Create~Life: Touching

hand_needs_hug.jpgWhile those 3-second free hugs from friends are great, it turns out some people need way more affection than that and they don’t want talk therapy, counseling or training. Often people come with a simple desire to receive gentle touch to resolve tension, and science has proved that touch from a person we trust helps to release oxytocin into our blood stream. Professionals are even making $100+ an hour with job titles like “Professional Cuddler”, often with customers who are waiting with open arms.

This post will focus mainly on the experiences of a single pro cuddler, singer and executive coach who previously worked in the academic field as a teacher. And here’s what you need to know about Birdanity Touch and professional cuddling:

  • This whole idea grew out of cuddle parties.

These are a little bit older than the cuddle-for-hire scene, and they’re pretty much what they sound like – picture G-rated orgy. Over time, a professional scene developed. 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 not just a New York or California Thing

If you live outside of the San Diego area, you can find a pro cuddler at Snuggle Buddies, which nets its non-cuddling founder about $50K a year and offers a free download of a 130-page how-to guide called The Cuddle SutraYou might also try Cuddlist, which bills itself as “a therapeutic, non-sexual, cuddle session with a certified professional cuddler.”

  • I know what you’re thinking, but there is no sex involved.

And there’s not supposed to be, nor is cuddling-for-hire really prostituting in disguise. Whether you receive touch from Birdanity or any of the organizations listed above, we all offer non-sexual touch. Of course, as you can imagine, there are some customers who expect they’re going to be able to take things further than the no-sex rule suggests.

  • Personal Boundaries

Boundaries = I’m not comfortable being touched in any areas that would be covered by a two-piece bathing suit. Someone once asked me to wear their shorts and I wasn’t comfortable with that. 

  • When a biological reactions happen, we deal with it.

Sexual arousal happens and it is a natural human reaction. The idea is not to encourage it or manipulate it by simply changing positions. Take a break and talking about how we are feeling in the moment can help redirect our energy back to the agenda-free cuddling.

Other professional cuddlers that were interviewed for this article had pretty much the same attitude. Only one person reported needing to end a session because a client couldn’t temper his enthusiasm. Erections happen and it’s not something that we can necessarily control and it’s not viewed as the end of the world either. 

  • It’s important to practice safe Non-sex.

Actually, this may seem like the most dangerous part, but after quite a few interviews with professional cuddlers here in San Diego and online, in most cases some seem to be more than willing to meet with trusted clients pretty much wherever. Some clients choose to rent a hotel, while others will use conference rooms by the hour. At Birdanity, we screen people well and there’s a safety protocol. We talk to people on the phone through Skype or FaceTime and meet at coffee shops prior. Overall, we don’t go into it thinking about people being creepy anymore. For additional thoughts and questions we’ve received about non-sexual touch, check out our FAQ page.

As you wish,

Stephan:ie Bird

COMMUNITY QUESTION

This is part of a Community series, ending with a Question to consider. As you progress, feel free to leave a Reply or Comment here. Thanks for reading and sharing.

How do you offer Touch therapy to yourself & others?

Categories: art

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