For pros about fraternizing off clock

Scenario: you’re a pro and you run across a client in an airport, restaurant or any other random place along life’s highway, and you both have a free 45 min to an hour…
Do you : A . Speak, hang out for an unpaid hour over a drink, food, conversation etc
B. Approach with pleasantries , but allude to not being able to hang out because it’s not on the clock.
C. Avoid the client because it’s not on the clock.

Comments

  • It would depend where I am.

    If I’m at karaoke and I see a client, it wouldn’t bother me if they sat with me. As long as they don’t expect me to dote on them or hug them or hold hands, I’m fine with it.

    If I’m at an airport or a restaurant, most likely I’m with my family or my husband so my time belongs to my family. I would say hello, nice to see you and all that and that would be it.

    No cuddler is worth having as a client if they don’t respect my time off.

  • I’ve hung out with pros off the clock. If I randomly ran into 1, I would approach them if they seemed to be in an approachable position and would offer to feed them or buy the a drink if they had time. I wouldn’t touch them as if we weren’t in a cuddle session without consent though.

  • @Sheena123 i can’t believe you even had to mention it… I’m actually picturing my employer approaching me right now on my time off with 45 minutes to spare expecting me to do any type of work, or if they think I’ll be more than happy to work just because I came across them out & about. A simple hi …. courtesy … & -we’re both on our way- is more than enough.

  • @cuddles_ndream you’d be surprised how many cuddlers have asked me to hang out with them for free or have come up to me while I’m out and about and still expect me to hold their hand or give them affection. I’m like “mah dude, I’m grocery shopping. Be gone” 😂😂

    I’ve even had one cuddler ask if I could be his wing man at a bar and help him get women. And wanting me to meet him there for free…. Like… what? No…. So unfortunately, these are things that actually have to be said…

  • “mah dude, I’m grocery shopping. Be gone” - @Sheena123 😅😂😂

    & wow!!! completely understand.

  • @Sheena123 I can see why you would feel that way and I totally understand but seeing you actually put that down that way in a forum would make me not want to book you. I’ve had pros give me free sessions, I’ve had pros give me free hours, that kind of love is amazing and although never expected, what makes me keep coming back to them.

  • @Morpheus I’m not sure what way I’m saying something would make you not want to book me but if you think it’s ok for someone to demand affection from me while I’m grocery shopping with my family or asking me to be a wingman for them in a bar and give my time freely in a way that’s unprofessional, I probably wouldn’t want you to book me anyways 🤷🏼‍♀️

    As Ive said, I was totally fine with a cuddler tagging with me and sitting with me during karaoke (which is four hours long) and I’ve met many cuddlers for free for dinner or getting coffee or an ice cream. I’ve also had plenty of times where a one hour session became an hour and a half because I genuinely love my time with respectful cuddlers.

    If you’re only paying attention to how I feel towards cuddlers that have zero respect for the time I spend with family and friends, that’s on you.

  • In my profession we have an expectation of maintaining client confidentiality. That includes if we see a client in public, we do not approach them. If they choose to approach us, that is their choice.

    Would I hang out with a client for a bit because we’re both waiting for a plane or whatever? If they suggested it and I was okay with the idea, yes. A lot would depend on the circumstances and the individual client.

  • edited September 15

    What is with this mindset of, "Other pros do it, therefore you must."?

  • @Mike403 - it’s a common tactic to try to get pros to do something questionable.

  • Well a couple of times I did photoshoots with pro cuddlers but it wasn't during a cuddle session, it was at a planned studio shoot or at the local park. Does that count?
    We were shooting TFP so no money was exchanged.

  • This is an interesting point. I'm thinking hard.

    Here is a first draft just off the top of my head. Comments please.

    @Babichev I'm very interesed in what you think. How does this compare to what you do?


    Green Paper
    Protocol for when professional cuddler and client meet unexpectedly in public

    1. Upon observing a current or former client in public, a professional may not approach them or recognise them. In all cases, it is the client's perogative to initiate contact.

    2. If a client recognises a professional, whether by an imperceptible nod/smile or an explicit hallo, the professional should always respond in kind.

    3. If a conversation is initiated by the client, the professional should always engage in a minimal conversation. This may be limited to one or two sentences, during which the professional excuses themselves or invites the client to move on.

    4. A professional is never obliged to engage in anything more than a brief conversation amounting to no more than an exchange of pleasantries.

    5. If appropriate, the professional should contact the client within a day or so to discuss what happened and deal with any fallout.

    6. It is the client's perogative to suggest turning the brief conversation into a longer engagement, for example to have coffee. If the client does so, the professional will politely decline. An exception may be made only when unpaid social engagements are already the norm.

    7. The professional may not suggest or agree to turning the encounter into a paid session.

    8. The professional may not solicit future sessions. If the client is an established regular client, then social remarks such as "see you soon" are permissible.

    9. If there is a full conversation, it is the client's perogative to bring up any professional or therapeutic topics. The professional will explicitly and politely decline to discuss such matters in an unplanned conversation in public, unless the topic is mild enough and the relationship established enough for this to be appropriate.

    10. The professional may not touch the client and the client may not touch the professional without explicit consent. The professional will never consent to anything more than ordinary social contact that is customary in that time and place. (For example shaking hands, or in some cultures or societies a brief hug or social kiss, assuming such things are permitted by local pandemic regulations.)

    11. The professional and client will not engage in any kind of conversation or activity that they have not substantially already done together in an unpaid setting.

    12. If there are any non-therapeutic matters arising from a previous session (e.g. a forgotten item left behind after a session) it is not necessary to bring them up. However, either party may do so if they believe it to be appropriate: the other party is not obliged to discuss them.

    To put it another way:

    a) As a client, you have the priviledge of choosing between three scenarios. One, ignoring each other. Two, momentary mutual recognition. Three, a short conversation of a couple of sentences. Any further contact is at the discretion of the professional. Remember that you know nothing of the professional's personal circumstances in that moment: they may have received life or death news by text a couple of moments earlier.

    b) As a professional, your primary consideration is the well-being of the client. Your starting point for an unplanned meeting in an unfamiliar and uncontrolled context is that the client is actually more vulnerable than you believe them to be, and you should behave accordingly. In particular, boundaries must be maintained.

  • edited September 16

    @CuddleDuncan - that is very well thought out. For the most part, I agree, though I find the wording a bit . . . Not sure exactly the word but strict or harsh? But I think it’s an excellent attempt at clarifying boundaries and, most importantly, protecting client confidentiality, especially if the client were with someone else. Definitely let the client take the lead in terms of recognition.

    I think these are good guidelines and worth thinking about carefully. You don’t want to be cold and on the other hand you also want to maintain professional boundaries, both for protecting client confidentiality and for the professional not to get drawn into a messy situation with a client who does not have a good sense of boundaries.

    I think it would benefit anyone who is serious about professional cuddling to educate themselves on basic psychology. Understanding things like transference and countertransference, having a familiarity with common psychological conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and borderline personality disorder, to name a few. The purpose is not to diagnose the client but to recognize behavior patterns that could become problematic and to realize that the client may not be able to completely help it. It can help you avoid unwittingly getting engaged in a problematic situation. I would think that pro cuddlers would attract people going through a hard time - loneliness, a breakup, any manner of loss. It would be useful to know what to do if someone expresses suicidal thoughts.

    That last paragraph sums it up well. And that second to last paragraph makes me think one should have some sort of client’s bill of rights - the right to be treated with dignity and respect, the right to privacy.

    Nice work. Thank you for your commitment to professionalism.

  • edited September 16

    @Babichev thank you, that's really lovely to hear. The wording isn't right as you say, it's just as it came out of my head. I'd like to collect thoughts from people and do a second version.

    I completely agree about the psychology, it's very important.

    And I'm completely agree about the client's bill of rights notion - I've been thinking about something like that myself.

  • I think if a pro and a client bump into each other in public they act like two human beings and whatever happens happens.
    Not too hard. 😊

  • edited September 17

    @supadupa

    Not too hard

    It is hard. Really hard. It's a complex emotional and practical issue for both parties. In related professions there is extensive research and thought on this question. People write books about this, do PhDs.

    Mishandling the situation can be devastating for a vulnerable client. Conversely, handling an already traumatised client with poor social skills is a very challenging task for an off-duty professional who may be accompanied by their young children or an over-protective or jealous boyfriend. The initial uncertainty - how will this client behave in this situation compared to the only way I know them which is in a very controlled professional environment - is in itself a sticky wicket.

    And all of that is before we get to the all too common difficulty of over-demanding clients. Such clients fall into several categories, which need to be handled differently. In extreme cases mishandling the situation could lead to physical violence.

    And I haven't even started on the effects such an encounter can have on a client. Simply seeing their professional cuddler across the street can devastate a client by completely destroying their mental picture of the professional.

    A formal protocol, agreed in advance by both parties, can be extremely helpful to everybody.

    Intentionally or not, your post is part of a long-running campaign on this forum, predominently by men, to belittle and trivialise the challenges faced by professional cuddlers, who are predominently women. It also contributes to the conjoined campaign to trivialise and belitte the challenges faced by vulnerable clients.

  • @CuddleDuncan I really appreciate the thought you put into your responses on this thread. I agree that bumping into clients in public is not such a simple, easy situation to navigate. I’ve encountered a few uncomfortable scenarios myself and each time my clients and I have handled with care. I have in my opening agreement that I respect confidentiality at all times, including in public, so they know upon first meeting that I will not approach or greet them, allowing them to take the lead on the situation. They are most often the more vulnerable party, as professionals we absolutely should be aware of basic psychological behaviors for the mental and emotional well-being of all of us.

  • [Deleted User]vinylandbagels (deleted user)

    Can only speak for myself, but I would think for me it'd be like running into any other professional person I have some sort of working relationship with. Probably smile and wave, or say hi as we pass and if the Pro stopped to chat, I'd be happy to engage them but definitely not owed their time or anything else. I wouldn't want to completely disregard them, especially if I planned on booking with them again, because I think that could come off as insulting, but I also understand we're both in public going about our own business and just happened to see each other, so it's perfectly reasonable for the two of us to wave, smile, and go about our days. Maybe send them a message on CC later in the day just saying it was nice to see them out and about, but that'd be about it.

    Unfortunately I can only speak for myself, but that would seem to me like the most natural response.

  • @CuddleDuncan Do you really think pro cuddlers are going to memorize this protocol of a dozen things to do whenever they might randomly run into a client? or maybe they'll print it out and laminate it and carry it around just in case?

    How about a different solution that's much easier to learn and memorize:
    1) Ask client if they would have any preference to how you react to them if you run into them in public outside of a cuddle sesion and act accordingly.
    2) If you run into someone and don't remember their preference the default action should be to act like you don't know them and move along.

    See, much simpler and easier to remember. I think #2 is pretty much common sense anyway.

  • The odds of such an encounter are probably astronomical.

  • [Deleted User]CharlesThePoet (deleted user)

    During the day I used to bump into the various sex workers I acted as protection for in the evenings.

    It was well understood that we would not acknowledge each other, at all.

    In some professions discretion is critical.

  • edited September 17

    I am in a profession where it is part of our legal and professional obligation to maintain client confidentiality. Consider this - a married guy is out with his wife and has been seeing a pro cuddler without telling her. The pro says, “Oh, hi, Joe!” The wife wants to know who she is. Or a woman has seen a pro cuddler and she’s out with a friend she hasn’t told about seeing a pro cuddler. They run into each other at an outdoor event. “Oh, hi, Mary! How are you?” The friend wants to know who is that guy/gal and how do you know them? A socially hetero guy is at a public even with a couple of buddies and runs into a male pro with whom he has cuddled who greets him. His buddies ask, “Who was that?”

    You think it doesn’t happen? It does. In one case, a guy introduced me to his friends as his physical therapist because he didn’t want them to know he was seeing a massage therapist.

    As for “memorizing” this list of protocols - when you take your profession seriously you don’t need to memorize them, you learn them. You think carefully about your responsibility to your clients and what it means to maintain client confidentiality as well as other boundary issues. You think carefully about various scenarios so you are not caught off guard when you encounter them. You develop a set of professional standards that become a part of how you conduct yourself. In other professions, we take ethics classes so we can think about just such things and discuss our ethical and legal responsibilities.

    If one is truly to be a professional, this is part of it. It’s not a burden, it gives one guidelines to live by so that we avoid creating problematic situations.

  • @CharlesThePoet That's a great way to handle it.

  • [Deleted User]CharlesThePoet (deleted user)

    @Melancholy

    But those professions are not the same as the more social/therapeutic ones, such as cuddler.

    In my work as a thug deliberately maintaining emotional distance is absolutely essential.

    I presume that professional cuddlers have a tougher time of it, because there probably is some emotional attachment, or at least empathy.

    I had none of that as a professional thug. The professional interactions were always polite, direct, and then done.

  • @Melancholy "We were shooting TFP so no money was exchanged."

    TFP??

  • @quixotic_life I think it means “trade for prints”. Something photographers do. Maybe like swapping time for pics or something.

  • @Sheena123

    Yep you got it tfp = time for prints. Win win if both parties can add to each other's portfolio's.

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