Cuddling is one of life’s most satisfying activities. On the sliding scale of daily pleasures, a good spoon session is right up there with a still-warm pain au chocolat and a long afternoon nap. Naps and pastries are easy to come by, but not so a good cuddle, especially if you’re single or trapped in a relationship rut. Elisabeth Bailey, 29, co-founder of Toronto’s newest cuddle-for-hire service, Spoonlighting, wants to bring cuddling to the masses. “I feel like everybody deserves to have touch in their lives. It’s a pretty basic need.” (It’s a need that doesn’t come cheap, though. A one-hour session will run you $65—that’s a lot of pain au chocolat.)
The chief executive cuddler isn’t stingy with her technique, though. Here is Bailey’s best advice for cuddling like a pro.
Cuddling is an attitude
Spoonlighting’s stable of “cuddlers” all have two things in common, says Bailey, and that thing is a “kind, friendly compassionate attitude” toward everyone and a genuine delight in affection. “There’s no faking it,” she says. “You have to really enjoy cuddling.”
That enjoyment means you must believe that everyone is entitled to affection regardless of his or her physical appearance, circumstances or choices. (Test your idealism and think about cuddling your ex’s new GF… or spooning that guy in the office who always smells like feet.)
“For me, [cuddling] isn’t more intimate than any other type of touch. I feel comfortable doing it in many different contexts, not just in a romantic context,” says the altruistic Bailey.
The best cuddlers are active listeners, says Bailey. “A lot of people are cuddling with a professional cuddler to talk and to disclose, so I think being more of an active listener than a talker is pretty important.” Note to cuddlers-in-training: don’t make it about you and your day and your tense relationship with your sister. Just get a good grip on your partner and let their innermost thoughts and feelings dribble out.
A pro never assumes
There is no perfect cuddle, no A+ handhold and no caress that’s sure to make everyone melt. A wise cuddler knows affection perfection is a fantasy and operates accordingly. “Everybody is different,” says Bailey. “Some people really like to have their hair stroked. That’s really a relaxing thing for some people and that’s extremely irritating for other people. I think for some people holding hands is really nice and some people aren’t as comfortable with that. Some people like to be held tightly and some like more of a gentle touch. It’s really about keeping the lines of communication, verbal and otherwise, open and being adaptable.”
Be playful and bold
There are no gender rules when it comes to affection, says Bailey. For example, you can be a big spoon or a little spoon, she says, regardless of your sex or physical size. “Switch it up. Even big men like to be held and spooned.”