[Ed. – Many of these modern phenomena arise because a lot of people survive into adulthood who didn’t use to. There’s a lot more to say, but I’ll leave it at that.]
[T]he advent of professional cuddling and friend rentals seems to be serving a distinctly modern need. Everyone I talked to in the companionship industry echoed the same view that while digital technology may provide connection, it doesn’t provide physical touch and can’t replace real-life friendships. Samantha Hess, a professional cuddler, theorizes that another reason many customers are drawn to her business is the idea of human touch unaccompanied by judgment. “We have this emotional reciprocity and emotional baggage attached to friends and family,” she says. “I don’t have emotional history since I am a stranger, so there is no worry that I will judge them.”
Hess, who has identified and catalogued 65 cuddling positions and written a book about cuddling, also teaches couples how to hold each other. Cuddle Up to Me, which Hess founded in 2013, employs three other cuddlers, all of them women, though Hess is currently training a male cuddler who she expects will start working by the end of the year. The company’s rate is $1 per minute, and books sessions lasting between 15 minutes and 5 hours.