SpooningI like to be spooned. I admit it. I’m unapologetic about my desire to curl into my man’s chest and stay there. For those who aren’t familiar, the term spooning refers to a cuddling style whereby two people sleep side-by-side, curled into each other in the fetal position. One person is nestled into the other person’s chest (like spoons). When I’m spooned I feel safe, warm and, sometimes, a little frisky, but somehow I end up as the big spoon – the person on the outside holding and supporting her mate.

Relationship after relationship, men twice my height and weight get into bed and nestle themselves into my chest. When I don’t shift into ‘big spoon duty’, they slyly wrap my arms around their large torso. Night after night, in all of my relationships I become the reluctant big spoon. In the morning, when we wake, I’d lie on my back and these same large men would cuddle into the space where my chest and armpit meet. In all situations, I’d end up with my arms wrapped around my beloved. They looked both peaceful and oddly pathetic. I’m physically uncomfortable and irritable.

So I’d do what I thought “good girlfriends” do: I’d kiss them on the forehead and judge them silently …

“What’s with dudes wanting to be up under me,” I’d ask my friends.

Many of my friends shared the same sentiments; they remarked about how odd it was that men wanted to be little spoons. They complained of the weight on their chest, or the lack of reciprocity, but not all of my girls shared my disdain.

“I like it,” my friend Jai once said. “I like to feel the warmth on my belly.”

Now, I’m no monster. I don’t have a problem with a balanced spooning relationship, but for some reason this behavior was often one-sided and consistent. After years of looking down at the man in my arms, I started to wonder: what does this behavior actually mean?

I devised elaborate theories about men who aren’t man enough, but then I met the love of my life and he professed his love for spooning. I had to dig beyond the disdain and really figure out how I felt.

Patti Wood, a body language expert and author of Snap: Making The Most of First Impressions, Body Language and Charisma, has some unique views on how sleep positions can indicate latent desires. She believes that when a man wants to be a ‘little spoon’ it can indicate that, “he wants to feel protected and taken care of. In those situations the woman may be the breadwinner or caretaker.”

She had the following tips to share:

1. You can’t judge a pattern from one night:
Patti warns that when looking at cuddling and sleeping patterns, it is important to examine behavior over a span of time. “It could just indicate that he had a bad day, or lost his job.” Because many men (and women) have trouble communicating their needs, a little late night spoon might just mean he needs a bit of extra affection. Before jumping to conclusions, it’s important to really assess if this is actually a habit.

2. How you wake up is more important than how you fall asleep:
One of the light bulb moments, for me, was that every man who ever wanted to be spooned by me didn’t actually fall asleep that way. We’d get in bed, spoon and talk for a while, and then we’d sleep in separate corners. Patti says, “It’s possible that you have a ritual when you get into bed, but how you wake up is more telling. The majority of body language comes from the more primitive part of our brain, so body language reveals our true feelings. When we sleep we’re our most honest, vulnerable selves.”

3. Look beyond the big spoon:
Apparently body language happens in clusters. This means that a man who likes to be little-spooned isn’t necessarily looking to be coddled without giving love and affection in return Patti says, “There are things he can do to show reciprocity. If he’s reaching back to grab you or if he kisses you, it shows reciprocity. It says I want to love and I want to give you love in return.” For me, part of feeling frustrated by the constant big spooning, was the idea that there wasn’t a mutual exchange of comfort. Realizing there are other non-verbals can take some of the frustration away.

4. Bring it to a verbal level:
Because body language can indicate feelings that we might not consciously own up to, Patti suggests bringing your concerns from the subconscious to the verbal level. “Now, don’t say ‘am I going to have to do this all the time,” she warns. “Instead, talk about your needs and his. Ask him if there’s anything going on that he may want to talk about.” I can’t say this will go over well, but if you decide to talk about it, Patti suggests the following: “Men are most receptive to confiding in you when you are laying side by side. If you want to ask him about his feelings, consider lying side by side instead of sitting face-to-face.”

So, after pondering and researching and talking it over with my friends, I gathered up the courage to ask my boo why he likes it. With body language tidbits and compassion in my head, he looked at me and shrugged: “I just like to feel your breasts on my back.”

The truth is, when you love someone, you kinda sorta don’t mind it at all.

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