In today’s world of far-flung family members and working remotely, loneliness is an unavoidable fact of life. Sure, you’ve got a lot of social media friends, but feelings of isolation can be as risky to your health as smoking and drinking, according to a study of nearly 309,000 people.
So what’s a person to do? I heard about hug therapy—where you approach total strangers and, well, hug it out—and immediately thought, Ewww. Why would I want to hug someone I don’t know? It feels so intimate, vulnerable and sincere—totally not my brand as a profesh urban striver. Unless…perhaps it’s time to evolve in the hopes of being happier, more energetic and maybe even a better and more even-tempered single mom. Hug or cuddle therapy, as it’s called, has been featured everywhere from Dr. Phil to The New York Times (it’s said to have started in the Big Apple, as hard as it is to imagine brusque New Yorkers cuddling). It’s received so much attention over the past few years that when I learned there was an organization right in L.A. offering classes and events devoted to cuddling, I finally decided to give it a shot.
Truth: I showed up to the Venice-based Cuddle Sanctuary hoping to get a boost of oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone” that is released when you have close physical contact with another person. And unlike, say, dating or spending time with your family, at Cuddle Sanctuary the promise is being free to relax in a non-transactional atmosphere, without having to think of things to say or snacks to prep