Cuddling is a therapeutic response for Baby Boomers who are fast becoming America's loneliest generation. According to the The Wall Street Journal, about 1 in 11 Americans age 50 or older -- or 8 million people -- do not have a spouse, partner or living child.
Marie, who has a Facebook page, told The London Economic she has been a professional cuddler for 18 months. She is pulling down an annual salary of $40,000 and cuddles with 30 clients who range in age from 20 to 75.
"I spend up to 25 hours a week cuddling clients for work, then around 10 hours a week cuddling my boyfriend and about seven hours a week cuddling my cat," Marie told The London Economic.
Marie is certified as a professional cuddler from Cuddlist, an online site. The site has a strict code of conduct. Sessions are held at a neutral home, and clients must provide their driver's licenses and engage in a video chat prescreening session before meeting the cuddler in person, WDAF reported.
"This is a skill set that can be taught and practiced," according to Madelon Guinazzo, the organization's co-founder and director of training..
"There is a training process that you go through and practicum as well, and then you get certified by going through an evaluation with a specially trained cuddlist," Marie told WDAF.
Marie, who has a master's degree in counseling psychology, said she turned to professional cuddling when she realized she was "touch deprived," WDAF reported.
“I wasn’t dating for a few years, and I saw a massage therapist in Kansas City and told her I realized the only time I was getting touched was when I got a massage,” Marie told the television station.
"I realized it had been a long time since I had had anything more than a handshake or a brief hug," Marie said on a YouTube video explaining why she joined Cuddlist.
Marie will be hosting a cuddle party Saturday in the Kansas City area, according to her Facebook page.
"It's really an opportunity for people to be able to explore how they would like to experience platonic touch for themselves," Marie told WDAF, explaining the overall cuddling experience. "It's comforting, nurturing, soothing and, again, platonic."
For Marie, It’s the ultimate feel good story.
"I'm a Type A person, so cuddling has really helped me to go with the flow a lot more. I've noticed it massively over the last year and a half," Marie told The London Economic. "I don't think I'll ever get bored of it. In my personal life or at work."