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Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Sad Truth About Happy Endings

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Do you think it's ok for a married man to get happy endings from his female massage therapist?  I've been going to a licensed CMT who provides a very high quality massage and an erotic hand release.  Sometimes she will do the hand release first so I can be relaxed during the massage.  The orgasm is very intense and it feels like my testicles are empty for hours.  It also makes me excited for more, which benefits my wife.  My therapist has very strict boundaries as she does not get nude or provide anything more than a hand release.  No harm, no foul, right?  Although my wife would probably disagree.


There are two ethical questions at play here. First, is it OK for a person in a monogamous, committed relationship to have sexual contact outside of that relationship? Second, is it OK for a licensed professional in a healing or therapeutic role to have sexual contact with his or her clients? The short answer to both questions is no.


You say that your wife would probably disagree with your "no harm, no foul" take on things, so you already know that what you're doing is wrong, and if you hoped I would say different and thus justify your behavior – sorry. There is nothing inherently wrong with a married man having sexual contact with another person, as long as his wife/partner is aware that this is happening and has no issue with it. What's wrong in this situation is the fact that you have made the decision to be nonmonogamous without consulting your wife, and in a healthy relationship, that's a decision that should be made together. Dishonesty, lying and cheating are rarely (if ever) justifiable and have the potential to cause real harm to others.


For an answer to the second part of this question, I consulted Jennifer Flynn, co-owner of Wildheart Studios, which provides massage therapy and other types of body care. Jennifer says, "Massage therapy has very strict ethical codes that leave no room for interpretation. Milwaukee County is clear, state licensing is clear, and accredited massage programs are clear...that sexual release is not a part of therapeutic massage. [This] massage therapist is not only violating the law, but she/he is also violating their client. 


"As practitioners, it is our responsibility to maintain strong boundaries in order to promote a safe and healing environment for our clients. Sex workers may have a place in our society, but thoughtlessly labeling them as massage therapists is frustrating and incorrect."


I think Jennifer's response would be echoed by many licensed massage therapists that I know. Similarly to what I said above, there is nothing inherently wrong in paying someone to give you a hand job. I wish sex work was not so stigmatized in our society and that people who chose to do sex work could provide such services legitimately and with respect. However, CMTs do operate under an ethical code that prohibits sexual contact, and when they violate that code, they expose their colleagues to harassment and inappropriate requests from clients who now mistakenly believe that they can expect therapeutic body work to include some kind of sexual encounter. Massage therapists are often frustrated by misconceptions about what kind of services they provide, and this type of situation contributes to the sexualization of their profession.

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