November 2017
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essential qualities to be a good cuddler: good at consent, emotionally present & aware, not in need


icon: "woven souls (a photo of me and Hannah laying nude on black fabric, holding hands and facing each other with legs intertwined at the knee. the photo is overlaid with a scarlet and violet color filter)"

The qualities that are most vital are being good at consent, being good at staying emotionally present, and not radiating need. Consent is vital because any touch needs to be consensual and a cuddler needs to know how to navigate that and give someone safety. Being emotionally present and aware is necessary because that is the building block for being able to give cuddles that are emotionally nourishing as well as physically pleasant. Not being full of need is necessary because even if you are otherwise perfect, if you have great need you may unintentionally drain people with your presence unless they know how to guard against that, or you are amazingly good at putting it in a box for a time. (for people who are full of need, guess what would be great for them? a professional cuddler!)
A professional cuddler needs to be:

1) good at consent: good at noticing non-verbal "no"s and asking clarifying, specific questions such as, "is there any part of your body that you would like me to avoid touching? Is there any particular kind of touch that you do not like?" and things like "would you like to be spooned? would you like me to stroke your arms? do you want me to play with your hair?"

2) not touch-starved or affection-hungry. If they go into a session without their own tanks full, it is quite possible that their touch will drain the client rather than nourish them.

3) good at boundaries. They need to be able to state their own comfort level and to be willing and able to say no and perhaps end the session if the client is not listening to those statements and honoring them.

4) calm, with settled energy about them, so that the cuddles they give will be relaxing and they won't transfer any stress to the client.

5) comfortable with other people's emotions, able to listen, care, and hold space without getting swept along.

6) good at separating sexual touch from affectionate touch, so that they can both offer touch with no sexual energy and they can read when a client is not being platonic and set boundaries accordingly.

7) good at paying attention and good at reading people's reactions, so that they can tell how to adjust their touch according to what would be the most nourishing for the client.

8) very comfortable with cuddling, so that they don't feel self-conscious and make their client feel awkward and uncomfortable about receiving their touch. They need to have a level of confidence and willingness to change something that is not working for the client.

Only the last one is really about physical aspects. The rest is all mental! Not all of it is stuff you can control -- obviously people don't have a lot of control over how much they need or how calm they are or even how emotionally present they are (some disabilities can break you out of being present no matter how hard you try). Some of this is skill, and some of it is just qualities that you might have or you might not, and some is a combination.

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Comments
wanderipity ══╣╠══
I made my boyfriend read this. Wow.
strong_delicate ══╣╠══
I'm just now starting to read your journal but have you ever participated in cuddle parties? I've read articles about how a group of consenting individuals will meet up with comfy blankets, pillows, pjs or whatever and snuggle and cuddle. People are so disconnected these days that they are yearning for intimacy like this.

Also, as a counselor i can see a professional cuddler being useful to help someone suffering from trauma especially physical/sexual trauma. When a person goes through something difficult they lose all faith and have trouble comforting themselves. Knowing that they could go to a safe person for intimacy like this would be very, very healing.
volamonster ══╣╠══
All of this is wonderful, but I'm especially glad you included differentiating between sexual and affectionate touch. This is why MOST cuddling feels likes a violation of consent for me: most people seem to have a hard time separating the two, and I do not consent to sexual contact 99% of the time. Yet we live in a culture where you are supposed to just initiate sexual contact if you want it, especially if it strikes a person as a natural segue from other types of physical contact,and we are not taught consent. This adds up to me hating being touched for no other reason than that people end up violating me in the process.

Well, there's that, and there's hating soft touch because of my comorbid SPD, which many people give passively. Even my girlfriend I constantly have to tell not to do certain things (like gentle stroking) because she will slip mindlessly into doing them and it is very jarring and unpleasant.

All of this is to say how much I appreciate a thoughtful list like this. You sound amazing at this.
untiltimeends ══╣╠══
I love sex, but honestly I'd pick a good cuddle session over sex probably 60 percent of the time if it were entirely up to me.

I really, really love this entry.
hardigrin ══╣╠══
Love how you broke this down. Any company that doesn't snap up how thoughtful and wonderful this is is probably not somewhere you'd be comfortable working anyhow.

Also so happy to get your words again. Bah, school!
meri_sielu ══╣Nom!╠══
This is a very, very lovely entry. Just wow. <3
toll_booth ══╣╠══
You know what all of this wonderful, lovely, sensuous post made me think of? The kink community, and how much importance so many of them place on ongoing communication. This is because permission does not always mean consent. Permission is necessary for, but is not by itself enough for, consent to maintain participation in the physical activity, whether it be cuddling, sex, kink, etc.

Then there's the emotional side. Yes, I've had conversations where I felt happy during them, but as soon as they ended, I felt...drained. Looking back, I realized that in those moments, all I was doing was giving of myself without asking for anything in return. Sometimes, frankly, I would do this to make myself feel better in light of a shitty situation I was in elsewhere in life--poor judgment, yes, but some of us do this all the time.

Love the pic, BTW!
stray_infinity ══╣rorschach╠══
Thank you for your thoughts here! I love how cuddling is an activity where you listen to other person, the kind of listening that involves honest attention and courage to act accordingly to those nonverbal cues.
koyaaniisqatsi ══╣╠══
I love cuddles and I love this entry. :)
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══

Presence is so much of everything. I like some active cuddling... but I think I really love tried and true spooning, filling up as many crevices as possible, and just lying there.

on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.