Hit on by my m*ssage therapist, what now?
November 25, 2019 12:25 PM   Subscribe

About half an hour after my my m*ssage the other day as I was on the way home I got a message from my therapist basically coming onto me. I’ve said thanks but no thanks. Can I still go for m*ssages?

Using the asterisk because I don’t want this to be super searchable. I’ve basically never been hit on before and am rather dumbfounded and unsure what to do here. Perhaps a key detail is that we are both queer women. We’re it a guy I would be “nah bruh” and consider it pretty fucking creepy to let me book a m*ssage and then tell me afterwards. In fact I maybe think that’s a bit creepy either way. If my mrs doesn’t feel comfortable with me going to this woman anymore I would respect that, but I am not sure I am necessarily bothered otherwise (really good m*ssage!). Should I be?

I wonder if my thoughts on this are influenced by, for example, as a queer youth we all had to deal graciously with having unrequited crushes on each other or you’d run out of people to hang out with pretty fast, but maybe that’s not how it works as adults? I’m especially interested in queer women’s perspective on this as that’s lacking in my day-to-day.

I also wonder if it’s even fair if I were to say “I’m cool if you’re cool” to someone in this context and how to navigate if I do go ahead with this the weirdness of us likely ending up in a social context as members of the same community while having a financial/physical arrangement like this (I may have deflected by offering to accompany, with other “meetup strangers”, to a women’s night, I told you I was useless...).
posted by Iteki to Human Relations (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm really sensitive to the "queer community means hanging out with your old crushes" thing. But I think bodywork still requires extra discretion, and for someone not to show that discretion is a bad sign.

If an actual friend who I got bodywork from occasionally asked me out, I'd have the awkward conversation and be okay with it. But if someone I only interacted with as a bodyworker asked me out, fellow queer woman or no, I'd steer clear of them in the future.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:33 PM on November 25, 2019 [15 favorites]

Queer woman here. This is totally unprofessional.

Of course you can do whatever you want, and continue going in for massages with this woman if you feel comfortable, but this is really out of line for a massage therapist and you'd be within your rights to stop going.
posted by mekily at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2019 [18 favorites]

it's unprofessional. and also not cool because you are already in relationship. it would make me uncomfortable to go back, just because i'd always be worried if they would take the massage i was there for and make it sexual or touch me sexually without me wanting it. you can find another therapist.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would never go there again. I don't know from "queer community" etiquette, but from a work standpoint, it's really awkward to get a massage from someone you know wants you like that, even if they are genuinely "cool" with a no. I don't think I could do it. Also....pretty inappropriate to ask, really?
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:45 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Queer woman. I wouldn't go back, mostly because I would never feel 100% comfortable again and I know it would make my partner very, very uncomfortable. At least they waited until you left, I guess. Giving the provider the benefit of the doubt, maybe they are young and inexperienced, maybe they don't know you have a partner? Anyway, not a great way to keep clients.
posted by Cuke at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2019

Another queer woman here. I feel like our community is MORE attuned to a culture of enthusiastic consent and respecting boundaries than average. I would be horrified by this.

Did she use your cellphone number that you had given as part of your paperwork/sign up for the massage to message you? This is incredibly unprofessional. If she works as part of a group practice, I would be considering reporting this behaviour, as using a client's file to ask out a person who was just naked with you in a professional context is in no way okay.

I see from your question that you have a partner, but even if you didn't I would be advising you to run because this person already stomped major boundaries.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 1:06 PM on November 25, 2019 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: We were vaguely in touch via whatsapp after she switched salons a good while back, with me saying to let me know if she joined a new one, she was switching out of that work I think, this was a while back. It probably doesn’t make a huge amount of difference I guess that this isn’t in a North American context but European (the m*ssage form and practitioner being southeast Asian), there’s no ‘client file’ or group practice etc in that respect.
posted by Iteki at 1:15 PM on November 25, 2019

Close friend of a massage therapist--this is hugely unprofessional; if you're in an area where practice is licensed, you should report it to the governing body.
posted by praemunire at 1:20 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

what praemunire said
posted by patnok at 1:44 PM on November 25, 2019

Does Bisexual count as queer? In my past I considered it a toss up to find other queer ladies outside of queer culture establishments, let alone have any commonality besides the fact we both sleep with women. Masseuses must have men doing the most all day with the making passes and sexual innuendo which I imagine must be annoying. She probably wasnt expecting to be from the same "gayborhood" and didnt consider the professional or ethical faux pas. I'd return to her, let her know she wasnt in a singles bar and that you're married (partnered) and enjoy a good massage. Your options for skilled touch therapists may not be as forgiving as that.
posted by The_imp_inimpossible at 1:49 PM on November 25, 2019

I (queer American woman) would consider this enough of a breach of expected professional norms that I’d be uncomfortable going back to that practitioner or ever referring anyone else to her. Unrequited crush is one thing, unrequited crush + bodywork + unprofessional boundaries is a different thing.

But YMMV and if you’re comfortable carrying on or don’t have other viable options, so be it - do what you’re comfortable with. But it would be a kindness to future clients to have the “that wasn’t okay” discussion.
posted by Stacey at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not queer, but I'm a Registered Massage Therapist in Toronto. This is completely unprofessional. If this happened here and you complained to our governing body about it or they otherwise found out, it could be grounds for discipline. Depending on the circumstance, anything from a course on professionalism to loss of license to practice. In Ontario, having a sexual relationship with a patient is considered sexual assault by the governing body.
posted by legendarygirlfriend at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

Since it sounds like the person is from another cultural norm, and possibly without formal oversight, and since it sounds like her action didn't make you feel unsafe*, you could also choose to give the benefit of the doubt and just strongly express that this is inappropriate.

A reply message of "It is deeply inappropriate for a massage therapist to express romantic or sexual interest in a client. Please don't message me again." Then you could just block her and leave it at that.

*Please ignore this idea if you did or do feel unsafe, or if she belongs to an association or governing body with a formal code of conduct that she knows she should be adhering to and has broken by contacting you in this way- in either of those cases I'd definitely say report her.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:37 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

You don’t need to be bothered by anything you’re not bothered by. I wouldn’t go back though because that starts getting objectively weird, in the “platonic relationships can do X, sexual tension relationships can’t” vein. Meaning, there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t sexual because you agree that sex is off limits. But once sex is on the table that agreement doesn’t work anymore and it’s officially sexually ambiguous, at which point, eh. No sexually ambiguous m*ssages is the way to go, imo.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:23 PM on November 25, 2019

This is exactly as creepy as unprofessional as it would be if it were a dude.
posted by waffleriot at 5:42 PM on November 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I am a former massage therapist and a current queer woman who enjoys giving perfectly professional massages to friends I find attractive. Which I feel okay with, because these friends are okay with it--they consented to let me massage them after already knowing I found them attractive.

But I would consider it highly unethical to give even a friend a massage and then follow it up with "BTdubs I think you are hot wanna go out?" With a professional acquaintance seeking my licensed professional services? Oh hell no, not okay, no matter how pretty she is or how well we click or how much I like her vibe or whatever. It's a creepy thing to do to a person and an unprofessional, license-endangering thing to do to a client.

All that said, if you're not super bothered, you're not super bothered, and that's okay, too. And it's okay if you're not bothered and still don't want to go back.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:58 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Nobody else has mentioned this, so I will, just in case: Before you make a decision about whether to go back or not, you should make sure there is no way you misinterpreted her. Especially if there is a language barrier, which it sounds like there might be. You don't mention the specifics of what she texted in your post, so maybe this point is moot if it's very overt.

I'm a former massage therapist in the US, and here hitting on a client would definitely be against professional ethics. I would advise you to report her to her employer and perhaps her licensing body, depending on which state you were in. I don't know much about European standards and how much they may vary from country to country. Even if it's not against professionaI ethics there, I really think that therapists like this do a disservice to all of their colleagues who want to practice massage in peace and not have the public thinking it's a sexual service.
posted by nirblegee at 11:41 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

This behaviour from your therapist is absolutely unacceptable, unethical, unprofessional and likely illegal (depending on regulatory requirements in your jurisdiction). If you feel okay doing so, please report them to their regulatory body.

We have worked very, very hard to desexualise the practise and ensure that everyone can safely recieve the human comfort of caring touch without the risk being sexualised.

Your therapist's gender or sexual orientation does not make it acceptable for a health care professional to sexually abuse their clients. I don't have words for how furious this makes me. In my juridiction, the therapeutic relationship must be terminated for at least 1 year prior to initiating a personal one. Loud and clear: coming onto your patients is abuse.
posted by windykites at 11:46 PM on November 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Nthing that it’s unprofessional, and adding that were I your partner, I would not be comfortable with you returning to this person for m*ssages (full disclosure, posting as hetero woman and imagining my husband going back to a therapist after she hit on him).
posted by amro at 5:31 AM on November 26, 2019

Response by poster: Sounds like the verdict is in, it's been pretty unanimously that this is a bad idea. I will tell her that I don't think it's a good idea that we work together and ask for a recommendation of someone else.
Thanks for all the input, I guess I've been a little naive on the issue.
posted by Iteki at 11:58 AM on November 26, 2019

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