Cuddling Doesn’t Mean What You Think it Does… Apparently

by | October 28, 2012
filed under Feminism

Dating — it’s exhausting.

At first I thought it was fun (being new to the dating scene, and never having really done the dating thing in my younger years), but as time has gone on, I’ve discovered that it can be really, really exhausting.

I’m a pretty open and honest person. I’ve put a lot of myself out into the ether of the internet (from discovering myself to be polyamorous to the health repercussions of my breakup and consequent brief personal meltdown). So when I’m dating, I’ve got no qualms about being honest about my intentions, my feelings, and my desires. And because I’m such an honest person, an open book really, I often expect that others will be the same. I’ve discovered that this is just me projecting my own qualities onto others; they are not always coming from the same place of transparency as I am.

How much easier would dating be if we could all just be honest about our intentions? I’ve met a few men who were pretty upfront about exactly what they were looking for – whether it was to settle down into a relationship or strictly a relationship of a sexual nature – and it made knowing how to proceed so much easier. What I want keeps changing, it seems, but I articulate it as I go to ensure that any man I am seeing knows that. I’m a work in progress, and I can understand that what someone else wants might also change, so I like to keep the conversation open and evolving to accommodate that.

But what I’ve found to most often be the case is that men are reticent to admit to wanting to have sexual relations, as though admitting that is somehow going to result in some catastrophic implosion of the dating universe. At first, I found this baffling.

“Do you want to cuddle?” a guy would say.

And if I didn’t, I would say no. But some nights, I really did want to cuddle and would accept the offer. Little did I know, “cuddle” is apparently a code word for sex. Because every single time a guy would come over to “cuddle”, he would start making sexual advances.

And every single time I was confused about what signals I was putting out there that suggested I wanted anything more than what I said I wanted – which was simply a warm body to cuddle up to. So finally, one night I said yes to the “cuddle” invitation, and when he started making advances, I stopped him (as I always did, because when I say I want to cuddle, that is not code for “I want to sleep with you”; it really does mean cuddle) and I asked “Is ‘cuddle’ some kind of subtle code for ‘let’s have sex’?” I don’t recollect if he answered me verbally, but his actions certainly spoke clearly – when it was clear that I wasn’t going to have sex with him, he left in a hurry. I never did hear from him again.

Now, I rely on my lovely Old English Sheepdog, Miss Bella Paddington, for cuddles (because I never can tell anymore whether proffered cuddles are a veracious and legitimate offer or a covert attempt to bed me). But it also made me think a great deal about why so many men were reticent to be open about their desire to simply have a sexual relationship.

It always seems to come back to this sexual double-standard – where men are culturally constructed as insatiable sexual beings, the “hunter” in a game of sexual conquest, while women are supposed to be (selectively) sexually permissive but not agents of their sexuality (because if they are, then they’re slut-shamed), the “prey”.

So many euphemisms for sex play into the hunter/hunted trope of sexuality. I feel like I’m being baited, now, when a man says to me that he wants to cuddle; I feel like he’s attempting to reel me, his prey, in with a facade of cuddles that really means he wants to get frisky beneath the sheets. And it’s not only irksome, it’s insulting. I am an agent of my sexuality. I’m perfectly capable of deciding whether or not I want to have casual, ongoing, or no sexual relations with another human being, and I would appreciate being given the opportunity to wilfully accept or decline such offers.

I understand, perhaps, why men feel the need to be covert about their desires, in a culture that shames women for their sexuality, and tells men that sex is some sort of game (as Drew Bowling talks about in his article at The Good Men Project), but it’s time to move away from these tired old stereotypes of gender roles in regards to our sexuality.

I’m not prey, and I know when I want to cuddle and when I want a little more. There’s no need to be disingenuous; give me the courtesy of being honest and allowing me to respond in kind.

(photo in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

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  • Pia

    I think Jasmine has it all wrong.
    This has nothing to do with dishonesty or men trying to bait her. I actually think that’s a really unfair thing to put on them:
    This is all about Jasmine’s complete failure to understand euphemism.
    Yes, Jasmine, “cuddling” is code for sex. Welcome to the year 2012. It’s not rocket science. Just as you might understand that when someone says “I want to sleep with you” it doesn’t mean they want to crawl into your bed with you, close their eyes and fall asleep, it means they want to have sex with you.
    As an adult, you should be able to understand that other adults frequently refer to sex using euphemistic language.
    If you _only_ want to cuddle, you should make that clear. It is not the onus of the man to understand that you don’t understand a very common euphemism for sex.
    Or if you prefer, you could tell these men to be much more explicit “I would like to put my cock in your vagina.” Hey, it’s honest, and some people go for the that.
    But most other people, at least initially, like to err on the side of using polite euphemisms rather than being so blunt.
    I don’t think it’s fair to assume the worst (that they are trying to bait you), but rather that they are trying to avoid being crude and blunt. Which at the end of the day, means they are trying to show you a measure of respect.

    • Jasmine

      I make my own intentions very clear, all the time. This is about the word ‘cuddling’ but also more than that it is about the lack of transparency in the dating world. I am not assuming the worst of men. I am merely inviting men to be honest about their intentions.

      • Pia

        Being honest is not the same as being literal.
        Just because a man doesn’t say “sex” and says “cuddling” instead does not indicate that he is being covert or dishonest, it means he thinks you have the ability to read between the lines.
        So yes, you are projecting onto others. It sounds as though you are projecting stereotypes onto the men you date. You feel hunted, you feel insulted, you feel you are not being allowed to be the agent of your own sexuality. It sounds like this is more about you and your own fears than men being dishonest.
        You need to allow for nuance, for messy grey areas when it comes to dating and sex. It’s not fair to expect men (or anyone really) to be honest to the point of refraining from commonly used, polite euphemism.

        • Kyle

          No, Pia. You’re wrong.
          I’ve had these same things happen to me with men as well. And I’m sorry, but is it wrong to assume that someone may enjoy being just cuddled?
          I can’t even fathom how you people can defend someone who uses “cuddling” as an excuse for sex. Because there are plenty of men out there who do use the word “cuddling” who seem to knowingly understand what you want and are seemingly upfront, and they think that just because you want to “cuddle” them, that it will inevitably get them laid.

          Obviously the guys she was talking about weren’t upfront. They didn’t say they wanted sex, but when denied it they up and leave.

          Just because its 2012, doesn’t mean that these types of relationships have to work with uncertainty and euphemisms. Some us like to know upfront about what we’re getting into, and not end up in awkward, hurtful situations like these.

          • Stacey

            I agree with you, no need to beat the girl up. she just thought if she was honest that the guy would be too but that is not true, and is something a lot of women have to learn on their own.

            I love to cuddle, and might even kiss but sex is far, far, far, far away, and may never happen (I’m female btw).

            The way the guy says it is key also how he treats you and how he speaks to you. If he is always trying to throw in sexual language, don’t cuddle with him. It’s really too much to type out all right here.

            Call me girl, lol!

    • Sarah

      You’re both right. Pia, some men like the the ones Jasmine is describing, are trying to avoid being crude and blunt… about baiting you. If cuddling is a euphemism for sex, what are we supposed to say when we just want to cuddle? If he got up and left, he did not want to cuddle at all. He just wanted sex. Sounds like a baiting tactic to me. At least, in this particular situation.

    • JB

      You’re correct but please note her disclaimer. She appears to have written this for her peers who are late bloomers. Once you pass 18 or 21 dateless people don’t explain this to you. If she were writing to warn to 12-15 year olds it wouldn’t seem so strange. But, there is a population, for whatever reason, that doesn’t enter the dating pool until after age 25.

      Please forgive the 3 year delay in response, I just saw this post today.

  • Andrew

    Jasmine, not all men are the same in this sense, although many might be.
    I am twenty years old and don’t look at “cuddling” As a euphemism for sex in any way, it just tends to get a man aroused while cuddling with a woman most of the time and that will more than often lead to sex.
    I love to cuddle any time the chance comes up and so do many other men. You just need to find the right guy who also likes to cuddle and who doesn’t expect sex from it every time.

    • moseyonby

      Andrew–and for many other people in this thread, honestly–you say “You just need to find the right guy who also likes to cuddle and who doesn’t expect sex from it every time.” But that is NOT what Jasmine was addressing in this issue.

      Saying she “just needs to find somebody else” minimizes the point of her story. It’s not about compatibility, it’s about a culture of coercion which apparently common dating language holds up as normal, and she (rightly!) thinks this culture can be frustrating, dangerous, unsatisfying, unfair, and simply ridiculous.

      She has said that it’s not about the having sex versus cuddling choice–she says that she enjoys sex and is upfront about what she wants, sometimes straight up asking a man, “I think you’re hot and I like you; Wanna have sex?” Or something along those lines. This article is about LANGUAGE. This article is about how language is being used to obscure meaning, rather than convey meaning, in a deceitful way. Using “cuddling” as a “euphemism” for sex is not poetic, as some forms of writing and speech can be. Plus, as vanwomanforequality says, the euphemism is absurd and unnecessary and plays into tired stereotypes about women not being able to “handle” truthfulness about sexual desires. Jasmine’s experience of not knowing that “cuddling” is a so-called code word in dating shows that there is a frustration and danger in this communication or lack thereof.

      There is a time and place for language to be suggestive, creative, confusing, symbolic, metaphorical, obscure, whatever. There is a place for irony, euphemism, and poetry. But Jasmine is talking about the use of language to COERCE. Back to what you said: “You just need to find the right guy…” I am pretty sure that being a writer, a journalist, being someone who records her life in online publications, this author Jasmine believes that words can shape our world, and she hopes her world will shape the world into a place in which people will be more honest and realize the sometimes coercive implications of certain forms of speech. She does not “just” need to find the right guy, although if that is what she wants at the moment I hope she can find a person or more–what she is doing is writing persuasively. Perhaps some men will become more aware of their use of language in dating and change accordingly and as such she will have created the space for more men to become the “right guys,” at least in terms of using language in a way that promotes better relations between men and women and all people. I certainly hope so.

  • Aerial

    Jasmine, do NOT listen to Pia! Her point may have been valid if she hadn’t been so rude in its presentation, except that she is wrong. If a man wants a physical relationship, they need to say it. If he offers cuddling, let’s just cuddle. That is what you ask for, that is what you get. Guys look at cuddling as a way to get one foot in the door to be able to seduce you because they know women like cuddling. It is a ploy. It is part of the hunt! They ARE baiting you because their odds go up when they are close to you. To be fair, this is not all men, but about 90%.
    Just because she wants a man to be honest doesn’t mean she want’s him to say “I would like to put my cock in your vagina.” Your example was just silly. He could say, “I am interested in having a physical, perhaps fwb, relationship with you. What are your thoughts?” I would respect that more. And if the woman isn’t interested in that kind of relationship, don’t be upset.
    I get offers to “cuddle” and when I say no, the guys get very upset. Guys need to be upfront when they are the ones making offers, and you, Pia, should learn how to have a difference of opinion without being insulting and snarky.

    • Jasmine

      Yes, my issue is with the honesty aspect – if you really just want to cuddle and happen to get aroused while cuddling… well, that happens. But it often becomes clear when a man says cuddle and then comes over and immediately makes advances that ‘cuddling’ wasn’t really his intention. I just want honesty. Thank you for your comment, Aerial!

      • Stacey

        That is disrespectful, please don’t talk to those guys anymore. They think they can trick you into sex.

        Never respect a guy that does that or tries to get you drunk to sleep with you.

  • Pia

    I agree with Andrew that’s important to find someone who doesn’t automatically expect sex.
    That being said, given the close, physical nature of cuddling, it really it isn’t that much of a leap to go from that to sex. In other words, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if a guy goes from cuddling to initiating sex.
    It’s still not fair to assume that all men or even 90% are trying to “bait” you. Why perpetuate such an ugly stereotype?
    Part of managing in this world is being able cope with different expectations as they arise. A difference in expectation is not the same as dishonesty.
    Saying “I am interested in a physical relationship with you” doesn’t sound very realistic to me. It sounds clinical and awkward.
    I think we need to be more realistic in how humans tend to use language.
    Please see the video below:

  • Thuy

    Thank you so much for your article, reading it is an “aha” moment for me when I can relate my past experiences where I naively thought that the guy would hold me in a loving, warm, caring way. But it always led to sexual advances, touches, etc. And I would feel uncomfortable, wouldn’t know how to escape it, and end up feeling so disappointed with the guy. As a girl, cuddling is a beautiful memory of parents holding her, stroking her hair, and keeping her safe in their protective arms. But then on a date when she doesn’t know that “cuddling” means, “an agreement for sexual advances”, she feels scared, insulted, angry, and terribly sad at herself for not having the courage to say no and disappointed in the guy who just wanted to use her for sexual fulfillment. Just because I want to cuddle, doesn’t mean that I want to be sexual with a guy. I hope your article is read and shared for all to read because it would clear up any ambiguity in male’s desires and female’s expectations when the “cuddling” moment comes.

    • john


      And just because we want/like sex it doesn’t mean we are “using her for sexual fulfillment”

      I just love how woman get mad at men just because they like sex as well as cuddling with woman. Just because we like sex it doesn’t mean that’s automatically all we want!

      Not to mention the joke that is the double standard that when men initiate sexual acts that end up being unwanted… it is using the woman for sex. However when a woman is horny and initiates sexual acts and the man isn’t interest it is because he is an ass, or automatically doesnt find her attractive. After all… men ALWAYS want sex right? God forbid there are times we dont.

      Hand holding, touching, stroking hair and cuddling are very SIMILAR acts to initiating sexual encounters… yet woman are annoyed and surprised when it will sometimes lead a man on.

      Perhaps you need to look at some of the signs you are indeed projecting on to other people.

  • Ariana

    After this happened multiple times I probably would have asked the guy, ‘Are you really coming over for just cuddles or something more?’, or said, ‘I really am just looking for cuddles, nothing more.’

    I’m not saying it’s right or wrong of them to claim they wanted cuddles and it turns out they want more, but either way you know now that that’s what they are expecting and it would be easier to just call them out right away rather than having them come over knowing (from your experience) that they are going for more.

    Just a thought for next time.

  • Darma

    As a man, I can certainly speak for myself. But I’d like to use caution speaking for all men. In turn, maybe those of you who are women, might consider following my lead, and be careful not to be so sure of your interpretations of a man’s intentions, or that of all men. You might also consider really listening to Andrew, the 20 year old male. For me, my desire to cuddle is pretty much as you describe. To feel connected, safe, warmth and something like the love we received as babes. But I’m also a being with a considerable sexual desire. If I’m with a woman with whom I’d like to cuddle, then that is a woman who I’m physically attracted to. Even if my intentions initially are to just cuddle, it is very likely that once we’re cuddling, I might become sexually attracted and aroused and start expressing it. I want to feel safe too. Safe to express myself physically. Maybe that’s it. Maybe men tend to assume that once there is cuddling, then there are fewer barriers for physical expression. I don’t think I’d be on a “date” with someone, with whom I am not somewhat physically attracted. I don’t think I’d call it a date if I weren’t. I don’t think I’d want to cuddle. Maybe that’s a problem. Maybe I should be cuddling with friends more, in a plutonic way. Maybe this is a general difference between men and women. Women may be more likely to cuddle with their female friends. Men don’t seem very likey to cuddle with their male friends. I don’t know, maybe men should cuddle with each other. I just don’t think we’re gonna see that happen any time in the near future in very big numbers. Its kinda just the way men are. I don’t know, for me, choosing a date, cuddling, loving, protecting, connecting and having sex, are kinda all intertwined. I wouldn’t want to do any of it, with someone who feels hunted by me, or feels afraid. That would be a strange to me. I’m not interested in being any kind of predator. I want to be wanted. If I’m not wanted sexually by her, then I don’t want sex with her. Really, the more I think about it, the more I think that from moment to moment, my desires change, just like you said yours do. Sometimes I don’t want sex. It is a tricky thing really, for 2 people to want sex at the same time, in the same way. This is a wonderful thing when it happens. But I know better than to “expect” it to happen. Its very common for 2 people to just be out of sync with each other. I suspect this is whats happening a good portion of the time.

  • Jim

    Ah yes, everyone else is wrong and you’re right?
    Cuddling is obviously a sign of intimacy and suggests as much. It’s not like shaking hands.

  • Bart

    Loving this exchange…

  • Malfurion

    Have to agree with Pia on this one. The author is clearly in some sort of pride haze because of her unwillingness to accept the cold hard truth… cuddling is code for sex to most men.

    The ones who actually mean it are probably the ones who have already slept with you.

    Keep living the dream author. Cuddle free and loving it right? lol please.

  • Paul

    It seems like I’m the only man who honestly just wanted a cuddle

  • sara

    Darma is right on.

  • sara

    Kind of knock them down hard, don’t ya, Jasmine? Imagine you liked someone and they had you in their bed and you wanted to be affectionate and all they wanted was “warm body to lie next to.” That kinda hurts doesn’t it?

    • Jasmine

      I think it actually fits nicely in with discussions of consent. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with wanting sex; it’s about communication. When someone says ‘let’s cuddle’ that doesn’t mean ‘let’s have sex’. It’s really about being open and honest and transparent. What’s wrong with saying ‘I would like to have sex with you; would you like to?’ Because the bottom line is that pretending to be interested in one thing and pursuing another is deceitful. And wrong.

      • john

        And just because we come over to cuddle and end up wanting or trying for something more doesn’t mean we’re necessarily being deceitful or wrong.

        Perhaps could just mean that we are feeling a connection to the woman and we feel there is more there than there is. Many times we are wrong.

        It doesn’t mean we are all being deceitful. It might just mean we are falling for you or forming a connection.

        Maybe when you experience being on the other side of this hoping for something more and encountering a man who as Sara said just wanted a “warm body to lie next to” you might feel a little different. That feels more like being used these days than anything else.

  • Beverly

    my boyfriend loves to cuddle with me he says it makes him feel like he is protecting me but yes I have had guy try to have sex when I say cuddle it’s all about the commitment if he is committed to you then he will want to do what makes you happy because seeing you happy will make him happy

  • Mike

    Jasmine i have tried this
    I would like to have sex with you; would you like to?
    the result was you perv get away from me. jasmine i like your smile wanna have sex?

  • Mike

    then he will want to do what makes you happy because seeing you happy will make him happy ….that unhealthly way to live to make someone else before you make yourself happy.

  • Seriously?!

    Lol Mike, u hilarious!

  • Honestly

    Jasmine…qn for you long have you known this guy? If s guy ask me that..he wants to cuddle after 2 or 3 dates …I know that he wants to have sex no matterwhat he says.. But also you should read the signs..when you guys spent time together does he really want to know you or was most of your conversations about emotion or leading about sex an blah blah ….if it is then the guy really wants to have sex and you should ask yourself if you want it or not. Why would I want to cuddle with someone who I dont know very well ?Guys will tell you it is a way to get to know you better…NO what they mean is I want to have sex with you and move to the next woman.The person who I want to cuddle should make me feel safe or want to protect me…so I know that every stranger doesn’t want to do that. But for the guys who said that it is not about being an honest it is just what you want I am not judging you because there are women who want the same is just I am not gonna cuddle with everyone after 2 or 3 dates…am sorry I am not cheap. I am sure the guys also get used to have just sexual relationship. Just because you had it with a couple of women doesnt mean am going to do it….At the end it all goes to what you want..the world is not black and white my dear… it doesn’t matter what guys want what matters is what you want…the guy who wants more than cuddling will respect you and want to know you better…not to cuddle you after 2 dates….

    • Jasmine

      This was written back when I was dating actively. This observation wasn’t based on one man. It was based on a number of interactions over a period of time with different men. I’m not opposed to having sex or cuddling or neither. My issue was with the lack of forthrightness. It’s simple enough to clearly convey what you want. I’ve been known to tell a man “I would like to have sex with you. You down?” Or “I just want to be held tonight. Can we just cuddle?” That’s clearly conveying what I want. I disdain when a man would ask to cuddle when really cuddling was not even on the agenda. And a lot of men do this. It’s all about clarity of intention. Just be upfront and honest.

  • Jasmine

    Oh, and I have sex on the first date if I want to. That’s not ‘cheap’. I know you said you’re not judging so it’s important to reflect on the words you use and what value they convey.

  • Honestly

    Good for u…if that is the way you see it…u r entitled to ur opnion..I am to mine my dear…for me it is being cheap…for u u can call it whatever u like…n let us b honest we constantly judge ppl…by the way they look, by the way they talk…an so is human nature….let us face it…u want to b politically correct…I call it as I c it…:):)

  • Mr. Magoo

    It doesn’t make any difference. If you were really into the guy, you wouldn’t be so offended if he tried to escalate “cuddling” into something more physical with you. You only resent it from the beta guys you lack any respect for, but keep around for the ego boost they give you. If you really want to “cuddle” something get yourself a damn teddy bear. Mature adult heterosexual males wouldn’t be spending any time with you unless they were interested in having sex with you, regardless of the euphemisms used. The fact that you are clueless to this is symptomatic of female hamsterization in our society.

    • Jasmine

      Actually, it makes a huge difference. See, it had nothing to do with my interest in him and everything to do with respect. For example, the guy who precipitated my writing this article asked if he could come over to cuddle. I was in the mood to cuddle. We’d had a date before. He got to my place, we lied down together and immediately he made a move. There was no cuddling. When I said ‘I meant it when I said I want to cuddle’ he threw a fit and stormed out. That’s disrespectful. See, the great thing about men is that they DO have self-control, regardless of how men’s sexuality is portrayed in the media. But lying to get the sex? That’s low. I don’t require make attention to feel confident. That’s easy enough to get. All I ask is for men to be honest about their intentions. If I want just sex, I say that. It’s not hard.

      Oh, and lots of grown spend time with me without wanting sex. Because being a man doesn’t mean you must want to fuck every attractive woman in your vicinity.

  • MeeLee

    It’s funny how a woman in the beginning loves to have sex, but as soon as the newness goes off, becomes so ego-centric, and forgets about the guys needs too.

    all I hear is them complaining of how guys only want sex, and then wonder why he left her, when she hadn’t given him nothing of what he wanted for several days, if not weeks!

    Collegue love was more fun!
    Love, get sex, and be a couple.
    It seems women nowadays need to have a reason to have sex; because if they don’t want it, they violate their contract with their bf, by denying him his most important needs.

    I’m sorry, but my point of view comes from a married/in a relationship man.
    All women that are loved very well withdraw from the sex scene as soon as they get what they want, romance,

    • Alexandre

      I couldn’t agree more with that.

      I met my girlfriend online (mainly on an online game called Mabinogi) and it took us a year before we finally met each other in person. It was a short week visit and I couldn’t believe how exciting it was then, we were both happy. A month later, my second visit ended up with us being both sick, but at least we still got to experience intimacy and see how it’s like and trying new things. We then were apart for 6 months and during that time she didn’t show signs that she enjoyed every intimate things we did or if she wanted more… This last and third time that I visited, I tried to cuddle with her to see if she would also be turned on from it but she was mad because she thought it would end up with sex, which was my intention after all since bringing up “let’s have sex” would be a little too awkward or probably something I’d never say directly, but in the end she did act like if she didn’t miss it at all during my first two visits… That worries me into thinking if something as amazing like that bores her and doesn’t see how special, important and how close it is…

  • Travis

    Jasmine, if you ever find yourself lonely in
    Northeast Texas, I’ll cuddle (literally speaking here) with you! Serious offer here.

    With that being said. I happen to be one of those guys who actually do just want to cuddle. I’m not too huge on the whole casual sex with a stranger thing.. Now that doesn’t mean won’t respond to sexual advances, but I do want you to know that there are, in fact, guys out there who are honest, direct, and apparently more importantly, literal…

    Keep up the good work,
    Travis T.

    • Jasmine

      Thanks for the literal offer of cuddling! If ever I find myself in Northeast Texas, I may take you up on that. I love to literally cuddle!

      Keep up the good work yourself, with your literal and sincere offers for cuddles! :)

      • m

        Glad to see this thread is still going on. I will settle it for you. I am a man, and I do like to just to cuddle. But put it this way, I am not interested in cuddling someone who has no desire to sleep with me. I’m not a masochist! I find cuddling stimulates bonding (and erotic energy, hello sex simulation) and there is no point in doing that if the person doesn’t want me.

        If i say cuddling, well I consider it as foreplay (or afterplay?) Everyone knows women need some time to “heat up” can’t just say hey baby take off your clothes. Cuddling says that you want the person to be comfortable with you, take it slow, are interested in getting closer to them (literally).
        but guess what? I don’t snuggle my friends

  • Doug

    The problem sounds like what I call the “stage analogy”: the “sex maniacs” wanting to be noticed are always front-center stage,and they are always seen;so people assume they are all there is;thus those of us who are not sex crazed are included with those who ARE sex crazed; so we have no chance. Because of there actions and your blindness!

  • VanWomanforEquality

    “Is ‘cuddle’ some kind of subtle code for ‘let’s have sex’?” I thought “Duh! I already knew that, of course it is.”

    But it’s true. The use of ‘cuddling’ as the gateway to sexual advances has more problems than the fact that it’s just the sex-game. It creates a bizarre relationship that builds on problematic stereotypes of men and women, that women need to be addressed with only ‘soft’ language, nothing vulgar of course. It’s not just any code rather it’s stereotypical code, replacing honest intentions with terms and phrases that may sound “less morally objectionable to women’s delicate sensibilities” but which in fact eliminate our own agency to be able to, as Ms. Peterson has rightly pointed out, be honest in return and respond in kind.

    Very interesting point. Nicely articulated article :)

  • fruitfly

    I think cuddling is what it means. If your just getting to know a girl and you acutally like her you should respect her wishes and not try to makes moves right off but if the time comes then it means that you both want to and that will make it better

  • Sam Nelson

    The problem with most blokes, and women with a higher sex drive, is that not having sex feels crappy much of the time and having sex relieves that much better than masturbating for a longer period of time. That is why there is emotion in it, on top of the who masculinity identity thing, is that this is were we feel the most vulnerable. It is the one constant thing in our life we can’t control without some help. So we either try to assert some control over it by controlling women or we feel rejected and dejected. The third option, self control, takes much more effort to develop and even then sometime we need to relax. So be loving and go with it, or don’t let us get anywhere near to it. Pick one or the other and stop confusing both of us.

  • Sam Nelson

    My experience is based on 25 years in a sexless, once a month, only on her schedule marriage where a ton of cuddles and massages and fulfilling perpetually growing wish list never resulted in sex that would let me sleep at night. Every time she would say this thing about cuddling and sex. In couples therapy she admitted she was enjoying the feeling of control but felt guilty (but never changed).
    There is no other area of life where I was disempowered – built my business, became a community leader, wrote a novel. Finally left her breaking my family, despite this being against my religion. My self respect demanded it. Now 7 months later I am afraid to make any move on a woman for fear of being humiliated this way – prefer to suffer on my own terms. So I don’t know about this guy, but I feel some empathy for him too.

  • Joel

    Have you ever thought that the men “preying” on you were just as emotionally vulnerable as you? Or does having a dick that likes to involuntarily point at pretty girls make us devoid of emotion? Maybe these guys who want to “cuddle” really do want to cuddle, but they found the intimate contact with you and their possible genuine feelings of affection for you to be so (accidentally) arousing that their basic instincts got the better of them? Ever just think of it as a compliment? Maybe he thought YOU wanted sex and didn’t want to disappoint you ffs.
    I dont spoon with girls unless i want more (i.e an emotional connection) in case i hurt their feelings by showing them affection then taking it away again.. that is a symptom of sociopathy by the way. And i hold back long cuddles for female friends for when something bad has happened and they need someone. Im only 23 and mature enough to understand these emotional mechanics so you; madam, need to grow the fuck up and stop blaming half the human race for your shortcomings as a person. People like you make me sick.

  • MensRightsCanada

    Yes. Cuddle is a polite way of saying let’s fuck. I don’t know how you can be so oblivious.

  • Allison Lance


    Reading your commentary was like being transported from the Land of Internet Smog to a semi-deserted tropical island awash in sunshine and full of fresh air.

    Your solid grasp of language combined with the ability to beautifully, yet clearly, interweave words, leaves the reader with an atypical depth of understanding; it’s very well-written!

    In addition, your writing is exceptional in that, not only does it come to life with a balanced linguistic flair, it contains minimal grammatical errors–a very uncommon union these days!

    And, last, but not least, I MUST applaud your use of the wonderful, yet sadly misunderstood, semicolon. I keep rooting for its survival in our language, and I’m delighted each time I stumble upon one where it belongs!

    All’s not lost for those little guys as long as we remain tenacious and persistent in using them (as they are intended) whenever possible (without going overboard)!

    I do realize this article was from 2012, and I hope you kept writing. Things haven’t changed much, I don’t think, but then again, I learned early on to not talk about “it”, not so much because of gender, but religion, and somehow knew the cuddle code word. Maybe someone told me to ‘beware’ of it–ha-ha.

    Thanks for the fun read and the interesting topic. And I agree–if words only meant what they meant, life would be much easier to understand!

    All the best to you and Miss Bella P!

  • Timothy Cass Glenn

    Unfortunately I believe that you give men in general too.much credit when u day u were wondering if the word cuddle was Covert for have sex.
    In reality what is happening is the man uses cuddle as a means to get close to you and most men believe if a woman will let him press his body on u while cuddling it’s a given at that point that he’s getting laid.
    Were simple creatures ( most of us).
    We typically follow our overwhelming natural desire to plant our seed In as many different women. As we possibly can
    Society’s​ evolution has made our lives miserable because it’s not often as it originally was.
    Man sees woman
    Man wants to plant his seed.
    Woman flights against us ( what is Nature’s Way of making Only the strongest men reproduce).
    Sometimes we win and sometimes we don’t.
    Women still have their end of this process has guttural and Instinct shuell as it was the beginning of human beings. We however have to jump through 80 million Hoops to even get near the prize