BY: SINEAD MULHERN
You can now rent a cuddle partner when you’re at a peak of loneliness. Cuddle-based services that charge clients by the hour to cuddle with a stranger have hit Toronto.
Vancouver company, Cuddlery, is arriving in Toronto charging $65 for one hour, but a Toronto-born agency, Cudle Me, is giving them a little competition (though a bit more expensive at $80 per hour).
The business plan targets lonely folks or career people who are just too busy to start relationships. The cuddling service offers a quick no-strings-attached kind of love supplement.
As if we haven’t heard of this before. If you’re thinking prostitution you wouldn’t be the first. Many have accused these services of being a front for a different type of action altogether. But that’s not what it’s about. Both Cudle Me and Cuddlery state that no sexual behaviour will be tolerated. Cuddles are available to all genders with cuddling rosters featuring both men and women.
“It’s completely safe. Nothing sexual is tolerated, only cuddles,” says Cudle Me’s homepage. And Cuddlery says that cuddlers will leave when a client turns the meeting sexual. No refunds. Assaults of course, will be reported.
It comes off a bit ridiculous. Most people wouldn’t dream of shelling out money to get a bit of affection— it’s one of the few good things in life that usually comes for free.
That’s why looking towards other cities where this business has already taken off might be an indicator of whether or not it will thrive in Toronto. New York’s Snuggery has been a popular, non-sexual cuddling service for a while now. And Japan can be a role model for those who are just getting into the… um… cuddling industry. Actually, the Japanese might have just started it all.
Soineya, which translates to “sleep together shop” in Japanese, opened late in 2012. Unlike the agencies coming to Toronto, Soineya’s clients are all men. Located in Tokyo’s electronics district, this cuddle café charges for minutes, hours, or activity. There’s a fee for choosing the girl a client wants to sleep with. The menu of options seems a bit of a joke, but it’s not. People actually pay for minutes of staring at each other, petting girls on the head, or sleeping on laps.
What’s at the root of it? Some attribute the popping up of these services to a decline in monogamy, marriage and babies. Frankly speaking, many of us are steered towards getting ahead in a career. Affection gets pushed to the back-burner. Especially in Japan which has a rapidly declining population and career-focused young people. The lovin’-without-a-catch idea isn’t far off from prostitution, except that snuggling and sex provide different types of fulfillment.
So if all the cats, snuggies and take-out in the world just aren’t cutting it, at least there are options.