Bodies are weird.
They do things we aren’t very excited about, like farting and getting sore when we’re doing fun stuff and extruding…substances. Often times, these are sources of shame and embarrassment, silly as it is. We worry about allowing people to get too close, because they might find out that our bodies are gross too.
As though they don’t already know that, at some level.
When you decide that professional cuddler sounds like work you’d like to do in the world, you have to have a certain level of comfort around bodies – yours and other people’s. Of course, you (and your clients) make efforts to minimize the gross factor (by bathing, brushing teeth, and following rules that exclude the sharing of any sort of bodily fluids.) But still, bodies do have a mind of their own.
One of my regular clients would apologize if they thought their stomach was making noise during our session. Honestly, I never heard it. But I was almost glad when my stomach decided to practice singing one day while we were working together – because I was able to ask “Does my stomach noise bother you?” When it didn’t, they began to believe me that I was equally not alarmed by any noises her insides decided to share with me.
A common question for any professional cuddler is “what happens if the client becomes aroused?” There’s another weird thing bodies do…change shape on occasion. It’s not unusual for people to be afraid that they’ll be aroused if they’re close to another body – for some people the only time they get wrapped up with another body is when they’re leading up to sexual interaction. They’ve built such a strong association between the two things they don’t think their body can react any other way.
However, sexual interaction is not the only reason to get close to another human. I’m always a little sad when people suggest to me that all physical interaction with other humans is inherently sexual. It makes me wonder if they’ve never held a grieving friend, or kissed away a child’s hurt, or huddled against the wind to stay warm with friends. Research shows that casual touch improves performance, but If these people are to be believed, they will never be able to benefit from such improvement, because they simply keep their hands to themselves.
Touch has many benefits, from reducing stress and inflammation to increasing immune response and cognitive function. In our increasingly technological world, we sometimes find ourselves without access to touch. It is the combination of these two facts that has led to the rise of companies like Cuddle Party™, Cuddle Sanctuary, and Holding Space, LLC (which I founded last year to provide an ethical source of nurturing touch.)
A lot of people worry that I can’t possibly snuggle up to strangers and stay safe – but here’s the thing. Bodies may be weird, but we all have them. And bodies enjoy and benefit from being near other bodies. I am clear with my clients that the intention of our work together is never sexual – and that tends to hold up well in the container of my office. Because my body is relaxed, and because I set a relaxing tone with everything from the lighting to the music to the decoration, my clients are encouraged to remember how comforting it can be to be held and cared for by another body.
If you think you can manage the weirdness of having a body, and you are interested in the experience of being around another body in a platonic way, schedule some time with me or attend one of my group events.