Personal & Professional Development

Cuddle Parties: Practice Asking for What You Want

September 19, 2011

I stumbled upon a blog from Knock Knock today that reminded me of one of my favorite and strangest memories from college.

The best internship I ever had was with Telemundo Network in Burbank, California, during the summer of 2005.  The staff let me conduct interviews, I pitched story ideas, and I got the best hands-on experience a young reporter could ever ask for.

One afternoon as I sat brainstorming with the entertainment reporter I started browsing Craigslist for quirky story ideas. What better place to look, right?

That’s where I stumbled upon the Cuddle Party. It was a growing fad in Los Angeles at the time, new from the New York area. Of course I pitched it and surprisingly they said yes. [I also mentioned this idea to a Today Show reporter and it ended up on national English news, too!]

Soon I was on my way to my first (and last) cuddle party with the photographer and entertainment reporter. Was it as ridiculous as it sounds? A little. The concept isn’t actually so bad. The intention behind Cuddle Parties is to provide a safe space for people to learn to say no or ask for the things they want.

While I waited for the crew to get interviews and broll, I participated in the cuddle party, which means I practiced saying no. It was a small group, 15 people or so, sitting or lying in a yoga room transformed with pillows and blankets. (This was also the first time I ever heard about Burning Man.)

When was the last time you said no without giving an excuse? “No, I don’t have any change.” or “No thanks, [insert excuse here].”

Prior to that experience, I don’t think I had ever said no – plain and simply. While it was a little uncomfortable declining cuddle requests from complete strangers,  it felt good to say no without feeling the obligation to say why!

I know it sounds hokey, but we could all learn a thing or two from Cuddle Parties:

  1. Be confident.

  2. Learn to communicate clearly.

  3. Set boundaries.

Any chance anyone else reading this has been to a cuddle party?


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  • Reply Wolfy September 19, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    That’s weird.


    • Reply Vanessa September 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      Weird… but a little intriguing, no?

  • Reply Bridget September 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I have npt been to a cuddle party. However, I recently had an experience where I had to tell someone to stop their behavior. It is an essential skill and one that isn’t easy to learn. It’s great that cuddle parties give people an opportunity to practice in a safe environment.

    • Reply Vanessa September 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      It isn’t easy to speak our minds without feeling like we need to coat it someway.

      How did your experience go?

  • Reply Ben` September 19, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I’m usually the one hearing “No,” not the one saying it. If I were at a cuddle party though, I would still give an excuse. Like, “No, you smell funny.”

    • Reply Vanessa September 19, 2011 at 11:31 pm

      Then maybe you should consider attending a cuddle party my friend :)

  • Reply Matthew October 17, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I am going to one next week. I think it will help me practice asking for permission, and listening, more than just saying “no”. Besides, I enjoy cuddling, strangers or not.

    • Reply Vanessa October 18, 2011 at 7:23 am

      Matthew, that’s fantastic! In which city?
      I’d love to hear about your experience!

  • Reply Tips for using Social Media | Rags to Stitches April 25, 2012 at 7:01 am

    […] In my apprenticeship days, I worked for Dateline NBC, Telemundo Network and Fox News. During my time with Telemundo, I had the remarkable opportunity of seeing a story close to my heart make its way to national television. In the hallways of NBC, I also learned to keep story ideas to myself.  […]

  • Reply Kristina Gulino April 25, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Such a crazy idea. I don’t think I would be very comfortable at a “cuddle party” – I like my personal space too much! I do get the idea of saying no, however. As a young newlywed with many friends in the same stage of life, I see too many of them saying “yes” to EVERYTHING. Yes I’ll coach your team, Yes I’ll run the store, Yes I’ll lead this study, Yes I’ll babysit your kids, Yes I’ll plan this party…so much so, that scheduling free time is difficult, and I hardly ever see them. Now it’s kind of a running joke when we say, “Oh, you’re a yes person”, but it’s nice to recognize the powerful option of the polite decline.

    Nook & Sea

    • Reply Vanessa April 26, 2012 at 12:10 am

      I can’t say I’ll ever attend another cuddle party, but the idea is so smart.
      Learning to say no – plain and simply without an excuse or ‘I’m sorry but..’ attached to it has been one of the hardest things to learn for me!
      It’s okay to be “selfish” with your time and prioritize.

      Do your “yes” friends ever talk about how swamped they feel or how much they wish they could say no?

      Thank you so much for sharing, Kristina!!

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