The topic of massage and boundaries has been brewing in me for some time now.
Nothing taught me more about people and about myself than almost 2 years of massaging. And when you choose massage to be also your business, sooner or later (usually sooner than later) you will have to deal with boundaries. Like for example: what to do with situations when somebody makes an appointment, doesn’t show up and asks for another appointment? Or when somebody is 30 minutes late? How to set boundaries for my time, my privacy (especially that I massage at home) and my money and stay compassionate?
And finally: how to set boundaries with men? For me, one of the biggest challenges and personal transformations when it comes to massage, compassion and setting boundaries has been massaging men.
Fun fact: I massage more men than women on average. My first client was a man. Over these almost 2 years as a massage therapist I gave probably way over 100 massages to men.
I absolutely LOVE working with men. Mindful, caring massage is exactly what many men – often deprived of non-sexual touch – need and long for. Massaging men is often very rewarding and powerful bodywork.
Over these years and all the massages I gave to men, I’ve learned a LOT about boundaries. I had to. Some of my masseuse friends decided just not to massage men but I never considered that option. I believe that both women massaging men and men massaging women is a great gift to this world. We just need strong boundaries.
Women massaging men is still this not-so-much-talked-about topic in the massage world. We don’t talk about it openly. Instead I get private messages from my masseuse friends asking “how are you dealing with this, have you experienced that?”. Yes, I experienced this and that.
I’ve got countless messages from men asking for massage with happy ending in various versions and I had to learn to deal with them with open and boundaried heart (yes, I believe that the more boundaried you are the more open you can be). These messages made me realize that some men can’t, just CANNOT imagine relaxation without ejaculation. Isn’t this sad? It makes me really sad.
I gave some massages to men when I felt uncomfortable at some point. 3 times I felt really uncomfortable. One time I cried hysterically after my client had left because of something he told me, some inapropriate joke to which I didn’t react. Now I would react. All these situations taught me about MY boundaries.
It helped me when I understood ONE thing – and if you work with people you need to understand it too.
THE MORE BOUNDARIED I AM, THE MORE COMPASSIONATE I AM.
Consider this: “the most compassionate people (…) have the most well-defined and well-respected boundaries. They assume that other people are doing the best they can, but they also ask for what they need and they don’t put up with a lot of crap. (…) They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” (quote from Brene Brown’s research on compassion).
So in fact I understood that I will never be a good masseuse if I don’t have strong clear boundaries – whether it’s about time, money or sexual behaviour. With strong boundaries I can fully open my heart because I don’t allow any crap to come in. With strong boundaries I can focus on massaging you with this open heart, with care and with awarenes, in the flow and connection instead of wasting this energy on secretely resenting you for something you said or did.
Strong boundaries mean that I don’t accept certain comments or behaviours. And it’s not easy. In fact, it’s often extremely diffucult for me. But I believe it’s either this way or no way.