Picture yourself in bed, about to drift off to sleep. What position are you in? What about your partner? Are you cuddling? On opposite sides of the mattress? So entangled that it’s hard to breathe?
Like almost everything else in life, the way you share the bed with your significant other can say a lot about what kind of relationship you have and also how you really feel about each other. Your subconscious controls the way you sleep, so zzz’s-fueled body language can serve as an incredible insight as to what’s going on, even if you’re not aware of certain things while the sun is up.
Here, we’ve culled information from scientists, psychologists, therapists and relationship counselors to interpret what 12 different partner sleep positions mean. What looks closest to the way you cuddle up — or don’t cuddle up — at night?
The most well-known of couple sleep positions, spooning is actually only preferred by about 18% of couples. Relationship psychologist Corrine Sweet says it’s a “traditional position” that indicates protectiveness and comfort in the relationship.
In addition to the “I trust you” vibe — one partner literally has the other’s back — it’s also a fairly sexual position, favored by couples who are comfortable with intimacy.
A variation on the traditional Spoon, the Loose Spoon just means there’s a bit of space between the couple. Don’t mistake those few inches for lack of intimacy, though. On the contrary, it usually means you’ve been together long enough to trust one another and don’t feel the need to constantly be touching.
This position is the natural evolution of a couple who started their relationship in a tight Spoon, but now recognizes quality sleep (and some space) is important.
Though this one may look like a standard Spoon, the Chasing Spoon is usually a little lopsided: one person has moved away from the center of the bed, and the other “chases” to physically reconnect.
According to Sleep Positions: The Night Language of the Body, the Chasing Spoon could simply mean that one partner wants more space in the bed. The other less literal interpretation is that the partner doing the drifting wants to be pursued.
Like the Loose Spoon, this position is typical of couples who’ve been together for some time. Though they start out touching (the Knot), they eventually “unravel” into independence.
Dr. Sweet says it’s a “compromise between intimacy and independence, allowing for the best of both worlds,” though only about 8% of couples favor this position.
The Back Kissers fall asleep back-to-back, with contact along the spine. You’re connected, but independent enough to appreciate your own space in bed. Because your butts still touch, you want to stay sexually connected despite your confidence to face in opposite directions.
Chances are you’re a new couple who doesn’t yet have a reason for distrust OR have been together for a while, and are relaxed and comfortable with one another.
Another position more common with established couples, the Liberty Lovers sleep back-to-back, but with space between them.
Despite facing opposite directions and not touching, this position actually indicates you’re connected and secure. You can be close without touching, sharing a bed but independent. You’re the kind of couple that’s OK doing things alone but can’t wait to be back together to share stories and recount your day.
Not the sexiest name in the list, but one that indicates a high level of comradeship. Typically, both partners are on their backs, with one resting his or her head on the other’s shoulder.