Would you be happy with a cuddle buddy?

There are various types of “buddies” in dating. Some you’re good with; others you’re not. You don’t really want a  no-strings-attached sex-only relationship. You want some strings if you are going to get intimate — at least some interest in exploring if you both want there to be strings, not just “That was fun. See you later.”

You crave tender touching and caresses, but there’s no one on the horizon that interests you enough to go down the physically intimate path. So you seem caught between no physicality at one extreme to enduring a booty call just to get some physical contact.

Enter the concept of cuddle buddy. “What’s that?” you ask. Good question, as I just invented the term, although the concept has been around. It’s where two people (of the opposite sex for this blog’s discussion) who are fond of each other but never got into a dating relationship. They enjoy each other’s company and like to hang out. But there’s a deal breaker for one or both of them that prevented the relationship from getting intimate.

Neither of you is dating anyone else so you don’t get your skin hunger satisfied elsewhere. So when you sit on the couch watching a movie, you end up smack next to each other. His arm may go around her shoulders, her head may rest on his chest. One may rest a hand on the other’s leg. There is no kissing, just cuddling. They may even fall asleep on the couch this way.

A cuddle buddy is only good when you both understand there is no interest in going further. If one of you breaks the invisible wall and starts kissing or trying to advance, it all falls apart. One of you has to stop the other and there is an awkwardness between you then. Or maybe the other doesn’t stop and things go beyond where you both know you should, and then it becomes really strange. Now you are lovers, but you don’t really want to be this person’s lover because of the aforementioned deal breaker. Do you “break up” even though you were really never going together? Or do you try to ignore it hoping things will go back to normal? Or do you talk about it to clear the air, but things really don’t go back the way they were?

So try cuddle buddying only when you believe you’re both clear on the boundaries and are willing to live within them. But it is a nice alternative to the other kinds of dating buddies.

Have you had this kind of relationship? If so, was it easy or hard to maintain your boundaries? What happened when one of you met a romantic partner? How did it end — or did it?


To determine if you’re ready to get intimate, get your copy of From Fear to Frolic: Get Naked Without Getting Embarrassed.


15 responses to “Would you be happy with a cuddle buddy?”

  1. Sharon Avatar

    I love the concept of a “cuddle Buddy”, sometimes all we need is to be able to hug. Kind of like going back to our 5 year old selves and the security of our “blankies”

  2. Katie Avatar

    Difficult, difficult. The boundaries may last for a while, but if you have an intense skin hunger, and are un-partnered, you’re likely to be looking to satisfy it in more ways than just platonic touching.

    If you’re familiar with Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages,” you know that one of them is Physical Touch. Those of us with that strong need (‘love language’) will have furry pets, get massages, give lots of hugs, wear fabrics that feel so good on us, and cuddle with someone while movie-watching. I consider myself a disciplined person, but struggle with knowing where that not-to-be-crossed line is. If a potential cuddle-buddy were very sure of that line, it might work. Once a line is crossed, it is difficult to go back; sweet friendships have been wrecked on the shoals of Too Far.

  3. Mark Avatar

    Yeah, I can’t imagine this kind of relationship lasting too long. Sooner or later one of the two is going to want more.

    Short of a physical issue (impotence, herpes, etc.), I don’t even really understand this. If you’re attracted enough to someone to want to cuddle, wouldn’t intimacy eventually be something you’d also want?

    That said, I know there can be times when a friend of the opposite sex needs some physical contact. A couple of years ago a female friend called me one Saturday morning. She was upset about the way her life was going and wanted company. I said she could come over and run around with me while I did some errands. We ended up spending the day together we spent some time cuddling on the couch because she needed that. That was one day, though. If that had become a regular occurrence, sooner or later we would have progressed to something more intimate.

  4. Anna Avatar

    I could not see myself wanting to “cuddle” with someone I was not romantically attracted to. If I were attracted to that person, cuddling would not be enough (unless at the early stages of a relationship) so this scenario just would not happen for me. I think that the line between cuddle buddy and the other form of “buddy” would be blurry to say the least and may end up ruining a good friendship.

  5. Mark Avatar

    “I could not see myself wanting to “cuddle” with someone I was not romantically attracted to.”

    That’s exactly how I feel. I can show restraint, of course, but if I’m with a woman I’m attracted to, all cuddling is going to do is spark a bigger fire.

    So a valid question is if people even want to cuddle with someone they feel no attraction towards? I would be uncomfortable.

  6. Mitsy Avatar

    I agree w/the others. If I’m attracted enough to want to cuddle, then I’m attracted to them for perhaps more intimate cuddling down the road. I will once again draw upon my last couple of dates with a man I had zero attraction for. I went out with this guy who works where I work part-time. He was fine to talk to, but there was NO attraction whatsoever on my part for the guy. When I found myself sitting on the edge of the couch as far away from him as I could, that was my “sign”. That was the last time I went out with him. If I could not envision even sitting close to him on the couch, I knew I could not conjure up a hug or kiss later. I have no regrets for going with my gut feelings on him.

    For me, attraction is something that is either there or it isn’t. If I know it is not, there’ s no point in going out “as friends” because someone will get hurt. I don’t crave physical touches enough to try to find someone to cuddle with that I wasn’t interested in to begin with.

  7. Richard Avatar

    Dittos. A cuddle buddy stage as the relationship develops is fine. Cuddle buddy in and of itself is a non-starter. Friend With Benefit (FWB) when two people are between relationships is a possibility, but to limit it to cuddling would be a problem. Note: To me FWB is a step up from NSA – NSA with an underlying friendship. To me, NSA is between two virtual strangers, or people who contact each other for just sex – no commitment to ever talk to that person again.

  8. Mike Lowrey Avatar

    A Cuddle Buddy? SMDH @ DG
    Lol, I don’t go to strip clubs because I don’t believe in practicing.
    If you’re rubbing up on me, then I’mma rub up on you and it’s gonna lead to some nekedness and some Oh Yeah’s!
    I don’t window shop, if I can’t have it then I’m not really interested.

    If I see something I like please be aware that I’m not trying to be your Ross from Friends. I’m like Joey. I don’t care if we both like playing Super Mario Kart on Wii. If we aren’t compatible sexually then it’s not going to work out. I mean its cool to say let’s hold of on sex for a bit but making a relationship out of holding hands isn’t going to work for fellas. That was fine in the 4th grade but I’m pretty sure I’m grown now, no need to save my dessert for later.

    Ladies: Why O’ Why come up with a term for having a relationship without having a relationship? This is why dudes lie.
    A dude will say yeah I’m cool with that, knowing damn well he isn’t.
    And if he says no, I’m not cool then he gets no play at all.
    You make guys lie with stuff like that, lol.

  9. Julie Avatar

    Interesting concept, but it’s probably very rare where this would work and end well. I think people who are ambiguous themselves about relationships could end up in a situation like that.

    And if you’re ambiguous, it means you’ve got some kind of baggage or past hurts you’re not sorting out… and might set up your romantic life in such a way that this inner confusion manifests itself outward.

  10. Flora M Brown, Ph.D. Avatar

    Having a cuddle buddy does not appeal to me. I don’t see how this could not eventually get ambiguous and out of hand.

    A non-intimate friendship with a guy could work, but cuddling would absolutely muddy the waters. I’d rather keep the lines clear between intimate and non-intimate relationships.

  11. Julie Avatar

    I think it’s stretching things toooo far to seriously consider. Taking Flora’s idea about keeping the lines clear between intimate and non-intimate relationships… if you’re single and dont have any romantic prospects, it’s healthier to just accept that reality for the time being. Feel your feelings, recognzie the lonliness and deal with it in ways that won’t further confuse you and tap in to that vulnerabilty. Cuddle buddy is in the too needy category. Too needy usually doesn’t end up in a fulfilling place.

  12. MikeC Avatar

    I guess my ideal cuddle buddy is my daughter – she ticks all the above-mentioned boxes. She can sit on the sofa to watch a program with me, and go to sleep with me, or put a hand on my thigh (or I on hers) without it ever being interpreted as innuendo. We can be relaxed with each other, and yet intimate in our relationship (to a degree, of course). We can go to the cinema, and on occasion, have a dance. We can tell secrets of our lives external to our relationship, and if these secrets concern other relationships (well, in her case, at least), they do not engender any envy or jealousy. We can kiss or hug – without there ever being any hint or question of it going further. All this, of course, is because the limits of what we can do – and what we want to do – are set by our relationship and no transgression of those limits would be acceptable to either one of us.

    Some years ago, I had a cat. He was the family cat for 18 years, but he had been my choice, and I really loved him. When he was old, and eventually got an inoperable tumour, having him put down was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, and I spent a good deal of emotion over him. Later, my daghter left me her cat while she went travelling and working overseas. He was a really likable little fellow, and there was a possibility that she would never reclaim him – but I never loved him as I had my own cat, and I believe it was because there was a barrier to it – the fact that I always knew he wasn’t mine, and that I would probably have to give him back eventually.

    I once read about a brother and sister who had been separated at birth, but met in later life and fell in love in ignorance of thier relationship. It was in Russia, and the authorities granted their wish to live together as long as they took measures to remove any possibility of having children. So the limits are not set simply by knowing – you have to know before the relationship starts that it can go nowhere, and this must be accepted at a psycological level by both parties.

    Now, I’m sure that a purely platonic relationship could exist between two people of opposite sexes who are not restrained by the limits of a family relationship, but /something/ would have to set the limits. If there were no limits of family, law, disability or disease – frankly, it’s very hard to see what would set the never-to-be-crossed boundary. I believe that such a relationship must be very rare.

  13. Dan 2 Avatar
    Dan 2

    It would take either a woman or a gay man to come up with this laughable bull$hit. I am a man with testosterone in his veins. If I am going to “cuddle” with a woman, I have sexual feelings for her. There are three types of relationships here.

    1. Strictly Platonic AKA “Just Friends” I guess in this case the cuddle stuff would be fine. But for the most part, I am NOT intimate whatsoever with the 2-3 females I do this Platonic Stuff with. They are essentially males to me, and we have other relationships most of the time.

    2. F*ck Buddies. I have had one in my lifetime and it worked well for 2 single people who need sex and affection but dont want commitment. She would call at 2am after a fruitless night at the clubs. I’d head on over, a game of strip poker, some sexual gymnastics, sleep together, breakfast, and “bye”

    3. A relationship. What a lot of over 40 women seem to fear. They, after being divorced, even though things are sagging, and they arent really sought after, because of the hottie 20 and 30 year olds who are their competition, still have an intense desire for independence and freedom and the all powerful “Ya Ya Sisterhood” female friends. A man seems to be, at this point, almost something they despise. I still dont understand this. But you can cuddle with 2, or 3. Not 1. Get a gay male pal or a dog or cat. Or a stuffed animal. Men have too much testosterone for this. Thanks.

  14. Franko Avatar

    I understand and could really use a cuddle buddy. my wife of 23 years recently passed away and I am not interested in any more than a good night sleep. over the shirt spooning is all I need.

  15. emp Avatar

    interesting… (and yes, resurrecting an old thread I see) I am a guy, 40 years old, separated, 3 kids (blah blah blah)
    Had one 2 year relationship after separation that ended almost a year ago.
    While I am most definitely not gay and I have a very strong sex drive, I also see no reason why this wouldn’t work as long as both parties are clear on the boundaries. I have always had more close female friends than male friends and many of them I could see as cuddling with several of them without wanting to have sex with them. I have also tried the FWB and ONS thing…Neither was my thing. I prefer my physical intimacy matched with romance.
    For the record, yes I have a “cuddle buddy” though that is a term I just learnt lol and it has not led past that. Nor will it. Neither of us has an interest past that. And both of us are ‘looking’ for a long-term partner (not each other of course).
    Communication and Honesty are obviously key, and I think this is where it will fail in most cases.
    I have read the 5 Languages of Love, recommended to me by my therapist after separation. And my prime language is Touch. Luckily cuddling with my three kids is usually good enough for me 🙂