Men strike out in fear when they think they are losing power. War and rape are examples where most of us can acknowledge this parallel. What’s less clear is that men might be not only afraid to lose power but deeply feeling a loss of intimacy and community.
What if what men really want is a kind of community—a vulnerability and a warmth—they feel is inaccessible to them? In a recent GMP article, Publisher Lisa Hickey discusses the importance of the tweets of Charles Clymer, where he linked sexism, male privilege, and a desire for intimacy. My article builds on his ideas and offers consensual, non-sexual touch as one powerful vehicle to create that intimacy.
Touch is a human need and men have a right to touch and be touched with love, empathy, and empowerment. It is possible for men to create a background of intimacy and a ground of health based on consensual touch and being seen. This healthy intimacy helps men find power from within rather than power over.
Cuddling—consensual, non-sexual touch with clear boundaries and expectations—can support men to become stronger and more confident, feeling more control in their lives and claiming their rights while bringing pleasure to others. This is both empowerment and intimacy.
In the following example, notice how cuddling was the vehicle for intimacy to unfold in Matt’s life rather than a momentary respite from his loneliness.
Matt came to me in transition. Having just left his job; unsure whether to stay in Colorado or move; feeling overweight, lonely, and unhealthy; and wanting a girlfriend but being unable to commit, Matt came to me to be held.
As we talked and got to know each other, we cuddled. As always, our clothes stayed on and each touch was intended to be pleasurable but not arousing.
I rested my hand on his belly and he asked me to massage in circles. Tears came to his eyes. He confessed that I was the first person in three years he’d let touch his belly as he was ashamed of how big it had gotten.
Using my coaching background, I asked him some questions about his feelings and sensations and we gently encountered energy in his belly that felt like a sleeping cat. Cat-like it wanted to be touched and loved but also wanted independence and freedom.
Matt had been resisting and trying to silence his cat-like belly through overeating and overworking. As we softened into welcoming each emotion as wisdom, Matt’s energy softened and strengthened.
We saw each other a few more times and each time was rich with physical and emotional experiences which I coached him to integrate through touch, visualization, and sharing.
Our last session was very different than our first. Clean shaven and excited Matt told me, “I have a job interview and a first date this week. I’ve committed to staying in Colorado but have some great travel planned.” He added, “I’m definitely flowing through stressful periods much better. I’m optimistic about all of it, and I don’t think I would be without your help.”
Our sessions helped Matt trust his body and his desires. Our cuddling helped him find integration.
According to Dr. Dan Siegel, renowned brain scientist, “Integration is seen as the essential mechanism of health as it promotes a flexible and adaptive way of being that is filled with vitality and creativity. In a relationship, integration entails each person’s being respected for his or her autonomy and differentiated self while at the same time being linked to others in empathic communication. A result of integration is kindness, resilience, and health. We can actively “inspire each other to rewire” our internal and interpersonal lives toward integration.”
This sounds like good intimacy to me.
Working with a Cuddlist is a pleasurable path to both integration and intimacy. It gets each person to see and touch one another just as they are. Beaming love at my clients, I open my arms, my heart, and my mind to them. They don’t need to change for me to love them.
Their heart rate will slow and steady just by being close to mine. They will feel more compassion and belonging because I am feeling those emotions as I hold them. They will feel less anxious, happier, more relaxed, and even get sick less often. Effortless improvement takes place. When we add coaching support to this relaxed and receptive state, clients find empowerment within a few hours that they’ve been searching for for years.
Being held and heard is a powerful doorway for men to access intimacy and power. Cuddling in groups can be a good fit for many men. They find they have the power to ask for what they want and get it without hurting anyone else.
Through the experience of professional cuddling, each man becomes more confident while gaining access to intimacy, not just with me, but with his whole life.
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