Does Wanting to Cuddle Make Me a Creeper?

10 February, 2015 Ken Editorial & DiscussionPolitics, Economy, Science

The Cuddlr app came out for Android, but I still am not sure about it. Apparently it’s doomed to failure according to critics. Is it due to collective social awkwardness toward strangers and even friends? Or are we so touch-starved all around that holding hands or spooning is inseparable, in perception or reality, from sexual motives?

Even if I wanted to use the app, touch is so forbidden today — teacher’s can’t even hug kindergartners in many schools any more — that the psycho-social obstacles to a comfortable, human experience are tedious or fearful.

The technology doesn’t address that. Maybe it can’t. Technology tends to be used for instant gratification, the sort associated with lookups and hookups, rather than real understanding or slower, low pressure experiences.

But the real question is: Am I really a “creeper” because I would go out of my way to cuddle a stranger?

Even if I used the app, could I be open about it? What if someone found out I used it whom I didn’t tell? Would it be a deep, dark secret? What would family and friends think? Business associates? Would people keep their distance at networking events, or discourage any contact with their spouses and children?

Is it society or is it me? Even if it’s society, it still encourages me feel like there’s something wrong with me. Is this how people of alternate lifestyles feel?

But the possibility does force me to be honest with myself.

Am I open to cuddling with other men? If it’s not sexual, why am I uncomfortable? Residual homophobia aside (like most, I was raised in a sheltered, repressed environment), was I making the same assumption I wouldn’t want others to make out of me?

Would casual physical contact relieve stress and help keep the need for intimacy in various ways more in perspective? Or would it just create more emotional attachments that could overwhelm a life already filled with familial and fraternal obligations? Then again, I always talk about wanting to hug everyone in the world — there’s no need to be involved in their lives personally with a nearly-anonymous app I suppose.

Maybe it comes down to what I want. I want to meet new people — I never, ever get tired of that. And the thought of connecting with people in some deliberate, small, human way is wondrous. But it’s also frightening, revealing my own insecurities about what another person — or people in general might think.

If I lean against someone on a park bench and just enjoy the scenery, will the other person assume I’m unhappy in my marriage? If seen in public (and if I did this I would prefer it to be so), would someone assume I was being unfaithful?

For better or worse, I can’t be true to myself and follow society’s norms, but — for worse perhaps — I am heavily laden with my own concerns about what other people think. And that alone makes me untrue to myself.

I need contact. More than most perhaps. Maybe that’s why I LOVE dancing with people. Maybe that’s why I LOVE and desperately miss doing martial arts (non-solo practice). Or maybe I should just go to a cuddle party.

But I suspect the way I really feel is a reflection of our larger society. Where’s Leo Buscaglia when you need a hug? Maybe we need a revolution on touch, and turn what is scary and invasive and perverse into what is normal and happy and healthy again.

I’m not sure I can wait that long.

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