Eye gazing versus cuddle parties

Submitted by freedom on
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Search has been a tad buggy as the site gets re-indexed. I’m pretty sure this is another post that’s been sitting around for a while (6 months or so).

Keep in mind I’ve had only limited experience with these events filtered through my own perspective. Your experiences may differ due to the hosts, who you are, mood, others who are there, etc. Both are worth trying.

Eye gazing party -e.g., http://www.eyegazingparties.com

The one I attended provided two minutes of gazing, round robin style, with roughly 20 people of the opposite sex. Everyone gazed with everyone in sequence while seated. Men moved. Women stayed put. One does not touch. One sits on chairs with several inches between partners’ knees. There was background music. I would have preferred silence and better lighting. There was a mixer before and after the gazing. To my surprise, some people just disappeared afterwards. I used the time to get feedback and feel out what people thought of the experience. The feedback was as valuable as the gazing itself and I got a better sense of who might come to this and why. There are not enough such events.

Cuddle party - e.g., http://www.cuddleparty.com

This was a roughly three hour event that began with an introduction and ground rules. The rules were largely common sense. I found it interesting that needed a rule to set clear boundaries or ask to touch and await a verbal yes. Apparently, people have a hard time saying no. They stress maybe means no. They start with practice saying no to questions like "May I kiss you" and “Would you liked to be kissed?” Kissing is a gray area at these events and rarely happens. There is a one-on-one discussion with another person (can be same or mixed sex) about which rule resonates strongest. Then a group game where others ask you anything they want and you say no, followed by the same game and you saying yes. The idea is to feel and get comfortable with yes and no as acceptable choices. Nothing spoken about is acted upon in any of the games. They also stress that if one has a real-life partner, there should be clear rules established beforehand about what cuddling is ok at this event. People remain fully clothed in more or less long pajamas. All touch requested or offered must be must be verbally agreed to.

The good:
I liked that they offered the option to leave after the intro if it wasn’t for you and get your money back. I don’t recall that being offered at any other events I’ve attended.

The bad:
Their communication standard seemed less than ideal because in real life it might be better to say roughly “I’d like to kiss you. Would you like to receive that?” That expresses desire and recognizes the other’s choice. I get that it was a quick game. If people need real practice, then make it real and fully expressive. It was scripted and from training literature. Perhaps a revision is needed.

The cuddle party seemed to promote consumerist touch. Sure, it wasn't sexual. But, it was also without meaning. It was touch for the sake of touch without intent. It was a short-circuit way to get oxytocin. But there is always intent of some sort and here it seemed the goal was the intent to touch and get the good feelings. It seemed goal oriented. It didn't seem that different than going to a bar seeking sex or even using porn (ok, perhaps a bit harsh). It left me feeling agitated and unsatisfied in some sense. I’m open to trying again and might change my opinions. People’s minds seemed to drift indicating they weren’t fully there or engaged. There was plenty distracting chatter. I sensed people were at times uncomfortable and drained.

The comparison:

At both events I heard things one might hear mentioned here. However, many people where not well informed and some seemed to have some confusion (maybe I’m among them). Neither event type is a cure-all or likely to instantly change one’s life views.

Overall, I preferred the eye gazing to the cuddle party experience. The cuddle party should not end so abruptly. I stayed a little later to chat. It was mostly get a fix, perhaps chat, and go. People seemed to be having deeper than normal conversations after the eye gazing than after/during the cuddling. Eye contact is a more useful skill in some ways and one that several men and women here have said is hard to do without feeling too seen. The Richardsons in Tantric Love: Feeling Versus Emotion speak of difficulty with eye contact as a symptom of emotional blockage. Even if one isn’t blocked in any way, it is good to have practice with feeling while gazing and detecting emotional issues with the eyes. This was a nice non-verbal way to be seen. Women seemed to have more trouble and fidget more. Some mentioned this to me afterwards. Men seemed more serious about it and willing to fully engage according to some of the female comments. Don’t put yourselves down guys. We can hold our own with the women.

I felt one could readily make a solid friend through the gazing event. I’m much less sure about the cuddle party. The gazing was fully egalitarian and about deep linking. Even the people that came with a friend in tow had to rough it one-on-one in gazing for about 40 minutes. The cuddle party inevitably leads to ranking as it is not realistic to cuddle equally with everyone. It can be distracting processing others’ cuddling. The gazing triggered subtler emotions and stretched the senses. We are much more sensitive than we think. Interesting and somewhat amazing things happen with different pairs. . . mirroring, sending and receiving, energy exchange, blinking, smiling, laughing, heart rate changes, body movements, breathing, etc. In comparison, cuddling was a bit intense and somewhat boring.

I’ll try to answer questions or feel free to PM me.

my hat would be off to you (if I wore a hat)

really fascinating stuff, that you went to these and participated. Not sure I'd have the guts to do that even if I were single. I did find it fascinating. i think the cuddle party was maybe a good idea poorly executed, as you seem to indicate, or maybe it's just a bad idea for some reason. But I am very convinced that the power of cuddling and touch is so wonderful and that many or most of our problems are solved this way, and that we need to figure this out better so we can all get the benefit, not just those of us in committed relationships with a partner who willingly engages, but everyone else.

Hey, in some ways we treat our dogs and cats better than we treat each other.

Thanks. I'm good at wandering

Thanks. I'm good at wandering to places on my own. Sometimes I'm glad I did a little more investigating before jumping in.

There could always be facilitation snafus. Both events had glitches and of course I saw ample ways to improve things.

I went to another event that drew on some touch principles leaning slightly more into the sexual space. It wasn't overtly sexual. More arousing perhaps. I got a similar vibe there too of it being a bit too much. It felt quite similar to the way PMO can hijack our brains. Once you do any battle with these neurochemical-triggering beasts, you know and see trigger elements everywhere.

I'm not saying we don't need touch. I'm saying that we can't lump all touch together. Touch will most often include a healthy, healing component. There is, however, another aspect that can go unnoticed due to the overpowering neurochemicals. I seem to be sensitive to that and detected some of that. I can't quite describe this aspect. Perhaps it's boundary related. Or perhaps it is something else.

We might be better off focusing on bonding activities, one of which is healthy touch. You'd be surprised at eye gazing if you're open too it. It's fun to play with random strangers. Why are humans anxious about looking in other's eyes. It might be some social programming in childhood. Are there cultures where solid eye contact is the norm?

The word is spreading

I was in a convenience store today, and I paid with plastic. Peering at the device, the instructions said "Please insert your card", which I did. I waited and some more writing appeared. As well as being asked for my PIN number, I was presented with this:

"Did your assistant engage you with eye contact for this transaction?"

I burst out laughing, before reading it aloud, looking at the assistant, and asking her if this was a standard message. She averted her eyes, saying she had no idea, since it was only customers who saw it.

I assume the message was meant to encourage shoppers to initiate eye contact themselves, if the assistant, forgetting their training, failed to do so. On reflection, it's quite a neat ploy, sharing the onus this way.

The shop certainly needs a bit of help, as it has always had uniformly discourteous, unfriendly staff.

Interesting. I recall reading

Interesting. I recall reading somewhere that women in retail sometimes resist management requests to always make eye contact with customers because men sometimes interpret it the wrong way (ie, as sexual interest rather than simply being polite). I can see how it would happen.

Ha ha!

Love it.

Thanks for the report from the field, freedom. Good for you. In the Courtly Love tradition, eye gazing was considered the most powerful bonding method lovers could use.