Cuddle Parties?

CielDuMatin

New member
OK, more opinions from your truly, but I really would like to know if I am alone in how I feel about the Cuddle Parties that seem to be a semi-regular feature at Poly Conferences, etc.

They make it very obvious that these are there as a non-sexual cuddling and otherwise touching party. They are presented (to my observations) as a perfectly natural and normal part of what it is to be poly and go to conferences.

The idea of that level of intimacy with complete strangers seems utterly mind-boggling to me. I mean, I am a "huggy" person by nature, but only hug people that I know, trust not to take things the wrong way, and like. I wouldn't dream of getting into pyjamas and cuddling with someone I had just met.

I can imagine that for those who have had issues with intimacy, such a therapy could be quite useful, but based on poly folk I have met, this is a small portion of the poly population.

What do others feel about these types of events?
 

hyperskeptic

New member
They are presented (to my observations) as a perfectly natural and normal part of what it is to be poly and go to conferences.

The idea of that level of intimacy with complete strangers seems utterly mind-boggling to me.

For what it's worth, my mind also boggles at the thought of cuddling with strangers.

I assume participation in such events is not a necessary condition for being poly. Otherwise, I'd have to turn in my membership card.
 

nycindie

Active member
A total turn-off for me

Oy, don't get me started! I once went to a poly party held at the studio of a woman who also is involved in organizing Cuddle Parties in NYC and a few of the partygoers there were explaining why they like the Cuddle Parties... a perfect stranger, who hadn't even introduced himself to me yet, told me about his personal issues with touch and saying "no," even mentioning some issue with his mother, and how Cuddle Parties have helped him deal with intimacy with his partners, and it just felt so inappropriate and invasive for him to stand as close to me as he did and tell me such personal details. I knew that if he was that weird just talking to me at a cocktail party, I would not want to be in the situation of him approaching me for a cuddle at one of these things. You know, things like that can attract truly off-center folks just looking for connection or release, but I choose not to take part in that sort of environment.

I weighed in on the whole organized Cuddle Party thing in a few posts here. One was on a thread that River started about cuddling with friends, another was a response to seeing a Cuddle Party on the agenda for a poly event. Rather than repeat myself, I'll just quote:

But am I the only one who finds that Cuddle Party guy incredibly annoying? All he has is an art degree, but now he's a sex educator? Eh, he's like everyone else who comes out of the Landmark/Forum/EST, with that smooth yet arrogant confidence and the ability to convince people he's an expert. I guess it's because I'm older and have participated in "puppy piles," cuddling in groups, mostly in "New Age" or other situations, but we never had to pay for that! In NYC, those parties cost $35 or more and some of the people who I know go, are not anyone I would pay to be in the same room with me, much less touch me. He has found a way to really profit from something that us children of the 60s and 70s have been doing for a long while. And now the word "cuddle" has a different flavor. Ick.

I really dislike the whole idea of cuddle parties with strangers, 'cause I am sure at least some people are just pretending they want to keep it non-sexual and something inappropriate would happen. And that would piss me off. I don't think I could relax at all if I joined one.

Since learning about poly and discovering cuddle parties, I even find it a huge turn-off to hear (or read) grown-ups talking about cuddling. It's like the word is tainted for me now. I cannot explain it, but I get really irritated with the whole "cuddle movement," so to speak.

It's funny that the idea makes me uneasy because, back in the late 80s/early 90s, I did participate in what we called "puppy piles" with a close-knit group that I was connected with (we were all trained in an alternative healing modality) and it was wonderful. Basically, we all hugged each other in a pile together, but it was always within the context of certain gatherings we held within the community. But we all had a common language and a well-established basis of trust amongst the group. However, I wouldn't have gone and cuddled with any of those people on personal time outside of those workshops/celebrations, etc. We never called it cuddling.

...I think the fact that you have to pay for these commercially organized cuddle parties and it's a bunch of strangers from who-knows-where (in NYC they have Meetups for them - you just don't know who will show up. Did they bathe? Are they lecherous? You know, lots of potential for ickiness), whereas the puppy piles I took part in organically happened within an already defined and safe space or were loosely directed by people in the group that we all knew well and already trusted -- and these things never felt artificial.

It was never like, "Okay at 7:00 pm tonight, we're all gonna cuddle in a pile! So get ready and here are the rules." It was more like, all these practitioners of the type of bodywork I studied were there waiting for something (like a lesson or seminar) and someone suggested everyone all fall into a puppy pile. Or two people would be cradling each other on the carpeted floor and someone would join them, and then another, and another, and so on. And because it was in the spirit of the moment, and we were all friends, or most of us knew everyone, it felt good and was organic and respectful without anyone having to tell us to be respectful. No one would cop a feel (although we were all bodyworkers and very much into touching). And there was no time frame, so it broke up when it naturally happened. If the teacher came into the room, he or she would join in. If there were people there who didn't want to, they didn't. There would be laughter, groans, what-have-you, and it was always great.

It is something I remember very fondly. When I read/hear about these organized cuddle parties that ask for $40 I feel it is an aberration of something that was very special to me. I think an activity that us old hippies just organically and spontaneously did has been turned it into a big money maker and that bugs me. I also feel like the word "cuddle" has been made creepy, for some reason.

Let me just add that when I did throw myself into a puppy pile with friends, we were all fully dressed! I don't see the reason for wearing pajamas at these things.

Obviously, the whole idea of organized Cuddle Parties as therapy really irritates me.
 
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Pretzels

New member
Wait, they charge for these? That's beyond weird.

These hold no interest for me. I'd rather just get cuddly with my people. Maybe I'm just simple that way.
 

AnotherConfused

New member
I like to touch strangers on the dance floor. It's a socially sanctioned, nonsexual form of touch. We dance for lots of reasons, including the exercise, the music, the friendships that form, the conversations, etc. but I can't pretend that I don't enjoy the hand holding and the dips and the swaying in each others' arms. We need human contact to thrive, and this is one form that I enjoy greatly. (I also enjoy dances with people I know well.)

I have never been to a cuddle party but I am guessing it serves a similar purpose. I would find it a little weird just to touch without the context of a dance or other goal, but if it works for some people it doesn't bother me. I'm not sure how it would be related to polyamory though, or the purpose in including it in a polyamory conference. Doesn't really have anything to do with love or relationships!
 

Tonberry

New member
I would love to take part in a cuddle party, but only with my close friends. People don't always want to hug and cuddle, and I personally love it. When I moved back to France from the US, I hugged all the friends who ate out with me that evening, and since they were in a circle around me, I just kept going and hugged them a second time. Then it turned out everybody was going the same way, so I hugged them a third time when we went our separate ways.
I would have hugged them even more if I had found excuses too, and I would be hugging them that much every time I saw them if it was socially acceptable. I wish I could just ask for a cuddle party among us without everyone thinking I'm creepy or hitting on them.

This being said, I wouldn't mind hugging strangers, but I think I'd rather do it one at a time, it would be overwhelming to be touched from everywhere by people I don't know.
 

PinkDragon

New member
I am very affectionate with my friends, family, kids, and partners.... everyone else better stay away or be prepared to get a bloody nub!

I have stepped back/away from people I don't know trying to hug me. I must say that I do feel bad for them when they realize that they've just made a huge faux pas, but I'm not going to make myself uncomfortable just to feed their need to hug.

All of that said... there is NO WAY I would cuddle with strangers!
 

km34

New member
No cuddling with strangers for me! I'm not a big cuddler anyway, although I do enjoy having some minor touching (legs on someone's lap, their head on my lap, or something like that), but not full body contact very often!
 

Somegeezer

New member
All for cuddling, and would love to be cuddled with many. But complete strangers... Ergh. Not much more revolting than that, and I've seen the album cover to Dawn Of The Black Hearts =P [seriously don't look it up if easily offended, you were warned].

I don't at all like strangers near me, touching me, even breathing on me, without my consent. Start by talking to me like a normal human, at a comfortable distance, as to not have me smelling what you had for lunch 2 weeks ago.

Being close to those you love is completely amazing feeling... For me anyways. I know some people like their space even then. But I'm very much a cuddly type person with any partners I'm with. :p:D
 

CielDuMatin

New member
So since I think everyone that has posted here has said that they wouldn't do it, why do you think that it is such a common part of these conferences? How is this connected to polyamory?
 

nycindie

Active member
So since I think everyone that has posted here has said that they wouldn't do it, why do you think that it is such a common part of these conferences? How is this connected to polyamory?
Simple. Because Reid Mihalko, the founder of the organized Cuddle Party biz, is poly and shows up at these conventions to give lectures or whatever. I'm sure if he lets them include a Cuddle Party for no extra fee at the poly cons, it will bring him more attention and potential customers. He also touts himself as a sex educator/expert, even though his degree is in art, and sells DVDs about how to have poly relationships and holds retreats and seminars on relationships (see: http://reidaboutsex.com/sexual-self-confidence/relationship-choice/polyamory/). So, he closely aligns himself with the organizers of poly conferences, and especially the sex-positive activist types... so - Voila! Cuddle Parties at every big poly event! Ugh. But I do believe many poly peeps are really into what he offers. It's like he's the poly/cuddle version of Tony Robbins. Both guys came out of Landmark (same thing as the Forum and EST).
 
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hyperskeptic

New member
Simple. Because Reid Mihalko, the founder of the organized Cuddle Party biz, is poly and shows up at these conventions to give lectures or whatever. I'm sure if he lets them include a Cuddle Party for no extra fee at the poly cons, it will bring him more attention and potential customers. He also touts himself as a sex educator/expert, even though his degree is in art, and sells DVDs about how to have poly relationships and holds retreats and seminars on relationships (see: http://reidaboutsex.com/sexual-self-confidence/relationship-choice/polyamory/). So, he closely aligns himself with the organizers of poly conferences, and especially the sex-positive activist types... so - Voila! Cuddle Parties at every big poly event! Ugh.

My, what a . . . um . . . cozy relationship!

But I do believe many poly peeps are really into what he offers.
.

Hm. I wonder, then, why so many on this forum were so quick to express such a strong distaste for such parties?

Some sort of self-selection is going on here, I guess.

Still, I'm with you on this: Ugh.

Too bad it gives cuddling in general a bad name!
 

Kommander

New member
I'm not opposed to the idea in general, and I'm not opposed to being physically close to people I just met. However, my interest would largely depend on the atmosphere and the rules.

For-profit commercial things at a convention I probably wouldn't be into. If there was a small cover charge to offset the cost of renting space or providing refreshments or something that would be fine, but setting up a cuddle orgy to make money seems somewhat creepy to me.

As for atmosphere, I would not be into it if it was a "by taking part you are consenting to cuddle with everyone here" kind of thing. I need to be asked first, and be free to decline, or to say "let's talk a bit first," and I wouldn't be comfortable unless others are free to do the same.

If these conditions are met it would probably be something I'd be into. If I ever chose to go to one, I'll have to do some research into the particular event before deciding to attend.
 

AutumnalTone

New member
So since I think everyone that has posted here has said that they wouldn't do it, why do you think that it is such a common part of these conferences? How is this connected to polyamory?

I imagine they're common at conferences because there are folks who attend the conferences who enjoy them. Not everything at any conference is going to appeal to everybody, and cuddle parties are no different.

As for the folks posting here, those most likely to respond are those who have a strong negative reaction. Most folks likely won't care strong enough either way to respond.

I don't attend poly conventions, so I don't really care. On the larger topic of cuddle parties, I enjoy them--with or without strangers. I don't expect I'll ever pay to attend one, unless it's a couple of bucks to help cover space rent at a social gathering; paying for facilitators and such doesn't interest me.
 

LotusesandRoses

New member
I'm a touchy feely person, but to me, there's something barbaric about going into a room full of people with the intention of snuggling with them. It's like showing up to a lobster restaurant already wearing a bib.
 

drtalon

New member
The pajamas thing is weird and unnecessary, but cuddle parties seem fine to me otherwise.

I attended Reid's session at Loving More 2011 in Phila, and thought it was very good. That didn't include anything cuddle-related, but did include parts about consent and overcoming our own fears and shame about what we might want. I can see how some aspects of the cuddle-party concept are extensions of that.

It's possible I'm a bit of a Reid fanboy, and therefore, I don't see the uber-creepiness inherent in the system.

But, if there is something that you find creepy about the cuddle-party, why not suggest a way for it to be less creepy? What could be improved about them?
 

hyperskeptic

New member
But, if there is something that you find creepy about the cuddle-party, why not suggest a way for it to be less creepy? What could be improved about them?

The whole idea of cuddle parties with strangers has so little appeal for me and, in its commercial versions, strikes me as so creepy and wrong-headed that there is no way to improve them, other than not having them.

But it's really not for me to tell people not to have them, or to tell organizers of poly conferences not to include them on the program.

So, I'll just not go.

(But then - and please don't hurt me for saying this! - I find the idea of a poly conference itself a little odd . . . but that would be another thread!)
 

Tonberry

New member
I don't really thing it's creepy, just not for me.
The way to improve it for me (the way to make it so I'd be interested) was if it was only between people who are already close. But then why would you pay instead of just gathering together and hugging, since you're friends already? You don't need someone to do that for you.
 

NovemberRain

New member
It's like he's the poly/cuddle version of Tony Robbins. Both guys came out of Landmark (same thing as the Forum and EST).

I'm pretty certain that Landmark is not what produced the force that is Tony Robbins. Jim Rohn was his first inspiration, and most of his shtick is straight from NLP.

BTW, I think professional cuddle parties are major ick. I've never been confronted with one; but grateful to read about it, so I know what to avoid. Spontaneous, or workshop cuddles, with people I know might be fine.

I agree with hyperskeptic, no way to improve that ick factor except to not do it.
 
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