Sensual Massage

Building Intimacy With Your Partner Through Touch

A man massaging a woman's back in bed
••• B2M Productions/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Sensual massage is an effective way to build intimacy and closeness with your partner. The idea behind sensual massage is that you are giving pleasure through touch to your partner.  One person is the giver and one person is the recipient.  It's important to keep that in mind.  If you offer to give your partner a massage just to get something started, it's not really a massage.  It's a line that might not work the next time!

Since the two of you are in a consensual relationship, the boundaries that apply in professional massage don't apply to sensual massage. That means you don't need to worry about draping, or avoid intimate areas like the inner thigh or breasts. But massage is a skill, and it's helpful to learn some basic massage techniques so that what you do actually feels good to your partner.

One way to learn basic Swedish massage techniques like effleurage is to take a class from a local learning center.  Even better, you can also book time with a massage therapist to show you and your partner how to give a massage. They will show you the basic moves and forms of a professional massage. Once you have that, you can improvise and be creative, taking the massage in a more sensual direction that the professionals can't show you.

Another way to learn sensual massage techniques is to get a book like  The Art of Sensual Massage by Gordon Inkeles.

This fully illustrated book teaches you how to give a sensual massage at home.  I also recommend that you get a couple of good books on basic massage techniques, such as The Book of Massage by Carola Beresford Cooke, and The World's Best Massage Technique by Victoria Stone.  Basically, you'll get the best results when you learn how to massage, and then take it in a sensual direction.

 

The Sensual Massage Toolkit

Giving someone a massage on the bed doesn't usually work that well, because it's hard to maneuver  and reach all the parts of their body.  You can also hurt yourself trying.  Here is the basic equipment you need to give a good sensual massage.

  • A massage table will make it much easier to give your partner a massage without hurting your back. And they're not even that expensive anymore.  Make sure the massage table has a head cradle.
  • A fleecy massage table cover is nice -- you can even get an electric one to keep your lover warm.  
  • Cover the table with two sheets and a blanket.   Keep a few sets of sheets just for the massage table as they will get oil on them.
  • Put a pillow underneath your lover's ankles to give them support.   Put it underneath their knees when they're on their back. This is more comfortable and relaxing.
  • Candles and spa music set the scene for sensual massage.
  • Massage oil will give your hands glide, but you don't have to spend a lot of money on a special "sensual massage oil" or "tantric massage oil."  A nice, inexpensive choice is sweet almond oil You can also add essential oils to your oil to make it an aromatherapy massage. Rose, ylang-ylang and geranium are all considered good for romantic encounters.
  • You can also lay a few blankets on the floor and cover with a sheet. This works nicely for sensual massage if you have a romantic, warm setting, like a space in front of the fireplace.  

How To Give A Sensual Massage

The most important thing is to bring the attitude that you are giving something to the other person, not  trying to get something from them.  The more you put into the process in terms of learning massage skills, and getting the right equipment to make it a good experience, the more you and your partner will enjoy it.   Once you have the skills and equipment, try these steps as a basic test drive. 

  • Set a romantic atmosphere with candles, rose petals and relaxing spa music. Make sure the room is warm enough so that your partner won't be cold.
  • Start with the person face-down in a table with a face cradle so they don't have to crank their neck to one side. If you don't have a massage table, it's better to use a firm surface like a floor that you've covered with a few blankets and a clean sheet.
  • Start with their back. Fold the sheet back.  Make sure your hands are warm, and put a little oil in your hand.  Then apply it to their body, making light hand-over-hand motions to warm up their tissues. You can work on their knots a little bit but don't try to do serious therapeutic massage. The point is just to enjoy connecting with your partner in a relaxing way and make them feel good.
  • Generally the order of a massage is back and shoulders, then legs.  Then your partner turn over. You massage their legs and feet, then their arms, and finally their neck and shoulders. You can also give a scalp massage.
  • When you're giving a sensual massage, you can massage areas that are off limits in a professional massage, like breasts and inner thighs.  It's best if your attitude is one of giving instead of having an agenda. But you can communicate about what feels good.Of course if that happens, you're free to go where you want with it!

Sensual Massage and The Spa

It's important to understand that sensual massage is not offered in a professional spa. The massage therapists who work at spas are trained in therapeutic massage, which is based on Swedish massage techniques. If you asked for sensual massage at a spa, it will be interpreted as a request for sexual contact.

It is a breach of spa etiquette to ask for sex as part of a therapeutic massage. The therapist has the right to end the massage right there.

Men sometimes ask for sex during massage in an indirect fashion by directing them "work higher" when they get to their thighs or "work lower" when they massage their chest. They also ask the therapist to remove the sheet or ask if the therapist does "extras" or "happy endings." None of this is appropriate -- or legal -- in a spa setting.