Cuddle puddles – often found at festivals and house parties – are when groups of people get comfortable together, cuddling, hugging, gently stroking and/or petting one another. While there’s a range of sensuality and sexuality expressed in cuddle puddles, most cuddle puddles remain clothed and free from overt PDA.
Cuddle puddles usually happen organically, often inspired by warm fuzzy feelings generated by the music, community and/or mind-altering substances of festival culture. But I know people who have built their houses around cuddle puddles: a living room covered in soft foam, backyards with multiple cuddle pits, etc.
The Rise of Cuddling
In a world where being unpartnered is becoming more common, cuddling has emerged as a way to experience human connection without sex or commitment. There are cuddling workshops, cuddle parties, cuddle shops (many closed during the pandemic), and professional cuddlers.
Most cuddle workshops guide people into non-sexual intimacy. There is usually detailed lessons in consent: how to say “no” and, often more challenging, how to ask for what you want. These workshops are generally non-sexual but very sensual.
Often, when in physical contact with someone new, our minds are busy wondering whether or not there will be (or should not be) sex. When sex is taken out of the equation, there is no goal to reach, so the mind can focus on the present and the sensations of human touch and connection.
I’ve been told by a few men that cuddle puddles are particularly liberating for heterosexual men, who aren’t used to being in physical contact with other men. Cuddle puddles can bring men into contact without it being sexual and often with the “buffer” of women.
The Health Benefits of Cuddling
- Human touch and connection lowers blood pressure and improves immunity
- cuddling generates oxytocin, the feel-good hormone which increases positivity, generosity, compassion, and love
- human touch can increase dopamine and serotonin, reducing depression, anxiety & anger
- cuddling is great practice in consent and asking for what you want
- cuddling allows you to recieve the pleasures of human touch without the complications, commitments, and energy exchange of sexual intercourse
- cuddling generates of a new kind of intimacy, being present to the feelings of another body
- cuddling deepens your senses and sensuality
Types Of Cuddle Puddles
Party cuddle puddles
are often spontaneous expressions of human touch and connection. These feel more natural because they aren’t planned nor facilitated.
Intentional gatherings where human connection and physical touch is the goal. Many parties begin with sharing, eye gazing, and consent exercises.
These gatherings tend to be sexual explorations of physical touch. Often enhanced with substances such as cannabis, psilocybin, MDMA, and/or ketamine.
A “Mush” or “Smoosh”
A more active cuddle puddle where people press their bodies together and explore somatic movement in physical contact. Explicitly non-sexual, a “mush” challenges you to listen and flow with other people’s bodies.