In recent years, cuddling — billed as therapeutic, nonsexual touch on sites like the Snuggle Buddies and Cuddlist — has become the latest thing in wellness, beyond yoga and meditation.
For $79, practitioners who sign up for Cuddlist, for example, receive about 10 hours of training. Once trained, pro cuddlers promise a physical and psychic salve through spooning, arm tickling and deep embraces. Think of it as a blend of talk therapy, yoga and improvisational bodywork, the free jazz equivalent of massage.
It’s nonsexual, so there’s rules in place, like keeping your clothes on the whole time. They’re usually held in a yoga-type studio, with yoga mats, pillows, blankets. You come in, take off your shoes, put a name tag on. The first 45 minutes are icebreakers: getting to know each other, going over rules about consent, communication.
It’s your imagination; there’s no limit. Me, specifically, I loved being able to put my head in someone’s lap, and having my hair played with. I love being the big spoon. I like little arm tickles. And the ears. The ears are awesome, just to play with them. Or even playing footsie, that’s one, too. It’s seriously like drugs. You’re done with the party and you’re stoned from the cuddling.
We start off by agreeing if at any point either one of us is uncomfortable with anything, we’re going to speak up, so that takes that off our minds. I basically say my boundaries, that I’m not comfortable being touched in any areas that would be covered by a two-piece bathing suit, basically. Someone once asked me to wear shorts, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. That’s like the worst of it.