Getting all snuggled up with your S.O., especially on a cold night, can be one of the greatest parts of being in a relationship — if you like falling asleep surrounded by another person's body heat. Even though physical intimacy tend to be equated with intimacy in general, not everyone's a cuddler. But should you be concerned if you and your S.O. don't spoon? Before you worry too much, there are a few things to consider.
For one thing, you should keep in mind the nature of your relationship, without judging it by any mainstream, cuddly standard. "No two couples are the same," Rachel McDavid, LMFT, a marriage and family therapist, says. "Some couples are okay with lack of physical touch."
Obviously, cuddling or touching isn't the only way couples show intimacy, and simply being understood and cared for by your partner can be just as comforting as a good cuddle, McDavid says. So look at your relationship as a whole (including your non-cuddling forms of physical affection), and don't discount the ways you and your partner support and comfort each other without touch.
That said, keep in mind that, if you and your S.O. aren't touchy-feely at all, you might be missing out on some deeper forms of connection, according to Matt Lundquist, LCSW, a psychotherapist and couples therapist. "While different people have different needs around touch, relationships without physical affection are missing some of what's essential," he says, explaining that physically touching your partner (and seeing how they like to be touched) is a vital part of learning more about them.
If your lack of cuddling is bothering you, it's important to take notice of how this deviates from your normal couple behaviour: Is this how you've always been together, or has something changed? Lundquist says that it's common for couples to be less physically intimate during difficult times or in the wake of an argument. But this change is probably temporary.
But, if you and your partner haven't been cuddling for an extended period of time, there might be a deeper problem that needs to be addressed. McDavid says that built-up resentment or anger that hasn't been discussed openly could be to blame. Or, she adds, it may be a matter of mismatched expectations that have finally bubbled to the surface — maybe you'd like more physical contact from your partner than they need or want to give, or vice versa. Whatever the reason, if you notice a decrease in snuggling or affectionate touch and aren't comfortable with it, bring it up. Just be sure to do so sensitively.
"Talk about what [cuddling] means to you — not what your partner is or isn't doing," McDavid says. She recommends speaking positively and focusing on the comfort and connection you get out of spending time snuggled up with your partner. Lundquist adds that you should maintain an open mind and give your partner space to speak their piece, too. "Be curious about your partner's experience of what happened," he says. You might even start by asking, "How did we get here?"
But before you launch into any of this, just make sure to check yourself: Are you concerned about your lack of cuddling because you need more physical affection, or because you feel like you and your S.O. don't match other people's expectations? If it's the latter, we suggest you appreciate your relationship for all the ways it does serve you — and enjoy the extra leg room in bed.