On Nuzzling

My Family and I have gloriously unusual lives, and an internal culture of affection and magic that sometimes makes me think “Why don’t more people do more of these things? …Oh, right, because nobody talks much about stuff like this. Including us. Oops.”

So let’s. I’ll start by sharing the simplest, most common way we’ve learned to express affection for each other: nuzzling.

Our girlfriend Lucy was the one who brought this in, and it’s impossible to express in words how good it feels. Some of us nuzzle each other more often than we kiss. It’s not a sexy gesture; it’s a soft, comforting, “I love you” gesture. It’s emotional touch.

To perform it, think of yourself as a small furry creature. One of us is a rabbit when she nuzzles. I nuzzle like a puppy; we also have some cats and one otter. Whatever you like that has fur and a face. Press the end of your snout (the “nose” for you humans) against your partner, then keep pressing, rubbing the side of your face against them as far as you like. Most of us nuzzle from snout-to-cheek, so the sense is of fur being being pressed down against the other’s skin.

If that doesn’t seem intuitive, watch just about any video of a four-legged mother mammal playing with her young. Or find a friendly cat and let it mark you with its scent glands. THAT gesture. It doesn’t really matter whether you do it fast or slow, smooth or twitchy. Try it all and find your style.

You can nuzzle any part of your partner and it’ll feel good to them. Torsos, shoulders, and necks are easy to reach and pleasantly intimate. It’s usually done asymmetrically, with one partner nuzzling and the other focused on receiving, but both-at-once works fine if you’re feeling flexible. Nuzzling faces can be especially attention-getting and often leads to other things.

If this sounds silly and childlike to you — it is, and you should totally try it. Nuzzling has made us feel more ‘together’ together. It’s been playfulness when we’re feeling romantic. It’s been comfort during stress or grief. If there’s someone you’re close and cuddly with, give this a shot. And then tell me how it goes! If you’ve been nuzzling for ages, I’d love to hear about that too. I know we’re not the first people to ever do this, but I believe it must be rare, because in my eclectic romantic history I’d never run into it nor heard it discussed.

That’s why I’m spreading the word, and encourage you to share. This is an affirming form of touch that I can no longer imagine not having in a relationship. It just hadn’t ever occurred to me to try until I felt it myself.