I’ve come across a few unbelievable side gig opportunities in my time, but even I was surprised that people can get paid to cuddle.
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It might seem like a ridiculous thing to pay for, but professional cuddling is slowly 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 think.
But what does it take to become a professional cuddler, what precisely does this job entail, and how much can you realistically expect to earn? I explore these topics and more below.
Why Are People Paying To Be Cuddled?
The benefits of human interaction and touching, in particular, have been widely espoused by scientists and psychologists alike.
However, in today’s society, personal spaces are becoming wider, intimacy is increasingly scarce, and people are getting more isolated.
Online connections are stronger than ever before, but the human touch is left out of the equation.
With the recent pandemic forcing people to stay indoors and practice social distancing, everyone is more secluded than ever before.
This has led to many feeling the effects of touch starvation: anxiety, depression, stress-related physical disorders, and even PTSD.
Those working in the so-called “cuddle business” are all too familiar with this and see the positive effects their work can have on their clients’ lives.
Traditionally, cuddling isn’t exactly a taboo topic, but it isn’t something that one casually brings up in public or in the workplace. It’s something you only do with your partner or romantic interest when you want to show or receive affection.
Those in the cuddle business are working hard to change this perspective and advocate for cuddling as a way to connect with another human being through platonic, non-sexual touch.
Clients still feel this stigma, though, and normally want to keep their dealings private. But more and more people are recognizing the benefits of cuddling, especially those for whom casual physical contact, even a handshake, is elusive or even non-existent.
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What Does a Professional Cuddler Do?
At the heart of it, there’s the cuddling: embracing, touching, and caressing another person in a chaste, nonsexual way.
Some clients will want to talk and get things off their minds, and you’ll have to be ready to listen to them and be empathetic.
Unless you’re also a psychologist, do your best not to offer any professional advice. Getting paid to cuddle doesn’t make you an expert, and it’s best to remember that.
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 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.
Safety should always be first in everyone’s minds when arranging to meet with 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.
Another safety issue is related to arousal. If either you or your client gets turned on, it’s advisable to change positions to avoid stimulation.
It’s not that it’s shameful; it’s a normal physiological reaction. But you don’t want your client to feel taken advantage of, and you also don’t want your client to take advantage of you.
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.
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But as I delved deeper into this industry, I learned that cuddling can be a therapeutic experience, much like meditation, yoga, or mindfulness.
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, getting paid to cuddle is nothing to be ashamed of.
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.
Instead, finding someone online, or through a business, that’s already comfortable with the idea and knows proper boundaries is a much better and safer option.
Is Professional Cuddling the Right Choice for You?
Here are some of the questions you’ll have to ask yourself when considering professional cuddling as a job.
Are you comfortable touching and being touched constantly? While human touch is essential to one’s health, different people have different thresholds for how long they can be touched.
If you can’t bear the idea of hugging and holding other people for an hour or two at a time, then being a professional cuddler probably isn’t for you.
Are you willing to be trained or certified? Professional cuddlers aren’t required to undergo training, but it’s a great advantage for you in that you’ll know how to do your job better.
If you can’t afford training or if the company you end up working for doesn’t provide training, a highly recommended book for beginners is Cuddle Sutra.
Can you express empathy while maintaining professional distance? You need to be able to understand your clients’ needs at that moment, whether it’s cuddling, talking, or simply being present.
However, you do need to maintain a professional relationship with your client. I’ve mentioned that sexual contact is taboo, but you’re also not allowed to date your clients. If you intend to start a romantic relationship with a client, you can’t see them in a professional capacity anymore.
Can you be open to different types of people and lifestyles? You’re likely to get clients from all walks of life. You’ll need to be able to accept everyone over 18 regardless of their race, gender, and religious beliefs.
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,” “cuddlists,” or “snugglers” (there seems to be a wide range of terminology).
Here are some of the biggest cuddle companies in the business:
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You’ll likely have to go through a vetting process when you sign on and likely some training, which may cost money.
Cuddlist, for instance, requires that you complete their online course, which costs $150 to become a trained “cuddler.”
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.
Can You Get Paid to Cuddle Virtually?
The recent global pandemic has highlighted the need for touch therapy and at the same time made it difficult for people to get it, what with travel restrictions and social distancing.
Despite the obstacles professional cuddlers have found another way to offer their services to those who need them.
For instance, cuddlers may ask their client to lie on their side with one arm stretched under their head and their other arm wrapped around their torso, so that it feels they’re holding themselves.
Cuddle Sanctuary currently offers a paid training course in giving virtual cuddles to help professional cuddlers meet this demand.
For virtual cuddle sessions to work, it’s not enough that you’re knowledgeable about the techniques. Your client should also be open to the idea of trying something new.
There’s no substitute for actual human touch, of course, but being able to offer virtual cuddles and companionship can still make a lasting impact on one’s mental and emotional health, even from a distance.
How Much Can You Get Paid to Cuddle?
The pay depends on the company or agency you join. They may or may not restrict tips as well.
For reference, Cuddlist pays $40 an hour and allows clients to tip you as well. Most agencies will also reimburse you for travel expenses to your meetup place.
But generally, the pay is really good. Some experienced cuddlers can get paid up to $80 for a 45-minute cuddling session.
You can also get paid to cuddle overnight, usually in 8-hour time blocks (e.g., 10 PM to 6 AM). This service can fetch from $300 to $500 and even higher.
The Bottom Line
It may boggle the mind that you can get paid to cuddle, but being a professional cuddler can be an incredibly rewarding side gig, full-time job, or even a small business.
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.
Or check out our massive list of side hustle ideas.
Are you planning to find work as a professional cuddler? Do you think getting paid to cuddle is right up your alley? Tell us what you think in the comments!