Is spooning a mate no big deal? What to know about platonic boundaries

There are no hard and fast rules, but the boundaries in platonic friendships are currently up for debate – thanks to Love Island.

Ron is now coupled up with Lana, but a shot of him in bed with Tanyel shows them discussing whether they can spoon now, and Tanyel concludes they can because they’re ‘best friends’.

If that seems a bit odd to you, you’re not the only one.

Hayley Quinn, dating expert at Match, says what’s acceptable is going to vary person to person – the key thing is you’re on the same page as the other person, as well as anyone you’re dating.

Things to consider before spooning a pal

She says: ‘Everybody has a different sense of what is and isn’t acceptable.

‘For some people, perhaps most, spooning is an intimate gesture saved for romantic partners.

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‘However, some people will spoon more “freely” and think it’s totally okay to spoon a friend.

‘The issue will arise when two people who are dating have very different boundaries around how much touch is appropriate with people outside of their relationship.’

But, simply, communication is key here.

But what if you’re in a relationship?

Hayley explains it’s about setting clear boundaries and listening to one another.

‘If you get the gut-wrenching feeling that one of your boundaries has been crossed, it’s important to talk about this openly with your partner,’ she advises.

‘Try not to judge your feelings and instead express what makes you feel uncomfortable.

‘Aim to do this in a non-blaming way: “I know this isn’t how everyone feels, but I feel uncomfortable when I notice you…”, until you’ve got feedback from your partner as to what their intentions are.

‘It is possible that they are engaging in this behaviour thinking, “it’s no big deal,” while you feel sidelined and disrespected.’

From here, it depends on whether you and your partner can reach a mutual understanding and agreement where both sides feel heard and respected.

And if you can’t, it’s perhaps time to assess if your relationship values align.

Hayley says it’s perfectly understandable if spooning feels a step too far outside of a romantic relationship.

Your feelings are valid either way.

She says: ‘Cuddling is an intimate way to show affection to another person and to many people will feel non-platonic.

‘However, there isn’t a unilateral rule about what is and isn’t platonic behaviour, this really comes down to each individual.

‘You won’t always be aligned with your partner on how you view things.’

One thing Hayley says you should be wary of, is noticing where a partner might be abusing a ‘difference of opinion’ – using it as an excuse to carry out behaviours that aren’t healthy or fair.

It could reveal a lot about how much they respect and value your relationship.

She explains: ‘The important thing is that when you express discomfort or a difference of opinion, your partner will hear you out.

‘If your differing opinion is undermined, e.g. “no one thinks like that,” or “you’re just being insecure,” then your date isn’t valuing your feelings.

‘Ideally, even if you can’t see things in quite the same way, you should feel listened to and that, at the very least, you gain reassurance from your partner.

‘If you don’t receive reassurance, and end up in an “I’m right, you’re wrong” tussle, then it could be a sign this relationship isn’t for the long haul.

‘Look after your self-esteem by respecting your own boundaries, and have enough confidence and self love, to calmly flag issues in your relationships.’

If it doesn’t sit right with you, it’s okay to say so – and move on.

And if it does, carry on.

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