'Cuddle parties' now exist for adults that want to explore non-sexual contact

A professional cuddler who earns £75 for an hour-long hug is now hosting cuddle parties where strangers can snuggle in a group setting.

Trevor Hooton, 30 – who goes by ‘Treasure’ – set up the cuddle therapy business in May 2022.

Treasure also offers ‘connections coaching’, to help people struggling to build relationships with others.

Their business, Embrace Connections, hosts ‘cuddle parties’ for £30 a session where people can come together ‘to explore and enjoy non-sexual physical connection in a safe, structured environment’.

It’s a controlled environment for a very specific kind of touch.

The cuddle parties involve groups spending time together gaining trust and understanding physical touch, before gathering for a ‘shared comfortable, cozy cuddling experience’.

Treasure calls this a ‘cuddle puddle’.

More than just a hug, to Treasure these events are about ‘pouring care, affection and goodwill into someone through touch’.

Some people don’t understand their business, confusing it with sex work.

Treasure, who is originally from Montreal, Canada, but now lives in Bristol, said: ‘I built a business based on my passions for building human connections.

‘Many people struggle to make those and that’s where I step in.

‘It’s more than just cuddling – it’s giving people the things they need, whatever that might be.

‘The parties have been great, and I think it’s a really great way to provide value to lots of people at once.

‘I’ve done four parties so far and each one has been unique and special in it’s own way.

‘We have a very mixed group – some people are single and unfamiliar of touch but want to develop comfort.

‘On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who are used to being touched and want more of it.

‘Either way the participants seem to walk away from it and love it.’

Treasure first began looking into the science behind human connections a decade ago, as they found it fascinating.

But it wasn’t until 2021 that they began working to turn it into a business, which launched in May 2022.

The next party is planned for Valentine’s Day, and people are being asked to wear red.

Describing the new service, Treasure said: ‘The first section of the party is a welcome and arrival and brief discussion of the expectations and boundaries of the space.

‘Then we do a set of workshop activities to help people arrive in their own bodies and meet one another and learn to how to interact with one another.

‘This is important because if you were to just drop people in to this environment and say “have at it”, there could be problems.

‘Then after an hour of that we have a break and have some food together and get to know each other more.

‘After that, I reset the room and then the cuddle puddle begins, which is when anybody can pile on and cuddle.

‘Over the course of the rest of the evening some people stay in the cuddle or some leave and have some pair cuddling, massages, or simply get a cup of tea.’

Some people leave feeling close to a host of strangers, finding it empowering.

They added: ‘It’s always a non-sexual, platonic intimacy, based on whatever the person wants.

‘We meet, go over guidelines to ensure we’re on the same page, and then structure the session based on what they want and their boundaries.

‘There is a lot of checking in to see how they feel and what they want – whatever helps them to feel safe and calm.’

Sometimes people can find it awkward at first, as we’re not used to such interaction – but Treasure tries to help people ease into it.

‘And if the person starts to feel the start of something sexual, we communicate about that and back off, because it needs to be non-sexual intimacy,’ they add.

Treasure had to learn the theory behind cuddling and said: ‘It’s about communication and building trust – when you hire a cuddle therapist, you are hiring their time, attention and care.

‘When I am giving a hug to someone, I’m pouring in care, affection and goodwill through that touch.

‘Hugging a stranger doesn’t do much, it has to be someone who cares about you.’

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