Against loneliness, California offers paid sessions with hugs and physical contact

Hugs and affection parties have also arrived in Brazil

Affection parties require consent and help many individuals, from bachelors to people suffering from trauma.

A smiling Fahad Alghamdi welcomes guests at the studio door. He declines my handshake, hiding his arms behind his back, and says, "How about a hug?" The place is known as the Cuddle Sanctuary, so I decide to get into the spirit. We hug for a few seconds.

Alghamdi, 33, has been visiting the sanctuary - located in Venice Beach, Los Angeles - for six months. "I was looking for a place where I could find a deeper human connection," says the Saudi software developer, who moved to the US five years ago. "It's great for my mental health. I've learned to communicate better as well. And I love it when we hug."

Read more in Folha de S. Paulo