Hello. I went for a day at the spa with my sisters and everything was going great. Then I went for my massage that my sister had already booked for me, it was a nice gift from her. Then I realized that it was a man who was giving the massage. I usually prefer women but no one else was available and I thought < >.
I asked for a strong massage of neck and back. At first he said: I wont go that strong because I don’t want to hurt your muscles… So I thought OK, it will still be a massage and I am very stressed these days. Then he started talking to me non stop. About how my last name was special, how I was special… That I was so beautiful from the outside but also from the inside. Like he knew me. Like I was a witch able of good magic, that I had so much potential for my future. I didn’t know how to react, what he was saying was funny and they were good compliments but I was feeling uncomfortable. I was here to relax and was trying to make the most of it. I didn’t know how to react, I was just breathing hoping he would stop. His massage was nothing I asked for. He was stretching my body and not massaging. He was ”creating points of energy” and it wasn’t that relaxing. At some point he kinda touched me near my pectorals, but it felt weird, like he was too close to my breast, so I kinda moved a bit and he never went back there. At some other point he touched me near my coccyx, for my it was too far inside my bum, but also only for a sec and didn’t go back. I was so shy I didm’t say anything. It’s like I completely froze, almost naked there, I didn’t feel comfortable with him. Although nothing ‘happened’ I mean he didn’t touch directly my breast or my butt.
He was going on and on about how he felt he knew me for a long time and I didn’t know what to answer, I was just expecting to have a relaxing time and it was just stressing me so much I froze and didn’t know what to do… It’s that way of touching mixed with what he was saying, asking if someone broke my heart, if I had a lot of sadness inside of me… etc etc… I came here to RELAX not for a therapy. But his questions were so surprising, unexpected in that context that still: It brought emotions in me (memories, sadness) that I couldn’t express myself. I am really depressed these days, with no energy…
After, I told my boyfriend my massage didn’t go as I expected. He listened to me but he started laughing: that guy wanted to have sex with you! I said that no, I think he was just weird and I didn’t like his massage and felt uncomfortable. The he said: a guy touches you places that you don’t like and you do nothing! You let him do. So you are responsible for this, if you do nothing it means you accept, it means you don!t mind. I tried explaining that I didn’t know how to react, I kinda froze but at the same time it was not much, it’s not like he grabbed my ass or squeezed my breast, of course that would have been unacceptable and YES I think that if he would have touched me like that and gone too far I would have reacted! But what is too far? I mean, I am often uncomfortable in society sometimes when a stranger grabs my hand or people I don’t know much want to hug.
But then my boyfriend said that I was ridiculous almost stupid, that I was able do to a big scene with him, my own boyfriend, crying or screaming when we have an argument but not with that random guy who makes me feel uncomfortable? That I wasn’t a teenager anymore and if I don’t say anything when I don’t like it at my age it is unacceptable and it means that that was what I wanted… So basically, I kinda got what I ran after…
A: Thank you for your letter. What an uncomfortable series of events! I think there are two things that might help. First, the massage therapist was completely out of line. You told him what you wanted and he ignored it, and then he talked to you inappropriately through the entire session. Both things are not okay. You have to remember this is a service that you’re paying for. Instead of being relaxed he made you more anxious. He didn’t do his job properly.
I would sit down and write a letter back to the spa. You have the bulk of it written here already — but in essence you want to explain that there were many elements of this massage that weren’t good.
The writing of the letter is the intervention. Whether or not you send it is up to you and whether or not you send it with your name on it — or anonymously — is up to you. The idea is to express to them how inappropriate this was. The expressive writing alone will help.
Secondly, I would have a discussion with your boyfriend about how hurtful it was to feel blamed by him. In criticizing you for not speaking up rather than helping you find ways to cope and speak up — he is doing the same thing to you that the massage therapist has done. In both instances you needed and expected one thing and got another. Your boyfriend needs to be taught how to listen and support you — not be judgmental and blaming.
Finally, I would encourage you to read a book or take a brief course on assertiveness. These are rather easy skills and can help when you need to speak up and take care of yourself.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Apr 2014
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Troubled by a Massage Therapist and Boyfriend Who Can’t Control Himself. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/04/26/troubled-by-a-massage-therapist-and-boyfriend-who-cant-control-himself/