Are People Really Paying for Someone To Cuddle With?

Above (top): Apt606 and Marc by Marc Jacobs in Miami (Photos courtesy of: Miami Design District) / Above (bottom): Alchemist, Base and Alma Mexicana (Photos courtesy of: The establishments)

The cuddle movement is upon us. Or at least that’s what the growing number of cuddle apps and cuddle services would have us believe. Suddenly cuddling is something that people are actively seeking out, and are even willing to pay for. People have been open about their desire for no-strings-attached hookups for awhile now, but this new cuddling trend is attempting to shift our thinking away from physical intimacy and towards emotional connections.

For some reason the thought of having sex with a stranger seems a lot less weird than just cuddling with one. A lot of the time cuddling leads to sex, or it might happen after, but cuddling without the sex, or without the sexual tension even? What’s the point? According to Damon Brown, the co-founder of Cuddlr, a location-based app that helps you find cuddle buddies in your area, they developed the app because they “wanted to explore that grey area between people who don’t know each other and people who are hooking up.”

With the popularity of hookup apps like Tinder and Grindr, going from complete strangers to rolling around naked together is the difference between a swipe this way or that. No one wants to put any energy into securing a one-time sexual encounter, and they no longer really have to. At least that’s the idea. But what if it’s the presence and comfort of human contact that you crave, but not necessarily sex? That’s the supposed gap in the market Cuddlr is looking to fill.

The problem with Cuddlr is that despite their insistence that it to be used exclusively to find cuddles and hugs, there are going to be people who hear no-strings-attached and start using it as just another way to hook up. Hooking up with strangers is pretty much an accepted part of society these days, but meeting up just to cuddle? That’s crazy. Who would do that? Cuddling seems so much more intimate than sex and the app is actually demonstrating how backwards that attitude really is.

Cuddlr is a free app, therefore it is guaranteed to attract the typical hookup app crowd. But what about cuddling services like Vancouver-based The Cuddlery, and new Toronto service, Spoonlighting? These companies offer a list of “professional cuddlers” that you can book to come to your home and cuddle with you for a set length of time. Both websites put forth an extensive list of “rules” that are supposed to guarantee the appointments entail nothing more than a good old fashioned cuddle. They take this cuddling thing seriously.

Where the Cuddlr app is rife with concerns like the possibility for miscommunication, differing expectations, and even the dangers of sexual assault, cuddle services work hard to be considered a legitimate option for someone who just wants to cuddle. If you have the money, that is.

The Cuddlery has an extensive pricing model that can range from a basic 15 minute cuddle for $19, to a full-on “in crisis”, skin-to-skin, cuddle and massage for over $150. And that doesn’t even include tip. The cuddler you hire will hold you for a pre-paid length of time, and you can even cry on their shoulder if you want. If you really want to throw your money away, you can take a course on how to become a better cuddler, because apparently most people who applied to work as a professional cuddler didn’t know what they were doing, so you probably don’t either.

The idea is that human contact and the power of touch are essential in maintaining emotional well-being, and in today’s world, a lot of people neglect these things. Platonic human touch releases oxycotin in the brain which can have positive effects like lowering blood pressure, pain relief, and reducing social anxiety and depression. The science behind the need for cuddling may be sound, but wouldn’t it be better if you just cuddled, for free, with someone you actually know?

The sad thing is that there is actually a market for cuddle services. There are people out there who feel so deprived of human contact that they are willing to pay someone to spoon with them for an hour or two. We have officially entered the modern age of prostitution. Sex is so easy to find that no one will pay for that anymore, but just a hug, you say? Where did I put my credit card?

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  1. Avatar
    • Bob
    • November 1, 2021

    This my be offensive and to that I’m sorry, but when I read this article I got the feeling it was written by a woman. I am a single 40 year old dad that just doesn’t have the time for dating. I work full-time. I’m a little over weight at 220 lbs and I have a bad back so I can’t really workout. Needless to say I’m not very comfortable with my body. Anyway dating today scares me. The thought of giving my everything to someone just to have them get bored and leave, I just don’t want that. It has been years sense I’ve been with a woman and the thought of having sex with someone I don’t know disgusts me. But I do get lonely and sometimes all I want is just to have someone hold me or someone to hold onto. I’m actually glad that you don’t seem to understand how some people can need this. It means that your not in such a dark place in your life. But since you don’t understand through experience, I ask that you try to understand through empathy.

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