No Shame Senior Year: Snuggle buddies

Now that the air is getting a little chillier, our noses redder, and the gloves are coming on, finding warmth in another person might be on our minds a bit more than before. As someone who is usually not very physically affectionate (my friends will attest to my shying away from a hug), I do notice an increased personal interest in a relationship when the weather turns for the colder, if for nothing other than some more snuggling.

I used to be very opposed to cuddling—a snuggling hater, if you will. This undoubtedly had some connection to my fear of vulnerability in relationships, but with a great relationship, I was introduced to the benefits of cozying up.

Here I seem to find tricky waters when navigating the sea of hook-ups that are all too many steps from dating. If someone is going to sleep over though, shouldn’t you enjoy the benefits of a little cuddling? I think so.

But, alas, there are so many different cuddling styles. As a self-identified sprawler, this is particularly hard for me to deal with. When sleeping alone, I take up the middle of the bed, limbs stretched in every direction. And I move around. A lot. Restless sleeping is definitely a fact of my life.

I have other friends who are fetal sleepers, curling up into the tightest ball and taking all the covers with them. Others I know don’t like being breathed on. The point is that we all have our quirks, and matching our own sleeping idiosyncrasies with another human being’s can be difficult.

I once had a boyfriend who attached to me like a koala bear does to a tree. Needless to say, I felt a little suffocated being the sprawler that I am. You’re going to want to avoid this sort of death grip snuggling, especially with a new relationship.

Unless, of course, you still live in the dorms. In this case, snuggling is not only practical, it is all too necessary. When dealing with flimsy, lofted twin beds, it is sometimes a matter of hanging on for dear life and adapting to the less-than-desirable bed size.

On the other end of the spectrum are those sleepovers where you and your partner do not touch at all. This weirds me out, personally. If I am comfortable enough to sleep in someone else’s bed, or they are comfortable enough to stay in mine, I shouldn’t feel like the Grand Canyon is between our bodies. The one exception I can think of are those 90° nights in the dead of July. Again, take advantage of our winters in Minnesota.

However, I think the real root of snuggling issues—more than any bedtime preferences—is that we equate physical affection with emotional commitment.

A good friend of mine used to say that humans need 13 positive touches per day. These could be a handshake or pat on the back. Naturally, this carries over into our needs from partners.

Even if you may be fully uninterested in a relationship, human needs dictate a little physical affection, and this certainly surpasses carnal one-night stands. Perhaps those Sunday blues that many of us seem to get from time to time have less to do with desire for a real relationship and more to do with our need for human contact that is not just sexual.

Like I mentioned above, I have found it difficult to open up in an affectionate, more caring way with guys with whom I have been involved. This hesitance is certainly a symptom of my fear of being hurt, but I can’t help but wonder if in the process I am depriving myself of something more fundamental than a relationship.

In those cases where we feel timid or indifferent toward what is arguably harmless snuggling, do we need to examine our involvement with that person in the first place? Or even our decision to sleep over? If that intimacy seems too personal, will we inevitably be let down by a sexual relationship in which tenderness is not present?

I am as progressive as the next Macalester student in beliefs that we have a right to choose our relationship arrangements, but sacrificing your own affection needs at the expense of another is not worth your peace of mind and warmth of bed.

So whether you prefer little spoon or big spoon, or an alternating mix of both, I hope Macalester students can find the snuggle that fits to their liking. Even if it is only a one-time sleepover, there’s no need for an iron curtain of separation.

We all know that our poor college selves can’t afford heat over 64° anyway, and we’ve got a long winter ahead of us. So, snuggle up!