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Tame topic: Cuddling

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PatientTraveller
Posted

Saw a love documentary on cuddling services in the US and reminded me of time with a platonic friend, where we just felt safe and comfortable with each other; even we had our own rooms, we'd commonly sleep in the same bed together and cuddle up together and in intimate positions. This was great when days where tough or draining, or just when life made you feel alone. Not sure about anybody else but I love cuddling especially after a play session, guess I like it as part of aftercare.

What's your thoughts on cuddling?

Posted

I'm very glad to see this topic brought up on the forum so thank you for posting it PatientTraveller. Coincidentally I was just reading an article about a scientific study which was studying the beneficial emotional and physical effects of touch, which I will post after my own comment's regarding cuddling.

 

For me cuddling - or as I would probably more accurately describe it, "Snuggling" - is a vital part of any relationship, be it vanilla or kink/BDSM. The intimacy and the care that is taken when we allow ourselves to snuggle up and cuddle with our partners is an essential part of bonding in the human experience and this holds just as true when entering or experiencing D/s relationships as it is with any other form of relationship. Without the intimacy and closeness of a warm and tender cuddle or embrace there can be no closeness between partners and as such this is something that for me as a Dom is not only vital to share with my sub's but also something I crave from them in return. This type of cuddling and snuggling is what helps to cement our bonds, to allow us to feel cared for, nurtured, loved and protected. A good cuddle cannot only alleviate stress, anxiety and pain but can comfort anyone who is in a heightened emotional state. I cannot and will not agree to be in any form of D/s relationship with someone who does not value cuddling and snuggling as a way of sharing closeness and intimacy. This intimacy and closeness is essential not only for the after care after any BDSM type session or themed roleplay, but for anyone who hopes to foster any manner of long term loving or caring relationship with a partner, be they a Dom, Sub or anything and everything in between.

 

Now to take this theme a step further I will tell you about my experiences in having come across several young men and women who were either incredibly upset emotionally and often borderline suicidal. When I have come across these young men and women one of the most important parts of being able to talk to them, comfort them and give them an outlet for their pain or suicidal thoughts has been to have close physical contact with them. Often this starts by talking to them and asking them to hold my hand as we talk and relate to each other. This small and yet simple sounding act is key in letting the person know that there are talking to someone who cares about them and their emotional state deeply and is not afraid to be there for them. As conversations have gone on from there there are often many hugs, embraces and crying on shoulders which are shared and I am happy to say that I know that I have helped some young men and women to avoid taking their lives due to sharing the intimacy of tender touch, cuddles and care and have been told as much by them later on in life when our paths have crossed again.

 

Many studies have shown that in babies for example, the act of a tender touching actually helps to nurture  newborns and skin-to-skin contact with parents and caregivers may help shape how their brains respond to touch, a sense necessary for social and emotional connections and well being and well adjusted development. Plenty of previous research has linked skin-to-skin touch with developmental benefits for both premature and full-term babies, ranging from improved growth and sleep to better motor development. Research has also tied breastfeeding and other forms of supportive touch to less discomfort during needle sticks and other painful medical procedures.

In one study, researchers tested how 125 premature and full-term infants responded to gentle touch. Overall, the preemies were more likely than the full-term babies to have a reduced response to this contact, the study found. But preemies who had more gentle contact with parents and caregivers had a stronger response to touch than the preterm infants who didn't get this type of support. The preterm babies who had more exposure to painful medical procedures also had a reduced response to touch. The findings add to our understanding that more exposure to these types of supportive touch can actually impact how the brain processes touch, a sense necessary for learning and social-emotional connections. What is surprising is that painful procedures which are known to impact processing of pain in the brain also impact processing of touch, in a negative way. Pregnancy normally lasts about 40 weeks, and babies born after 37 weeks are considered full term. In the weeks immediately after birth, premature babies often have difficulty breathing and digesting food. They can also encounter longer-term challenges such as impaired vision, hearing, and cognitive skills as well as social and behavioral problems.

The preemies in the study were born between 24 and 36 weeks gestation, while the full-term infants arrived between 38 and 42 weeks. They all participated in the touch experiment before they were discharged from the hospital where they were born. Newborn development, especially in the first few months, is heavily shaped by touch and sound, as the visual system is still very immature. Touch is a way for infants to learn about their surroundings and an early way to communicate with their parents.

To evaluate how newborns respond to touch, researchers exposed all of the infants in the study to a light puff of air and a "fake" puff of air and measured their brain responses. Researchers chose a puff of air because it does not generate enough pressure to activate any pain receptors, Maitre said. If the infant brain can respond to this touch, babies can also learn how to tell the difference between different textures, for example the difference between their mother's skin and a hard object, or even their father's stubbly cheek and their sister's soft one.

Preemies who were in the neonatal intensive care unit and spent more time in gentle contact with parents and caregivers had a stronger response to touch in the experiment than the preterm infants who didn't get this gentle contact, researchers report in Current Biology. However, the more painful medical procedures those premature infants had to endure, the less their brain responded to gentle touch later. That was true despite the fact that the babies were given pain medications and sugar to make those procedures easier to endure.

One limitation of the study is that researchers couldn't control for opiate use, because all infants undergoing painful procedures received some type of analgesia, the authors note. Researchers also lacked data on the intensity of pain infants might have experienced during different treatments or tests. Still, promoting gentle touch for all newborns - and especially preemies - may help develop building blocks needed for cognition, behavior and communication.

 

Quote

Soothing touch eases the pain of social rejection, study

The soothing power of touch eases both physical pain and the sting of hurt feelings, say researchers - a finding that may be increasingly important in our social-media-driven world.

When someone hurts an arm, they may brace and rub it to make it feel better. In the past 20 years, scientists have discovered that our hairy skin has cells that respond to a stroking touch. It's a trait we share with other mammals.

Now psychologists in England say their work shows, for the first time, that a gentle touch can be a buffer against social rejection, too.

In an experiment described in this week's issue of Scientific Reports, researchers recruited 84 healthy women and told them they were going to play a game of Cyberball, an online ball-tossing game.

What the women didn't know was that their "opponents" were computer-generated avatars.

Participants were told they could throw to anyone they wished, and they believed everyone would play fairly.

When participants reported feeling excluded by the other "players," receiving a slow-paced stroke reduced hurt feelings from the perceived rudeness compared with a faster stroke.

The study builds on previous ones showing that receiving touch from loved ones after a physical injury is supportive.

"In our lab, it's tiny in effect, but the fact that it is significantly, systematically so across many participants is important," said the study's senior author, Katerina Fotopoulou, an associate professor of psychology at University College London

Participants rated how much they felt 'liked'

Pain is ubiquitous across medical disciplines. Yet touch has been shown to improve outcomes in people with rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia and in pre-term infants, the study's authors said.

By better understanding how touch relieves pain, hospitals could start to design programs to apply its soothing effects to patients, along with other approaches, Fotopoulou said.

In the experiment, participants threw and caught the ball 30 times. Then they rated the extent to which "I felt liked" and "I felt I belonged to the group."

At this point, researchers kicked up the deception a notch. The other "players" started to toss the ball only between themselves, excluding the participant.

Next, participants were blindfolded and the sensory portion of the experiment began. A trained experimenter stroked the participants' skin for just over a minute with a soft brush.

Some received a relatively quick stroke, while others received a slow one. Fotopoulou said a speed of three centimetres per second "generates maximum feelings of pleasure." What's more, it's the same speed that cells in much of our skin respond to in a comforting way, as scientists recently discovered.

Fotopoulou said what she likes about expanding touch to make people feel better is just how simple it is.

"Sometimes a touch can speak a thousand words."

Our brains are attuned to combining information from our five senses. And when much of our time is spent engaging with social media, which relies on visual and sound cues alone, it's easy to forget the power of touch, the researchers said. They imagine a way to literally reach out and touch a friend online instead of just "liking" a post or texting an emoji.

In person, a hug or caress goes a long way.

"It just requires two bodies doing a very natural thing, socially appropriate and yet it seems to have a very specific effect ... that is very plausible given everything else we know in neuroscience and psychology about opioids, oxytocin, all these systems that mediate social bonding."

Much of the understanding on bonding comes from studies of newborns and mothers.

In infants, touch, whether it's stroking, or holding, is very comforting. It helps the baby to recognize mom by unifying the senses, and helps a newborn regulate temperature better than an incubator, said Ann Bigelow, a professor and researcher of developmental psychology at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.

Bigelow followed a group of mothers and newborns for three months and studied how skin-to-skin cuddles helped.

"The babies do seem to tune into their mother better," Bigelow said. "It's not just that the baby gets physiologically more stable. The baby is just more attentive to the mother and will be more responsive.


Researchers still need to look at how cultural differences, temperature and responses among men differ, said the authors of the U.K. study, which was funded by the European Research Council.

I would be very happy to hear about what cuddling, snuggling or a a tender touch means not only to other's but in particular other Dom's or Sub's in D/s relationships, so come on folks don't be shy and share the love ;o)

Short_Elf
Posted
There's someone how works close to where I live & one of their few jobs are/is cuddle therapy, think they do have the title of "Cuddle Therapist". I have looked in to it a little bit myself & cuddle therapy & being a cuddle therapist is a thing. I love a good cuddle! I can proudly say I'm a hugger, cuddler & a snuggler! Yes some people are more in to cuddles & some people aren't in to cuddles, hugs ect. I do agree with Robustlove that cuddles ect are an important part of any relationship (inclouding kink/BDSM, vanilla & friendships!!!) X x
PatientTraveller
Posted

I'd like to say thank you for sharing on cuddling, I'll be honest I was worried that the topic might be too tame or that cuddling would be dismissed as not being active enough. 

Robustlove brings up a good point on how cuddling can help those in a difficult situation or how snuggling builds a bonds. Sometimes it is just holding or being held that is needed to spark more positive gentle emotions;  or just enabling tears or words to flow to make room for something more positive.

Short Elf is right sometimes cuddles aren't for everybody, but sometimes knowing that cuddles available is enough.

Thank you again for sharing, love the idea of cuddling and snuggling being similar and maybe not quite the same.

 


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