I Tried Professional Cuddling and It Was a Profound Experience
by Lauren Wong
This past year, I made some big changes in my life that propelled me into an introspective journey of experimentation and understanding, trial and erroring my way into young adulthood. Riding through the not so sexy waves of my dark side, I knew I needed external support but wasn’t sure what kind.
Most of the time, I didn’t want to talk about my problems, rationalize or reason through what was going on. I wanted human touch. I wanted to be held. I wanted my hair stroked as I emoted, free from shame or judgement.
This need for human touch combined with my open-minded curiosity led me to stumble upon the mysterious world of professional cuddling.
Cuddling with Strangers
I didn’t know what to expect and felt a little nervous showing up at The Cuddle Sanctuary’s cuddle workshop. I felt a lot of eyes on me as I shyly admitted to people that it was “my first time.”
The facilitator, Fei was absolutely amazing. She eased us into the night by telling us we were there to take care of ourselves. There was a space for sitting alone, a buddy bench to get approached by others and of course the cuddle space, filled with pillows and blankets for strictly platonic cuddling with other people.
Boundaries and Consent
Immediate emphasis was placed on boundary-setting. Every touch is prefaced by a prompt, “Is it okay if I hold your hand?” or a request “Will you hug me?”
At any point, it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to say no. No explanation, no apology, no guilt necessary. The no is not viewed as rejection. It is simply one person respecting herself and the other person reciprocating with complete acceptance and positivity. No hard feelings. No pressure.
We practiced this throughout the night and the space immediately transformed into a place of safety and consent.
Fei Wyatt, Professional Cuddler, The Cuddle Sanctuary
My Big Takeaways
1. It is liberating to ask for what you want.
I asked for hair stroking. I asked for a neck massage. I asked to be the little spoon. I asked to be the big spoon. And if other people consented, then I closed my eyes and let myself receive completely. It felt so good to ask for what I wanted and receive to my heart’s content!
2. It is liberating to say no without shame, fear or guilt.
At any point of the night, if I felt uncomfortable, changed my mind about something or just wanted to try something different, I vocalized it. It may have been the first time I said no when someone asked to hug me. And it wasn’t about them, it was just about practicing saying no. Every “no thank you” was received with a positive, “thank you for taking care of yourself.” Respect for myself garnered respect from others.
3. My body, mind and heart felt full.
By the end, my whole body was overflowing with oxytocin. As I let go and gave in to my desire and need for physical touch, I fell into a blissful state of peace and relaxation, feeling deeply connected with the people I was with.
A Profound Experience
Lately, I’ve been finding my most meaningful experiences are ones that both challenge and open me and attending a cuddle workshop with The Cuddle Sanctuary did exactly that.
I was in a place where I could acknowledge and express my needs and desires without judgement. I felt seen, embraced and supported by strangers (without having to dish out my life story- blargh).
This experience made me realize that platonic physical touch is essential to my well being and something I care about honoring in my life.
Because sometimes, you just need to be touched.