Yikes! I Pay To Be Cuddled By A Stranger?!?
Are you starving for physical contact? Are you in a place where if someone greets you with a hug or gets very close it feels like a shocking feeling? If you’re in need of some human physical contact and have no one close to you near, you could turn to one of the country’s newest profession. You could hire a cuddle therapist. Is it the first time you’re hearing about this? How does that work? Are you really the kind of person to do this? Well, some people pay a cuddle therapist or cuddler to be held, stroked, embraced, or sometimes just to talk, for an hour a week or a month (there are different options and packages).
The demand for this kind of therapy has grown in the last 5 years and it seems that it’s going to keep growing. While paying for touch may seem awkward and unnatural to those who get plenty of cuddling from partners, family, friends, for some people it’s kind of an antidote to a culture where casual physical contact has become something elusive.
What exactly is cuddle therapy? Cuddle therapy is a therapeutic process purely platonic, non-sexual and non-invasive. It is safe and specifically, it helps support one’s need or craving for some basic human touch. The recipients of cuddle therapy usually need help feeling accepted or appreciated or approved or even loved and being cuddle by a professional helps them achieve that.
Cuddle therapy is much like a massage therapy but in a more spiritual sense, for some people, it can be a way to unplug and heal the soul. In studies, massage therapy has been associated with increased attentiveness and a decrease in depression as well as a boost in the immune system. Also, studies have shown the touch has such a positive influence on people’s social behaviors and relationships.
In cuddle therapy there are boundaries, people may think that paying for cuddles may lead to something else, but the rules are very clear and they are established before the cuddler accepts the job. These boundaries or rules are essential so that the experience could be truly liberating. There’s a lot of noise around cuddle therapy because of cultural conditioning that equals touch with sex but that’s one of the goals of cuddle therapy, to learn that touching could be soothing and therapeutic, not just something sexual.
Cuddle therapy is not a sexually oriented service, it’s a purely professional and platonic one for people over 21 years old, It is conducted in a strictly non-sexual therapeutic manner and environment. The clients are advised to wear comfortable clothes that cover as much of their bodies as possible. It is never conducted naked. The cuddle sessions last typically 1-2 hours (this varies depending on the company offering the service), it includes some time before the session to explain what’s going to happen and to create a safe space for both cuddler and client.
How Cuddle Therapy Came About
How did cuddle therapy come about? The business of paying to be cuddle has become a trend in the United States recently (5 years more or less), but the concept was engineered by a charismatic entrepreneur named Reid Mihalko more than a decade ago. After Mihalko’s graduation from Brown University, he tried various professions (soap opera actor, karate instructor, bartender, he even tried working as an ordained minister), until he proclaimed himself a “sex and romance coach”. Since he didn’t have any credentials to give advice on these areas, he decided to switch his focus and be a pioneer in the (fairly new) field of touch therapy.
He started with the cuddle parties (2003) in Manhattan. He charged $30 to the customers who wanted to gain access to these parties, The cuddle parties took place in pop up locations full of mats and beds where people could cuddle with anyone else that was there with the same purpose (all this with each other’s consent). During these sessions, Mihalko offered tips and words of encouragement. He had a mission with his cuddle parties: encouraging a touch positive behavior, intimacy, and a non-sexual, platonic contact.
The one-on-one cuddle therapy was the idea of Travis Sigley, male stripper and cuddle extraordinaire. He was living and working in San Franciso as a male stripper when in 2008 a man approached him in the club he was working and asked for a lap dance. When he took the client to a backroom, he asked for something totally unexpected, he told him that “he rather just cuddle and talk for a while”. In the weeks that follow, other clients made the same request, they wanted a moment of real human contact.
Sigley realized that people had a great need for a non-sexual intimacy and some affection and that’s when he decided to launch Cuddle Therapy to help those who lacked that kind of physical closeness in their lives. He charged $60 an hour, during these sessions he nuzzled clients on memory foam mats in a location chosen by the client. Before long, these cuddle sessions caught the attention of the mainstream media and similar options started to pop up throughout the country.
5 Things Good That Can Come Out With Cuddle Therapy
Why has cuddle therapy grown such much in the past years? Well because it’s based on the fact that touch has power. The right kind of touch can be beneficial to your physical and mental health. It’s very usual to hear that cuddling or hugging someone can make you feel safe and loved. So it’s safe to say that cuddle therapy brings good things for you.
The following are just a few of the benefits cuddle therapy has to offer.
1. Cuddle therapy decreases your anxiety
Cuddling stimulates the production of oxytocin, and among other things, this hormone counteracts cortisol (the stress hormone), telling your adrenal glands to stop producing unnecessary amounts of cortisol responsible for your anxiety and social awkwardness. Cuddle therapy can help you overcome your worries and anxiety, plus oxytocin is known as the feel-good hormone so cuddle therapy can help you fight depression too.
2. Cuddle therapy it’s a great mood enhancer
Cuddle therapy also stimulates the production of other feel-good chemicals. Endorphins, which are associated with feelings of pleasure and euphoria; serotonin, which is the mood stabilizer chemical produced by nerve cells; and dopamine, which is a pleasure-reward neurotransmitter. The combination of these three chemicals and oxytocin can help you calm and relax your mind and your body and increase your happiness and joy.
3. Cuddle therapy can give a boost to your immune system
The combination of oxytocin and serotonin work to give your immune system a boost. A study conducted by researches at Carnegie Mellon Univesity found that people who hugged more were less likely to catch a cold after being exposed to a cold virus, and if they did catch a cold their symptoms were less severe.
4. Cuddle Therapy can help improve your heart health
We all agree that stress is bad for your health, right? And the one organ that suffers most is the heart. Cuddling or hugging can help you protect your heart. In a study from the Univesity of North Carolina where Chapel Hill researchers included a 100 adults concluded that even a brief hug and holding hands for like 10 minutes can help lower blood pressure and heart rate when compared with people who don’t even hug.
5. Cuddle Therapy can help expand your ability to trust
Trust and touch go together in nature, if someone is close enough for you to touch is also close enough to hurt you. Your brain through the course of your life evolves for survival reasons, it remembers everything and everyone that has hurt you. Since you can’t erase the past, you can always build new memories and experiences. Cuddling can help you rewrite your history of trust so you can enjoy that nice sense of safety more often.
Safety Tips For Men and Women
Safety in this kind of sessions is always at the top of the mind of the cuddlers and clients. Big companies do background checks on potential clients as a filter to know if what the client is looking for is what they offer Safety for the ones working in this line of work is absolutely and extremely 100% vital. In order to maintain the mission or the goal of cuddle therapy, a non-sexual, platonic therapeutic session, there are some rules or codes of conduct that pertains to both parties to achieve a safe environment.
When looking for cuddle therapy, pay special attention to their rules or the boundaries or the code of conduct, read them carefully and if you have any doubts contact them and ask to be clarified. This will allow you to understand better what the cuddle therapy is about, what kind of clothes are acceptable, which areas of your body the cuddler is allowed to touch, what is permitted and what is not (for example kissing is not). These rules also covered personal hygiene, health and the verbalization of unwanted actions.
Following these rules and codes of conduct will ensure the safety of your cuddler and yours.
Cuddle therapy is here to stay, basically because it fills a need that many people have. The need to feel a connection with another human being, the need for bein touch not with a sexual intent but with a platonic and purely therapeutic purpose. They need to feel valued, cherished and secure.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé