Something new has hit the streets, Lovely!
It’s called CUDDLING.
Maybe you’ve heard of it?
It’s where you pay a professional to hold you in a loving, nonsexual way in exchange for money.
Are you cringing?
I get it. It took me a moment too.
But then I thought about all the people who would benefit from being held.
The elderly man who lives alone and doesn’t have any family
The young widow who isn’t ready for a relationship but can’t stand another night sleeping alone
The paraplegic who wants to be held by someone who won’t treat him like a victim
The socially awkward guy who's never had a relationship (but still wants to know what it feels like to cuddle with someone on the coach)
THE POWER OF HUMAN TOUCH IS INDISPUTABLE
That’s why so many of us volunteer to hold neglected or abandoned babies.
Why would we feel squeamish about the same service being given to needy ADULTS?
Hugs release oxytocin, which has some pretty terrific side effects.
It lowers blood pressure
Is cuddling REALLY that weird?
I began to wonder . . .
Could cuddling be an option for my coaching practice?
I thought of Audrey, one of my touch-hungry clients who’s been going through a long and painful breakup.
This lovely woman was raised with a limited amount of warmth and affection from her mother.
As a child, when Audrey tried to cuddle, her Mom would quickly shut her down.
"That's enough, Audrey!"
Now the separation from the man she loves has activated a deep sense of loneliness and loss from her childhood.
For her, hugs from friends just aren’t enough.
Professional massage doesn’t cut it either.
She longs to be held. Soothed. Comforted.
And this can be dangerous.
So many touch-starved people chase relationships in a desperate, needy way. They're looking for the connection and comfort that comes from being held and end up pursuing sexual encounters just to be close with someone.
That’s not what Audrey wanted.
When I told her about cuddling, she decided to give it a try.
Would you prefer a man or woman? I asked her.
“A woman,” she said.
I started scouting options right away. I scrolled through websites, looked at pictures and read cuddler profiles.
Then I found Melanie.
I sent her information to Audrey right away.
It was an obvious match.
Audrey wanted the session in her own home so it would feel comfortable and familiar.
I made the necessary arrangements and when the day came, I was there to facilitate the process.
So . . . what's it like to cuddle a stranger?
Awkward at first. The newness of it makes the mind go into over-drive.
Am I doing this right? What if she touches my boob? What if my stomach growls?What if I have to go to the bathroom? What if I want to stop?
Melanie’s used to this and makes the process as non-weird as possible.
She was gentle with Audrey. Where did she want to cuddle? Did she want to sit? To lay down and spoon?
Audrey decided she wanted to cuddle on the bed. Not IN it, but ON it. She wanted blankets over her and she wanted Melanie to lay down behind her with her arm around her—but over the blankets.
I sat in the Living Room and sipped tea while they had their session.
When they came out of the room, I could see a difference in Audrey.
She looked softer. Relaxed. Teary.
We said good-bye to Melanie and then sat down to debrief.
Audrey told me the experience had given her a profoundly new perspective.
She had never been held by someone who didn’t need or want something from her.
While this in itself was a revelation, the session had also brought back some long forgotten memories.
"I forgot that sometimes when my father was away my mother would allow me to sleep in her bed. She didn’t really cuddle me, but when I got close to her, or hugged her, she didn’t pull away.”
This memory shifted something for her—softening her feelings toward her Mom. It also led to another flashback from childhood:
“I completely forgot that I used to sleep with my sister until I was six! She always wanted to hug me and sometimes I’d get annoyed with her, but I always gave her my arm.”
The cuddling session challenged the story that no one ever wanted to hug her.
It also brought something else to the surface.
“I didn’t ask for everything I wanted,” Audrey told me. “It showed me that I‘m not that great at receiving.”
"What did you want that you didn’t ask for?” I asked.
“If I’m really honest, I wanted her to hold me as if I were her child. Like I was precious to her and worth keeping safe. I wanted her to hold me tighter. And maybe smooth my hair."
“Would you be able to ask for that if we did another session with her?”
Audrey said that she’d like to try.
And that’s what this is really all about.
Whether it’s getting used to someone being close to us, or asking for what we want, or setting boundaries, or learning how to be more open, we need to PRACTICE!
We can’t expect to get better at something without physically putting ourselves into some sort of arena that allows us to do that.
Becoming a healthy adult often means re-parenting ourselves.
It means learning all the things they never taught us in school.
(Like what self-esteem is and how to get it.)
What I love about Audrey’s story is that she was willing to try something STRANGE instead of staying locked in the small parameters of what she has learned.
So when she asked me to book another session with Melanie, I booked one for myself as well.
I’m going to try this too, my lovely!
And I promise to report back with whatever comes up for me.
Let's keep opening ourselves to anything that will help us grow into the women we are meant to be.
Let's keep S T R E T C H I N G!
Even if it's scary.
Even if it sounds a little . . . weird.
Sending you so much love,
PS. Melanie is a certified member of the Canadian Association for Professional Cuddlers (CACP) and you can find her here. She is also a Spoken Word Artist, a Free Lance Writer and a Model and has her own website that you can find here.