12 Reasons Cuddling Is More Intimate Than Sex

Most of us enjoy a good roll in the hay, but I dare you to find one human on the planet who doesn’t love a good cuddle. In fact, there are a bunch of reasons why cuddling can actually be more intimate than sex itself.

It forces you to be vulnerable.

Having someone else wrap their arms around you and hold you close makes it almost impossible to be closed off or act tough. Instead, cuddling can be the precursor to saying what’s on your mind and getting sentimental about how you feel. It might even make your guy open up if he normally has a hard time expressing himself. So it’s basically a win-win. You’re welcome.

It’s hard to cuddle without feelings.

We’d like to think that every person who jumps into bed with someone else at least cares about the other person a little bit, but the truth is, some people are great at meaningless encounters. When it comes to snuggling, however, it’s literally impossible with someone you have no emotional connection with. It just wouldn’t happen. Think about it—it would be so weird!!

You’re quite literally leaning on someone else. 

Even for the strongest woman who likes to say she doesn’t need a man to fix her, being human means we sometimes need to fall and just know that someone is there to catch us. Being vulnerable enough to cuddle means you give in to the ultimate surrender and let someone else be there for you. It’s a very powerful reminder that it’s okay to not always do everything on our own. Sometimes being strong is overrated anyway.

It fulfills a different kind of need.

Sure, experiencing ecstasy is great at satisfying one kind of primal instinct, but there are other things we humans crave more just than a happy ending. It’s proven that hugs and physical contact lead to better moods and less depression, and cuddling is one big giant hug. Plus, it’s probably true that if you’ve snuggled with someone first, you’re more likely to have that happy ending…

You’re trapped… in a good way.

When he’s passed out with his limbs tangled up with yours, it’s impossible for either of you to get away. Instead, you get to lie there and watch him sleep, which can be totally adorable. You’ll notice all sorts of cute things about him that you haven’t seen before. Even when you have to pee so bad and he’s keeping you from getting to the bathroom, how comfy he looks is worth it.

It can actually lead to sleep.

After making love, you (or the guy) usually run out so quick to make sure it’s clear there is no intention of a sleepover. But when you’re lying wrapped up in someone’s arms, it’s natural to doze off or take a little nap. When you’re that comfortable there’s nothing wrong with giving in to the temptation to sleep.

There’s no end goal.

Doing it can sometimes feel like a means to a very specific end, and that takes the meaning right out of it. When you cuddle, it’s just that—cuddling. No one’s in a rush, you don’t have to worry about timing anything right, and there’s no worrying about whether someone gets off and someone doesn’t. You just get to enjoy.

Guys don’t just cuddle with everyone.

Unlike the potentially low standards of deeming a woman desirable enough to sleep with, most men won’t just snuggle with anyone. If he’s perfectly content laying there fully clothed and is happy just to be next to you, it speaks volumes more than just wanting to rip your shirt off.

Gentle is everything.

True, there is such thing as gentle and passionate love-making, but many times the rougher or faster, the better. With cuddling it’s the opposite because gentle is best. You can caress each other’s arms, run your fingers through his hair, and just enjoy the feeling of being together.

Emotions come out when you snuggle.

I dare you not to be giddy, serious, or sentimental (good or bad) when you’re in someone else’s arms. There’s just something about cuddling that makes even your innermost feelings come to the surface. It’s like they get pulled up by an invisible force and you can’t ignore them anymore.

There’s no time limit.

No matter how good it might be feeling, doing it gets cut short whenever one person decides they’re done. It’s unlikely that will happen during cuddling because a) no one is ever truly done cuddling and b) it can last a lot longer!

You can allow yourself to feel safe.

There’s something about lying in the arms of someone you (could) love that feels like nothing else in this world. You can let go of your worries and your fears and just feel totally and completely safe. It’s a feeling that doesn’t come anytime else, and it’s pretty damn amazing.

Why cuddling is good for you, according to science

In a 2020 survey, roughly 90% of respondents admitted said that they enjoy receiving physical affection from their partners. However, cuddling doesn’t just feel good, it’s also really good for you.

Not having physical affection can be detrimental.

Because cuddling has such positive effects on our overall health, the lack of physical touch can be damaging, according to James Córdova, PhD, psychology professor and clinical psychologist at the Center for Couples and Family Research at Clark University. “I honestly think cuddling should be among the most basic prescriptions for human flourishing,” he says.

It communicates trust with your partner.

As Córdova points out, human beings are born as cuddlers, which serves as a non-verbal form of communication between ourselves and our parents before we’re able to speak. That ability to share something that defies description continues as adults. “The act of cuddling implicitly communicates trust and safety in ways you can’t speak,” Córdova says. “As human beings, we are born as cuddlers, and we never really outgrow it.”

Cuddling gives your mental health a boost.

Not only does cuddling lift your mood, it can also decrease stress and other mental health issues, says Lina Valikova, MD. “Cuddling increases levels of oxytocin, the ‘bonding’ hormone, and decreases levels of cortisol, the ‘stress’ hormone,” she explains. For instance, in 2018 study published in PLoS One, participants who regularly got a hug bounced back from stressful events easier and more quickly than those who didn’t receive physical affection. Plus, according to Córdova, those who cuddle regularly are less prone to depression and anxiety. “Cuddling activates our parasympathetic nervous system, bringing feelings of calm and ease while settling feelings of anxiety and sadness,” he says.

It strengthens your immune system.

It might sound silly to suggest something as simple as cuddling could make you less likely to get sick, but it’s true. Research published in Psychological Science found that people who got regular hugs were less likely to get sick from a cold virus than those who didn’t receive regular physical affection. How could this be? Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, explains: “Cuddling helps improve your immune system, increasing its ability to defend against illness, both by decreasing stress and by improving your mental wellbeing.”

You sleep better when you’ve been cuddling.

More than 60% of respondents to he Touch Test survey revealed that cuddling with their partner before going to bed for the night helped them sleep better. According to Dr. Velikova, this could be attributed to “increased levels of oxytocin” that “help you fall asleep faster and get more restorative sleep.”

Cuddling lowers your blood pressure and helps your digestion.

The rise in oxytocin and reduction in stress work together to help bring down your blood pressure, which is always a good thing. Not only that, but that same oxytocin triggers the “rest and digest” reflex that Romanoff says is super helpful for your digestive system.

It helps you maintain and strengthen your connection with your partner.

This can only be a good thing. Sharing physical touch with your partner brings you back together in a special and important way. If you’re feeling disconnected or even a little distant, hop into bed or on the couch and get close. You might be surprised at just how helpful it is.

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