Holding hands, cuddling, tangling your limbs together as your faces smoosh and carefully coordinating your breathing so that you inhale their exhaled air in a perfect slumber? Not intimate enough! If I could, I’d cut open my stomach, along with my partner’s, and sew our intestines together so we’re one sickening entity whose very existence spits in the face of God, together forever.
But I guess some classic penis-in-vagina will have to suffice.
For most of us, falling asleep with one partner still inside the other is peak physical connection, whether it be connecting our genitals with other genitals, other holes or other extremities. Whichever way we have sex, we sometimes long to keep the connection beyond the life of the act itself. Or, sometimes, it just happens: You have an orgasm, maybe you’re a bit intoxicated, and you simply fall asleep while still inside your partner/your partner still inside you.
This act now has a name: “swaddling.”
Per Urban Dictionary, swaddling is defined as “when two lovers fall asleep or cuddle whilst one is penetrating the other. No thrusting is involved.” Again, a lot of the time, this is simply a happy accident: Kitty Stryker, a Bay Area writer and queer porn performer, tells me that swaddling happens to her “all the time.” “I fall asleep after orgasm if it’s good,” she says. “It just happens.”
Other women recall it happening under less-satisfying circumstances, though the memory is still fond. “We were both very very drunk, and it was very late/early,” says Kristine, 25, in Georgia. “I woke up to him on top of me, still inside and asleep, too. Then I woke him up and we both laughed about it. It was cute and we started dating.”
But for some, swaddling isn’t just a thing that “happens” — it’s a pre-planned portion of cuddling. “I usually bottom, although I’ve been the top in this situation before too,” explains Ryan, 24, in Brooklyn. “I see it as the pinnacle of horny cuddling. It’s complicated to set up, though, because usually I and whoever my partner may be move around too much after cumming to just go straight to sleep. So the set up is more intentional than, like, a lazy post-fuck nap.”
Essentially, then, the idea of swaddling is that it’s lovey-dovey, but erotic, too. “There’s something about the intimacy and connection (and how good it feels) to fall asleep like that and wake up with someone still inside you that’s *chef’s kiss*,” says Ryan. “It’s definitely a way to make me fall in love with whoever may be sleeping with me.”
For others, it also has a kinky dynamic, with the phenomenon of waking up with someone already inside them/waking up inside another person lending itself to the dominant-submissive dynamic. “There are elements of power and control here,” explains my colleague Isabelle Kohn. “The person inserting the penis/dildo/finger into the other person and falling asleep like that is essentially saying, ‘There are no limits to when I can fuck you, and I’m not going to stop just because of a little thing like sleep.’ The person with the stuffed orifice is essentially saying, ‘I like offering my body to be fucked at any time by this person.’”
If swaddling sounds like something you’d want to intentionally incorporate into your fucking, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first, of course, is consent –– don’t go waking up your partner with your still-inserted penis unless it’s something you’ve chatted about prior. Your health is another thing to consider, but your usual sex precautions will probably apply: If there’s an unwanted risk of pregnancy or STIs, swaddling with or without a condom could present a problem. It is, for example, hypothetically possible to ejaculate in your partner while you’re sleeping, and if you’re swaddling post-sex with the condom still on, cum could escape the condom while you’re inside. (There are also, of course, all the usual problems that come with falling asleep with the condom still on.)
Beyond pregnancy, it’s vagina-havers who are still more likely to face some consequences from swaddling. Infections are the most common issue, either from a condom getting lost inside the vagina or from urinary tract infections. Swaddling doesn’t increase the risk of a UTI per se, but not peeing after sex can, which is to say, if you or your partner are prone to UTIs, it may not be wise to transition seamlessly from sex to swaddling.
All that said, swaddling can be a very sweet act for people who enjoy being ultra-close with their partners. And UTIs aside, it’s probably safer than my desire to sew my partner’s organs to mine.