Fall for a cuddle buddy and weather winter together


November 03, 2007|By MARYANN JAMES

We're into November, and it's finally starting to get chilly. If you're single, you know what that means: It's time to start looking for your wintertime cuddle buddy.

As more of my friends have settled into relationships in the past month (as well as myself), I have developed a theory. When it gets colder, people subconsciously -- and sometimes, consciously -- seek out someone to cuddle and spend the holidays with.

Jeffrey McGrath, 29, of Hampden has been coupled up since September. "Right when the Arctic winds started to blow," he said jokingly.

He says the season was not his main reason for settling down. But he says the body's need for "creature comfort" and contact was part of it.

"Your body's requirements are as important as the mind," he says.

Reid Mihalko, co-founder of Cuddle Party, couldn't agree more. Humans' need for touch was the main reason he and Marcia Baczynski started Cuddle Party, which trains facilitators to get strangers comfortable and cuddling.

"As our society gets more and more modern and people are moving away .... our culture has become less touchy," he says.

But the hugs and holds that we get as children are not any less important when we grow up, Mihalko says. "Everybody needs touch."

For Cuddle Party, which has franchises across the country, including Columbia, fall and winter are the prime seasons. And just as people seek out cuddlers, Mihalko says, people seek out relationships for the same reason.

"It's about this need --whether it's cultural, psychological or biological -- to partner and snuggle up for the winter," he says.

Levi English, 51, started his relationship with his soon-to-be live-in girlfriend 3 1/2 years ago, around Valentine's Day. The season was a factor.

"You get in that bed and reach over, and there's that cold spot over there," he says. A wintertime cuddle grew into 3 1/2 years.

"The more involved that I got ... I wanted her there every night," English says.

He says he's not the only one. He's seen plenty of people go down the same track, whether it's because of the holidays, loneliness or boredom.

"Around that time, you just get more vulnerable," he says.

Andy Madison, 22, of Patterson Park believes spring is the prime time for loving. But he didn't dismiss my theory outright.

"I guess the idea that [some people are] gloomy and [they] don't want to weather that alone is pretty true," he says. "I think it's maybe like a fainter echo of after winter's over, and it's spring and everyone feels alive again."

But he still thinks spring is the prime time. I think the cards may be a little stacked in his case. How long has he been with his girlfriend?

"Since early spring. Maybe that's why I think what I think," he says, laughing.

Still, most people I talked to thought I was crazy. Nobody said so, but I could see it in their eyes. I got a lot of "I've never thought of it that way" from people -- a nicer way to say you're crazy. Summer is the time for hookups, spring is the time for loving, they say.

"There's a lot going on in the winter," like the holidays, says 24-year-old Amanda Hagen of Pigtown. "So there's a lot of commitment."

And newly married Nick Hoover of Federal Hill said it's all about summer lovin'.

"People expose more flesh then," says the 27-year-old. "In the fall and winter, you're covering up and, as shallow as it may seem, all of us are more turned on to less clothing than to big overcoats."

Perhaps there are some holes in my theory. However, I still stand by my belief that we all need someone to hold, especially when it's cold outside. If people aren't planning ahead, they should be.

When the winds start blowing in January and all you naysayers don't have someone to cuddle, don't look at me. You should have planned ahead.

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