Winter is coming. For some parts of the world, winter entails cold weather and an excuse to cuddle up with someone. In Los Angeles, winter means wearing a jacket if it’s overcast and pretending that 68 degrees is enough to complain about.
Aside from weather, winter also brings the holidays upon us. Holidays are centered around friends and family and love and, when coupled with cold(ish) weather, people feel the urge to touch each other in affection. The need to touch another person is actually a year-round activity among humans. This is why people have birthdays in every month of the year.
Cuddling is one of the most basic comforts that humans crave. Food, water and shelter are essential but so is human touch. Skin on skin contact comes in many forms. Family members can hug, partners can kiss and best friends can slap you upside the head if you’re acting dumb.
But what if cuddling was viewed as a profession? It is certainly a service that is in constant demand. Two businesses, Cuddle Therapy and The Snuggery, are capitalizing on the lucrative potential of professional cuddle services.
Sometimes, you have an extremely rough day or week and you might just feel especially lonely. In addition to comfort food and talking to close friends, cuddling with someone provides stress relief. This is when Travis Sigley of Cuddle Therapy or Jacqueline of The Snuggery arrive on the scene. Their businesses revolve around people hiring them for non-sexual intimacy, offering by-the-minute or hourly rates.
The Frequently Asked Questions pages of both business websites are pretty adamant that the cuddle sessions are not sexual in nature, though arousal does often happen and should not be a source of embarrassment.
If this idea still seems odd, then do a quick Google search. “Professional cuddler” is the third search option in the dropdown menu of suggestions when you begin typing “professional c-” even before “professional cover letter” and “professional carpet cleaning.” Apparently, this trend has caught on.
The Snuggery is based out of Chicago and Cuddle Therapy is located in San Francisco but never fear, Angelenos, there are still options for those of us living in a warmer climate. Private Cuddle is a company that employs cuddle specialists available for hire. Though the previous two businesses are far more emphatic that their cuddling services are solely provided for emotional comfort, Private Cuddle is more ambiguous in its aim.
One bonus is that Private Cuddle allows patrons to choose whether they prefer to cuddle with a man or woman. In the description of their services, however, a certain key adjective stands out: “attractive.” Cuddle Therapy and The Snuggery exist so that a person’s mental and emotional health can be improved through the healing power of touch. Private Cuddle, on the other hand, also offers special rates for companionship services.
The necessity to label its cuddle specialists as “attractive” is a little troublesome because it places emphasis on an attraction between employee and patron. Granted, if you’re going to cuddle with someone, physical repulsion is not preferable but Travis and Jacqueline seem to be perfectly accommodating individuals. Their services do not have this same connotation nor do they feel the need to flaunt this aspect of the business.
Furthermore, the Private Cuddle website features a sultry woman in bed as its most prominent image. Jacqueline of The Snuggery is also pictured in bed but in a warm, friendly way that does not scream “SEX!” This brings the discussion toward the most prominent issue that arises concerning professional cuddling services: Is it weird to hire someone to cuddle with you?
Relationships come and go. Family can be located far away and friends can’t always fit you into their schedule. So a cuddle-for-hire service makes sense from an objective point of view. The association with other physical services for hire is still there. Can it be avoided? With businesses such as those of Travis and Jacqueline, the answer seems to be yes. Their services are based upon emotional satisfaction rather than flaunting the physical appeal of employees.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Travis Sigley said that “A lot of people are really disconnected from each other, and socially or personally awkward.” Some people might consider this statement ironic because to them, having to hire a cuddle specialist would seem “socially or personally awkward.” If you think about it, though, even people who do not hire professional cuddlers can do some pretty socially and personally awkward things to each other.
Remember last week when you passed that person you used to hook up with on your way to class? Or when you abruptly swiveled your head to avoid making eye contact with somebody you dated two semesters ago? Everyone is guilty of social and personal awkwardness. Those who believe themselves to be immune need more than a professional cuddle session. Acting this way around someone doesn’t mean you lack social skills or that you’re permanently awkward, it just means you weren’t in the mood for social shenanigans in that specific moment.
Nobody has the right to judge where another finds affection. Certain methods might not be the route one person would take but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for somebody else. It’s sort of similar to how some people sleep without a night-light — I understand this logic and I fully support it, but I would never take part in it.
Snuggling is serious business. We all need it from time to time. Whether you find emotional comfort in the arms of someone you know or someone who does it for a living is completely up to you. Just remember to snuggle safely and responsibly.
Nick Cimarusti is a senior majoring in English and Spanish. His column “#trending” runs Wednesdays.
Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCimarusti