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Can Friends Cuddle? (13 Important Things to Know About Cuddling)

June 7, 2024

If we’re being honest, guy-girl friendships can be a bit complicated, especially when both parties are heterosexual. According to a 2021 study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, most relationships started off as friendships. When you hangout with a guy friend frequently, a certain attraction might creep in. This is why people wonder if it's right for friends to cuddle. 

The good news is that there is such a thing as a friendly cuddle and it's normal. After all, hugging is a comforting gesture, says Healthline. Nonetheless, not all cuddle positions are appropriate for close friends or platonic friendships; there are also certain things that shouldn't be done during a friendly cuddle session. 

So, if you need to ask, "Is it normal for best friends to cuddle and hold hands?" or “is cuddling a sign of love?” This is the right article for you. Additionally, to properly understand the difference between a friendly cuddle and a romantic cuddle, keep on reading.

What Types of Cuddles Are There, and Do Friends Cuddle?

Yes, it is possible for friends to cuddle with each other. Cuddling is a form of physical affection that involves close physical contact, such as hugging, snuggling, or spooning. While cuddling is often associated with romantic feelings, it can also be a way for a close friend to show affection, appreciation, and support for each other.

You and a best friend may cuddle for a variety of reasons, such as to celebrate a special occasion, to provide comfort and support during a tough time, or simply to show appreciation for one another. Cuddling can strengthen the bond between friends and help to build and maintain close relationships.

Here are some common types of cuddles for friends:

1. The side hug

The "side hug" is a type of hugging where one person wraps their arms around the other person's shoulders or waist from the side, rather than fully embracing them from the front or back. Side hugs are often seen as a more casual or less intimate form of physical affection than full-on hugging, and are often given as a friendly greeting or farewell.

Side hugging can be a good option for people who are not comfortable with more intimate forms of being affectionate, or who want to show affection in a more subdued or low-key way. They can also be a good choice for people who are not as close or familiar with each other, as they can be seen as platonic. 

Side hugging can also be a helpful way to build and strengthen relationships. They can also be a comforting and supportive gesture in times of stress or hardship.

To give a side hug, one person can stand to the side of the other person and wrap their arms around their shoulders or waist, pulling them close for a brief embrace. It's important to remember to ask for consent before hugging someone, and to respect their boundaries if they are not comfortable with it.

2. A friend hug

a friend hug

A "friend hug" is a hug given between friends as a sign of affection, appreciation, or support. It is a type of platonic, non-romantic hugging that is meant to show that two people are close and care about each other.

Friendly hugging can be given for a variety of reasons, such as to celebrate a special occasion, to show appreciation for a kind gesture, or to provide comfort and support in times of hardship or stress. They can also be given as a casual greeting or farewell between friends.

Friendly hugging can take many different forms, from a quick embrace to prolonged, close hugging. They can be full-on hugging, with both people's arms wrapped around each other, or they can be side hugs, with one person's arms wrapped around the other person's shoulders or waist.

3. The butt cheek

It's a surprise that this next position is called a cuddle, some would say it's a reverse cuddle. However, it does classify as a cuddle, it's just better for friendly cuddling. If your cuddle buddy is a best friend then you would probably prefer to use this one since there isn’t too much touching involved.

The butt cheek involves both cuddle buddies lying on their sides but facing opposite directions. Both butt cheeks and lower backs should touch, while the knees are usually bent close to their chest. 

The butt cheek cuddle can be quite playful and that’s why it's better suited for you and a best friend; you and your cuddle buddy can stretch one leg out and play footsies if you’re interested.

This may not be the best position if you’d like to watch movies on the couch, a bed seems more appropriate for that. The butt cheek can also be done by couples but not as a sexual thing, it's more of a fun, playful cuddle position. So, if you and your significant other just want to spend quality time together without sex on your mind, this is perfect for you too.

4. The leg hug

The leg hug cuddle is great when sleep is on your mind but you’d still like your body to touch the other person at night. This position is perfect for romantic cuddling but can also be adapted to friends. Leg hugging is quite simple, when you’re both lying on whatever side of your body, relax one leg on your partner’s leg or hip.

This type of cuddle might be weird for some and might not be appreciated by a friend you aren’t very close to, even if it's not necessarily an intimate cuddle. Some guys just don't want your legs on their body. 

On the other hand, a best friend, cuddle buddy, or a very special person wouldn't mind your leg on theirs or their leg on yours, especially if you're frequent cuddle buddies. 

Leg hugging isn’t exclusively suited for romantic hugging, even though you can definitely do it with the guy you’re dating. It's more of a night time cuddle that lets you hold your partner and still maintain a comfortable position for a good night’s rest.

5. The lap pillow

This cuddle position is quite popular and can be used by friends, partners, parents, siblings, anyone. The lap pillow doesn't even have to be confined to your personal home space, if you're outdoors with your partner in an informal setting and you’re interested in resting your head, you can do the lap pillow. 

It's more suited for the park, a picnic, the beach, etc., as opposed to doing it in public places like a restaurant or hospital. Even though the lap pillow can be used between two people in a non-sexual friendship, it is usually attributed to couples and might be weird to be used on a friend who’s not very close. 

The lap pillow may not display as much intimacy as some of the other cuddle positions, however, it's still a pretty endearing act. It involves one partner sitting up while the other rests their head on their (the first partner's) lap. 

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It's a fun, playful form of cuddling and isn’t likely going to lead to sex, but is common and perfect for people in a relationship. If you’re all cuddled up on the sofa with your partner and he’d like to sit up, you can use the position to maintain direct contact.

What Are the Differences Between Friendly Cuddling and Romantic Cuddling?

1. Intent


Friendly cuddling is typically given with no romantic or sexual intentions, while romantic cuddling is often given as a sign of love between romantic partners. In a romantic relationship, cuddling may be a way to express love and affection, and to feel physically close and connected to one's partner. 

In a friendship, cuddling may be a way to show appreciation, but without the romantic or sexual undertones that may be present in a romantic cuddle.

Also, your intentions will determine the way you touch your friend and what kind of cuddle you're going for. If you don't have hidden feelings for this person and you just want a nice warm snuggle with a friend then you will keep your touches as minimal as possible. 

2. Boundaries 

When you're cuddling with your best friend, you will definitely make direct contact with them. It is important to always ask for consent before cuddling with someone, and to respect their boundaries if they are not comfortable with you touching them. You don’t want them feeling a certain way.

In a romantic relationship, partners may have a greater understanding of each other's boundaries and preferences when it comes to touching, and may be more comfortable with a more intimate relationship. 

In a friendship, it may be more important and honest to talk to them and explicitly ask for consent. This way, it shows you’re more mindful of the other person's boundaries. Remember that everyone has different boundaries and preferences when it comes to cuddling with friends, and it's important to communicate openly and honestly about what is and is not comfortable.

3. Location

Friendly cuddling may be more likely to occur in public or group settings, while romantic cuddling may be more likely to occur in private or more intimate settings. Romantic partners may be more likely to cuddle in bed, on the couch, or in other private, cozy locations, while friends may be more likely to cuddle in public or at events or gatherings.

Location also applies to where on the body you touch. No-strings-attached cuddling doesn't involve touching sensitive areas, groping or stimulating touches; all these lead to intimate acts. Instead, stick to a friend lying pat, a comforting embrace and other friendly types of touch. 

4. Mixing breath

Still on the topic of proximity, friendly cuddling should never be close enough for your breath to mix with his. This means that if you start to notice his breath on your face, try moving a few inches away so there's enough space between you two. 

Meanwhile with romantic cuddling, the less space between you two, the better. Even when you're talking with your partner, you're never tired of being extra close to him. If you're doing the cuddle burrito, the half spoon or another extra affectionate cuddling position as a couple, things are likely to get a bit heated

Since both your bodies are quite close to each other, you're likely going to end up between the sheets. Cuddling positions like the spoon, the half spoon, etc., are all cuddles that allow you to mix breaths with your partner. Perhaps try avoiding these cuddles with friends who happen to be guys. 

5. Lower body contact

Being a best friend with the opposite sex can be tricky; you could have a normal friendship with this person one day and after one wrong touch you’re wondering if there's more to it. This is why people question the idea of cuddling with friends and if there’s an honest way to keep things appropriate. 

Believe it or not, people in the same social circle do cuddle and there are several cuddle positions that you can do with your guy friends. The first main difference between a friendly hug and romantic hug is the presence or absence of lower body contact. 

Cuddling with a romantic partner is definitely more intimate so your lower bodies are allowed to touch. In fact, in most cases, the lower body contact is very intentional especially when things get a bit heated. On the other hand, friends have no need for this type of contact. 

Touching lower bodies with your friend will be way too weird, it's these types of unwanted contact that can ruin a friendship. So, whether you're spooning with your friends who happen to be guys, or you’re just holding hands, try to keep a safe distance between your lower body and his.

6. Frequency of touching

frequency of touching

Romantic cuddling usually involves lots of touching. Even if your love language isn't physical touch, you definitely enjoy touching your partner from time to time. You're also going to love it when he touches you.

According to studies, the way you feel about your partner reflects in the way you touch them. A good cuddle already affords you a chance to enjoy some physical touch with your partner, however, sometimes you need more than a cuddle when you're with your partner. 

7. Duration of the cuddle

The duration of a cuddle can vary widely depending on the context and the intentions of the people involved. Cuddling can range from a quick embrace to a longer, more prolonged affectionate encounter.

In friendly cuddling, the duration of the cuddle may be shorter, as it is often done in a more casual, spontaneous manner. Friendly cuddling may involve a quick embrace to show support, or it may involve sitting close to each other for a short period of time.

In romantic cuddling, the duration of the cuddle may be longer, as it is often done as a way to foster intimacy and connection between partners. Romantic cuddling may involve prolonged physical contact, such as holding hands, entwining legs, or spooning, and may last for several minutes or even longer.

8. Kiss or no kiss

Platonic cuddling should never lead to romantic kisses like a French kiss or smooches. A friendly peck is no big deal, but a whole smooch could cause a rift in your friendship. 

So, if you're cuddling up with your friend, try to keep a safe distance and avoid touches that may lead to anything steamy. Sometimes even people who don't have feelings for each other can get carried away by physical contact. 

On the other hand, in romantic cuddling, kissing is very much welcome. Most couples use cuddle sessions as part of their foreplay since it's a pretty intimate way to connect with your partner before sex. 

Cuddles that involve being completely close to your partner are more likely to lead to the steamy stuff. So if you're doing a cuddling position like the cuddle burrito, there's a big chance you may end up kissing or smooching. This is how you know that it's a romantic cuddle.


Does cuddling mean anything?

The act of cuddling simply shows that a person has some kind of affection towards you; it's like hugging but in different resting positions. People with all sorts of relationships can cuddle and it means different things in these different relationships. For couples, it could mean trust and romantic love while to people who are related or just friends, it's a sign of endearment.

Is it okay to cuddle with someone you're not dating?

Yes, it's okay to cuddle with someone you aren't dating. There are numerous different cuddles and you can experiment with the more moderate ones if you're cuddling with a friend. A cuddle may be required if your friend needs comforting or when you're just having deep conversations.

Can I cuddle with a friend while in a relationship?

If you're in a relationship and you feel the need to cuddle with someone who isn't related to you, there may be an intimacy problem in your relationship. It's possible to have a partner who doesn't necessarily enjoy physical touch. In this case, if your love language is physical touch you will definitely feel slightly neglected. Cuddling with someone you aren’t in a relationship with is not advisable.

Can cuddling be platonic?

Yes, cuddling can definitely be non-sexual; you don’t have to be in a romantic relationship to be able to snuggle up with a friend. In fact, studies have shown that a friendly cuddling can be quite therapeutic and can help with issues like high blood pressure. So, apart from the fact that cuddling feels good, it is actually quite good for your health.

In Conclusion

I hope you found this article helpful. Remember, the act of cuddling can mean different things to different people depending on the kind of relationship they share. The cuddles you have with your girlfriends aren't the same kind you will have with a man. 

So if you have a guy friend you desire to cuddle, be sure to do things right or else he’ll think you’re interested in him or trying to make the first move. It might be best to talk to him to hear what he thinks about cuddling.

Please let me know what you think about this article in the comment section and be sure to share it with friends.

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