In need of a Cuddlr

Tired of being booty called by creeps on Tinder? Want to connect with people whose endgame is not always sex? Cuddlr could be the app for you! Well, sort of.

What this new app offers is incredibly, almost childishly simple: cuddles. Founded with the idea that modern dating websites and ‘hook-up’ apps are too predicated on cynically seeking sex and relationships, Cuddlr prefers to try a little tenderness.

Shunning the depersonalised info-dump offered by most dating websites, where everything from your holiday photographs to your favourite brand of cheese are on display for potential suitors, this app favours simplicity.

Face, first name and cuddle rating are all that it displays. There is a basic messaging system which allows you to meet other users, and you can block or vote down those cuddlers who are not to your taste. It encourages you to try all types and ages of people in your cuddle journey, so long as you keep it platonic.

That’s their whole thing. They illustrate this with a logo of two, vaguely irritating, smiley eggs nuzzling one another.

Aside from these niceties, how does it actually work? Well, in complete honesty, it doesn’t work that well. The app claims to load fellow cuddle seekers ‘within walking distance’, but the format is a little strange.

Perhaps because it doesn’t have too many users yet, the app struggles to marry physical and temporal proximity. For instance, you might read that cuddle seeker Sam was just 27 seconds away from you. This, however, was five days ago, and by now he could be on a flight to Australia for all you know.

Thus far in its development, what this app essentially seems to offer is the knowledge that there have recently been lonely people somewhere in your vicinity. And knowing that a person was, at some point, quite near you, is not exactly convincing grounds to take them in your tender embrace.

Cuddlr’s apparent unique selling point is ‘no-pressure intimacy’. This may be a cynical perspective, but I’d argue that there is no intimacy that doesn’t bring with it a degree of pressure.

Social pressure isn’t just sexual, as the app creators imply – to a greater or lesser extent, social pressure is how new relationships are forged. Even if the only pressure in a Cuddlr-orchestrated hugging scenario is how long you should wait before you disengage, the expectations of others are still at play.

Additionally, if the app is truly pressure-free, why does it demand users be seventeen and over? According to the Terms and Conditions, this is due to ‘suggestive themes’, ‘mild sexual content’ and ‘nudity’. Clearly, the app’s developers felt a need to cover themselves for circumstances above and beyond a quick cuddle.

Perhaps this was because, deep down, we are all conscious that there is no such thing as mindless physical connection, entirely without motive or agenda. Maybe Cuddlr users won’t all be seeking no-strings sex and pictures of your genitals in Tinder’s sleazy style. Instead, they might offload information about their bad breakup, dead cat, or evil boss. It certainly seems doubtful that even the most seasoned Cuddlr user would show up, wrap you in their arms for a few minutes and then vamoose without a word. The intimacy of such an embrace is only meaningful if it transcends the physical and makes a deeper connection.

This needn’t necessarily be romantic or lustful, but could simply be the meeting of likeminded individuals. This is why we feel the difference between an obligatory hug from a distant relative at a family gathering, and the close embrace of friends who meet spontaneously after a period of separation. To be perfectly blunt, hugs with strangers just aren’t the same.

Cuddlr makes a refreshing change for those tired of meeting people who just want to flirt and shag their way through a network of strangers. Its gentler, tenderer approach is good in theory, but still misses the mark. The modern multiplicity of social media apps and websites allows us to connect with others, share ideas and spread meaningful interactions not only among our own small circles, but across the globe. But human beings do not connect with one another as easily as the robot servers which facilitate our use of these apps. If intimacy was so easily attained, there would be far fewer lonely people in the world.

[Helen Victoria Murray – @HelenVMurray]

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