MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- A group in Minnesota has begun holding monthly "Cuddle Parties" to promote the health and psychological benefits of being touched.
The Minneapolis-based group known as Nurture Yourself advertises itself as the only group in Minnesota with a trained Cuddle Party Facilitator and offers a place to "meet interesting people and share nurturing, non-sexualized touch."
"Touching and being touched has benefits for everyone's health. Many of us can benefit from cuddling without any other goal but nurturing human contact," a post on the group's website states. "We teach you valuable social skills and create an environment where you can practice meeting people."
While the part of the group's mission is to allow people a safe place to meet, Cuddle Party facilitator and registered nurse Candessa Hadsall told CBS Minnesota that it is not a place for people seeking romantic or sexual connections.
"This is not a dating service. This is not a place people come to meet your life partner," she said. "There are rules for how you are to behave in a Cuddle Party."
The rules for Cuddle Parties are outlined on cuddleparty.com and include dress guidelines that discourage risqué underwear and liquor and stress the importance of consent.
"I'd like you to know, for tonight 'No' is a complete sentence," Hadsall said to a class, citing respecting other visitors as the most important rule.
Aside from the social and emotional benefits provided by learning to say 'no' Hadsall also stressed the health benefits provided by the release of oxytocin hormones caused by cuddling.
"All that oxytocin stuff she talks about is true. it feels great," massage therapist Thomas Stout said of the Cuddle Parties. "Personally, I think everybody really wants touch. Everybody wants to be held. It's just a human need that we all have."