The varying experiences between genders.

Reading a lot of these forums I'm realizing that there are some conflicts that come up with this platonic cuddling site.  I think they're reflective of some of our societal problems in general, so I thought It would be beneficial to make some of those connections.  

First of all, if we were in a perfect society, this site wouldn't exist.  We'd all be in healthy communities getting lots of platonic touch.  Of course in a perfect world we wouldn't need doctors either.

 I think the two main phenomena of broken societal relationships that occur here are; many men who are touch deprived, and women who fear for their safety.  I see this as two sides of the same coin (for the most part), actually stemming from the marginalization of women, but affecting 'everybody negatively. 

 For centuries, women have been denied rights, and subjugated to violence and sexual harassment.  Men are physically stronger in general and are often more aggressive.  Many women experience harassment and/or sexual violence before they are even old enough to have sexual feelings.  This means that women often feel unsafe in situations that a man would feel fine in; walking down certain streets at night etc.  Women are also practicing their guard at a much earlier age and are dealing with harassment often much more than men realize.  If you are a man on this site, consider that point; if you are a woman, consider that men don't realize all that you're going through.  I actively seek out learning about the experiences of women, and yet, I am still periodically shown something that makes me realize I still don't know the extent of what some women go through.  Because of this marginalization, physical safety and security are often the main concern of women.  On a side note I'd like to mention that when I did first have to deal with any form of harassment or unwanted advancement; I noticed that I had learned a lot from watching women tackfully de-escalate such situations.   

Men have a completely different set of problems.  We develop sexually at a much earlier age in a culture that doesn't give us much guidance in navigating sexual feelings and appropriate behavior.  We tend to be touch deprived as well.  I remember reading a document written in the thirties advising parents to not touch their boys too much except for "maybe a pat on the head"  to avoid to growing up to be "mommas boys", or too emotional.  Even if you weren't brought up this way specifically, imagine the effect this sentiment has had through the generations.  We are also taught homophobia and thus cut off from a lot of platonic physical contact.  Even for myself, I'm an open person, I give all my male friends hugs and have been around a lot of progressive circles, but I can't imagine myself cuddling with another guy  Whereas many straight women have no problem cuddling each other.  Here are some photos that show how far our society has gone this way in very little time.
Women are greatly marginalized as a whole, but there are a few privileges that come with being female.  Easier access to contact and affection is one of them.  That being said, as many men don't know what it's like to be harassed,  many women don't know what it's like to be touch deprived.  It's probably one of the reasons suicide rates are much higher for men.  It messes with our mental and emotional stability as well as our relationship with sexuality.  I've noticed that when I am in a situation where I'm getting a lot of platonic physical touch, I'm not craving sex as much.  When I'm not getting platonic touch as much, I crave sex more and have less regard for my emotional safety.  At times I believe we as men often violate ourselves without even realizing it due to the effects of touch deprivation.

I think when it comes to this site we have to be patient.  If you are a male, I wouldn't expect too much right away.  We are fighting an uphill battle against some super ingrained fears and doing so online.... one of the sketchiest mediums of communication available.  To be honest, I've had better luck on craigslist than this site for actually ending up with a cuddle buddy.  They're actually one and one (over multiple years)  but my craigslist buddy came way earlier and ended up being a consistent regular friend.  I still think it's worthwhile to be on this site as it is an evolving community and there is little risk simply being on here.  It seems good to participate respectfully in the forums and to not give up.  If you get frustrated not getting responses, take a break and realize that you never know what other people are going through or what their current situation is.  Keep trying when you feel like it and don't have any expectations.

If you're a female, it seems beneficial to have clear boundaries. I'd also advise to think twice before becoming a pro.  Realize that there are some serious risks and other aspects to it.  I think being a pro, it would be necessary to be highly emotionally available, confident, intuitive, aware, and have an intentional philosophy behind what you're doing.  You should also be prepared to work with people who may have specific needs or issues such as ptsd, grieve, injuries etc.  Many professionals on here have all this, so if you're still interested, there seems to be a lot of help you can find here getting started.

I hope this also addresses some confusion with professionals.  I know that for a guy, it can seem offensive to think of paying someone to cuddle.  The thought can give me the feeling that my affection isn't as valuable as theirs, and it can feel wrong that I might have to pay for a necessity such as platonic touch.  It's wrong that the need is there, but asking for money to cover your risk and time in addressing a need that you're qualified to address is not wrong.  Just as it's wrong that women don't always feel safe, or that they have to deal with being harassed.

I think it's  also important address these issues in our physical communities.  Try encouraging platonic touch with respectful boundaries and with clear communication.  Practice asking people for hugs, or if they want hugs, in such a way that they feel free and safe to say no.  Give more people high fives. Try to learn about peoples perspectives and relationships with touch.  Try to have some introspection about your own relationship with touch, how it affects your relationships, and how it might be different from other people.

I apologize for the need to at times talk in generalizations. There are women who are touch deprived and men who fear for physical safety, have been harassed and/or gone through sexual abuse.  Generalizations are always an issue when addressing societal problems.  I also apologize that the binary way I'm discussing gender might be excluding people who are mixed gender, transgender, or gender neutral.  I'd love to have your perspective.  

 I think it would be great to get a lot of perspectives and stories here that might help to enlighten people to some of the differences in experience. It would be helpful though to mostly stick to talking about your own experiences or to ask questions.  I'd like us to stay away from talking negatively about individuals or groups of people.  Let's be respectful.        


  • [Deleted User]Unknown (deleted user)
    @me2 that was absolutely brilliant! Thank you for taking the time to make such a well thought out and all inclusive post. For me at least, that covered so much in helping people see each other's side of the spectrum.
  •  Wow! I loved this! I also read the entire article.  Super interesting and educational!  Thank you so much for this!  Well said! HUGE HUG!!!! 
  • @me2. Good post, well thought out and lets hope it helps people think. HUG HUG.
    Love and friendship John.

  • @me2  that was a very well thought out and clearly written post, and I agree with it 100%.
  • Really nice !  Well done !!

  • [Deleted User]navyvet76 (deleted user)
    Good post but we have to be careful in using stereotypical ideas to apply to everyone in a group. I know as a man in a predominantly female profession it is quite difficult. And there is harassment even sexual harassment of guys by women. Not all women but some. My point is we are all unique and have to understand not to judge some one because someone else who looks like them (gender , race etc) because that may be a very in accurate assumption.
  • @FireandBlue, @snuggle554321, @funandadventure, @I_am_Polylover, @Atreides, thanks for the encourage ment.  Hugs to all of you!

    @navyvet76, great comment, I totally agree.  I've found this to be a problem when discussing almost any topic around sociology.  I think on one hand it's important to recognize general trends.  However by doing so, the language becomes generalizations that inadvertently ignore individual experiences, especially ones that don't fit the trends. I think this is one of the reasons talking about social issues, such as how certain groups of people are marginalized, can be so touchy.

    The only way I can think do deal with it is to acknowledge it and do what you did; point out some of the exceptions.  It's probably helpful for people to know that men get harassed as well.  I'm sure not a lot of people (women especially?) realize that it even happens.  The other thing a lot of women might not realise about this, is that a man getting harassed by a woman isn't taken as seriously.  Women often have more freedom to flirt aggressively and/or initiate physical contact, even sexual contact, with little or no social repercussions.... or perhaps with different social repercussions.   

    I'm in a profession with a lot a females as well and I've had many female bosses/supervisors.  It's come to my attention, that my work experience has in a sense made me a bit unaware of the misogyny that can happen in male dominated workplaces.  I've encountered women who are surprised how unaware some of us can be.  We're simply coming from very different circles/experiences.    

    I hope this is making sense.  I know I'm talking in generalizations some more, but the intent is encourage people to talk about individual experiences in order to get a glimpse of how varied all of our experiences are.  I think it has the potential to give important perspective that could help with how we interact, especially around a topic as sensitive as touch.  Maybe some inspiration to open people up to how much is out there?  

    Again, I agree we have to be careful, but maybe it's worthwhile to try. 
  • @me2, thank you for such a clear essay on the nature of this problem from both gender perspectives!  As someone who suffers severely from touch deprivation (I'd term it starvation) yet aware of the problem it always amazes me how many women will totally dismiss the idea that touch deprivation is a problem for men.  A perfect parallel to men's dismissal of women's concerns over safety.  This whole dynamic makes getting out of touch starvation feel like a catch-22 type situation.

    Since I became aware a few months ago that I do lack sufficient touch in my life I have been adding notes in my journal about the quality and quantity of touch in my life.  Comparing that to my mental state and how I interact with the world (via my journal entries) is fascinating and highly disturbing.  The negative effects of insufficient touch in my life are very easy to see.  This has me wondering how many people diagnosed with mental problems are simply touch deprived.  Or at the very least if increased levels of touch could help people heal  (certainly in my own life I know touch helps immensely for me with depression and ptsd).

    Professional cuddling is interesting to me.  I am a big supporter of professional cuddling and believe this needs to be an accepted profession in the world.  Yet at the same time I wonder if involving money sometimes sends an unconscious message to the client, "I am not worthy of touch."   Do such implications of paying for touch decrease the efficacy of professional cuddle sessions? 

    @navyvet76, I agree these are generalizations and the reverse of all this happens too, as well as other permutations.  I don't want to marginalize those groups yet at the same time it seems to me the best way to effect changes in the world is to address the bulk of the problem first.  In engineering we would call this the 80/20 rule (80% of results come from 20% of the total effort). Help as many people as we can as simply as possible ... then get down to work on the hard stuff (and marginalized people).  
  • @selcouth wow, thanks for your comment!  That's really neat that you've actually kept notes about the quantity and quality of touch and your mental state.  That's impressive of you to take such a scientific approach, I'm sure it's very informative.    I know for me touch often feels like the "limiting factor" for my well being.  Much of my daily motivation is influenced by this such as visiting establishments where I know someone is there who will give me a hug.

    I agree with the sentiment about professional cuddling as well; that it's worthy of support and needs to be accepted, yet can bring up some mixed feelings.  It's an interesting aspect of any kind of therapy I think.  People are drawn to these types of professions out of a genuine desire to heal people (I've considered a few of them myself), getting paid for it enables them to focus on helping people, yet the pay also brings up a relationship dynamic that can be sensitive/confusing or even scary.  I'm a bit nervous myself about how much "free touch" I'll get as I get older.  This is part of why community is so important.  This is also partly why I try to put effort into connecting with older and/or homeless people and giving hugs to old ladies.  Simple interaction also becomes a limiting factor for some people.  Interaction and touch can be like food to people.               

    I also like how you use the engineering analogy.  Just to clarify as these subjects can become touchy; I think you mean addressing the general trends (marginalized people) first, then addressing the exceptions to the general trends of marginalizations.  For an example: addressing the marginalization of women, then addressing the unjust treatment of men that does happen at times but isn't the general trend of marginalization. 

    I think trying to acknowledge when we are generalizing or talking about things we don't completely know about; as well as acknowledging what some exceptions are can really help.  The goal (at least in part) should be making people feel safe to express their experiences.   
  •  This is one reason why I love cuddle parties. I love to have one on one sessions with my clients! Don't get me wrong! But for those who can't afford individual sessions and who are possibly nervous about therapeutic and platonic touch, Cuddle Parties are amazing!  That's another reason why I want to become a facilitator.  I don't want anyone to not be able to get the touch that they need because of money! Anything I can do to help people I want to do! I think many of my clients realize that I'm not in it for the money but for them! The money just makes it so that I can afford to concentrate on the people who very well might need me!  I love my clients so much! They become family to me so quickly!  
  • @snuggle554321  Thanks for expressing that!  I had the same thought with @FireandBlue posting about the free hugs project.  The care really shows through in your comments. It reminds me of other types of therapists who give free consultations and point you in the right direction to find other resources if you can't afford their services.  Thanks for what you do!  
  •  Awwww! Thank you so much @me2!
  • @snuggle554321, thank you for your loving spirit!!!  People like you will build the necessary bridges to heal these types of problems in the world!  Perhaps I'll come by join a cuddle party of yours some day!  I tried one once and had a very bad experience, but that was long before I knew much about myself as I do now.  I'd love the idea and want to give them another try if I can find one again (difficult as they don't generally exist in places where I travel).

    @me2, I began tracking this in my journal to understand my own problems as nothing else I have tried ever came close.  Not so much scientific as a failure of any other solution to provide even so much as a vague explanation of what is going on.  And perhaps an overabundance of stubborn independence. ;)

    You are close to understanding what I meant in talking about the 80/20 rule and generalizations, but let me expand:

    It is very easy to look at a big important problem and try to solve the entire problem at once but usually (not always) that ends with no solution at all.  Or ... you can focus on the first 80% of the problem which will take only 20% of the effort.  Significant progress has been made!  Then continue on the remainder.  This is not ignoring the 20%, making what progress can be done as efficiently as possible.  Especially in social changes (like we are talking about here) this provides 80% of people with a solution very quickly.  I want to get started helping as many people as possible today, not theorize until a perfect solution is found some day in the future.

    This is for anything, not just engineering!

  • @selcouth that's a great concept, definitely applicable to just about anything. It reminds me of thinking about lowest hanging fruit and diminishing returns.

    I'm glad you've been able to make some headway for your well-being. It sounds like you've had quite the phase of introspection :)

    Thanks for being willing to share on here!
  • @selcouth and @me2  thanks to both of you! Your contributions to the threads and for him are extremely insightful, and lightning and beyond valuable! 

    If either one of you are in the San Diego area please let me know! I would love to meet you, talk and give you both a hug!  If I'm ever traveling to different places I will be sure to post a thread in the cuddle request section and general section.  I will also be sure to announce if I start becoming a facilitator for Cuddle Parties!  

    Also to selcouth... awwww!  Thank you sweetie! I greatly appreciate the compliment!  
     Huge hugs to both of you! HUGE HUG!!!! 
  • Very well written. This part is especially true:

    Many women experience harassment and/or sexual violence before they are even old enough to have sexual feelings.  This means that women often feel unsafe in situations that a man would feel fine in; walking down certain streets at night etc.  Women are also practicing their guard at a much earlier age and are dealing with harassment often much more than men realize. 

    Coming from a household in which I was told daily to "keep my eyes open, pay attention to my surroundings, stay alert" etc from a young age and not being allowed to play outside, walk/ride my bike to the store, or go to friends houses without having a parent with me definitely put fear in me that I carry around to this day. Being taught to fear the sunset and male attention also go along with that. Because of those factors I never made friends with males and surely didn't spend any time alone with them. Today I still don't have any male "friends" nor acquaintances and I'm really awkward around them. 

    Touch deprivation is another demon all together. My family have never been real touchy people and if there were any, it was saved for the small children. By maybe 8 or 9 there was no more of that. Growing up like that, I never realized I was touch deprived until I saw how much other friends would hug each other. I always would wonder "why are they so touchy friendly" and I thought it was weird. I remember one time in 12th grade a friend of mine tried to hug me and I froze. I literally didn't know how to respond. Now days I like hugs and I try and hug my friends in greeting each time I see them (which isn't very often). Am I the only one who worries about what other people might interpret a hug as? Who worries if there is a right and wrong way to hug someone?
  • I don't know about right or wrong ways, but the way I hug is to put all my heart and love into it.  None of the typical quick male hug with pats on the back for me.
  • [Deleted User]Jesuskid (deleted user)
    Yeah. When you get a real hug and a fake hug you will feel the difference!!! Many times people I hug say "thanks", "I love you hugs" and I love that! I prayed that people would feel loved❤️
  • me2me2
    edited June 2017
    @C8H7N302 thanks for sharing! I feel like I can say with complete confidence that you are not the only one who worries about how hugs are interpreted and right or wrong ways to hug someone. I think part of the complication is that we all come from such different experiences.
    I know for me I had early experiences with communal living in summer camps. The structure helped to provide a safe space for platonic touch. It ended up being the main aspect of camp that I looked forward to every year. I think clear communication is the key component to not having hugs or other touch misinterpreted.

    Touch is also very different in various cultures. There's an article (I'll try to find it) with research bout how frequently people touch each other in different countries over a certain time frame of conversation with each other. There was a huge difference. England and the US were the lowest.
  • @C8H7N302 I found it!  It's got some other neat stuff in there too.

  • @me2. Nice. Bravo. Cool. Awesome. I've been saying this for years. WOW, Thanks for putting it in writing. 
  • @Edward3123 thanks man!
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