you may end up with a new boyfriend!