What do you do when you want to connect with another human on a physical level but not on a sexual or inappropriate one? One suggestion that you might get would be to hire a professional cuddler.
I’m the type of person who’s curious about any kind of new spiritual, physical, or social thing that emerges, so my interest was piqued when someone mentioned hiring a professional cuddler.
I knew about cuddle-parties—events where people go for a cuddle, a snuggle, and some non-sexual physical contact in a group setting, but I didn’t know that one could seek out the services of a trained and caring professional for their cuddling needs.
Yes, professional cuddling is both a job and a vocation.
The truth about professional cuddlers
Professional cuddling is a rapidly growing practice, and it makes a lot of sense. In these times, where people are more focused on their phones than anything else, and in the wake of the #MeTOO movement; touch is complicated. You don’t want to do anything that could be misconstrued, invade someone’s personal space, or threaten their body autonomy.
As a people, we are more physically deprived than we used to be.
The importance of physical touch is well-known. We know that it’s crucial for our health because it boosts our immune system, lowers our blood pressure, reduces stress, and helps with pain management. Touching is also good for our mental health and giving us a feeling of comfort and well-being.
Think how important touch is for babies; in an episode of “This is Us,” Kate, Toby, and even Kate’s mom, Rebecca spend a lot of time in the ICU giving Kate and Toby’s premature baby, Jack, lots of cuddling—all of which resulted in him growing exponentially stronger every day.
Baby-cuddlers have been around for a long time and nobody questions their value. One of the ways that a village helps to nurture and raise a child is by cuddling them and making them feel loved. So, why not adult-cuddling?
We all need to be touched, but sometimes it’s not as easy as reaching out—not everybody has a partner or cuddle-buddy. Life is super busy, and it can be difficult to get the non-sexual physical contact that we need.
It can be challenging for people to ask for physical contact, especially if they have been physically or emotionally abused or made to feel unsafe. Cuddling allows you to get the non-threatening physical connection with another person.
Professional cuddler Sam Varnerin of “Snuggle with Sam” says in an interview on Reddit’s Entrepreneur Ride Along, “There are many reasons that someone might not get their touch or connection needs met other than anything related to sexual assault. These include but are not limited to dealing with divorce or death in the family, being a single man with few (if any) deep friendships, having anxiety or depression and needing a different kind of connection than what your therapist is able to offer (I’m seeing therapists and cuddlers working together a lot more now!), and high-performing executives that are praised by their peers but also put at arm’s length physically and emotionally.”
One of the things that I admire about actress Busy Phillips is how physically affectionate she and her friends are with each other. They cuddle, they hug, and they touch each other as a physical expression of their love. Not all female friendships have that kind of ease with showing affection, and it’s refreshing to see it in the media.
In an article on Man Repeller, certified cuddlist Kassandra says, “There’s a huge myth in our culture that platonic touch isn’t satisfying. But the human body has a huge need to be touched and held, and we suffer without that. Unpleasant things happen.”
Cuddle parties are a great way to experience cuddling, but they’re not for everyone. If you’re an introvert or just not comfortable in crowds, you might find relaxing enough to spoon with a stranger practically impossible.
Professional cuddling is a personal service industry not unlike a masseuse or a hairdresser. It’s a business transaction where you pay to get a specific service that you require. It’s not illegal, it’s not something that’s harmful to yourself or other people; it’s a therapeutic way to get the physical touch that you may be missing in your life.
You need touch, so a professional cuddler might be another way for you to practice self-care.
The most important thing to remember about professional cuddling is that there’s no sexual activity whatsoever and boundaries are put in place in order to make this clear. “I can’t guarantee that I or the client won’t get turned on,” says Kassandra. “Arousal is part of the nervous system. What we agree to is not to increase or to act on it. And that creates an environment that is pretty darn unique. There’s no shame if they get turned on and no pressure to perform.”
What to expect from a professional cuddler
So, you’ve made the decision to seek out the services of a professional cuddler and now want to know what you should expect. Of course, every professional cuddler is going to have their own way of doing things. In an article on The Huffington Post, professional cuddler Samantha Hess of Cuddle Up To Me describes what her cuddle sessions are like: “During a cuddle session we can hug, sit, lie, dance, sing, read, or play games. This is your time to receive the love and attention that you deserve. We may hold hands and chat sitting close, lie and cuddle big spoon/little spoon style, or try some of the more than 50 positions that we offer. We will customize the session to make you comfortable, relaxed, and feeling the sort of love a mother gives to her child.”
As long as the client is cognizant of the boundaries that have been set-up, they have a great deal of input as to what happens in their session. The client says how and at what point they want to be touched. It can be as simple as a light touch on an elbow or just sitting close together.
Some professional cuddlers have spaces that they rent, others have sessions in their homes, and there are those who’ll make house calls.
The cost varies according to the cuddler. Samantha Hess has an introductory consultation at no cost and then charges $1 per minute. At the Cuddle Sanctuary, prices run around $80 per hour depending on the cuddler, and Snuggle Up to Me charges cuddling clients $60/hour for certified cuddlers or $80/hour for master cuddlers. Some cuddlers offer discounts to clients who pay in advance. Check out your local cuddler to find out more information.
How to become a professional cuddler
If you are someone who enjoys helping people, has an abundance of compassion and empathy, desires to make the world a happier place, and who thinks providing platonic, non-sexual touch is your dream career, then becoming a professional cuddler might be the job or side-hustle for you.
There are several professional cuddler training programs. The Cuddle Sanctuary in Venice, California has a free introductory webinar to give you a basic idea of what professional cuddling entails, then they have two paid certification programs where you can learn to lead cuddle events or guide clients through one-on-one sessions. There’s even an advanced program for experienced professionals.
Of course, Cuddle Sanctuary isn’t the only cuddle school, I just chose that one because it’s the one closest to me. Snuggle with Sam has Sam’s Snuggle School where you can learn about such topics as “How to get started,” “Working with your first client,” “How to succeed in this industry,” and “Advanced snuggling,” and most every cuddle organization has some kind of training program.
If you want to be a professional cuddler, there are many schools and opportunities out there, you just need to find them.
Whether you’re a professional cuddler or someone who seeks the services of one, more cuddling and platonic touch are things everyone can use a lot more of, and there should be no shame in recognizing the need for cuddling and doing something about it. Go forth and cuddle!