Imagine you walk into a room filled with complete strangers, but everyone’s there for the same purpose: they are there to snuggle up and to cuddle. These so-called “cuddle parties” truly do exist. Maybe this is not your thing, and maybe the thought of a snuggling with someone you don’t know makes you want to run screaming in the other direction. Well, you are not alone. It’s definitely not for 88.5’s Ariel Van Cleave. But Ariel is always up to challenging her fears, so she recently set out to take part in one of these cuddling events and shares her experience.
Cuddle Party Tutorial: "It's a space for people to gather, typically someone's basement or house. Nobody knows each other, and they're put together by a 'facilitator.' It starts with this conversation about consensual touch, and one of the big parts about this is that it is non-sexual. This is for comfort and connection. And just because the word 'cuddle' is in the title, it doesn't mean you need to actually cuddle. There are foot massages, back rubs and sometimes there's the occasional spooning.
But Why Cuddling: "A lot of good stuff has been going on. A lot of external things have been going well. I've got a good job. I love the city I'm living in, got some good buddies. But then I started thinking, okay, let's focus on the inside stuff and figure out what's going on in there. One of my big troubles is, actually, people touching me."
An Appointment With The Cuddle Club: "I'm actually not brave enough to go to one of the cuddle parties. But I went another route. There are these one-on-one cuddle sessions that you can do. There's this woman named Lashanna Williams, and she owns a business called The Cuddle Club over in West Seattle. She is actually a professional cuddler. So I scheduled an appointment with her."
The One-On-One Session: "For about 10 minutes I was awkwardly sitting on the couch next to her, and then finally, I was like 'You know, I'm here. I gotta do it.' So I said 'Can I put my head in your lap?' And she said, 'Absolutely.' And then she said 'Can I massage your head?' And I said, 'Absolutely.' It felt like a slumber party with a close friend."
Lessons Learned: "I will say I'm glad I did it. I have definitely been considering going again just because it's a nice, slow way to get comfortable with the idea of someone actually touching me, and get rid of this anxiety over time."
This story originally aired on Dec. 17, 2016