9 Different Cuddling Positions That Bond a Relationship

By Christin Perry | | Dating
9 Different Cuddling Positions That Bond a Relationship
Bartashevich Karyna/Shutterstock

Cuddling up with your significant other sounds romantic, but did you know it can also give clues to each partner’s personality and even the state of your relationship? Some experts feel that the different cuddling positions can offer insight into your union.

Different types of cuddling positions

Wondering if the different cuddling positions really mean anything? “It’s possible there’s some meaning there,” said Jane Greer, a New York-based therapist and author of “What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.” But also, it comes down to what’s comfortable for each partner, whether they enjoy physical touch, whether they tend to sleep too hot or too cold, and how they slept growing up.

But can the way you sleep point to something deeper in your relationship? Below are some of the most common cuddling positions, and what some experts believe they may mean.

Spooning

Spooning

Spooning in general is about mirroring one another and looking to share in the similarity of your bodies being completely connected to one another, said Greer. When it comes to this position, the partner in the back is the “big spoon.” This position puts the big spooner in a protective role.

The person being cuddled in a spooning position is referred to as the “little spoon,” and they’re the one seeking affection and protection, Greer said.

Face to face

Face to face cuddling

This uber-close position is all about maintaining intimacy by staring into each others’ eyes, said Greer.

“It’s literally being in each other’s space, and feeling your partner’s presence front and center.” Of course, if you fear dealing with morning breath, you could always drift off to sleep in this position and roll apart later.

Intertwined

Intertwined cuddling

In this position the couple’s bodies are grapevined together in an intimate embrace. In newer couples, it’s a sign of early passion and intensity—it’s also called the “honeymoon hug” for a reason.

In more established couples, it can mean an incredibly deep bond or connection. Your lives are strongly intertwined, and you’re reflecting that with your bodies.

Back to back

Back to back cuddling

Couples with some time under their belts may find they enjoy a back-to-back cuddle position. Here, there’s enough space for each partner but you can still feel connected.

“This position allows you to share closeness without feeling smothered or too overwhelmed. Even though there’s a certain amount of space, it’s a way of telling one another that you have each other’s back,” Greer said.

Sweetheart’s cradle

Sweetheart’s cradle cuddling position

This cuddle position takes the face-to-face cuddle one step further, and involves one partner wrapping their arms around the other. Here, Greer said, “one person feels very secure and surrounded by their partner’s embrace.”

Head on chest

Head on chest cuddling position

This classic cuddle position is one that endures the test of time. Long after more intimate cuddling positions like the sweetheart cradle and face to face fall away, many couples still enjoy sleeping in the head-on-chest position. That’s because it provides closeness without going overboard, satisfies the needs of both partners, and literally indicates that one partner can “lean on” the other, said Greer.

Arm across partner’s back

Arm across back cuddling

There’s no better way to say “I’ve got your back” than this position, Greer said. When you sleep with your arm slung over your partner’s shoulders, it’s a similar gesture as doing the same while standing up. “It’s indicative of support and nurturing,” Greer said.

Leg hug

Leg hug cuddling position

Another favorite cuddle position of long-time partners who don’t feel the need to be too close while sleeping is the leg hug position. Greer said, “In this position, the partner whose leg is being hugged ‘carries’ the weight of the other partner and can connect with them without them feeling like a burden.”

Why are there so many different cuddle positions?

The desire to cuddle is one that begins in infancy and for the most part never leaves us. Babies are held and cuddled by their parents almost from the moment of birth, so it makes sense that when we find a partner and begin a deeply loving relationship, we naturally want to cuddle with that person.

“The physical act of cuddling harkens back to the safety and comfort of childhood when we felt safe and loved,” Greer said.

And if you’re part of a couple who loves to cuddle, there’s plenty of good news for you: Numerous studies tout the benefits of cuddling. A study of 72 couples in the

Journal of Communication Quarterly revealed that affection, such as in the form of cuddling and loving touch, was positively correlated to commitment and satisfaction.

And it’s not just great for your relationship—cuddling is great for your health, too. The release of the “happy hormone” oxytocin that occurs when you cuddle is helpful in getting better sleep, feeling less stressed and even avoiding minor illnesses like the common cold.

Relationship cuddling not for you?

When the lack of cuddling is a mutual preference, Greer said it’s important for couples to not feel like there’s something wrong or that they’re not as loving or connected.

“Sleep is a very challenging experience for many people, especially as you age. It’s wonderful if cuddling is a source of relaxation and connectedness, but it doesn’t mean you’re missing out if you don’t do it. The most important thing is to get a good night’s sleep,” she said.

But if you used to be a cuddly couple and suddenly there’s ample space between you, it may indicate there’s an issue or problem that has not been dealt with sufficiently, said Greer, and one partner might be feeling resentful or angry and is withdrawing."

“On the other hand,” she said, “it could simply mean that they’ve become very familiar and secure in their relationship.” The best way to know? Check in, of course.

“The best thing to do if one person is missing the cuddling is to check with their partner and ask them if there’s anything on their mind or upsetting them that they haven’t shared,” she said. In the absence of any issue, if there’s one partner who simply doesn’t enjoy cuddling, a compromise in which you cuddle on occasion or just while falling asleep may be the best solution.

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.