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You can now train to become one of the UK's first professional cuddlers

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When it gets near the end of the month and payday is still days away, we often fantasise about the ways in which we could earn some extra cash.

We imagine spinning money off our Instagram accounts or heading to eBay to flog the 80% of unworn clothes we (still) have lingering in our wardrobes. We experiment with new food pairings in our tiny kitchens and imagine writing a bestselling cookbook and dream of making our millions by setting up our own business.

And now, there's a new venture that we could soon be adding to our list of ways to rake in the cash: becoming a professional cuddler.

You could soon be paid for cuddling

You could soon be paid for cuddling

It might sound bizarre, but Europe's only professional cuddling agency, BeCuddled, has recently launched, offering training courses in the art of professional cuddling.

Self-described as a "blossoming, ground-breaking and immensely rewarding therapy service", BeCuddled is a UK-based, EU-wide network of professional cuddlers who offer their services via personal profiles on the BeCuddled website.

Prospective cuddlers must first train to become a certified BeCuddler, which involves reading a detailed certification pack including information on resources and support to help the cuddler "thrive" in their new profession. It costs £25 to become certified, after which the cuddler will receive lifetime membership to the agency and their own profile on the site.

Once certified, cuddlers can charge upwards of £25 per hour long session, with an additional £10 per hour added if they need to travel to visit their client.

The BeCuddled advert

The BeCuddled advert

And while paying someone for an hour-long cuddle session might sound a bit dark, the website is firm on their policy that the cuddles, snuggles and nuzzles between the professional and their client are 100% non-sexual. 

Clients are not allowed to touch areas of the cuddler that would be covered by underwear, and nudity is strictly forbidden.

Plus, anyone previously convicted of a sexual or violent crime is not allowed to apply to become a professional cuddler, and applications must tick a box on the form that states, "I understand that BeCuddled.Today is not an escort or dating agency, and I agree never to offer sexual services during cuddle sessions."

However, these measures can't prevent people from becoming turned on during their sessions. Kitty Mansfield, a self-proclaimed "snuggler" and founder of BeCuddled, states on her website that arousal can be a normal response to cuddling.

"It happens sometimes when we get close to others, especially if we haven't had much chance to enjoy touch outside of a sexual context," she writes. "Our agreement is to not act on it.  We take a break, if necessary, and it goes away."

Kitty Mansfield, one of the UK's only professional cuddlers

Kitty Mansfield, one of the UK's only professional cuddlers

So what does a professional cuddler do? Alongside the obvious cuddling, sessions involve other touch therapies such as arm tickling, hair stroking and hand holding. Clients can choose to talk or remain silent, while music can be played or films can be watched.

Mansfield, who trained as a holistic therapist, offers a package of "classic snuggles" that range from the 30 minute Power Snuggle (£25) to a 90 minute session (£65).

She also advertises a "silver screen snuggle" which involves "a whole two hours of snuggling on the sofa with your choice of film" for £95 (which includes drinks, popcorn and snacks).

And clients for professional cuddlers can be either  men or women, although American cuddle agency The Snuggle Buddies claims on their site that 99% of clients are men.

Professional cuddler Kitty poses with a male client

Professional cuddler Kitty poses with a male client

Although it is yet to be determined how open us Brits will be to paying for professional cuddles, the business is growing rapidly in the States, with The New York Times describing cuddle therapy as the "latest thing in wellness, beyond yoga and meditation".

And 30-year-old Brianna Quijada, who lives in New York and charges $80 (approximately £54) for cuddling sessions, claims there are numerous health benefits to cuddling. She told The New York Times, "It’s like a feeling of being understood. It raises your oxytocin, it calms the fight-or-flight response... It’s seriously like drugs. You’re done with the party and you’re stoned from the cuddling."

Quijada, who offers services such as synchronised breathing, eye gazing and footsie as part of her packages, believes cuddling to be more beneficial than massages. She did, however, admit that she doesn't accept clients at her home, choosing instead to hire meeting rooms for safety.

"There’s always that little bit of fear. There was more in the beginning... But I don’t go into it thinking people are going to be creepy - anymore," she said.

"Someone once asked me to wear shorts, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. That’s like the worst of it."

cuddling

Would you want to be a professional cuddler?

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