Amy Grinnell is a “trained cuddlist,” and even she admits that it sounds absurd.
Yes, a so-called “cuddlist” does exactly what you think she might. Grinnell, from Shelton, gets paid to cuddle.
“It just seems ridiculous to pay someone to give you a hug,” she said.
To anticipate your first question, no, there’s no sex of any kind involved. That’s important, according to Grinnell. This is “platonic touch,” and every prospective client has to understand that at the very start.
“First they have to agree to the code of conduct,” she said. “Then we have a screening, a phone screening or an email screening or both. “We make sure that the client is on the same page. When we first meet the client, we discuss boundaries.”
It was a question Grinnell said was on her husband’s mind when she began training as a cuddlist a few months ago.
“At first he was very, very concerned and a little bit upset about it,” she said. “We talked about it and he was very hesitant to say he was OK with it because of the intimacy he thought was involved.”
But when you hear Grinnell describe the service she provides it sounds innocent. Her clients are people — mostly men, between the ages of 40 and 60 — who have been deprived of human contact.
“It’s very professional and it’s very meaningful, the work that we do,” she said. “People are very much deprived of touch.
Some are victims of physical or emotional abuse, and so Grinnell lets her clients lead the session.
Well defined boundaries are not only for her safety but also her clients’ sense of security. “The boundaries are always there and everyone can feel safe.”
A cuddling session might begin with just holding hands. Maybe it would progress to head-touching or spooning.
“Our skin is pretty much our primary sense organ,” she said. “People have said that touch is the ‘mother of all senses.’ “Mental health and general well being and evolutionary survival has depended on us being interconnected.”
To anticipate your next question, yes, Grinnell is making a living as a cuddlist. She works through cuddlist.com — each session costs $80 an hour — though at present, Grinnell said she is the only trained cuddlist in Connecticut.
But Grinnell said it’s worth it. She’s serving her clients’ needs, and those of an increasingly disconnected society.
“The joy and wonder of touching another person is amazing and wonderful,” she said “There’s such a joy in helping people feel connected to society and the universe.”