As someone whose relationship goals are focused on one-night stands rather than long-term monogamy, I’ve learned the importance of cuddling responsibly.

When it comes to intimacy, I operate on an inverted sexual diamond, with first base equaling penetrative sex, hitting a double leading to oral, cuddling is third base and a home run would be kissing. Consider me a graduate of the Kit de Luca School of Courtship, where sluts are taught, a la “Pretty Woman,” never to kiss a trick on the mouth.

I’m kind of a gold-medal cuddler, to the point my last ex-boyfriend nicknamed me his Snuggle Bear in the opening weeks of our five-year relationship. That’s because I view cuddling as an artistic sport, similar to water ballet or pairs figure skating, with symbiotic rhythm in our legs, torsos, arms and necks, until our heartbeats synchronize and we coalesce under the covers.

I’ve made the mistake of cuddling with booty calls before, only to have my casual affection misinterpreted as a marriage proposal, and one of the main benefits of being militantly single is avoiding the awkwardness of unrequited emotions. It had been years since I was lying intertwined with another man, but it felt nice to start my Father’s Day weekend snuggling with my newest regular, and end it in the arms of the guy I’ve been hooking up with the longest.

Neither cuddling session was planned, or laden with assumptions about exclusivity, just our bodies absorbing each other and the moment. Watching a marathon of “Chicago Ink” on Sunday evening, my cuddle buddy asked me how I met the mutual friend who introduced us 12 years ago.

“On Men4Now,” I said, feeling no pressure to make up a more respectable answer. “But he and I have never had any type of physical contact beyond hugging or hand shakes.”

“Why not?”

“Because we met under the pretense of something else, either smoking or tennis, and I was determined to keep it at that,” I said. “I remember being at a point in my life where I needed friends I hadn’t fucked, and he was one of the first strictly platonic friends I made as an adult.”

Our mutual friend moved away, and it was another year before I again saw the guy who would eventually be my Father’s Day date. We bumped into each other at the club, then did some bumping-and-grinding on the dance floor before heading to my apartment and enjoying the sex we had both wanted since we first saw each other.

Had he asked me to be his boyfriend that night, I would’ve eagerly, foolishly, accepted. Instead, he soon moved to another state, too, and it would be six years before I saw an online profile of someone who resembled him, and asked if he knew someone by the name of our mutual friend.

“Ryan!!!” he replied, matching my delight. We had sex that night, and about twice a year since then, but our Father’s Day kickback was our first time connecting since last June.

“Then and now, you are everything I want in a man,” I told him as we talked about when we met. “Your looks, your style, your vibe, your voice, your heart – which is why I’m so glad we were never boyfriends.”

“Why you say that?” he asked with a laugh.

“Because we wouldn’t be here right now,” I said. “I know you love hard, and you’re mean as fuck, and we would absolutely hate each other after a couple of years together.”

“I do love hard.”

“And I love you,” I said, sincerely.

“I love you, too,” he said, unconditionally.

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