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Synopsis: How cuddling leads to more and better sex as well as to love itself; the fine and healthy benefits of cuddling; overcoming cuddling resistance and reluctance; plus how to give, get, start and restart better and longer cuddling are all covered in this mini-love-lesson.
Cuddling around the World
They studied over 70,000 people in 24 different countries. It was the same everywhere. Those who cuddled often tended to have better sex lives and better love fulfilled relationships. Those who did not engage in cuddling much didn’t. Not only that but those who expressed affection more often and more freely including doing so in public and those who frequently kissed passionately along with affectionate touch in a variety of ways had the best sex and all over the best loving relationships. The easiest place to read about all this is in a book called the Normal Bar which gives an easy, fun to read overview of this amazing study from the world of social psychology.
Now, I will brag a bit. Kathleen McClaren RN and I discovered and published in a major sex therapy Journal something very similar way back in 1982. In our research we added training in eight types of love behaviors to standard sex therapy behavior training and got a 50% plus improvement over just standard sex therapy with couples in sex therapy. In our second study the sex therapists we trained got similar results. Sad to say, the field of sex therapy then didn’t seem to be much interested in love or love conveying behaviors and so nothing much came of our findings at that time.
What’s Special about Cuddling?
When we cuddle especially in spoon cuddling, or when nude, a lot of our skin gets involved. Furthermore, our skin tends to be stimulated in a longer way than in hugs and other forms of loving touch. This means several, larger, good things are likely to be happening in our brain and nervous system. Neurochemically oxytocin, the chemical compound that helps us with feeling love-connected, tends to be produced more abundantly, along with other feel-good brain chemistry. There also is some evidence suggesting we become more neuroelectrically in harmony with each other but we are not quite sure what that does for us. The evidence suggests that with cuddling you are likely to feel more love-bonded, happier, safer, more comfortable, more relaxed and have lowered stress.
If your cuddling becomes mutually sexual, then a lot of added pleasures are possible. However, it is important that sex not occur in at least about half of the cuddling experiences or the love feelings may diminish even if the sexuality continues to be good.
Will My Sex Live & My Love Life Improve with More & Better Cuddling?
The answer to this question is probably a strong yes! Our research found most couples could learn and maintain better love behavior, both in and out of sex, with some love and sex behavior skills’ training added together and practiced for a while. Also behaviors which interactively expressed and demonstrated the emotions being felt, particularly feeling loving and loved, were especially important both in and outside of sexual interaction.
What About Cuddling Reluctance And Resistance?
A sizable minority of people have trouble with cuddling even though they hear how much most other people greatly enjoy it. The reasons vary greatly and are often unknown consciously. There are a small number of people whose epidermis is hypersensitive and for whom touch can be unpleasant or even painful. There is a far larger group who had negative or even traumatic experiences associated with cuddling or cuddling-like touch. So, they tend to avoid it because of the conscious or subconscious feeling-memories it brings up. For another group it is too pleasurable and/or to easily sexual, and they tend to cut short time spent cuddling, not wanting to get sexual at that time. Also if people grew up in a non-cuddling family, or in a family that did only very short cuddling, their habit may be to do the same.
Some couples let cuddling fade out of their regular ways of showing love to each other. That can occur due to lengthy recovery time from illness or injury, work schedule conflicts, childcare demands and a variety of other reasons.
Starting and Re-starting More and Better Cuddling
Most people who have a problem with cuddling or cuddling longer can get over their reluctance if they go about it as follows. First talk it over with your cuddling partner, and if you can jointly agree, follow these procedures. Start with whatever amount of cuddling seems tolerable, side-by-side on a couch or in a bed. Then go just a bit longer. Then in an hour do the same thing even a bit longer than before. Repeat going a bit longer each time, an hour apart twice more. Usually these first cuddling experiences are to be done with only a little, soft, gentle movement and nothing sexual. Repeat the next day at least three times with a little more soft gentle movement of hands and arms and body movement. And again, do nothing sexual, just caressing in slow comforting ways. If anything seems displeasurable, ask for a change into whatever would be a little more pleasurable, or at least tolerable instead of sending a stop message.
Part of the cuddling usually is best done by being still and mentally focusing on what you are feeling, both physically and emotionally, plus noting that nothing harmful or painful is occurring. You also silently might reassure yourself that you are ok and you are on your way to very positive feelings and experiences. If you can do this exercise 3 to 5 times a day for a week, you likely are going to go through a period where you find your feelings about cuddling to be either mixed or just neutral, but not really negative. Then usually you go through a period where you are starting to increasingly enjoy cuddling. After each practice cuddle it is good for you and your partner to go do something simple and pleasurable for just a little while.
Only after both people are fairly comfortable and enjoying cuddling as a way to lovingly be with each other does it become desirable for small amounts of sexiness to be added. This can be increased in the same way as above, every third or fourth time a cuddling exercises is conducted. Most of the couples we worked with reported having really wonderful and enriching cuddling experiences happening after about two weeks of following these procedures.
It is important to remember that to cuddle is for most people primarily an act of joint and mutual love interchange, and it is important that it be done with a strong love-focus most of the time. It can be especially comforting in times of emotional pain. Furthermore, it can be playful, serene, even spiritual, provide a sense of safety and be very important in love-bonding. It also can be sexual so long as the love elements predominate over time. It also is important that there be no negative talk of any kind during a cuddling experience because that can defeat all of it’s many positive effects.
If there are continued problems getting comfortable cuddling, consulting a good love-oriented and touch knowledgeable couples’ therapist is recommended. Some massage therapists also are good with helping couples gain the benefits of loving touch including cuddling, as are some sex therapists.
Cuddling with Others
It is especially is important as a love practice to cuddle infants, children and teens except when they are in their natural periods of individuation and tend to pull away. With other family members and dear close friends, along with anyone who needs support and reassurance it is usually a very good thing.
Getting Yourself Cuddled More and Better
The simplest way often is the best and most efficient way to get yourself more and better cuddling. That way is to clearly but lovingly ask for it. This can be a part of lovingly and jointly talking over how you both want to be touched which is a good thing for every couple to do. Do not forget that asking for what you want, clearly and lovingly, is a powerful part of healthy self-love. To learn more at this site go to the Subject Index and check out the mini-love-lessons titled “Love Hugs for Health and Happiness”, “Touching Back – A Surprisingly Important Love Skill” and “50 Varieties of Love Touch”.
As Always – Go and Grow with Love
Dr. J. Richard Cookerly
♥ Love Success Question: Do You Think You are Good at Giving and Getting Various Types of Loving Touch?