Social Update: Adam Lippin and the Stigma of Touch

Each day, it’s likely that at some point anyone might quit their job with the idea that with their new free time, they will help the world in some way. This person might join the Peace Corps, become active in his or her community, or even volunteer and help pick up trash on the sides of freeways. The point being is that the opportunity to help the world is there for the taking. The thing that separates Adam Lippin from most people is that he was instead looking to create something new that could still help everyone and anyone. 

Adam Lippin founded Cuddlist, a company that allows anyone to book a cuddling session with a professional "cuddler." He began his business venture because he believes that touch is a vital part of each and every person’s life and in today’s society. People aren’t getting enough touch in their lives. “Touch is so loaded. The concept of touch can be very sexualized depending on where you were brought up and due to different upbringings,” said Lippin. “What I wanted to do was come up with a modality and create a space for healing, non-sexual, platonic touching and have it happen towards a healing type of goal.” 

Adam hopes that his company will assist in reducing the stigma around touch and how it’s viewed in society today. “When you receive healthy touch in your life, then you feel happier, healthier and more productive. Plus, all the added attribute that come with that,” said Lippin. 

One of the ways Adam arrived at beginning Cuddlist was by thinking over the ideals and values of practices like yoga and meditation. 

One of the ways Adam arrived at beginning Cuddlist was by thinking over the ideals and values of practices like yoga and meditation. 

When Adam first began thinking of how to affect the world in a new way, he was already a successful businessman. Before founding Cuddlist, Adam was an owner of Atomic Wings, a chain of restaurants in the New York area. After selling his portion of the eateries, he began his search for the inspiration behind the rest of his career with what he already knew. He had practiced yoga and meditation for years, but felt that both of those practices had plenty of people already contributing in beneficial ways. He knew he wanted to do something that followed a similar idea to what yoga and meditation preach. “My avocation - what I loved, was meditation, retreats and doing thing in the health and wellness field, because that’s where my heart was,” said Lippin. 

The purpose of yoga, he felt, was part of the reason as to how he arrived at Cuddlist. “The basic idea of yoga is that you do all the practices and movements and you get a better understanding of who you are, in a divine sense I guess. You get a sense of who you are in the universe, in a pure sense,” Lippin said.

This general idea that Adam believed was present in yoga (greater knowledge of self), he believed could also be found in other ways. “When two people really meet each other, past true personality and outward self, that’s where true communion and true relationship can be found,” he said. The similarities between these practices like yoga and meditation are that they lack touch. “What’s the first thing you do when you see a baby? When you see someone you recognize like an aunt or granddad or brother? We hug them. We acknowledge each other and that goes beyond words.”  

Adam first attended an event in Chicago that went over the process of becoming a certified, professional cuddler. While he had been very stable in his previous career, Adam essentially threw himself into this new industry without expectations, but because of the event he attended and other important contributing factors, the idea of Cuddlist was officially born. 

“We have incredible testimonials from people. There’s a level of lessening anxiety and a greater ability to concentrate,” said Adam. He added that many people who have either become professionally trained or booked a session have seen improvements in their lives. “People sleep better, are better at work, are relating to people better,” said Lippin, and added that he hopes his business can be an outlet for people who have not seen results in therapy. 

An example of one of the techniques used by the professional cuddlers from Cuddlist. 

An example of one of the techniques used by the professional cuddlers from Cuddlist. 

Adam believes this to be one of the most important parts of his business. He feels that Cuddlist has the ability to do the one thing that therapists can’t do - touch. “We’re starting to get referrals from therapists who see patients and clients. The interesting thing about therapy is that by law they are not allowed to touch their clients,” said Lippin. “I reached out to therapists after I began Cuddlist and they said yes, this is the missing link, because it’s the one thing we’re not all not allowed to do and it’s the one thing that everyone really needs.” 

The act of cuddling, according to Adam, comes down to simple science. “For a scientific explanation of this, when you are cuddling, touching someone, there’s a hormone called oxytocin. It increases and because it’s what’s called a bonding hormone, it causes people to be happier,” he said. 

While the idea of cuddling, especially with a stranger, could lead people to be hesitant to consider Cuddlist, the beneficial aspects of the business truly do come back to the science and hormones within the brain. Oxytocin, as Lippin stated, does increase happiness and is directly linked to human bonding as well as trust and loyalty. 

As perspectives change in society, Adam sees his business as eventually being on par with practices like massage parlors. “My goal is to have cuddling covered by insurance or at least recognized as legitimate healing modality and be in the toolbox of things people can do to have better health,” he said. As Adam works towards this goal, he is also continually working to better Cuddlist as a whole, including the training program.

With goals set for both the company moving forward in the industry as well as improvements to be made within the business, Cuddlist is working to break down the stigma around the basic healing modality that it is trying to offer. As these barriers around touch erode, Lippin sees a world where everyone is getting the healthy touch they need in their lives to contribute to happier, more stress-free living.