With the onset of the pandemic, people are left touch starved in this new socially distant world. Osho writes, “By and by we have forgotten where to touch, how to touch. In fact, touch is one of the most forgotten languages,” in his book, Hammer on the Rock: Evening Talks with a Modern Buddha, with which many of us might relate to in the current post-pandemic world. Hence, professional cuddling services have become popular where people can buy or sell touch for therapeutic reasons as people are longing to be hugged or cuddled by their loved ones. One such professional cuddler named Keeley Shoup, currently based in Chicago, US, talked to LADbible about the trade, explaining how her work helps people suffering from trauma and abuse for the last seven years. There are certain rules she follows to protect her from possible danger but Keeley admits that she loves when her clients trust her enough to make strange requests that would be considered unconventional in society. According to her, those atypical requests imply that she has created a space safe enough where the other person doesn’t feel judged and can confide in her.
As per her rules, her client can ask her for anything that falls within her code of conduct as long as she is comfortable and can do it wholeheartedly. She recalled that she has had tickle fights with her clients or read books, like children’s stories, to them because they wanted to feel cared for as they did in their childhood. In other instances, she had wrestled around like a puppy with someone. Most of the people resonated with the act of drawing on someone’s back and they would guess what shape it was, which, Keeley loves doing.
Keeley thinks that as adults, humans limit their access to platonic touch due to fear or the shame surrounding it which according to her, is a disservice to the community. She thinks a sexual experience can be subjective, hence, people limit their wants and needs due to the fear of being ostracised or shunned as other people wouldn’t believe them if they say that it wasn’t sexual. She admits that she has rarely encountered people who want something sexual and despite the bad experiences, she loves her works and clients. But despite it all, she feels like cuddling people is her life’s purpose.