I was reading an independent weekly newspaper this week when an ad on the back cover caught my eye. I did a double-take as I could not believe what I was seeing. I had not realized such a thing was possible.
Among the ads for bankruptcy, addiction help and lawyers specializing in suspended licenses was a bright pink advertisement for a cuddling company. Yes, a cuddling company, whom shall remain nameless for now.
Curiosity got the better of me so I checked out this cuddling company’s website. There was a great deal of emphasis on the professional cuddling experience being all non-sexual touch. All participants are fully clothed before, during and after a cuddle session. The cuddling takes place in “the cuddle room” or, for an extra fee, at a private residence. The videos of example cuddle sessions portray a hybrid mix of cuddling and massage, which my partner vehemently declared “not cuddling!”
According to the owner of the cuddling company, “Cuddling helps reduce stress, can help alcohol withdrawal, increases oxytocin levels and reduces levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.” The owner went on to say, “A 20-second hug can improve your day.”
Before I write more on professional cuddling services, I would like for readers to better understand oxytocin and what it does in our bodies. Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus in the brain that is then transported to and secreted by the pea-sized pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain just beneath the hypothalamus.
Oxytocin is both chemical and biological in nature because it performs two distinct roles within the human body. Chemically, oxytocin is known as a nonapeptide because it is a peptide, or compound, containing nine amino acids linked in a chain. Biologically, oxytocin is known as a neuropeptide because neurons use it to communicate with one another to influence brain activity in a specific way.
The release of oxytocin into the bloodstream during childbirth makes the muscles of the womb contract, which is referred to as increased uterine motility. Stimulation of a new birth mother’s nipples results in a large amount of oxytocin being released into the bloodstream that then prompts milk let-down for the purpose of nursing.
Medical professionals prescribe oxytocin (brand name Pitocin) to start birth contractions or to strengthen them during labor, to reduce bleeding after delivery of a child and in medical abortions or during miscarriage.
Oxytocin is released into defined regions of the brain that are involved in emotional, cognitive and social behavior that lead to relaxation, trust and psychological stability. Oxytocin released in the brain has been linked with bonding between couples and with the reduction of stress responses, such as anxiety.
Sexual response stimulates the release of oxytocin in both men and women. This oxytocin release has a yet-to-be-fully-understood role in erection and orgasm. Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “hug hormone” or the “cuddle chemical.”
Craving a cuddle? The rates for cuddling from the local cuddle company I looked at ranges from $35 for a half-hour of cuddle time to as much as $120 for a 90-minute session. The price for an overnight cuddle session is only available upon request.
Interestingly, if a person desires companionship, that can be bought as well with prices ranging from $140 for three hours up to $450 for ten hours of time. According to the website, all charges must be paid in advance.
If a person who needs a cuddle does not have the funds to pay for the services of a professional cuddler, he or she can check out the free site Cuddle Comfort. This site allows users all across the United States to sign up and meet other people for the purpose of cuddling.
“Cuddle Comfort started up in 2011 with the goal of bringing physical affection to more people without the romantic prerequisites,” states the company’s website. The site’s creators believe that approaching people we already know in our daily lives and asking for a cuddle could be construed as a romantic come-on that can damage friendships and other relationships.
The Cuddle Comfort site gives three reasons why most users have signed up for a cuddle opportunity: relationship rehab, in which a bad break-up leaves a person craving intimacy and affection; always on the move, in which relationship-committed individuals travel for work and miss the intimacy and affection their partners give them; and choice of singledom, in which the single among us can satisfy their need for affection while maintaining their single status.
Your Sexy Librarian encourages people to be safe, respectful and responsible at all times in their intimate lives. When someone meets a professional or a volunteer for a cuddling experience, he or she should shower and use dental hygiene products prior to the event and should wear clean, comfortable clothes to the cuddle room. And, for the comfort of all involved, I suggest cuddle customers observe the song lyric from Sawyer Brown, “Don’t gimme no lines an’ keep your hands to yourself.”