Everyone's talking about Cuddlr, the new “Tinder for cuddling,” like it’s something crazy or new. “Cuddle with strangers?” legions of self-proclaimed socially awkward writers gasp. “Please! Don’t make me! I’ll do anything!”

While Cuddlr is the first app to offer to hook you up with strangers for a quick hug and a spoon, people reaching out for platonic, non-sexual intimate touch is hardly something new. Google “cuddle trend” and the first page of results shows that people have been warning of an incoming cuddle culture of locust-plague proportions since as far back as 2004.

That’s a decade ago, people. More than a handful of you reading this were probably still young enough to be publicly cuddling with mom and dad at that point.

So what’s the big cuddle hullabaloo really about?

San Francisco’s own expert cuddler, cuddle therapist Travis Sigley, thinks that the need for these kinds of services is related to the increased role of technology in our daily lives.

“Weve gotten a false idea about what connection is, I think,” Travis told me. “We spend too much time connecting to something [online] that versus connecting to each other.”

Do I think we’d all be better off if we focused on getting our happy hormones more from hugs and snuggles and less from likes and pings? One hundred percent. Do I think it’s going to happen anytime soon? Nope, sorry. 

Through his practice and his membership based tea house, Tea Oasis, Travis has made it a goal to increase person-to-person intimacy. Ironically, given his perspective on the need for services like his, Cuddlr is aiming to do the same thing through technology. Founder Charlie Williams wrote on Medium that the impetus for launching the app was the fact that our society all too often conflates intimate touch with sex, despite the need that we all have for platonic hugs.

“Aside from finding like-minded cuddlers, its also a way of contributing to a larger discussion about closeness, intimacy, and sexuality,” he wrote.

His goals are lofty. Changing the common understanding of intimacy and bringing platonic cuddling into the mainstream is a tall task because transforming touch from innocent to sexual is a major part of our growing up process. The re-direction of that affection is how we separate from our parents and siblings and push toward forming families of our own.

Do I think we’d all be better off if we focused on getting our happy hormones more from hugs and snuggles and less from likes and pings? One hundred percent. Do I think it’s going to happen anytime soon? Nope, sorry. Our culture is so twisted when it comes to sex and sexuality that almost any attempt to shift broader culture norms is met with fear and revulsion. Total monogamy is still the default norm and, for most folks, that includes no cuddles outside the relationship.

I’m excited to see what happens with Cuddlr because I think Charlie and Travis are both right: nonsexual intimacy is important to all humans, whether they’re romantically involved or not. Physical touch grounds us, comforts us, and connects us. If Cuddlr is more than just another blip in the cuddle trend piece stratosphere, I’ll be the first to celebrate it. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to take a helluva lot more than an app for that.

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