Indeed, spooning is how people generally tend to get their cuddling in. It’s convenient: if you’re already lying down, the spoon position is just a half-turn away. And, it’s intuitive… just hugging someone from behind while lying down, really.
Keep in mind that there is a FINE LINE between cuddling and holding someone one down so they can’t get away.
But, are you really in love with spooning? It certainly does have its downsides. From the well-documented “spooning dead-arm”, to its universally dismaying but rarely discussed heat-transfer issues (no cuddling in summertime?), spooning presents cuddlers with a number of challenges. I my most persistent nights I have powered through these, possibly even attempting solutions (arm up under my head? creatively placed pillows? thermostat at 45 degrees? Windows open in the middle of winter?) None of these fixes, though, is totally successful—they fail to maximize comfort and closeness, or do so only at the expense of spontaneity. Typically once your arm falls asleep you wind up with ungodly amount of you partners hair in your mouth and nose and NO WAY to remove it. Then once you finally pass out, your partner scrapes her 3 day growth razor sharp leg across mine.
Have I come up with the ultimate solution to spooning’s flaws? No. In fact, this post isn’t about perfecting the spoon. It’s about dethroning it. Let’s get this out in the open: spooning sucks!
Don’t get your PJs in a twist, Spooninites. I’m clearly not about to cut in on your cuddling time. I’m not even saying you should never spoon again… necessarily. But I do think that if you give me some time I may convince you that the spoon is undeserving of its place at the top of the cuddling hierarchy. And frankly, you’ll be a better person for it.
The word “spooning” must cease to be synonymous with the word “cuddling.” Let the revolution begin.
First, let’s get back to those spooning problems we discussed. Arm circulation and heat are the ones most commonly complained about. That’s because these are big issues—ones that can really make you uncomfortable, and potentially convince you to stop cuddling altogether. Of course, I won’t stand for that.
From my perspective, these troubles are already reason enough to reconsider your primary cuddling position. The heat transfer issue, however, isn’t always bad. During the winter, you’ll be glad for the extra heat your cuddling partner is giving off… so let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the spoon isn’t out the window on its discomforts alone.
Unfortunately, it’d still have to go, because our main problem with the spoon doesn’t concern its painful bits. We’re disappointed by its lack of benefits. At the beginning of my cuddling research, I devised a simple system for evaluating the pros and cons of any cuddling position. If you go by my Big Three metrics, the spoon is missing out: it doesn’t take enough advantage of comfortable body parts, isn’t particularly good at handling uncomfortable ones, and doesn’t allow the little spoon to easily touch the big spoon with their hands (which means no massaging or caressing!) And as far as I’m concerned, those are the elements that lead to good cuddling.
Let’s look at these issues one by one:
First—Utilization of Comfortable Body Parts
The most comfortable portions of the human body are all center mass—chest, stomach, lap, and butt. In the spoon, we rest all of our weight on our sides (or, to make matters worse, on your own arm—but we’ll get to that in a minute.) That means that we’re not utilizing any of this valuable real estate as a cushion, other than for the occasional grind or squeeze. And that’s a serious waste.
Second—Neutralization of Uncomfortable Body Parts
Perhaps more distressingly, the spoon doesn’t do anything to alleviate stress or discomfort on our head and limbs. Our heads get no support from the spoon—but this isn’t usually too big of a problem, and is generally resolved by the prosthetic lap/breast (i.e., the pillow). Our bigger issue comes from the limbs—our arms are either lain on (terrible,) dangled in front of us (awkward), or, in the case of the lucky one, giving a hug. Our legs generally aren’t made any more comfortable, either. (There is the capacity for some leg intertwining in the spoon, and I do recommend this IF YOUR PARTNER HAS RECENTLY SHAVED. But it’s limited by the one-directionality of the position. Limbs faced in opposing directions intertwine more easily.) Overall, the spoon doesn’t make you any more comfortable than laying there by yourself—and may make matters worse.
The final metric in the Big Three concerns our hands. The best cuddling positions will allow us to comfortably massage or caress our partners’ bodies. In the spoon, only one out of four hands has any significant ability to stimulate its partner—the big spoon’s free hand. The little spoon has limited, blind reach… and we’ve discussed the remaining hand’s terrible fate quite enough.
Beyond the big three, there are actually three “little issues” that affect the spoon. These are attributes that may or may not be desirable, depending upon the situation. We’ve discussed one little issue already—the spoon’s got an extremely high heat transfer rate. Because the position basically consists of pressing the cuddlers’ torsos together, things can heat up very quickly. This may be desirable on cold nights, but otherwise it means you’re going to want to peel your upper bodies apart in short order. That’s where the spoon breaks down—if you’re not touching up top, you’re not really cuddling at all anymore. That’s where all the action was.
Secondly, spooning doesn’t allow for eye contact, by its nature. This may or may not be desirable, depending upon the circumstances—if you’re trying to fall asleep, eye contact might be distracting; if you’re cuddling to connect, you might miss it.
And finally, spooning is asymmetrical—frankly, being the big spoon sucks, and the little spoon is where it’s at. I believe that this is one of the reasons for the misconception that men “don’t like to cuddle”. As we’re usually the larger party involved, guys tend to be relegated to the big spoon, which is the short straw. This asymmetricality might be good in certain cases (say, if you’re pampering the little spoon) but it could lead to resentment in others (like when you’re cuddling with me.)
Given all the problems listed above, it’s actually hard to understand why the spoon has become the most common cuddling position there is. As far as I can tell, it’s related to couple’s sleep habits, and some of the difficulties posed by sharing a bed (which is a complex challenge with many options better than the spoon) I’m fond of pointing out, however, that cuddling should occupy a more important part of your lifestyle than “that thing I do while I’m drifting off”—and I thereby reject the Tyranny of the Spoon. Hopefully, the objections I’ve raised have convinced you to at least consider doing the same.