Drake: In tough economy, professional snuggler fulfills financial, emotional needs

The current state of the economy affords a job market that is less than ideal. As a result, people have been turning to innovative ways of making ends meet – for instance, Rochester, N.Y.-based Jackie Samuel, who created a business out of professional snuggling. That’s right: professional snuggling. Unconventional? Sure. Immoral? Hardly.

Samuel reportedly makes $260 a day from simply cuddling up with strangers. At a $60-per-hour rate, that is not a bad amount to pull in daily, particularly for a job that amounts to taking a nap next to another person.

The 29-year-old woman first established her business The Snuggery as a way to pay for her own college costs and to support her young son. She has a strict nonsexual policy that prevents clients from touching her in any area covered by underwear, which in turn is covered by fairly standard pajamas – flannel pants and a tank top, for example.

Despite her policy, Samuel is still being met with harsh criticism. Many people are going so far as to label her a prostitute. Frankly, those people are way out of line.

Yes, professional snuggling is quite unorthodox, but what is so wrong about it? Pared down, it is simply about two human beings engaging in a largely platonic physical connection. She is hardly dipping to the level of prostitution by spooning for a fee.

Others have raised concerns that selling cuddles “monetizes love”; according to the Daily Mail, “snuggling is more intimate than sex.” If that is your opinion, maybe you should redefine your definition of intimacy.

If sex can be casual, cuddles can be as well. Sometimes needing to hold someone for human connection is nothing more than that.

Samuel has found that her services have truly helped people. For instance, she has clients who are veterans that lost their wives years ago – people, men and women alike, who are struggling to work through a difficult breakup.

While I think snuggling in itself isn’t so wrong, one client’s comment that he would likely continue seeing Samuel even if he began a new relationship doesn’t go over so well with me.

I understand people attempting to find a connection, any connection, even paying for an hour to hold a stranger. Does that sound a little sad, maybe a little desperate? Yes, but to each his own.

Who are we to judge the difficulties in someone else’s life? If taking a nap with a snuggle buddy every once in a while helps someone get through a rough patch in their life, so be it.

Once someone is out of a rough patch, moving on to a fresh start and new relationship – that’s when things get hairy. Many people would be none too pleased with the idea of their significant others cuddling up with someone else.

What I find most interesting about the concept of a professional snuggler is people’s reactions to such a career. Again, Samuel’s job is certainly far from ordinary. That, I feel, is the true problem.

Samuel is doing nothing illegal or immoral. In fact, she is helping people by creating an innovative business that is flourishing in this economy, allowing her to meet the needs of her clients and providing her with the money necessary to care for her son and herself.