October 2018
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expressions of love in friendship: cuddles and questions

Yesterday I was spending time with a friend whom I'd never hung out with one-on-one before, and we were exchanging meaningful questions (for me, meaningful questions are expressions of love even more than kisses or verbal statements of love), and it got me thinking about cuddles in friendship.

I realized that I want more cuddles from my friends. I don't feel touch-deprived at all, because in my relationship with Topaz we do share a lot of touch and I find it really nourishing. But it is important to me to have that dimension in my friendships, to participate in the non-verbal communication that happens only through touch. I want to feel cozy with the people I care about. And pretty much all (all but one maybe?) of my local friends are super cuddly, so where is the disconnect that leads to nothing more than greeting and parting hugs?

The disconnect is two-fold. On the one hand, I am super careful about consent, so I am not going to touch someone unless I am sure that they want it -- but I don't think to ask, so I exist in a state of not-knowing and therefore not-doing. On the other hand, I do not want to have to do all of the initiating or all of the giving, and I have gotten into that pattern so many times that I think I'm gun-shy about starting out with giving. It's not really a rational fear, I don't think, as I am pretty sure that my friends are generous with touch. But thinking about all of this made me realize that I need to verbalize these things now that I have made them consciously realized. As I talked with Cass about this, we cuddled -- walking with arms around each other or holding hands or stroking each others' shoulders. And it made me feel so satisfied and it made me feel more able to understand Cass in a way that I can't explain, and most of all it made me feel unafraid. I think in an ambient environment of no cuddles I feel anxious, I feel afraid of accidentally crossing boundaries that I didn't know existed, because it is unnatural to me to not cuddle and I have to be constantly aware of what NOT to do.

I also started thinking again about questions, about how being asked deep personal questions is such a sign of desire for intimacy and also a sign of respect. I realized that intimacy practice is actually meeting that need for me in a much bigger way than I realized, but that it is also something I want more of. I want to be prompted to share more, share new levels, look at things I haven't considered.

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remlap ══╣╠══
Thinking about it, I think a lot of people just don't think to ask - and it's kind of not part of our norms to show much affection between friends. I mean, now that you've mentioned it, I think I'd like more attention as well, I'm not sure how that would go down with my friends group.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
The thing is, a lot of people feel this way, and probably others within your own group of friends, too. We need affection and we don't talk about it. I was surprised how much reception I got when I simply asked.
lifeofmendel ══╣╠══
there's a lot of things that get in the way of this in societal norms - i think a lot of it has to do with what i'm going to term "questionable degree of intimacy."

as in, if two people are platonic and are doing physical cuddly things, there's a societal implication of a higher degree of intimacy. if i cuddle with john, people will wonder if i'm gay. if i cuddle with jen who is the so of rashid, people will wonder if jen is cheating on rashid. the one seemingly societal acceptance that i've seen is platonic female to female.

so lack of cuddling in that context - one of public - i think is to avoid that sort of false impression due to a questionable degree of intimacy.

in private, i think there's still potentially a questionable degree of intimacy depending on the two people involved. i'm very touchy-feely with one of my oldest friends and usually that's fine, but there's been a side effect where the fact that we've had a 10-15 year sexual tension going on between us that it's resulted in us doing more than just cuddling. Never anything that was cheating, but it's at times put complication on our perceived friendship. less so now - if we're both single, we tend to hook up with no strings and no issues because we've gone through enough to know what we're about, but it definitely depends on the situation.

i like touching and being touched. it doesn't happen often enough for me, and given the kind of person i am, i'm one that rolls pretty easily with whatever other people are comfortable with and whatever it does or doesn't imply. but this isn't a popular opinion or perception, so i tend to play it pretty safe.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
Great to realize you don't think to ask, because now you can, and get more cuddles! :)

Cuddling is so natural to me I'm not sure I'm ever totally at ease with a person until we've relaxed into cuddles. It can feel almost like something is 'wrong', like there's an unnatural distance, and I wonder what's causing it. Like for me it takes effort not to get cuddly and for a lot of people it seems to take effort to get *to* that place.

And then, how many times I've assumed that people didn't want to cuddle simply because they didn't ask. People want to cuddle a lot more than they want to ask, it seems. :)
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
A lot of people haven't learned they can choose the life they want; they can ask to have their needs and desires met; so a lot of people go around lonely and accepting less than what would be wonderful for them because they haven't learned the power of asking. It may be rough to be the only one who takes initiative but it's also, well, a sort of power other people don't realize they have. And then they start to see that there's something magical about you and they're not sure what it is. :P And hopefully people will learn that they *can* ask for what they want, just because they want it.
leviadamstoday ══╣face╠══
I used to have more of that kind of friendly intimacy in my life. You're reminding me that I should invite that sort of thing into my life again.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.