Massages are amazing. They're a great way to de-stress, workout the kinks in your body, and just decompress. Although massages with a professional masseuse have many benefits and feel fantastic, because they're educated to know exactly how to work and untangle your body and even your mind, can you imagine if your partner could do that, too? It would be even better.
"Massage is a great way to build intimacy and trust in a relationship as well as build a stronger bond," Massage Therapist and Educator, Wellness Guide, Geraldine Abergas, tells Bustle. "It has shown to increase levels of oxytocin, which is also known as the hormone of love. Touch also signifies: you are safe, I am here, you are not alone. Also know that touching and being touched have the same benefits and so the giver is also receiving the same benefits! Touch is a way to communicate more honestly as our words can often be influenced or limited, but with touch, the intention is clear."
Because building intimacy is paramount and getting that oxytocin flowing even more so, it might be time to learn how to give your partner a professional-grade message.
1Choose The Location
While the bed may seem like the most obvious spot for a massage, if your partner is bent over their desk, stressing out, coming up behind them to get a massage started isn't exactly a bad idea. But if you're able to make it there, the bedroom is preferred, says Abergas.
2Set The Mood
Well, of course, no matter what location you end up choosing, you want to set the mood. Giving your partner a massage under fluorescent lights with the TV on in the background really isn't going to set an atmosphere conducive to relaxing. Also, as Abergas mentions below, temperature is key.
"Lighting, music, scent, temperature. Worst-case scenario would be a brightly lit room, that smells like the chain-smoking neighbor's apartment on a cold winter day as the sounds of the construction zone outside permeates the walls," says Abergas. "You could see how this would not lead to any sort of relaxation. You want it to be dim lighting, imagine a romantic candlelight dinner, soft music playing, maybe even your partner's favorite chill album, light a scented candle — think more lavender -scented than cinnamon pumpkin pie. And make sure the room is comfortably warm — warm enough to have the least amount of clothing and still be uber relaxed."
3Pick The Right Massage Oil — And Be Picky About It
Now comes the oil or lotion. "Pick the right massage oil or lotion. Put some thought into this!" says Abergas. "Don't just grab the plain body lotion that doesn't have any glide and is super emollient that it feels like you're greasing a turkey. And you don't want anything super slippery either that there's not enough skin on skin contact. Think more like coconut oil, unscented please, unless the smell of macaroons are your thing."
Abergas says that the oil should be heated. No one wants chilly oil dumped on their back. Sure, it will warm up fast against your body, but that initial contact won't feel so good. "Microwave some water in a bowl, and keep the oil/lotion bottle sitting in the bowl of warm water and cover with a towel to keep the warmth," says Abergas.
Lavender really is going to be your best bet if you take the scented oil route. "Scent is the most direct way to elicit a response in the limbic brain or amygdala to be more specific," says Abergas, "which is responsible for arousal." If you're hoping this is just the beginning of an evening of some proper sexual exploration, then lavender it is.
4Start With Their Back And Move Downward
If you've had enough massages in your life, then you already know that you're going to have your partner lay on their stomach first, while you start with their back. Next, you want to put a pillow under their chest for comfort and ask them to turn their head periodically, to prevent pain or discomfort in the neck.
"Take some oil/lotion from the warm water and just take a little bit, less than a tablespoonful and rub between your hands, not only to be able to make sure the oil/lotion is warm and homogenous but so that your hand is also pleasant to feel," Abergas says. "Standing next to the bed, start by placing your hands on their shoulder to signify the beginning. Then continue to spread the oil throughout the back, down along the muscles of the spine, with no pressure on the spine itself... When you get to the base of the spine, separate your hands and move along the waist as if you're going to grab the waist. But you're not. You're not going 0-60 here. Setting the tone, rhythm, translating comfort, security, connection, and relaxation."
Even if you've never given a massage before in your life, it's important to stay confident and relax. "First touch signals A LOT," says Abergas. "So be confident, mean it, and enjoy what you're doing. They can feel your intention! Find your rhythm and breathe. If you are tense, they feel it too."
6Use You Whole Hand, Not Just Your Fingers
"Pressure must be whole handed, using the palm of your hand as the most pressurized, fingers not loose and also connected to the skin," says Abergas. "And as you are along the waist, bring the hands together again and move up the spine and move hands apart again, and move up along the spine, alternating hand motions until you're back up the shoulders."
Unless you're one of those rock climbers who uses their fingers to scale boulders, definitely listen to Abergas on this one.
7Accept That You're Not A Professional
Although you're giving this professional-grade massage to your partner, don't forget that you're not a professional yourself — and not to stress about that. As Abergas points out, you're not using specific techniques; it's more about "the rhythm of your touch, your breath, along with their breath, that will induce relaxation that will release any knots." Simply, just the touch, in general, is the most important part of this massage.
8Then Have Them Roll Onto Their Back
"Now if you're still at it, or perhaps have taken it elsewhere," says Abergas, "I would ask your partner to get on their back. This will ease any tension in their neck form laying on their stomach.
Now it's time to pay attention to their feet. "Apply more oil/lotion," Abergas says. "Rub between hands, and simultaneously grab both feet, placing your thumb on their inside arch and tops of your hands along the tops of their feet. Firm pressure, stroke, rhythmically and simultaneously. If their ticklish, apply firmer pressure. The softer your touch the more ticklish it is. And now finish off by grabbing one foot at a time with both hands. One hand on either side of the foot, thumbs at the sole, kinda like you would hold a [sandwich]. And move your hands up and down as you squeeze and wring out any tension. Repeat with other foot."
9Center Your Thoughts
"To finish, center your thoughts around your partner feeling light," says Abergas, "and while each hand on their feet, take a couple of deep breaths as you too feel light."
As you coming to the end of the massage, it's about feeling that bond between you and your partner, the one you had before the massage, even deeper. Whether your massage ends up being foreplay for more and way to relax your partner into a sleep, it's still an intimate experience that partners should consider giving a try.