I’ve come across a few unbelievable side-gig opportunities in my time, including earning money for drinking beer (not kidding), but even I was surprised that people get paid to cuddle.
It might seem like a ridiculous thing to pay for, but professional cuddling is one of the newest professions gaining traction across the US and the world – and the reasons behind this growing line of work make a lot more sense than you might initially think.
But what does it take to become a professional cuddler, how much can you realistically expect to earn, and what precisely does this job entail? I explore these topics and more below.
First off, here’s why cuddling has become so popular:
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Being touched is taken for granted in today’s society where people are more isolated than ever before.
And thanks to people’s ongoing predilection for online connections and dating, that probably isn’t changing anytime soon.
The benefits of human interaction and touching, in particular, have been widely espoused by scientists and psychologists alike. Those working in the “cuddle business” are all too familiar with this and see the positive effects their work can have on their clients’ lives.
The Growing Demand For Professional Cuddlers
Probably like most people who hear about professional cuddling for the first time, I was a little taken aback that something like this even existed.
Cuddling isn’t something that anyone normally brings up in public or the workplace, for that matter, even though it’s not considered a taboo topic. It’s just something you do with your partner or romantic interest when you want to show or receive affection.
Yet those in the “cuddle business” are working hard to change that perspective. E-businesses and small region-based businesses are popping up in countries across the globe who welcome clients from every race, gender, and background – all of whom feel isolated and deprived of human touch.
Today, 51 percent of adults in the US are single – more than ever before since the annual General Social Survey was first taken in 1972.
Being single doesn’t mean you don’t get physical affection from friends and family, as well as the occasional romantic partner.
But that isn’t always enough to keep people going in a society where personal spaces get bigger and closeness is often fleeting.
Touching has become an afterthought and it’s led to many people feeling the effects of touch deprivation.
All of which has left people more than willing to pay for an hour or two of cuddles.
Overcoming the Stigma of Cuddling for Money
This new movement has its fair share of obstacles, especially when it comes to those who don’t understand what it’s all about, which included me, at first.
But as I delved deeper into this industry, I learned that cuddling can be a therapeutic experience, much like meditation or yoga.
In today’s society, we often think that touching another person has to lead to something sexual, which means it can be embarrassing to think of cuddling a stranger as a viable way to earn an income.
But companies like Cuddlist are changing that perspective.
As their website states “professional therapeutic touch through cuddling is healing and transformative when it happens in a respectful and emotionally safe way.”
So even though it might seem peculiar (at least, at first) to your friends or family, being a professional cuddler isn’t all that strange – nor is there anything sexual attached to the profession.
Think about it this way:
Those in need of a “snuggle” are restricted to asking those around them, which could lead to misunderstandings and a lot of awkwardness.
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Instead, finding someone online, or through a business, that’s already comfortable with the idea and knows proper boundaries is a much better prospect.
Is Professional Cuddling the Right Choice for You?
Getting paid to cuddle obviously implies that you will be touching (and be touched by) a lot of people.
That can be a nightmare for someone who is uncomfortable with being touched.
If you have a big personal space and the idea of hugging and holding others for an hour or two at a time makes you uneasy then being a professional cuddler probably isn’t for you.
That said, if you’re a compassionate person who likes to listen to others and show them affection (in a platonic way) then you’ll be great a this.
Another important aspect is that you have to be accepting of everyone – regardless of their race, gender, and religious beliefs – because you’re likely going to get clients from all walks of life.
What Does a Professional Cuddler Do?
At the heart of it, there’s the cuddling – touching and holding another person (not inappropriately of course).
But people are social creatures and they’ll want to talk and get things off their minds.
Professional cuddlers aren’t psychologists and shouldn’t offer any life-changing advice in a professional capacity, yet, you’ll likely still have to listen to your client and keep the conversation going in an emphatic and affirmative way.
Depending on the arrangement (either between you and the agency, or you and the client) you will either meet the client at an agreed-upon public place or at their home.
From there, you’re free to sit on a couch and chat, watch a movie, or just cuddle, if that’s all the client wants to do.
Though if you’re really into getting paid to sit around, then maybe you’d like to get paid to become an audience member too.
Of course, safety is always at the back of everyone’s minds when they think of meeting a stranger alone. That’s why it’s better to join up with an established company that already has safety procedures in place and carefully vets the clients.
How Do You Become a Professional Cuddler?
Some people, like Jane Wells, the owner of Cuddle Up to Me, strike out on their own and set up a business where they find and vet their own clients. However, this is extremely time-consuming and risky.
If you’re looking at this as more of a side-gig then you’re probably much better off joining one of the major online agencies out there that run a community of “cuddlers” “or cuddlists” or “snugglers” (there seems to be a wide range of terminology).
Some of the biggest cuddle companies in the business are:
You’ll likely have to go through a vetting process when you sign on and maybe some training first – which may cost money.
Cuddlist, for instance, requires that you complete their online course, which costs $150 to become a trained “cuddler”.
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Being trained to “cuddle” might sound absurd, but given that there are some social pitfalls here, it makes sense that training should be a part of it.
Generally, (if you’re part of an agency) then you’ll have a profile where clients can find you. If a client is interested then they’ll send you a request. After that, you’re free to chat with the client and book them during a timeslot when you’re available – if you feel comfortable with them. Making this a very flexible option as a side-gig.
How Much Can You Get Paid to Cuddle?
Both Cuddlist and The Snuggle Buddies, for instance, pay $40 an hour and allow clients to tip you as well. Most agencies will also reimburse you for the drive to your meetup place; The Snuggle Buddies, for instance, pays $15 per hour of driving roundtrip.
If you don’t set up your own thing (which can vary wildly in income), then this depends on the agency you join.
But generally, the pay is really good.
The Bottom Line
It’s still pretty mind-boggling that you can get paid to cuddle, but being a professional cuddler can be an incredibly rewarding job.
Not only will you meet a ton of interesting people, but you can also help others deal with the anxiety and loneliness that stems from a lack of touch.
If you’re into more unconventional ways of making money (and meeting new people at the same time) then you might also be interested in looking at how to get paid for going on dates.