A Love Letter to Cuddle Dates

I adore cuddling. I think cuddle dates should be their own dedicated thing. Like lunch dates or Netflix and chill. I love them because they’re my neurodivergent heaven: comfy and quiet. They also fit into anti-heteronormative approaches to romance and affection. So hear me out, okay.

I harbor a hot take. I think that many of the classic ‘dates’ were developed for a neurotypical and heteronormative world. Long-held activities like eating out, seeing a show and hitting the bars are predicated on leaving the house and participating in an activity. In public.

I see two key characteristics there: consumerism and safety. The former isn’t necessarily bad. I love eating out or walking a market with my lovers. Surrounding yourself with tastes and colors is a way to learn about a person with the benefit of distractions. And safety? That’s vital for women. Especially in light of recent conversations suggesting that women would seriously consider being near a bear over a man when alone in the woods. It’s absurd that we even need to consider it.

I’m with the bear, by the way.

What I’m getting at is that classic dates are based on having money for activities and energy for public outings. I also see the heteronormative scale of sexual escalation. The first date isn’t just in public. It starts in a place where ‘things’ won’t ‘escalate’ until a social threshold has been met. At which point things ‘progress’, as if intimate contact is an unlock that follows social interactions. This disagrees with how many of my relationships began: intimately.

So how does cuddling even fit into this?

The answer: Cuddle Dates

As in, dates where cuddling is explicitly earmarked as the main activity can challenge this. In a thoroughly cash-strapped world, they reduce the expectation of spending money. They move the date indoors, to a comfortable spot of choice that can be very secure for people who don’t like public places.

When I’m there, I have the joy of being (literally) close to someone new without expectations of being more or less intimate. It’s for people who are antsy in public places but nonetheless crave intimacy and touch. A pre-negotiated cuddle date sets a reasonable and comfortable bar for intimacy — a bar that can be adjusted when people want.

You don’t even have to lose the vetting process when setting one up. As a very direct and honest communicator, it’s a go-to date idea. Discussing the snuggle with a new flame is a great way to see how they respond to my boundaries and interests. How do they handle the thought of touch? Do we trust each other enough to be alone and let things flow? Are they into me in that way?

This format also doesn’t lose its luster as a relationship goes on. Dating is important even in a long-term relationship. It makes time for our partners and reinforces the connection we share. It’s warm and cozy. So cozy.

Good snuggles for neurodivergent beans

Full disclosure: This whole piece came from the perspective of a neurodivergent, indoorsy oddball. If it’s not clear already, I’m not fond of public spaces or busy places. I like quietude. I like a comfortable nook and quiet conversation. And I know I’m not alone in struggling with date ideas invented by outgoing people for outgoing people. Don’t be mistaken. Cuddling is still a social activity. It’s just the kind that leaves room for restful silence or happy conversation.

Best of all, we can make it our own. In private places like home or our cars, we’ve got a hand in managing the space for our beloved guests. Here are some ideas:

1. Hot drinks, blanket forts, and plushies.

An especially good option for colder months.

2. Mood lighting!

String up some fairy lights or a wispy screensaver. This works great with psychedelic or mind-altered experiences.

3. Play a low-key playlist.

Make one together and play it while oversharing. I love oversharing.

4. Drive somewhere with a view and occupy the back seat with blankets and tea.

Cuddle dates: They’re whatever you want them to be. Spend money. Or don’t. Change up the space. Invite friends and make a cuddle puddle. And let’s just say that if the comfort and closeness does happen to lead somewhere more intimate…

Well, it’s good that you’re already comfortable.

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Summer Tao

Summer Tao is a South Africa based writer. She has a fondness for queer relationships, sexuality and news. Her love for plush cats, and video games is only exceeded by the joy of being her bright, transgender self

Summer has written 31 articles for us.


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