No condom can prevent you from catching feels. And despite our Tinder generation’s collective aversion to long term-romances, most of us are still just looking for a pair of non-judgey arms to fall asleep in.
Until I was 18, “Baahon mein chale aao” was just another tune I associated with Lillette Dubey’s memorable portrayal of a libidinous 40-something in Kal Ho Naa Ho. But that changed forever in 2010 when my first girlfriend and I found ourselves mid-snuggle. And she decided it was a good idea to start singing the famous tune under her breath, channelling Miss Dubey’s absurd mannerisms. This was my first agonising tryst with cuddling. For obvious reasons, it turned me off this facet of couplehood for a long, long time.
In fact, it was exactly these cliche aspects of being in a relationship that fuelled my aversion to relationships for much of my early-20s. And also because singlehood is amazing: There’s no cap on the number of hook-ups you can have, nobody is judging your “#HoePhase”, and there’s the amazing feeling of manspreading in your big-enough-for-two-but-comfier-for-onebed.
Of course, the amazing part about being young is realising how stupid you were to reject the things you’d later crave – and even in 2018, there’s no condom that can prevent you from catching feelings. Despite the casual sex, one-night stands, and messy FWB situations, we’re primed to desire lovers who will simply accept us for the sorry saps we truly are. Someone who won’t judge us for snoring and tooting in our sleep. Someone whose non-judgemental arms we could fall asleep in.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that as an “I’m good with anything, but let’s not commit, babe” millennial, it is no longer fashionable to say or feel this: Casual sex is great and all, but have you experienced the pure joy of resting your head in the arms of a lover with whom you’ve established a level of comfort that goes beyond the casual? The kind of dynamic where you leave toothbrushes, moisturisers, and slippers stashed in your partner’s houses? Where the craving for their presence goes beyond the sexual? You long for the feeling of utter bliss you get when cuddling them. And even with obvious downsides of snuggling like atrophied limbs and waking up with hair follicles wedged in your mouth, there’s hardly a better feeling than being in that sleep-induced tender embrace.
You get into a space where you don’t miss a single opportunity to canoodle. Whether it’s in bed, in the back of an Uber or in the middle of Starbucks coffee. You’re like a couple of labradoodles in heat. You begin understanding digital trends like #CuddleGameStrong, #HugLife and #CuddleComa. Semantics aside, falling asleep mid-cuddle, inevitably fills your heart with warmth that’s akin to watching that four-minute montage of Carl and Elle ageing together in 2009’s Up – you’re just grateful to have someone to call your own.
So then, there’s two questions I seek the answer to, a) Why does cuddling feel so damn good? And b) Why have hipsters like me begun shaming this bliss?
Thanks to Google, I’ve realised the answer to my first question is – in the words of the great Jesse Pinkman – “Science, bitch.’ As infants, the first sense we develop is touch, even before vision or taste. As we grow older, this sense of touch matures. Bodily contact causes you to release oxytocin, you know, that hormone that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?
As for the second, young upper-class hipsters like me have made a habit of mocking the “Babu Shonas”, or steady couples who post cringe-worthy updates on their relationship on social media. Which is why my desire to cuddle with a partner unravels like some sort of shameful kink. And the pressure to be a cool, single person who doesn’t care about commitment is frighteningly real. Everyone assumes that we’re just a bunch of right-swipers who live by the nonchalant motto, “Thank u, next.” But if you can’t lie motionless in each other’s arms for hours, what good is great camaraderie laced with lust?
There is a chance that I might be an outlier here. But I’d like to believe that unlike sex, cuddling only gets better as your relationship progresses. I imagine that after decades of being with someone, you naturally understand their skin, scent, texture of their hair, and every contour of their body.
Deadlines can wait. Alarms can snooze themselves until the battery runs out. Nothing’s getting you two out of bed. Yeah, deactivate my Tinder. Sign me up for that life.
About the writer: Jackie Thakkar masking anxiety with humour. Living with his dog, cat, and mediocrity. Creating content aur life se kaafi discontent. Tweeting as @juvenile_jack.