Study Reveals 93 Percent Of Male College Athletes Have Cuddled Or Spooned With Other Men


A study published last month in the journal Men and Masculinities revealed that 39 out of 40 white, male, British university undergraduate athletes have shared a bed with another guy; 37 out of 40 of them have also cuddled or spooned with other guys too.

Most participants cuddled with other guys for physical comfort and because they felt safe around their same-sex friends. Another student cited cuddling as a way to help one another recover from hangovers.

While such a small study's findings do not necessarily apply to the world at large, the researchers concluded, “the expansion of esteemed homosocial behaviors for heterosexual men is evidence of an expansion of changing conceptions of masculinity in contemporary culture.”

That is, young men might feel more comfortable touching one another because social attutudes towards masculinity are changing as well.

The New Republic also notes:

“Sociologist David Plummer also thought homophobia was responsible for the taboo on same-sex touching: ‘Homoeroticism is … excised from same-sex interactions through homophobic stigma, leaving little but physical violence and particular ritualized sporting activities as outlets for male same-sex touch.’”

(top screencap via)

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  1. says

    That photo is of RJ Aguijar (Shep68/The Not Adam) who used to write here and Ken from Still Soundly Awake, who are both part of fairly famous YouTube gay couples.

  2. james st. james says

    Athletes have more self confidence and because of the general adulation they receive they are more willing to be themselves without fear of rejection.

    Also physical strength makes you feel less vulnerable.

  3. Leo says

    They’re British. Duh. The culture is vastly different. There’s not the branded, ingrained insecurities involving keeping straight-guy bonafides, a prerequisite of which here includes avoiding with peril anything approaching male bonding, showing any form of emotion, or exhibiting novel concepts such as humility, nuance, and subtlety because that too is equated with femininity. It’s pathetic, and it isn’t changing any time soon in the States.

  4. petey says

    I have to strongly disagree with the idea that a reduction in homophobia leads to greater touching between men. On the contrary. Cultures with the strongest anti-gay laws have the most touching between men. In Pakistan, straight men hold each other as they walk down the street. Never seen it in San Fran.

  5. Jack M says

    I agree that the results are a direct reflection of the British culture. It surprises me greatly to think that American men cuddle to such a great extent; I really don’t think it happens much at all.

  6. dixichuk says

    @Charles. Maybe not. At a wedding reception recently..about as gun totin frat boy as you can get. The girls were of course dancing together, but what sort of pleasantly shocked me was the boys grinding each others crotches, twerking, and all sort of “homosocial” behaviors from very stereotypical heterosexuals. Maybe things are changing.
    @waynempls..I thought that was RJ. Will have to get caught up with Shep689.

  7. james st. james says

    “They’re British. Duh. The culture is vastly different.”

    That reminds me, British, Euro, boarding school. Don’t forget the boarding school effect!

    And maybe it’s just a phase.

  8. John says

    Only 40 people is not a accurate study, but my personal experience and conversations with straight friends indicate that this is for the most part true.
    Guys that are comfortable with themselves have no issues expressing themselves.

  9. Janit says

    Notice they’re all white too. Ask 40 guys in the UK of muslim descent, and the number drops to 0%. It’s a cultural thing.

    On a related note, I just emailed Prince Harry asking if he wanted to spoon tonight.

  10. BrokebackBob says

    Are you serious? This is how bi and gay men find each other. No completely straight man would ever do this. Did they measure how fast they both got boners when they cuddled or spooned?

  11. Rick says

    Excellent findings and confirmation of my observations that the male culture is undergoing a quiet revolution of sorts in which men are making EACH OTHER their primary sources of social and emotional fulfillment, having recognized the folly of relationships with women, women who cannot understand them and offer them very little real value in any way, anymore.

    As I have also noted, this revolution is not being led by “gay” men, who, as some of the comments in this thread demonstrate, are utterly bewildered by the phenomenon, because they have become so ensconced in the gay-straight dichotomy and the culture of effeminacy that has come to define “gay”.

    This change in the male culture will, however, by eradicating homophobia, ultimately eradicate the lines between “gay” and “straight”, as well….in fact, the whole idea of “gay” will disappear as male intimacy–emotional and sexual–becomes the norm rather than something to be stigmatized…….and that intimacy will DEFINE the new masculinity, which will still retain all its traditional attributes, as well (minus the homophobia and the social and emotional dependence on women that came with it).

    And this phenomenon is hardly unique to the UK–after all, American homophobia is rooted in Anglo-Saxon homophobia……and one is seeing the same sort of intimacy developing between young American men (the “bro” phenomenon)

    Women, beware. Your little game is about to come to an end. And effeminate gays, also beward, YOUR little game is about to come to an end, as well.

  12. Chaz says

    Holding and proper cuddling is gaining serious traction in young men now. It’s not the issue that it was.

    Black guys are still very leery about it though. A socially ingrained defensiveness linked to identity makes it harder for many African American men to express tenderness to anybody. But it’ll change.

  13. Houndentenor says

    This sort of thing used to be common. Then men became terrified that any physical contact with other men would lead to them being labeled as gay (which was the worst thing that could happen to them). I think this homophobia did a lot of harm to straight men. it led to them being closed off and isolated. I have a lot of straight friends who have no problem being physical with other men (hugging, etc.). They are in their 20s. They are straight. (Seriously, these guys are pussy hounds!) But because they don’t care if someone thinks they are gay because they aren’t but so what if they were, they act on feelings of affection and companionship. It’s not sexual for them but it is a kind of bonding with friends. It’s healthy and it’s progress. A kind of restoration of friendship to its rightful place in our culture.

  14. Paul R says

    I’ve cuddled with more straight men than gay men. I’ve had sex with more gay men than straight men. Straight men who stay at my place always want to sleep in my bed, because my bed is amazingly comfortable. Gay guys tend to link it to sex.

    People are different. Straight guys are comfortable around me. Some straight guys like feeling vulnerable or cared for without it being sexual. Who cares; it’s not a big deal. I don’t try to have sex with my straight friends because, guess what? They’re straight.

  15. tinkerbelle says

    @Paul R—I’ve had the same experience, and it was always nice to cuddle with a straight friend knowing that no sex was on the table (so to speak). Just a moment of pure sharing, no strings attached.
    Oddly (or not) a lot of my fantasies center today on what “might” have happened “if”…

  16. EchtKultig says

    If you spend enough time on the internet (and I probably spend too much) it’s quite easy to see this is true in the US too, albeit for somewhat different reasons. We tend to (reasonably) dismiss Rick’s posts as those of a raving lunatic, but he touches on a bit of truth here. Now that “teh gay” has been revealed to be a paper tiger – you can’t catch teh gay from not hating teh gay – normal, well-adjusted, non-brain washed heterosexual men are finding out that male-male intimacy can be satisfying, in a non-sexual way. In other words there’s no longer a taboo about it because we are becoming a non-homophobic society. Petey, your comment misses the mark rather astonishingly: the curve is a U-shaped function, not a linear one. The MOST homophobic societies, yes, can have open M-M intimacy, because homosexuality is something so verboten as to be inconceivable. OTOH, very open societies can have M-M intimacy for the opposite reason. Homosexuality is so unremarkable there would be no fear in someone else thinking you were. For most of the 20th century the problem was America was in the middle. Although, for example, at my highly ranked liberal arts college in the mid 1990s, I recall a picture ended up in the yearbook of 2 frat boys I knew were straight, mock kissing. (back then, 2 closeted frat boys would never have done that…and yes, I knew a couple who were: they made a point to act more butch and homophobic, as you would expect. One is now a somewhat well known gay activist) So, it’s always been around, it’s just more public than ever.

  17. Rick says

    @ECHTKULTIG You make an intereting point in response to Petey, but you are not entirely correct, either. In reality, as any of us who have spent a great deal of time in Islamic countries knows, homosexuality is only “inconceivable” and “verboten” in those societies at an OFFICIAL level. The reality of the street is that sex between males is rampant–it is, in fact, easier to get laid with another guy in the Middle East than it is just about anywhere else in the world, because bisexuality is so common.

    The reason for this is that the genders are largely segregated and the only role that women play in men’s lives is mothering their children and keeping their homes. Romantic love is not taken seriously and marriages to women are largely for the sake of creating offspring.

    What IS rejected in Islamic countries is the Western concept of “gay” with its effeminate connotations and its representation of men who have sex with other men as pseudo-women, weak and cowardly.

    What I hope to see eventually is a convergence of the Islamic model with the new male culture that is emerging in the West, so that women become peripheral to men’s lives and men have total freedom with each other–socially, emotionally, and sexually–which is the way I believe nature intended us to live…..

  18. Jim says

    This is not a valid or factual “research” study. 1. 40 men is not enough to make any research valid. The sample (men) must be in the upper hundreds for this to be a legit study. 2. The sample was only guys from England. It is a huge flaw in the “study.” 3. In order to be valid, the men studied must be from different backgrounds and cultures. Only studying university undergrads nullifies the results.

    I wish these gay sites would stop promoting such b.s. This is a useless study and is no more correct than just a guess or a whim.

  19. fairi5fair says

    @Jim very good points. People are taking this seriously with only 40 subjects? That’s ridiculous.

  20. EchtKultig says

    The study probably is ridiculous, but not because it has 40 participants. There are standard ways of insuring that a selection gives a “representative sample”.

    Rick, the difference between your worldview and reality is that in reality, there are still almost exclusively gays and straights. Not this “most men are bisexual” nonsense. Every fraternity poker game doesn’t end in a orgy like it does in gay pornos. It’s quite possible that in the Middle East the genetic or epigenetic factors that cause homosexuality are more common, and that more of the population is closeted than in the West. It may be true that western gay “femininity” is somewhat socially constructed, but Middle Eastern “bisexuality” is about 10X as socially constructed. It’s just gay men who have to feign heterosexual identities. I’ve been cruised by a couple middle eastern guys in the DC area who were married w/children. They were closeted gays just like all of the other “straight” men who have cruised me. Not magical visitors from an enlightened culture where everyone is bisexual and loves M-M action.

  21. EchtKultig says

    In fact I personally think that these woman-hating, highly reactionary cultures probably make the gay gene go crazy in a populace. If one accepts the possible world where it does have a genetic component – yes, that is still an open and alas politically incorrect question. Why? because there’s no way to reduce its expression. At least if you look at the feudal European system, the 3rd son, who’s the most likely to be gay anyhow, was to become an unmarried cleric. That would tend to reduce his chance of having a lesbian daughter. (There was a recent study suggesting that father-to-daughter and mother-to-son transmission of LGBT sexuality may be more common. Anecdotally, that makes sense to me. I’ve known a couple gay fathers who had non-gay seeming sons – one was a star football player at my HS…but others who had lesbian seeming daughters. A dumba-se homophobe would probably assume a gay father would “transmit” his gayness to his son.) And lesbian woman could choose to be unmarried by taking religious orders. No option exists in Islamic culture where woman are even more like property than they were in Medieval Europe.

  22. Neil says

    Per Huffington Post:

    “McCormack says Anderson, who expanded on the study, found similar behaviors across country lines, though American men were found to engage in those behaviors less frequently.

    “British men are more advanced than American men in doing this, but these behaviors are still occurring, and we predict that increasing numbers of American men will engage in them as they realize the benefits of doing so,” McCormack said.”

  23. says

    If they are only surveying athletics, of course it’s such a high number. If there are any away games where they stay the night, it’s very likely that they put four guys in a room with two queen-sized beds. Under those conditions, most guys will swallow their pride and pair up in bed.

  24. emjayay says

    But oddly, in the US younger guys at the pool much more often keep their trunks on in the shower and do the towel dance in the locker room (which is really ridiculous). Probably not at all the case in the UK.

    The reasons are complex and deserve a really long discussion.