The moment she enters Chriseda Crow’s studio apartment, Erica Bonser feels relaxed.
But it’s not the aromatherapy or votive candles lining the countertops that do the trick. Bonser is here to be professionally, platonically touched.
“So how would you like to receive touch?” Crow asks Bonser.
Bonser thinks for a second, then replies, “Maybe we could do like a forward facing hug?”
Bonser said she didn’t realize she “needed touch,” as she puts it, until she went to therapy.
“[I realized] how much anxiety I live with everyday.”
Crow is a trained cuddler with Cuddlist.com, a service that provides consent-based, professional cuddling for clients, and, yes, there is a strict code of conduct.
“If I feel uncomfortable in any way, with a hold or any type of touch or conversation, I’m going to let you know,” Crow reminds Bonser. “I’m not going to endure anything. I promise you that. Can you promise me the same thing?”
“Yes, I can,” Bonser says.
Crow fell into it when she realized she wasn’t getting enough touch her own life.
“It’s biological,” she says. “We need touch. We’re wired for it.”
She remembers thinking, “Why isn’t there an app for holding someone’s hand or watching a movie arm to arm, or holding each other, in a non-sexual way?"
Over the course of an hour, Crow and Bonser move through various positions …
“Can I put my hand on your chest?” Crow asks.
“Yes. Are my hands okay on your knees?” Bonser replies.
They also spoon — Bonser opted to be ‘small spoon.’
For Bonser, this was not something that initially sounded like a good idea.
“I know what it’s like to have touch be forced on you ... and so I would say I’m touch averse.”
But after the first session, her anxiety was gone.
“I almost felt a weight lifted off of me, and I felt like I took the best nap of my life, and like I went on vacation, and I had this ease about me.”
For Crow, this is finally a job where she feels she’s having a real, human, impact.
“I love it because I’m providing something that people need: connection,” she says. “My personal mission is to help people live their happiest lives.”