Would you hire someone to cuddle you? Are cuddling services what they say they are, or are they just a cover up for other types of services? Are they legal? Are the cuddler’s trained? If so how?
I came across cuddling services first on Craig’s list. I said to my friend with excitement and passion, “I want to join this cuddle company and include cuddling as part of my services. It looks legit and I love to cuddle. I am really good at it and I would enjoy offering it. It helps people. Our society is so healthy touch deprived! I love the idea of providing this service in a legitimate way. The company said it’s often elderly folks who need it the most and are clients. Being a natural healer, energy and bodyworker, when I cuddle someone they will receive that energy and presence too, which will really help people.”
My friend replies in all seriousness. “Why don’t you just choose prostitution instead? Do you always have to include your body in what you are offering for work?”
OMG. Ok. This conversation deeply concerned me. Are you kidding me? I wanted to shake him.
First off, since when is cuddling close to prostitution? Second, I do energy/bodywork. I don’t offer as part of my professional services sensual or even regular massage. I am not a licensed massage therapist. Nothing even close to prostitution is part of my bodywork/work with clients in sessions. I have a legal business. My friend knows this! Massive hurt and confusion sets in to me.
I do cuddle my clients, well not exactly, but I do include safe consensual tantric touch practices and exercises that are akin to cuddling in some respects. I do sometimes lie down on the massage table (again clothing on!), or on the floor on a mat, next to my client and move my body up close to theirs so we are touching, and I hold them, running energy into their chakras. That’s a Tantra practice called Harmonization (a Source Tantra technique) that I teach.
I believe that cuddling is healing, nurturing, and very needed. A daily diet of safe consensual healthy touch is something most people are lacking in their lives. Unfortunately, we are a healthy touch deprived society. Fortunately for cuddlers, this is a badly needed professional service. So how is cuddling anything like prostitution? Now I personally think prostitution should be a legal profession, and I sure hope cuddling is! I think professional cuddling services may be in a fairly grey area at this time. Cuddling operations have been forced to close in some states. Some cuddling agencies I checked out seemed really legit, and others not so much.
Prostitution has its place as a needed service in my opinion. And sex surrogacy does as well. Sex surrogacy is also in a very grey area in terms of legality. The film The Sessions (starring Helen hunt), based on a true story, although not an entirely accurate portrayal of what real sex surrogacy sessions and work is, does provide a general picture of why and how and what sex surrogacy is about. What cuddling, prostitution, and sex surrogacy all should provide is this: safe and consensual touch as an agreed upon professional service. Besides that, I don’t see the correlation between professional cuddling and prostitution. Although where the lines get blurry is does one offer cuddling services, but actually is offering prostitution? Or does the client think that cuddling is just a cover up for actually being able to pay for and receive sexual arousal/genital touch (prostitution)?
Is a cuddling session just a cover up for extra sexual services that get paid in person during the session or what? If it is, how do I figure out what companies don’t’ allow or engage with activities other than cuddling. How do they prescreen their clients properly to have no expectation, and to not break the client agreement, that there will be no sexual activity whatsoever? And isn’t it natural that sexual energy is part of the session, even if sexual activity isn’t? How do cuddlers deal with this and what is considered acceptable and what isn’t?
I decide to investigate. I join a cuddle company. I last for less than a day. I don’t get to the seeing my first client part. I chicken out. I can’t trust a company (or anyone!) that I don’t know with screening a person who will be coming to my home. I have to watch out for my safety obviously. I prefer my own screening methods rather than relying on someone else. Although the company looks legit, and has a great training manual, guidelines and client agreement, they don’t share much about how they screen, just claim that they do a good thorough job.
The company put me in touch with a cuddler who called to tell me what the safety protocol was, along with other information. The call lasted maybe 5 minutes tops. This woman wasn’t very interested in answering my questions. She treated me as if I was naïve and should not be asking such questions, really. I hear through another source, a former cuddler I contact through my own Tantra colleagues, her experience was one of constantly having to explain and redirect the session to cuddling as her clients were trying for much more. I politely decline on the first session offer, and ask to be removed as a cuddler from their website.
In searching through a couple of the codes of conduct, training manuals for online certification in cuddling, the following protocols seem to be common:
- Parameters for both the clients and the practitioners of all sessions are clearly defined by contracts ahead of time, to clarify what is being offered and what is not.
- A wide range of activities may be allowed, such as in addition to cuddling: some light massage on the face, neck, shoulders, head, back, or feet, head stroking, rocking, spooning, and/or hand holding. Dinner and pleasant conversation may be included for some. Conversation should not contain or illicit sexual themes or subjects.
- Anything that is illegal and/or sexual is not allowed or tolerated. No nudity is permitted. The services are considered platonic, non-sexual services. Both clients and practitioners agree to not pursue or encourage sexual arousal. This means: No hand to genital contact or intentional genital stimulation of any kind. No exchanging of saliva in any way.
- Minimum clothing of tank top and shorts to mid-thigh for both practitioner and client at all times. Recommended clothing is comfortable, and not revealing. Body language friendly, but not erotic.
- Client and practitioner communicate to find what is mutually comfortable throughout each session. This applies to all communication prior to and after sessions as well.
- Client and practitioner both agree to practice consent and attention to personal boundaries at all times.
- Practitioner’s are trained in how to respond to, and how to redirect, advances of a sexual nature by clients. If the client persists, they are given a protocol to follow for ending session.
- Either party may end the session at any time. Practitioners are trained on when and how to end the session appropriately.
- Client and practitioner both verify that they are at least 18 years of age and thereby able to give consent.
- Client and practitioner both agree to be free from any mind altering substances during the sessions and thereby fully present and able to give consent.
- Client agrees to fully disclose any diagnoses or conditions that may affect their session to the practitioner.
- Both parties agree to respectful personal hygiene. Clients/practitioners inform the cuddle company if any clients/practitioners do not have acceptable personal hygiene.
- The practitioner will protect the client’s confidentiality.
- Cuddle companies say that they have not had any safety issues thus far and that their trainings and protocols and contracts are working just fine.
Although I became skeptical about the safety and legitimacy of some of these companies. I found the following links to some interesting articles on one company that seems to be more legit called Cuddlelist:
Cuddling has some pretty serious benefits. Cuddling can raise and build oxytocin and serotonin, decreasing depression and relieving anxiety, while strengthening the immune system. Studies show that we thrive on contact and a lack of human interaction can lead to depression, stress, high blood pressure and aggression. Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the love or bonding hormone, lowers high levels of stress and blood pressure. Safe consensual human touch reduces anxiety and accelerates our healing mentally, physically, emotionally. We often feel calmer and happier after cuddling with a loved one, human or fur baby.
Personally,I grew up without much cuddling. My mother is not a cuddly person, at all. My father worked a lot. My sibling, cousins, or friends, I was definitely not encouraged to cuddle. It wasn’t until I was at a cool experiential hippy college in my 20’s that I experienced cuddle piles and non-sexual healthy cuddling with my fellow students. We were also in northern Vermont in the winter, and outdoors in the cold a lot. Cuddling was necessary.
I used to cuddle with colleagues and friends and even ex-lovers. Tantra trainings were cuddle fests for me! We cuddled in class. It’s what is normal and acceptable in that environment. I had to give that up when I got into a monogamous relationship, as cuddling with others was deemed cheating or some type of similar infraction. I missed cuddling SO MUCH!!!! I even had a boyfriend a few years ago who came into my life after a very traumatic experience and he cuddled me, effectively helping to heal my PTSD physical safety issues, almost nightly for over two years. Even though we broke up and did not have any sexual connection during 1.5 of those years. Another partner in my life I had to teach how to cuddle. I found it so sad he had never had any real cuddling in his life, to the point he seriously did not know how to do it.
Currently not being partnered, I am really starved for cuddling. I am also blessed that I have free options for cuddling with friends, colleagues, my kitties. But even then, I am longing for more of the longer cuddle sessions a real partner who lives with you is more likely to be able to provide, those that last hours, and all night. Cuddle parties are another option for some, but most likely are not something easy to find for those of us living in more suburban and closed minded areas. Additionally, massive cuddle parties may not be one’s thing, they actually aren’t mine. I prefer one on one connection.
It really is all about connection. We need (safe, consensual, and loving is best) connection. Especially women even more so. The practice of OM (Orgasmic Meditation) that I am always cheering for is a far cry from cuddling it would seem, as it involves the female bodied strokee laying nude from the waste down, with her legs splayed open to have her clitoris stroked by the stroker for 15 mins, actually has some of the same beneficial elements that these professional cuddling sessions do. Professional cuddling sessions and OM are meant to be structured as: time bound, there is an agreed upon container for the experience, it is consensual and safe, both are about and focus on connection, both can elicit a positive mood and hormonal bath for both participants. OM is a free practice though, unlike professional cuddling sessions. The Onetaste company plays it as safe as possible in their practice remaining legal, so no money exchanged for genital touch and arousal. Cuddling services of course are meant to be just cuddling, so legal if that is what is taking place.
Practices such as these are clearly becoming something one can do without a primary lover or parter being the person to do them with. This opens up a lot more room for people getting their connection needs met in a touch and connection deprived society. With porn being epidemic, here are some ways to connect that don’t involve sex, do involve touch, do involve bodies connecting, but they connect on a soul level, in a relaxed and nurturing way. What a concept! To simply put your body together with another and to pay attention and feel what you are experiencing in your body, and to the connection with the other. I hope one day OM practice, as well as cuddling professional services, will be as mainstream as massage and yoga have become.
Would you consider hiring a professional cuddler? I would love to know your thoughts?
To us all having healthy, frequent, healing touch in our lives in whatever way we wish for!