CuddleFix // The Power of Touch

Asking Amy McKnight what she does for a living makes for great conversation. Her office space fluctuates between her bedroom and living room sofa. She is a professional cuddler, and she found her calling via a Craigslist ad.

A nurse at the time, the 42-year-old found a posting for a cuddling company called Cuddlefix. She thought it would be a great idea. Now she is the Co-Owner and Director of Operations.

Launched in November, Cuddlefix is the brainchild of Alabama native Aaron Heine. The company allows clients to hire professional snugglers, or CuddlePros, for hour-long or overnight sessions. An hour-long session will cost you $60, while an overnight stay will set you back $400.

According to McKnight, Heine chose to launch the company in Birmingham because there weren’t any other professional cuddling services active in the South. With many rival companies only operating in large cities like Los Angeles and New York, he saw it as an opportunity to fill a niche.

Almost a year later, the company has vastly expanded. There are now CuddlePros stationed throughout Alabama and in a few select cities, including Washington D.C, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

One thing that sets Cuddlefix apart from the others is the ability for clients to communicate with CuddlePros before booking a session.  By adding this interactive function, clientele can ask questions and voice their concerns. This also helps weed out those who think the company is a sex service.

Like any professional company, there are boundaries. Sessions are strictly nonsexual and completely platonic, which means no kissing or funny business. But McKnight isn’t foreign to natural body responses. With a majority of her clients being men, a common concern is what would happen if they became aroused. In actuality, she said it happens almost every time.

“As long as my clients don’t do not act on it, I do not call attention to it,” McKnight explained. “Something I have learned is that once the male brain realizes that sex is off the table, arousal rarely last more than 5-10 minutes.”

With an average of 10 sessions a week, McKnight found that CuddlePros over the age of 34 are more likely to get booked. She said it is because clients don’t want to feel like they are cuddling with someone their daughter or grandchild’s age. Ideally, they want someone they can hold an intelligent conversation with.

“I don’t look like a super model.” McKnight mused. “I’m not 20. I’m decently attractive and a little overweight. It is not all about the physical, but the emotional.”

Though it pays well, McKnight doesn’t just do it for the money.  She saw it as an alternative to online dating, where people can be themselves with her. In the past, a recently divorced McKnight tried to give love another chance, and created an online dating profile. After a trial run, she found that cyber courting wasn’t her cup of tea. It was tedious, repetitive and she still felt lonely.

“You go out on first dates and you get tired of it and feel alone,” McKnight said. “You might go out to dinner and they are not the person they say they are. I got frustrated with that.”

McKnight said it is a misconception that cuddling sessions are a form of an escorting. Cuddlefix’s goal is only to provide interaction and connection through touch, a therapeutic and platonic form of intimacy.

“We all need somebody to touch,” McKnight said. “We are not made to be alone.”

Studies have shown that daily touch, such as a handshake or a hug, releases Oxytocin, a hormone that can combat stress and lower one’s blood pressure. Naturally, that is why most of their employment ads are placed in hospitals. Like McKnight, most CuddlePros are either nurses or have some experience in the medical field.
“We look for people that are used to touching people already,” McKnight said. “People that are used to being passionate and empathetic. That was the vision that I brought to the company and that is what keeps clients coming back.”

When speaking with potential clients, she will always ask them what they expect from the service.  Seldom is it sexual. Many of them just want to be held and validated, something that most psychiatrists and psychologists can’t and won’t do.

“When you cry, they [professionals] won’t hold you,” McKnight said. “They won’t wipe away your tears. We can.”

McKnight prefers to host her clients at her house.  With a five-foot-ten stature and ten years as a psych nurse, she said she can handle her own. Working from home permits McKnight’s clients to feel like they are in a safe zone. Describing it like a desert island, her house is a place where they can be themselves, without fear of rejection.

On the contrary, McKnight said her job isn’t always about touching, but being there for her clients, helping them feel validated.

“I have had three clients over forty that were virgins. They came to me for lessons on how to talk to and approach a woman.”

McKnight’s belief is that Cuddlefix is to act as a Band-Aid. It isn’t about love, it is about connection. In actuality, many of her clients aren’t looking for love. Many of them are doctors and lawyers, who don’t have the time to a nurture a relationship.  Then there are those that are recently divorced and aren’t ready to date.

The other half of her clientele are married, but use the service because they have lost a connection with their spouse or significant other.

The CuddlePro explained that a lack of communication and touch is what truly ruins marriages. During their sessions, clients often speak of neglect they receive from their partners.  She added that many clients get wrapped up in their life that they lose insight of what they have at home.

“When you get my age, you learn to be want to be with someone who is in the moment with you, where it’s not just pick up the kids, go home, make dinner, watch a little T.V and go to bed. If my client’s spouses spent ten minutes with them a night holding them. I wouldn’t have a job.”


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