From my earliest memories I’ve had this ache — a deep longing — to be touched. This was never a sexual longing. More like a core longing that goes down to the depths of my soul.
I have longed to hold and be held by other men like a brother.
When I was a little kid, I watched movies by myself and imagined having a brother sitting right next to me who would put his arm around me. This might be the deepest longing of my whole life. These are the “warm fuzzies” or beautiful warm feelings in my chest completely divorced from sexual feelings.
Odds are, you might have them too.
I wanted to be touched by the few straight friends I had, but they were very hands-off. One of my friends got annoyed if I even sat too closely to him on the couch.
A lot of my longing for innocent touch with my friends got rejected, and it hurt me.
In this day and age of sexual scandals and whatnot, platonic touch is lumped into the category of being anything but platonic.
This is especially true in touch with men. Straight men don’t want to give each other platonic touch for fear of being labeled gay. Our societal standards for touch are without a doubt a maze of stigmas, stereotypes, and double standards that can be very difficult to navigate.
I longed for even the simplest touch of an arm around the shoulder — let alone cuddling. After many friendships with straight men failed to produce the slightest physical affection, along with my many failed attempts at friendships in general, I felt I’d had enough. I was desperate.
The first man I ever cuddled with was a Side A guy I found on one of the nudist sites I frequented. We never discussed nudity all that much, but he went on about how much he loved cuddling.
It was too good to resist for me. Even though he was a Side A guy who I barely knew and met online, I felt I had to do this.
I was desperate. I was alone. I needed a warm someone to hold me.
We met at a Chipotle, and when he didn’t seem particularly creepy or like he was gonna murder me, I accepted his invitation to go to his house. I got extremely nervous as we walked into his bedroom.
Oh man, I thought to myself. What have I gotten myself into?! This feels like a hookup.
In many respects, that’s very much like it was — even though no sex happened.
We hopped under the covers, and it was quite a feeling. On one hand, it was very nice and warm; on the other, it was also distant as I barely even knew this guy. He also did a few iffy, less than platonic things to me under the covers.
As I drove home afterward, the smell of his cologne still lingering in my nostrils, the whole experience left me feeling temporarily elated, yet still inwardly empty. In general, I felt it had been more of a sexual experience than brotherly bonding with another man.
After all, I barely even knew the guy; to this day, I haven’t heard back from him or even know his name.
Many months later, God would bless with me with some incredible brothers who I met on YOB. While also attracted to the same sex, these Side B men wanted real brotherly platonic love.
At first, I was hesitant since I’d always envisioned being physically close with a straight guy. But I figured why not? Most straight guys wouldn’t touch me with a five-foot pole anyway.
There was a difference between these men and that random Side A guy I met online. We connected, we clicked, and we cared about each other. My heart grew warm every time I chatted with one of these men online.
Had I at long last found love?
The first brother I met in person mutually agreed to cuddle with me. We established our boundaries beforehand to avoid any possible triggering or awkward moments between us. As we both lay on the couch and embraced, I felt a powerful sensation.
I was loved. I was cared for. I was in a safe and warm place.
If we are indeed the hands and feet of God, I felt that I truly was lying in the palm of God’s hand. Forever kept warm from the cold bitter winds of this world.
“I love you,” I said to him.
“I love you too, buddy,” he said back to me.
I laid my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat for a while. I was truly safe and warm.
Since then, I have cuddled with many other brothers. Just about all of them have been positive and moving experiences. I’ve held hands, laid heads on shoulders during movies, placed arms around shoulders, Eskimo kissed, and forged long embraces with my brothers. I’ve even cuddled with several at once. Never in a million years did I think I would enjoy such touch with other men with sex never interfering.
Most of these cuddling experiences transcend the physical and begin to feel more spiritual. We aren’t just touching each other’s bodies; we’re touching souls.
If you are reading this as an SSA man who has never bro-cuddled before, you might have a lot of questions.
Maybe also a lot of personal doubts and insecurities.
In the next part of this series, I will give a few tips and ground rules to consider for physical touch and cuddling.
Have you ever cuddled or tried cuddling with another man, either SSA or straight? Was this a positive or negative experience? How desperately would you say you need physical touch or cuddling in your life?