Can You Join Cuddle Party Anytime You Want?

Cathy: So Reid, someone just wrote in and said that obviously if it’s a pile of people in a play party or pile of people at a cuddle party you can just join in anytime you want.

Reid: Who wrote that? This Cathy Vartuli from

Cathy: This is Reid Mihalko from

Reid: Bring them to me.

Cathy: So, they were replying me and talked about and said to say how to ask to be part of this, part of something. And I want to emphasize that it’s not okay just to join in any, ever with sex or cuddling or touch. Unless you have blanket permission from people beforehand.

Reid: In which case that means you’ve already negotiated that it’s okay to do that. If you went to a restaurant you saw a table of eight and there was a ninth chair, just because people are together in groups is not an invitation for you to sit down and start eating their food. And again like we live in a culture where how we talk about consent is very weird “culture” gives us really bad information about navigating modern day the modern day world and there are so many now alternative communities from especially around sexuality or even just touching intimacy from cuddle party to swingers and kink BDSM to Polyamory to queer play parties to straight play parties to like there’s a whole gamut and range of alternative cultures or you know subcultures where they might have their own rules.

Cathy: Right, so how do I say no in a play party? If I’m going to play party in someone like the person that wrote in just assumes they can come up and start touching, how do I say no?

Reid: Well, what you shouldn’t do is go ‘Alala” don’t do that because that’s just annoying because that was probably annoying. What you can do is say “excuse me, I didn’t hear you ask for permission”.

Cathy: Looks like hi.

Reid: Hi. So, I like it when people ask and give me space for saying yes or no.

Cathy: Oh, I’m sorry.

Reid: Before they touch me.

Cathy: Okay, What other else can you do? Hey …

Reid: Hi. (removes Cathy’s hand)

Cathy: And what if I don’t have a voice like a lot of people are shyer, and they may have had bad experience.

Reid: Do it again. (removes Cathy’s hand)

Cathy: Okay, what if you have trouble doing that.

Reid: Try again. That’s the cat response. Why are you keep doing this?

Cathy: I thought [Inaudible 00:02:39]. One thing I do is if I feel I’m much better at it now but when I was first going to events I couldn’t always say “no” I was like “ah” so I would excuse myself I have to use the restroom, I have to drink of water, “Oh someone’s looking for me” I would make an excuse because I felt kind of pinned in the corner and ideally we can use our words and saying I don’t remember saying yes to that or I prefer you ask before you touch. And if I couldn’t it’s much better to take care of yourself and get away go talk to someone and say “hey listen” but you often play parties will have either lifeguards on duty or something like that you can go and talk to one of them or the first in organizing,”hey that person was touching me and I didn’t know what to say” and maybe that person knew or then they can get upgraded.

Reid: Yeah, I mean the observation is that it can be tough to learn how to speak up especially if you have a life history where your voice was kind of silenced or taken away from you or you were taught to endure things you didn’t like. A lot of us grow up in families where we had to endure our parents fighting or bullshitty adult behavior and we were young and we’re just trying to like not upset anyone further and you know Betty Martin who’s a great teacher and educator talks about how we’ve all had our diapers changed when we didn’t want to or picked up and put in the shopping cart or the stroller when we didn’t want to. You know so we have to be suspicious about our own well developed ability to tolerate things and kind of not notice them. And when you think about that and realize how many people have gotten really good at tolerating things, one of the biggest things you might arrive at if you do the math is oh me stopping and asking for you to say yes or no me asking for permission before I do anything with you or inviting you to say yes or no to something because it doesn’t always have to be like “hey may I touch you? It can be like you know “would you like to touch me or would you would you like me to rub your shoulder?”

Cathy: Right, or could we just flirt just for a few minutes?

Reid: Yeah, those interactions are so strange, because we were never taught to do that most of us. But when you actually do the math about what people are struggling with.

Cathy: It could make a huge difference.

Reid: Makes a huge difference so ideally in a perfect world the person’s like “oh, ah” or “oh crap, I didn’t ask I’m sorry I’m a touchy feely person. And please accept my apology but I love to connect with you and do it physically may I touch your shoulder?”

Cathy: Oh, Yeah. Just being asked that way is like “cool”.

Reid: It changes it. And bonus points if you can do it in a way that really gives them energetically if you’re woo. The space to say yes or no like I’m really inviting you to say no if you are no. Which again if you do the math meaning encouraging the other person to say “no” even if it stings creates a situation where if they say no to me, even in this world with so many people tolerating things and don’t want to upset anybody. But now that you’ve said no to me that means I can trust your future yes more than if I “please say yes. I don’t want to be disappointed I don’t want to be disappointed”