Time for a little honesty. We all have a need to be held at some point. But when you don’t have anyone to cuddle with, what do you do? You could visit Saskia Larsen, who is a professional cuddler. Yes, it is actually a career choice, and Saskia gets paid $80 an hour to cuddle with her clients.
“Cuddle” isn’t code for other activities. Saskia actually cuddles with people who need that human touch. “A professional cuddler is someone who helps people who are touch-deprived by simply holding them,” explains Saskia. “So if I help somebody feel better and more connected, they might go home to their family and be more connected.” For Saskia, touch is a fundamentally important aspect of the human condition. Saskia’s clients run the whole gamut—it’s not just lonely guys that live in their mom’s basement that can’t get a date. Saskia cuddles with people in religious communities, empty nesters, and survivors of sexual assault. There is the potential of sexual arousal in the sessions, but Saskia is very careful to maintain boundaries without maintaining or continuing the arousal. “I kind of wish prostitution was legal and safe,” explains Saskia, “so that it could be more clear and people looking for that could also not feel shame and just go and have that, but people who are really actually looking for platonic, nurturing touch could find it more easily.”
There’s actually a national network of cuddlists, which can be found on cuddlist.com. For Saskia and other cuddle therapists, providing a cuddle session fills a primal need. “There’s a paranoia about touch in our society, and I think it would be so much better if people could get touch without necessarily being villainised for coming on to somebody,” says Saskia. “I think touch is important because we’re human beings and it’s in our DNA to need connection with other human beings, and without connection to other human beings, we just don’t thrive.”