"I really believe in the power of touch and how it can heal people. It can be as simple as me sitting on the couch...next to someone."
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 13, 2019. It has since been updated.
Although we have numerous things to keep us engaged and distracted all day long, one would agree that there is nothing that can replace the comfort and sense of belonging as human contact can. A wise woman decided to take this up as her purpose and also made a successful career out of it.
In order to do this professionally, she earned a certificate through Cuddlist. The process of earning her cuddling credentials took four months. Before she works with a client, she has a protocol in place so that they have a mutual understanding.
Robin Marie is a professional cuddler, who is trained in therapeutic intimacy. The 48YO earns $40,000 a year ($80 per hour) from her unique job and spends around 45 hours a week spooning, hugging, and snuggling. The industry is blooming slowly as more male and female professional cuddlers are getting enlisted. Generally, the sessions can last anywhere from several minutes to an overnight stay.
Robin makes sure her clients know the rules well and everyone is clear that is purely for therapeutic purpose. The clients who come from all walks of life are made aware that it is strictly platonic. She has been a professional cuddler for 18 months now and gets her clients through the website Cuddlist. Another rule is that the clients need to be fully clothed at all times.
"I spend up to 25 hours-a-week cuddling clients for work, then around ten hours a week cuddling my boyfriend and about seven hours-a-week cuddling my cat," the Kansas City (Missouri) resident told Fox News. "I never get bored of cuddling. It's very rewarding. It causes the body to release oxytocin, the 'bonding hormone', which makes us feel happier and less stressed."
Robin explains how this is no less than therapy as human touch can be extremely healing for people who are too stressed out or lonely. Apart from being deeply emotional and healing, her job is also fairly technical. It's not just about cozying up but also about feeling comfortable, safe and abiding to the rules and regulations.
She also describes how many of her clients feel relieved and let their pain out by crying during the session. She not only helps them fill the void in their life but also heal them with a compassionate and prolonged hug.
"My youngest client was 20 and the oldest was about 75," she said. "I get all kinds of people male, female, gay, lesbian, transgender. We have a code of conduct and I specify that they must wear a minimum of a t-shirt or tank top and lounge pants. In the summer, gym shorts are ok, as long as they come below the middle of the thighs," she continued. "Boxer shorts or briefs are not acceptable."
The sessions she offers take place in a "calming place" that Robin rents and can range from an hour to four hours. She mentions that there are cuddlers who do overnight stays as well but she has not got a similar request yet. "I know some Cuddlists do overnight sessions, but I haven’t had anyone ask me for that yet. That would cost quite a lot of money, and I think that's too expensive for most people in the Midwest," Robin said.
"I wouldn’t be against the idea, but it would have to be with an established client where there was mutual trust. My boyfriends have been fine with it. They know that it’s not sexual at all. There was one guy I dated for a little while who was kind of weirded out by it, but we just agreed to disagree," she added.
"People in all different professions from grocery store clerks to clergy, business people, college students, blue-collar and white-collar people, and folks of all different ethnicity, religions and nationalities. I get single people, people who are happily married, unhappily married, widowed, divorced, people in monogamous relationships and those with multiple partners," she claimed. "The majority are male, but they are often gay or transgender as well as straight."
"The training is not about different cuddle positions. It’s more about learning how to set boundaries and create an environment that feels safe and comfortable for everyone," Robin said. "The first step is a pre-screening discussion about boundaries, usually via video call, and then I ask 'How would you like to cuddle?'"
"I have learned that when I feel my intuition telling me that I'm not comfortable, I can act on it and suggest different options. My clients also learn how to ask for what they need, for example, they'll say I'd like to be the little spoon right now.' Many people find it difficult to ask for what they want or need in life and seeing a cuddling professional can really help with that."
Clients initially undergo a video chat for a screening. They are asked to provide identification and to sign an agreement that details the boundaries of the session. All of this happens prior to the meeting.
Robin has also noticed some improvements in her physical health since becoming a full-time snuggler.
"I have fibromyalgia and I've definitely noticed a reduction in pain, an improvement in my sleep, an increase in energy and a general reduction in my stress," she said. "I'm a Type A person, so cuddling has really helped me to go with the flow a lot more, I've noticed it massively over the last year and a half."
"I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of it. In my personal life or at work.”