Can guys cuddle without feelings?
It’s an interesting question and there are all sorts of opinions about whether guy-on-guy cuddling is necessarily gay or involving romantic feelings.
Here’s the real truth from a straight man.
Can guys cuddle without feelings? The truth revealed
1) Sometimes a cuddle is just a cuddle
Austrian psychoanalysis pioneer Sigmund Freud famously said that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
He was joking about how much of his work revolved around repressed sexual desires and symbolism and pointing out that not everything has a hidden meaning.
It’s the same with hugs.
Sometimes a hug is just a hug and a cuddle is just a cuddle.
As a straight guy, I have only cuddled with male friends twice in my life. But both times were during a difficult period and involved zero sexual attraction.
I was comforting my friend over a difficult time in one case, drinking a lot, and just basically being comfortable in the other case.
There was no temptation to kiss or get kinky, at least not on my part.
2) Sometimes a cuddle is more than a cuddle
As much as point one has always been my reality, I’ve definitely seen examples of a cuddle being more than a cuddle.
My gay friend Albert met his current partner via an epic cuddle session at a meditation retreat in Vermont, for example.
From the details, Albert has told me, that cuddle was definitely about more than just male fellowship if you get my drift.
The fact is:
Cuddling is an intimate activity, there’s no doubt about it. But it all depends on the motivation, emotions, and desires behind the cuddling.
3) Cuddling in context
The thing about two guys who cuddle is that it all depends on context.
- Why are they cuddling?
- What place are they cuddling?
- How long are they cuddling for?
- Are they talking while cuddling?
There’s a lot to consider here, not that I want to be the Spanish Inquisition of male cuddling.
But the fact remains that cuddling doesn’t have to be inherently romantic.
It can be something people do when they just feel lonely, or it could be between two male siblings who feel strong affection, especially when younger.
Among adults, cuddling can often happen during difficult moments, such as when someone is going through a lot of physical or emotional pain.
It’s perfectly possible for two men to cuddle without feelings, it just depends on context.
4) Cultural cuddling
Various traditional cultures consider men cuddling to be entirely non-romantic and commonplace.
In large areas of the Middle East and Eurasia, for example, you will often see men with their arms draped around each other or stroking each other’s hair and faces.
While in the West this would be taken as a gay couple, in these more traditional society it is considered a non-sexual and non-romantic expression of brotherly love and solidarity.
“Holding hands is the warmest expression of affection between men,” explained Sociology Professor Samir Khalaf of American University of Beirut about why Arab men often cuddle and hold hands.
There are many similar cultures where men cuddling, hugging and holding hands is not indicative of same-sex attraction and is simply a commonplace part of the culture and male friendship.
5) Cuddling out of sheer loneliness
One of the common reasons that non-gay men cuddle is that they just feel lonely as hell.
They want to wrap themselves up in someone’s loving arms, even if it’s not the gender they’re attracted to and it’s not sexual.
Being lonely can be really tough, and relationships often end quickly in disappointment.
For that reason, I have an unorthodox suggestion to being so lonely that you cuddle male friends for their body heat and closeness.
6) Cuddling due to repressed homosexuality
Obviously, some cuddling between non-gay men has romantic and sexual undertones.
If the touch is lingering and the contact is long or minimally clothed, along with erectile arousal, then there’s a pretty good chance that one or both of these men has unexpressed bisexual or gay desires.
That’s perfectly fine but is worth mentioning as it can be an example of when two guys who aren’t out of the closet cuddle as a stand-in for sex.
Cuddling can be their way of expressing physical and romantic desire without fully acting on it, and a way of opening up to becoming comfortable with their gay identity and eventually manifesting it physically with a partner.
7) Cuddling to get over a breakup
Breakups can really bust a guy up.
So much so that he starts cuddling his guy friends for a long time and blubbering like a baby about what a bitch his ex was.
It’s a hard position to be in if you’re the recipient of cuddles and you’re not fully comfortable with it, but it’s definitely understandable why your bro might be seeking closeness following a painful split.
One suggestion I have is to give him some advice about how to get back in the saddle.
Let him know that there is a way to get over his breakup and meet someone even better where he won’t have to cuddle you anymore.
8) Not all cuddles are born equal
Cuddling comes in many different forms. It can be a form of hugging, spooning or embracing in various ways.
Here’s a look at some of the main forms of cuddling and what they mean.
Can guys cuddle without feelings? It all depends on what type of cuddling they’re doing!
- The cuddle hug from behind: this can be friendly and is often done by guys on sports teams in a kind of lifting motion or “bro” type of way. Nonetheless, if it’s slow and sensual, there could definitely be some…feelings…involved.
- The spoon cuddle: this is usually reserved for couples. If two guys are doing it they’re either very platonically comfortable and in need of body heat or they have something a bit more intimate going on.
- Arms around each other’s shoulders cuddle: this depends a lot on where you see it. As I mentioned earlier, various cultures consider male intimacy with no romantic or sexual undertones to be normal. In the Middle East and Eurasia many cultures have customs which include a lot more physical intimacy between men in a non-sexual way.
- The bear hug cuddle: this is common between guys who are just friends. If it lingers for a while longer than normal, it’s probably because they miss each other a lot in a non-romantic way! Right on, dudes.
- The awkward one-arm semi-cuddle: no feelings to see here, folks. This is just two guys who aren’t very in touch with their emotions trying to show their friend that they care about them.
9) What about male group cuddling sessions?
When it comes to man-on-man cuddling, there can be all sorts of times when it’s not romantic or sexual, as I’ve mentioned.
Taking it to the next level, group male hugging can also be a transformational experience.
Take the example of new men-only cuddle groups which are springing up around the country.
While some are paying professional cuddlers to hold them for a set time in a non-sexual way, some men are also joining up in platonic man cuddling groups.
“At a time when traditional ideas of manhood are facing scrutiny and such terms as toxic masculinity are becoming more widely known through the MeToo movement, the group aims to provide new ways for men to express themselves,” reports Aneri Pattani in an article on a new men’s cuddle group in Plymouth, Pennsylvania for men to meet and cuddle it out.
“The guidelines highlight ways in which traditional views of masculinity — such as men are tough and never cry — harm their emotional and physical health.”
Many members of the group grew up without much physical intimacy from parents and others were molested, bullied, or made to feel excluded.
Cuddling is a way for them to learn to be vulnerable and strong at the same time.
It sounds potentially promising if you’re comfortable with that kind of thing.
After all, men do commit suicide and homicide at a far higher rate than women, so there are clearly some things that can be improved in male mental and emotional health.
10) Time for a new era of man-to-man cuddling?
Writing for Slate, David Johns says that “in the new era, cuddly men will no longer be deemed wimps.”
As cuddle groups and cuddling cultures show, man-on-man cuddling can be a platonic and healing activity for men.
It can also be a romantic and sexual thing for other men. It all depends on the context.
But you can be sure that men can cuddle without feelings and romantic or sexual arousal because it happens every day.
In fact, I’ve been cuddling with my best friend who has the body of a Greek god for the past hour before writing this article while we’re both in our underwear and slathered with massage oil and it’s completely platonic, I swear (I’m joking, I’m joking).
The truth about male-on-male cuddling is that it doesn’t always involve any more feelings than friendship.
Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
But having some more hugging and cuddling in our world is a good thing either way if you ask me.
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