Do you like cuddling? Who doesn’t, right? Touching is very powerful and many times therapeutic. Especially in a society where technology is slowly taking over our lives, its advantages are numerous and beneficial on many levels.
People are becoming more and more isolated, and increasingly fearful of others. All-time high crime rates, xenophobia, fear of harassment and long working hours are only a few of the pressing factors that affect how close and comfortable we get and feel around people. Right now, that’s not very much.
The importance of touching does, of course, vary with cultural and societal norms and practices. It is well known, for example, that Mediterranean countries are more affectionate than some others, say Finland or Germany. The benefits of touching have been demonstrated in many studies over the years, from babies essentially needing it for their development, to meet their emotional needs and motivate them to strive for improvement, to adults and the elderly who enjoy better health when they have regular access to human touch.
[quote_box_center]My name is Sam, and I am a professional cuddler. If you could use some one-on-one cuddle time without the complications that life normally brings us, then I am your girl. Let’s hold hands, listen to some soft music, and be present in the moment—I am happy to be the big spoon or the little spoon. My purpose is to make you feel comfortable, loved, and appreciated, (Cuddle up to me). [/quote_box_center]
The lack of intimate non-sexual contact, does affect us all, and it makes us feel lonely, rejected, isolated, ill, depressed, aggressive and angry with the whole world. A healthy amount of close interaction has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as lower our heart rates, amongst other gains. Touching is good, there is no question about that. Would you pay for it, though?
Apparently, for many people in America cuddling is considered a luxury, and not a bonding activity to be taken for granted. Samantha, from Portland, saw an opportunity and moved in to offers just that: a cuddle service, for a dollar a minute.
According to her website ‘Cuddle up to me’, her and the other so-called ‘cuddlers’ offer “fully clothed, completely platonic cuddle sessions of 15 minutes to 5 hours. The goal of a session is to help us in those moments in life where we either need more touch or simply don’t want to take anything from the amazing people in our worlds to get what we need.
We want you to know that you matter and you are loved without the guilt, shame and judgement our culture can sometimes bring us when we try to reach out physically. The cost of this lovely service is $1 per minute; the results are priceless.”
Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein, PhD, director of the Touch and Emotion Lab at DePauw University notes that touch deprivation is a real thing. “Most of us, whatever our relationship status, need more human contact than we’re getting,” says Hertenstein. “Compared with other cultures, we live in a touch-phobic society that’s made affection with anyone but loved ones taboo.” (Behavioral scientists have found that about two to four feet is the accepted amount of personal space most Americans need to feel comfortable; in Latin America and the Middle East that distance can shrink to less than a foot or two), Oprah.com
Is America such a ‘touch-phobic’ society, then? It must be, since Samantha’s business is perfectly thriving, and she is not alone: ‘cuddling professionals’ who offer similar services can be found across the United States. At a cost, of course.
There is so much that is disconcerting about this. While cute in itself, the fact that there are men and women who dedicate themselves to cuddling others, and charge because you have to make a living, don’t you, is a symptom of a deep, depressing desperation. Are there truly people out there without access to the moderate level of intimacy required to find someone to cuddle you?
I place no blame on the people who are taking up this profession. They are forcing no one into their cuddle spaces, and their clients are more than happy to visit repeatedly. I’m not going to sit here and applaud them, though, or participate in their pretense that this is a higher calling they’re following. There is an increasing number of individuals who are falling through the cracks of the simplest of activities, human contact, and that is wrong.