The New Age Healers: ‘Professional Cuddlers’

By Leah Johnson
Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach.

In the age of virtual and internet-based relationships, it’s fitting that a niche market could open for people craving the human touch.

Coming to a town near you, “professional cuddlers” have sprung up shop hoping to use their passion for people to bring back the love.

In Okaloosa County, that person is 36-year-old Jean Todd.

Based in Holt, Todd provides a non-sexual cuddling service as a “therapy” for anyone who needs it.

“I’m trying to help society come up as a whole,” she said. “If I impact one person positively that’s my goal.”

Todd, 36, single and full of life, describes herself as “warm and soft.” She said wherever she goes strangers will talk to her.
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That is how she met her current clients.

In the last two to three years professional cuddling seems to have popped up across the U.S. But an underground network of cuddlers likely existed long before that.

Growing up, Todd said her family didn’t say I love you.

“I’ve always been overly affectionate to the point where it would make my mother nervous,” she said.

After losing a husband to health complications, Todd said she entered into a marriage lacking affection.

“I just needed someone to hold me,” she said.

Todd isn’t charging anyone for her services, yet. Instead, she supports herself by making and selling jewelry out of her home.

But, she tries to cuddle two to three times a week. Right now, Todd’s clientele is heterosexual males, but she will cuddle anybody.

In a session, Todd is open. She’ll take you on a date, spend an evening watching Netflix with you and give you a call if you just need a sympathetic ear. She’s especially good at hugs.

“There are levels of affection,” Todd says. “It doesn’t have to be sexual.”

On a recent visit, to the Daily News, she hugged at least 10 employees, including some twice.

Todd likely isn’t the only local cuddler, but she’s the only one who agreed to an interview. A quick Google search and you can find that cuddle sessions can include anything from star gazing to footsie.

Though mostly female dominated, there are males in the profession too.

Mike Price founded Cuddle Time in Gainesville in 2014 because he wanted to help people. He had no experience in professional cuddling — his background was in emergency medicine and social work.

“I was interested in the benefits of cuddling,” said Price who is in his early 40s. “I thought I could do it on a smaller scale.”

Price himself does not do the cuddling, but he hires cuddlers and helps them connect with clients.

But, he said, although he gets male applicants, he gets fewer women interested in their services.

Price has a team of cuddlers in 10 cities in Florida, including Panama City, as well as other states.

Instead of a brick and mortar business, Price works entirely by email and word-of-mouth.

“A lot of people aren’t going to tell their friends,” Price said. “Our clients want to be discreet. We keep it simple.”
Todd said having to hide the fact you crave touch is saddening.

For those uncomfortable with her business she said she has the antidote.

“Give me a hug,” she said.

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