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“When they hear your ‘no,’ then they actually start trusting your ‘yes.’” ~Monique Darling
It was really only after attending two hundred such cuddle parties that Monique truly began unpacking the experience and what it meant to her. Before attending cuddle parties, Monique was outwardly successful, with all the trappings of apparent success, such as the children and the dogs, but she felt there was no room for herself, for even though she worked to perfect her model of being a “good girl” she felt more and more “like a fraud.” After eleven years of involvement in cuddle parties, Monique notes that she now has the option to figure out what she truly wants and who she truly is.
Monique has become a cuddle party facilitator, and she notes that cuddle parties create the space for people to re-contextualize rejection, noting that a lot of people don’t want to say “no” because they don’t want to disappoint others. Cuddle parties are essentially a boundaries and touching workshop, with the emphasis on it being a non-sexual environment, and introduces people to being touched outside a sexual context or environment. Removing sex from the context creates a space that enables people to figure out what kind of touch they like and to figure out what it is that they really want where touch is concerned.
Monique gave an example of a woman who had been in an abusive marriage and who had been abused sexually who attended a cuddle party. She was aloof at first, but as the party progressed she began to open up more, and by the end of the cuddle party she lay in the center of the room and had everyone present touch her with their pinkies, which made her sob, as she realized that touch didn’t have to be abusive in nature.
Beyond Cuddle Party is for anyone who wants to expand themselves in asking for things they want and saying “no” to the things they don’t want. Monique wrote the book out over a two-year period after being asked, several times, by people how to do a cuddle party, and in response to their requests Monique realized she could write a book out. For her, the experience was one where it seemed that what she wrote wasn’t coming from herself, but that she was, rather, a conduit for what was being written.
Beyond Cuddle Party goes into great depth of the eleven (11) rules of a cuddle party which, according to Monique, are:
- Clothing stays on the whole time.
- No one has to cuddle at a cuddle party, ever. This creates a space where things don’t have to happen.
- You must ask and get a verbal “yes” before touching anyone. This enables people to reclaim their own voice.
- If you are a “yes,” say “yes,” and if you are a “no,” say “no.” This enables people to verbalize what they really want to ask for.
- If you are a “maybe,” say “no.” This enables people to stop doing anything because they “have” to do it.
- Changing one’s mind is encouraged. This enables people to figure out where they want to be at the moment.
- Please stick to inter-relationship boundaries and agreements already made. This is applicable to married people who attend a cuddle party without their partner, for example.
- “Come and get me, ‘cause I’m the lifeguard on duty.” This applies to people who want to seek assistance from the cuddle party facilitator, and they can ask for help at any time during the party.
- Tears and laughter are welcome.
- Keep the others’ privacy and confidentiality around cuddle parties.
- Keep the area clean. No one wants to “cuddle in a puddle.”
The rules in a cuddle party can also apply outside a cuddle party, and Monique gave the example of her presently asking other people for permission to touch them at times. She also doesn’t feel offended when others say “no,” as she understands that this is due to others’ taking care of themselves. Monique also remarked that these rules enable people to reclaim their bodies as their own. She also notes that, based on her experience, cuddle parties produce the same “magic,” regardless of culture.
Purchase from Amazon: Beyond Cuddle Party: How Pajamas, Human Connection and 11 Rules Can Change Your Life by Monique Darling