Though many say laughter is the best medicine, we’d argue that spooning comes in at a close second. There’s just something about letting your walls fall and getting close and personal with someone that can really take a day from good to great. Even if you’re new to spooning, you’ve probably at least heard the term — and if you’ve cuddled with anyone at all (even non-romantically), chances are, you’ve actually spooned before. So, what’s the deal with spooning, and how exactly is it done? Let’s break it down.
What is spooning?
Spooning is a type of cuddling where two people lay on their sides, with one person’s back against the other’s chest. The person on the outside of the spoon formation is known as “the big spoon,” while the partner on the inside of the spoon formation — with their back facing their partner’s chest — is known as the little spoon. This type of cuddling is called spooning because the two people resemble two spoons resting neatly against each other in a utensils drawer.
What does it mean if you’re spooning with someone?
Spooning can mean any number of things, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a sexually-charged or romantic act — though, it certainly can be that as well. Spooning could simply mean you want to comfort someone or be comforted. The act of spooning could also show you’re comfortable feeling vulnerable and close to someone. So, if a person is spooning you, it probably means they like being close to you and perhaps want you to know they’re there for you, both physically and, hopefully, emotionally.
If you’re the big spoon, this might mean you’re the protective person in this scenario. Or perhaps, the one who is comforting the other person. If you’re the little spoon, this might mean you’re feeling protected, safe, and maybe even a bit submissive.
How do you spoon with someone?
Spooning is a super-easy cuddling position that you’ve probably already done with someone you’re close with. You can also spoon with a stuffed animal, pillow, or anything else you can comfortably wrap your arms around.
1. Lie down. Spooning is a horizontal cuddling position. Therefore, get comfy on a soft, flat surface.
2. Decide who is going to be the big spoon. This can either be done through verbal communication, or you may just naturally move into a big/little spoon position. Sometimes, the taller person may prefer to be the big spoon. But be sure to ask your partner what they prefer, or if they even have a preference.
If you are spooning an inanimate object, like a pillow — which can sometimes feel just as comforting as a partner — you will likely be the big spoon.
3. The big spoon should wrap their arm around the little spoon’s waist. It’s like a half-hug — your grip shouldn’t be too tight, yet it should be firm enough that the little spoon feels safe and secure. Your other hand can either go under the little spoon’s head/neck, under the pillow, or somehow tuck it under your own body or behind you (this positioning can get a little uncomfortable after a while, so feel free to switch it up if need be).
Those who are spooning with a pillow or stuffed animal have the luxury of squeezing as tight as they like and forming the pillow to fit perfectly against your body.
4. The little spoon should curl up to fit perfectly within the big spoon’s embrace. Tuck your arms into your chest and let the big spoon, well, spoon you.
5. Don’t worry about what your legs are doing. They can either be intertwined, next to one another, or totally apart from your partner’s — do what feels most natural and comfortable. And legs shouldn’t be an issue if you’re spooning a pillow or stuffed animal—get as comfy as you can!
What are the different kinds of spooning positions?
“Spooning can involve any full-body contact with a partner,” Davis-Fainbloom tells O.school. Although “big spoon” and “little spoon” are the two most common spooning positions, there are a few alternatives to the basics.
- Try different leg layouts. Some couples prefer to intertwine their legs together while spooning, whereas others prefer to curl their legs together in a way that mimics the chest-to-back position. Others even like to lay on their sides straight in order to keep their backs and legs stretched. Experimenting with these positions will help you and your partner narrow down which spooning position works best.
- Spoon in the nude. Skin-to-skin contact has positive effects on our mental state and attitude, and therefore, consensual nude spooning with someone you love romantically will enhance your connection with them. Nude spooning can also feel great after engaging in and connecting with one another via sex.
- Take your spooning to different locations. Spooning doesn’t have to be reserved for just the bed. Some people like spooning while laying on the couch and watching television. Spooning on the couch can be fun for both partners because the big spoon, with their back against the back of the couch, also feels protected in the cuddling scenario. If you’re the big spoon in this situation, you may have to adjust pillows, or rest your head on your arm to properly watch TV.
What are the benefits of spooning?
The short answer here is that spooning makes you feel good, but there are lots of other benefits of spooning, too.
- It enhances intimacy. Because the spooning position can feel like you are protecting a partner or are being protected, spooning can help two people feel more emotionally safe with one another.
- It helps you sleep. According to sex and relationship expert Niki Davis-Fainbloom, spooning releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which strengthens the immune system, reduces blood pressure and can help you sleep better.
- It helps regulate the nervous system. Sociologist and Clinical Sexologist Sarah Melancon, PhD., tells O.school, “The human autonomic nervous system is designed to respond positively to affectionate touch, especially skin-to-skin. Regular touch helps regulate the nervous system and keep you in the ‘social engagement system,’ when the ventral branch of the vagus nerve in the parasympathetic system is activated.
- It helps you feel more centered. “By regularly snuggling and spooning, you’re feeding your social engagement system,” Dr. Melancon says. “This will help you feel more calm and centered, and less reactive. It can help you build resilience, and as a regular practice can be a safe space to relax and let go.”
As long as communication lines stay open and the act is consensual, spooning is a fun, relaxing, and comforting way to spend time with someone. While spooning doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic act, it can certainly help bring two people closer to one another. Also, remember that spooning doesn’t have to involve a partner. You can spoon a pillow or anything else that feels comforting to you. However you choose to spoon, just relax and let your mind slip away, like you’re just a little utensil in a drawer.