A friction party is a social gathering where adults take part in consensual, nonsexual physical touch. Friction party attendees may cuddle, massage one another, hold hands, and perform other nonsexual acts. These events aim to foster human connection and provide a safe space to give and receive affection and explore intimacy.
In many societies, non-sexual touching has been normalized, physical contact isn’t a romantic or sexual overture. The close physical contact of a friction party may be arousing to some people. However, overt sexual stimulation and sexual activity is not permitted at a friction party. All attendees should also remain fully clothed at all times. A friction party aims to be a safe space for people to enjoy physical interaction, but not sexual interaction.
A friction party is sometimes called a cuddle party. The terms mean the same thing, but relationship coach Reid Mihalko trademarked Cuddle Party when he started his business of the same name. The term friction party is not trademark-protected, so anyone can freely use it.
As “cuddle party” is a trademarked term, these types of parties are often run as business ventures. Attendees pay for admission and all members of the public who agree to the party’s terms are welcome. Friction parties are non-commercial.
While some friction parties are open to the public, these events may also be private, invitation-only affairs. People do not always pay to attend friction parties as they do cuddle parties, although some hosts may charge for their friction parties.
Only people trained and certified by Cuddle Party can host a cuddle party. In contrast, anyone can host a friction party. Cuddle party hosts, called facilitators, enforce the party’s rules. These rules are clear and consistent in parties held all over the world. They govern what cuddle party attendees wear and how they should ask for consent. Friction parties may or may not have rules. These rules can also vary between friction parties. This makes friction parties less formal social events than cuddle parties.
Despite the trademark, many people still use the term cuddle party as a synonym for friction party as cuddle party is a more well-known term. Other terms for friction party include cuddle puddle and snuggle party. Like friction party, both these terms are also not trademarked.
More About Friction Party
Attending a friction party can have several positive effects. Feeling touch with light pressure, as with a massage, slows the heart rate and blood pressure. It also reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. Natural levels of serotonin, the chemical in antidepressants and anti-pain medications, also increase. Many non-human primates engage in touching for just these reasons. All these natural reactions help people at friction parties feel happier and more relaxed.
For single people, a friction party may provide a rare opportunity to enjoy all the benefits of this kind of touch. People with partners who have different touch needs than their own may also enjoy friction parties. Some couples also like friction parties because they let them be affectionate with someone outside their relationship without any strings.
Consent is crucial for successful friction parties. While friction parties don’t always have formal rules, as cuddle parties do, make sure people agree to interact physically with you. Asking people whether you can touch or cuddle them directly, then waiting until receiving a verbal yes, as people do at cuddle parties, is a good idea. As with cuddle parties, people at friction parties should also feel comfortable withdrawing their consent if they feel uncomfortable at any time. Open communication can help people have the best experience at a friction party.
If you are romantically attached, you should also discuss your boundaries and expectations with your partners before attending a friction party. People should know what sort of touch they can engage in with others and what their partner might do. If you or your partners feel jealous at the party, you can renegotiate your agreement to ensure everyone has a positive experience.
While enjoying safe, consensual, nonsexual touch is what brings people together for friction parties, you are also welcome to say no to this touch. It’s not uncommon for some people to sit on the sidelines and observe others without participating themselves. Many people prefer to watch a friction party or two and observe how the events unfold before becoming an active participant. This is a valid choice that other attendees respect.