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Might be a weird questions, but I'm really confused. A good female friend of mine (I'm male) recently suggested we should cuddle, after we talked about how both of us feel rather lonely at the moment. That actually sounds good to me, I'd really enjoy holding someone in my arms again since I'm pretty much always single.

Disclaimer: Her boyfriend works far away and is only at home at the weekend, and he is totally okay with the idea. They trust each other and he knows me and knows I would never try to "steal her". However, I'd like to deal with this non-romantic because of that. I respect them being in a relationship and have no romantic interest in her at all.

Is there any sort of etiquette for cuddling like in a just-friends (platonic) way?

39

Maybe I can help a bit. I'm in the same situation, just on the other side. I'm in a very happy relationship and I'm regularly cuddling with one of my male friends. My boyfriend is completely fine with it.

The most important thing is (like always) communication.

First of all, your friend should talk to her partner about boundaries. How much physical contact is okay for him and what's crossing a line.

When that's done you should talk to her about the same things. Make sure you're on the same page. For example, my friend's boundary is me hearing his heartbeat while cuddling so I make sure that doesn't happen. Things like that.

Additionally you might want to reevaluate the situation now and then. Your friend should check back with her boyfriend regularly and you should talk to each other about it now and then.

Another important thing is making sure you're really okay with it being purely platonic. If you start feeling like it's more than that, take a step back and talk to her about it.

Generally I can only say that (to me) physical contact isn't in itself sexual and bonding with a friend like this is extremely rewarding, especially when you know it helps the other person.

So in summary: communicate, stay respectful and enjoy.

  • 1
    Pretty good advice, thanks! May I ask in which situations you platonicly cuddled? I'd only imagine it not being awkward (at the beginning) when like watching tv or something. – Suimon Oct 18 '18 at 9:03
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    It was a bit awkward in the beginning since you have to get used to it a little. Watch TV is a good start because you're focused on the movie and cuddling doesn't feel forced. So you might want to start with that and let it develop naturally when you become more accustomed to it. – user4308 Oct 18 '18 at 9:06
  • What about conversations, is there anything one should absolutly avoid? – Suimon Oct 18 '18 at 9:20
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    Not in my experience. I think it depends a lot on the people involved. You know the other person so you'll have a sense of what might be inappropriate or not. – user4308 Oct 18 '18 at 9:21
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Make sure you are OK with cuddling.

Getting affection from a female friend* can be very confusing and as someone who doesn't have a lot of relationship experience according to you it is important you make sure you are OK with it.

If something like this makes you feel uncomfortable you don't have to do it (even if you like the affection). You deserve to be loved and you deserve to be happy.

If you think it jeopardises your wellbeing then you don't have to do it even if it's fun. You can work towards relationships that are intimate and meaningful to you. In my experience being in an CNR (Consensually Nonmonogamous Relationship) requires a lot of boundaries, maturity, relationship experience and even then it's a lot of work for it to not be stressful. Some people can make it work, that doesn't mean it's right for everyone - it might be and it might not be right for you.

Even if the touch isn't sexual (or intimate) to her, it might feel that way to you (and it's totally legitimate if you feel that way).

If you are absolutely OK with cuddling, genuinely have no romantic interest and can set up clear boundaries then the answer by user4308 is good. I especially like the emphasis on communication. Just make sure that this is right for you.

(* or more generally, someone you are attracted to)

8

As an addition to user4308's excellent answer:

There is an organized form of non-romantic cuddling, called cuddle party, which might be helpful to you to explore this form of cuddling.

These parties typically organize a room that is suitably quiet and private, and have someone who explains the ground rules and boundaries (no touching of private areas, asking for permission before touching etc.), and makes sure everyone follows them and has a good time.

There are usually multiple people present (a small group typically), and you are free to choose who to cuddle with or not.

The setting is obviously different from cuddling with a single person you already know, but the rules and boundaries they use, and the experience you gain there (if you choose to go) may help you with finding your and others' personal desires and boundaries and communicating them.

  • Damn that sounds like it could escalate pretty quickly tbh. Although I think in such a rural area as I live, there won't be such an event. Nonetheless thanks for the addition. – Suimon Oct 19 '18 at 7:49
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    @Suimon: The whole point of the event is that there are rules, and a host ("cuddle party facilitator") who enforces the rules - precisely so you can be sure noone will grope you or touch you without asking and waiting for a "yes" first. That's why I mentioned them - they provide a controlled, regulated environment that some people find helpful. – sleske Oct 19 '18 at 8:24
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I'm just echoing what the other answers are because this cannot be stressed enough:

Communication, communication, communication.

What you are entering into is also known as a queer-platonic relationship or QPR. It sounds like both you and this lady friend are straight and with heteronormative relationships there are a lot of unwritten rules that people just know and add shortcuts to determining roles in the relationship (like men are expected to be the more decisive partner when it comes to planning out dates). These unwritten rules lay a foundation of expectations that isn't present in non-hetero relationships because queer individuals do not have all of that societal backing that hetero relationships have.

In my experience of polyamory I've had a concurrent QPR and a "normal" relationship. My QPR ended while my other relationship with my girlfriend is staying strong. My QPR failed because we had terrible communication and ultimately discovered that there just wasn't much compatibility. With my other relationship, we made it a goal at one point to have a monthly discussion on how our relationship was doing in our own opinions and if we needed to reset any boundaries. I thoroughly believe it was our commitment to being open and honest that has kept our relationship alive.

There are some resources online that are pretty helpful in facilitating communication. The ones I have used are the Physical Boundaries Checklist which lists every body part and what extent of physical contact are ok for each part.

The other is the Relationship Request Form which is a cute form that helps cover all of the bases:

Relationship request form

These may seem silly because it's not as necessary in typical relationships given the common tribal knowledge, but you may find that these will help you immensely when proceeding with these kinds of relationships. What I have done in the past is sit down with the other individual (or Skype if you are doing the long-distance thing) with one copy for each individual. We each filled out the forms, shared with the other individual, and asked for clarifications as needed. It was a little awkward at first, but I felt much better afterwards because the boundaries were set.

After the initial conversation, it is good to have an occasional check-in to determine the "temperature" of the relationship. For me, it tends to be a casual "Hey how are things going on your end?" and the conversation is done in minutes if feelings haven't changed. I find that getting into the habit of asking "Can I get a temperature check" keeps the conversation low-key and doesn't feel like it is interrupting the current activity (this is something that my group of friends do when playing D&D or watching movies, etc).

Good luck with your adventures! :)

  • The OP has said he's male, and it's a female partner. So can you explain what makes it a QPR? – Philbo Oct 23 '18 at 11:08
  • @Philbo, it's more platonic than queer, I guess. However the beauty of QPR, in my experience, is that it can be a sort of catch-all term for things that go against what is considered typical. Where typical is a relationship that incorporates sex. Since the OP's relationship dynamic is not at the level of typical relationships, and also involves activities not common amongst friends, QPR fits. – Lux Claridge Oct 23 '18 at 13:18

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