Whenever we experience a dual relationship (co-worker and friend) we have overlapping boundaries and unspoken rules that get blurry.
It isn’t a bad thing, but it can be a MURKY thing. This is why it is important to bring clear, professional communication when giving and receiving massage from a person you love.
Things to be aware of:
-use judgement free language, for example, “Would you like me to adjust the pressure?“ instead of “does this feel good?”
-body language: if they are tensing up, or having a ticklish response you should adjust the pressure and/pacing and check in again for their comfort.
-make judgement-free observations if observations are helpful. For example, “This area seems more sensitive or more tense.”. Instead of, “This spot is really bad.”
Anytime we are providing care to someone, particularly when they are disrobed, that person is vulnerable. This is why doctors with good bedside manner often pull up a chair next to a hospital bed instead of standing.
It reduces the power differential, does the doctor still have power over a patient needing help? Yes, but eye contact, being at eye level are ways to reduce that disempowering sensation.
How you can support your loved one receiving massage, listen and adjust.
Listen with your hands (is he tensing up? ask about pressure) your eyes, with your ears (adjust pressure as they request no matter what you think of it), your eyes (are they experiencing goosebumps, for an extra blanket)
Also, keep your focus on the present time, do not broach subjects. Allow the recipient to guide conversation (if any). Guide conversation away from conflict should it come up (not the time to discuss the bills or sensitive subjects).