For those who don’t come by intimacy the old-fashioned way, professional cuddling offers Americans a novel—albeit costly—way to find nonsexual companionship.
There are lots of reasons people pay upwards of $80 per hour to be cuddled, from simple loneliness to complex disorders that affect people’s abilities to form relationships.
And for the person offering the service, cuddling, even for pay, is more than a physical transaction: it is also an emotional service.
In our occasional series on this nontraditional industry, Quartz interviewed a professional cuddler named Heather, who is based in Seattle, Washington. Heather has spent more than a year meeting with a 75-year-old client for weekly, three-hour sessions.
Watch the video above for the touching story of their evolving relationship.