What’s in a Cuddle?
When Touching is Permitted
It has been proven that touch is essential for our survival as babies. It is an important element in our lives as adults as well if we want to thrive. Once we move out of the family home, unless we are in relationships, many of us receive little touch in our lives. Even those of us in relationships sometimes only touch when it is of a sexual nature. Cuddling or lying together with body contact is an important aspect of human connection and well-being. Massage is fabulous and healing in its own way, but there is also something special about simple in-the-moment reciprocal touch. It has been shown to increase our immunity, reduce anxiety, pain symptoms and blood pressure and boost our overall happiness.
What about those of us who don’t have someone to enjoy cuddling with in our lives? There are lots of folks who do not have access to touch for a variety of reasons. Luckily, there is a service for those who can pay for professional help. Cuddling professionals are people whose job it is to cuddle with clients. I spoke with Madison of CuddlewithMadison.com about her work with her clients. She said that many of her clients have social anxiety, autism or simply want to cuddle through mourning a loss. Some have mental illness, are widowers or work in a field such as finance where there is not much human interaction. Many of them prefer working with a cuddling professional rather than a sex worker as they are looking for connection without pressure to perform in a sexual way and like the boundaries as set out in the cuddling realm.
What are the Boundaries?
Clients are allowed to touch their cuddler anywhere that a regular bathing suit would not cover. They also are required to touch without sexual intent or energy. Of course, arousal and erections can and do happen on occasion. In this instance, a change of position is all that is needed in order to help the client be themselves without shame and without crossing any boundaries.
Where Do People Meet?
Some are in-call, others meet at a hotel or the client’s home. An initial meeting to discuss the services allows the client and the professional to discuss all aspects of the encounter including where to meet. It depends on both people's comfort levels. And once on location, some prefer to cuddle on a couch — often those with higher anxiety as it is a space that is less intimidating and not quite as loaded with meaning. Those who want to relax fully and who feel more comfortable with the cuddling arrangement generally prefer to have their session on a bed.
Each cuddling session is as unique as the individual and their needs at the time. Some clients like to talk all the way through or at different parts of a session. Others prefer to be quiet in order to sink into the experience of just being held or connecting one-on-one. Some people like to stroke or be stroked, others want to simply be still. Madison said that she has had clients who were sleep deprived and her sessions were one way of gaining a peaceful rest. She also has had clients who were mourning the loss of a spouse and just wanted to be held in their sadness.
I asked Madison what she gets out of her work as a cuddler. She stated that she really loves people and enjoys being a part of their lives and healing. She has found much satisfaction in witnessing her more regular clients change over the course of her relationship. One was able to speak a full sentence without stuttering after several cuddling sessions. She has seen some become more self-confident, for example men who have grown more comfortable approaching and speaking to women in their lives. Half of her clients she only sees once and half of them are regulars with whom she develops a relationship through repeated sessions.
Cuddling Any Which Way
No matter how you access it, cuddling is an important activity for us to nurture and love ourselves. Sometimes we don’t know how much we miss human connection until we feel a hug or a touch and notice the feelings that arise as a result. If you have kids, make sure that they know you are open to cuddling anytime. If you have not cuddled a partner in a while, take a little longer to snuggle up at night or in the morning — especially if you keep space in order to sleep throughout most of the night. And there is no shame in engaging the services of a professional cuddler in order to take care of our needs. We use professionals to provide many services such as massage, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, and also for other aspects of life including accounting, transportation and preparing food. Human touch is one of the many necessities and pleasures in life that can help us to thrive. Life is too short to forego simple pleasures that can mean so much.
Carlyle Jansen is the founder of Good For Her, a sexuality shop and workshop centre in Toronto. If you have questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to goodforher.com