Over the past year, I have discussed hundreds of topics with other cuddlers, especially on CuddleComfort.com. What I have seen, especially among professional cuddlers, is that those who have never done a certain thing with a cuddle buddy have a tendency to say “I would never do that,” yet those who have done that exact thing say, “I have done it and it has worked.”
I believe that those who speak from experience and have tried certain approaches and succeeded know that those choices can be ethical and effective, and those who say “I would never…” are suffering from a lack of imagination. I have learned through studying demand-control schema for the past 16 years, and participating in and leading case supervision with other ASL/English interpreters for the past 8 years, that whether a certain action is “good” and “works” depends on mitigating and militating circumstances. When practitioners come together and discuss their work with an open mind, we discover that things we thought we would never do can, in reality, make perfect sense to do when conditions are favorable. For example, as a man in a committed, monogamous relationship, I might say “I would never share a bed overnight with a cuddle client,” but if a person whose life partner recently died can’t sleep at night I might do an overnight session with that client, and I think my partner would understand that I was helping someone in need. This has not happened yet, but my training in self-reflection and ethical decision making allows me to use my imagination to say “I might do that if…” instead of “I would never.”
Robyn Dean & Bob Pollard, who created the demand-control schema (2001) from Robert Karasek’s job demand control model (1979), teach that in all situations there is a spectrum of controls, or choices or actions, from conservative (tending toward inaction) to liberal (tending toward action). At the far ends of the spectrum are controls that are so egregious that they are ineffective and unethical, but in the middle there is a whole range of controls that are effective and ethical. To apply this to cuddling, there are actions (or inactions) outside the ethical and effective range that are too conservative, such as having a session and refusing to touch a perfectly respectful client, and that are too liberal, such as doing sexual favors. Yet there are so many choices that can work and be good in ways you might not imagine unless you are in that particular situation. It is up to each person to obey rules and laws yet keep an open mind to the myriad ways they can operate within those rules and laws that can work and be good.