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What Is a Couples Massage? What to Expect When You Hit the Spa With a Partner

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We’re willing to bet that you’ve probably heard of a couples massage . . . even if you’ve never gotten one before. It’s a common offering on spa menus, especially around romantic holidays, but unless you’re a seasoned massage pro, you might still be wondering what exactly is couples massage therapy.

Believe it or not, a couples massage is among the most popular ways to relax. If you’re single and just rolled your eyes (we don’t blame you), a couples massage — spoiler alert — doesn’t have to be for just romantic couples! Yep, we’re talkin’ besties, parent-child pampering sessions and more.

To get the scoop on all things couples massage, we talked to Monica Jaso, a licensed massage therapist in the Greater Chicago area, to answer your questions and share some secrets.

In this article:

What Is a Couples Massage?

A couple getting a couples massage.

Simply put, a couples massage is when you and someone else enjoy individual massages while lying on separate beds next to each otherThere are two massage therapists — one for each person. 

Like any other massage, a couples massage may include soothing music, aromatherapy and candle lighting. These sessions are often shared as a gift between romantic partners, siblings, friends or close colleagues — it really doesn’t matter! Whether it’s to de-stress or release some boss-based tension, a couples massage is the perfect medicine.

There are also added extras you can include with your massage package, such as hot stones and acupuncture — if you’re feeling brave enough.

What Are the Benefits of a Couples Massage?

With the year you’ve had, you deserve some indulgence time with your equally in-need-of-a-massage significant other. A couples massage lets you share a moment of relaxation. It’s also a great way to iron out those aches, pains and weird creaky noises you make when you stand up. Some of the superb benefits include:

  • Relaxation, for both of you – If you’ve both had a tough week (like the kids running you ragged or pestering parents have been driving you up the wall), it’s nice to get away from the madness. Even if it’s just for a little while. No doubt you both deserve it.
  • Enjoyment as part of a wider couples spa experience – If you want to extend that “little while” into a weekend of relaxation, a couples massage is the perfect pampering activity that will fit nicely into your break. Nestled in between aromatherapy, facials and saunas, why not take the opportunity to fully melt into bliss with a full-body massage?
  • Quality time together – Shared experiences are one of the most important parts of building and maintaining a relationship — whether that be romantic or platonic. Going for a massage also gives you memories to look back on together. Plus, it’s always nice knowing that someone is enjoying themselves along with you — especially if it’s a gift for them!
  • General massage benefits, x2! – Nothing beats coming away from a massage feeling all kneaded out and refreshed. Why keep that feeling all to yourself? A couples massage means there’ll be two less aching and creaking bodies shuffling around the house. It also means you and your partner are likely to be a little less grumpy now that you’ve found relief from those bad-pillow neck aches and stiff shoulders.

What Are the Different Techniques?

There’s a sublime smorgasbord of different techniques used in a couples massage. These tend to be influenced by traditional practices from international cultures — each one does something slightly different. It’s best to see which massage technique appeals to the both of you before you launch yourself onto the table.

  • Thai – Thai massage techniques are a little more physical compared to what you might expect from a “traditional” massage. They combine assisted yoga techniques with acupuncture, and Indian Ayurvedic principles (the balancing of the five elements within the body). Don’t expect to be laid on a massage bed with soothing oils and aromatherapy here — instead, prepare to be stretched, pulled and cracked to release your inner tension.
  • Swedish – Also referred to as a “classic massage,” Swedish massage therapy is one of the most popular techniques used in the U.S. This gentle technique is used to relax and stimulate nerves and blood flow — it’s the go-to if you’re looking for an “ahhhh” rather than an “oooh, a bone just cracked that I never knew I had.”
  • Deep tissue massage – Another type of popular “classic” massage is the Swedish massage’s slightly more rough-and-ready brother. Focused on really digging out those knots and areas of tension that are causing you issues, this technique uses a lot of pressure. Think less soothing circular Swedish strokes and more getting stuck in there with knuckles and elbows.
  • Reflexology – Rather than a full-body massage, reflexology targets specific points in the hands and feet. Also called “zone therapy,” masseuses apply pressure to certain muscles and points to relax you and release tension. Reflexology is regarded as an experimental technique and some believe it can alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety.

What to Expect at a Couples Massage

A couple getting a couples massage.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty — what to expect at a couples massage. Laying down on a table next to your partner or close friend might seem a little daunting to some, especially if this is your first time. So, sit back, relax and we’ll guide you through the whole day, with a few tips from Monica.

Before

It’s best to do your research before you book an appointment to make sure you’re choosing the type of massage that suits you both best. Take some time to browse any extras you might like adding on here too, such as hot stones or aromatherapy.

You should always arrive a little early to your appointment. Monica says, “If you come too close to the appointment time, you might be rushing around, the therapists might be rushing around, and . . . you can feel that rushed energy.” She suggests arriving 15–20 minutes before your appointment time.

Many spas include complimentary access to saunas, pools, fitness centers and other amenities with treatment reservations, which can be used before your appointment in some cases. “By all means, make use of that,” Monica says. “A lot of people [don’t] take advantage of those facilities.” If it’s a hotel spa, there may even be an onsite restaurant.

During

  1. When you arrive, the massage therapist/s will have a chat with you and your partner to discuss what areas you want to focus on. They’ll also ask if you’ve been having any pain-related issues and will answer any questions you might have about your couples massage and what to expect.
  2. Then, they will leave the room to give you some time to disrobe and get comfortable on the massage bed.
  3. The masseuses will return and apply any massage oils needed for the therapy and begin your massage. This is when you can just close your eyes and try not to drift off completely.

After

After your therapy, your massage therapist may suggest that you rest for around six hours, depending on the intensity of the massage. It’s also suggested that you don’t shower immediately after, and make sure that, when you do, the water is warm rather than hot. Hot water will aggravate muscle inflammation.

It’s also important to drink plenty after your massage. This helps your body and muscles retain fluids, so it’s best to avoid diuretics such as caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, energy drinks) and alcohol for around 24 hours. Although, we’re sure a glass of wine wouldn’t be the end of the world!

How long does it take?

This depends on the type of massage you get but, generally, massages tend to last for around an hour to an hour-and-a-half. You’re more than welcome to ask for breaks during your appointment. This is completely normal, especially if it’s an intense Thai or deep-tissue treatment.

How Much a Couples Massage Costs — and Other Things You Need to Know

A couple getting a couples massage.

Once you’ve both decided the type of massage you want (and you know a little more about what to expect), there are a few other things you should consider before you’re ready to disrobe.

How much does a couples massage cost?

For a 60-minute massage, you can expect to pay anywhere between $80 and $150. Of course, this all depends on who you book with and the type of massage you’re going for. You can check out local couples massage deals near you to get started.

Can I eat before the massage?

“Eating beforehand is OK, but do it at least an hour before so you’re not lying on a full belly,” Monica says. “And don’t have a massage at six o’clock and then make a dinner reservation for 7:30, because then you’re rushing to get there and you’re not going to enjoy that nice, relaxing massage you just had.”

Can I talk during the massage?

Yes, but it’s not recommended. Many therapists recommend keeping the talking to a minimum so everyone can focus on the experience — just like you’d keep quiet at the cinema to not spoil the tension.

If you or your partner are particularly chatty, you should probably have a chat before your appointment about, well, chatting.

Do we each have to get the same treatment?

Nope! As with a solo session, couples massages should still include personalized consultations with the massage therapists. This will usually take place before the session itself and your therapist will take their time to go through your options.

“Usually people have individual wants and needs for their own bodies,” Monica says. “Someone might have shoulder tension; someone else might have just had ankle surgery and want attention on their legs.”

And it’s not just about focus areas, either. Couples should feel free to ask for different modalities. If one person just wants to relax, Swedish is probably enough for them. If someone wants a post-workout massage, then Thai is their best bet. Or, as Monica suggests, if the other person wants a more therapeutic physical treatment, “then by all means, get the deep tissue, get the sports massage. Don’t limit yourself.” And don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Will there be champagne?

Possibly. A lot of spas offer champagne with couples massages, but watch your intake before and after the treatment. “If you do drink afterward, it can hit you a lot faster because your circulatory system is going a lot quicker,” Monica says. A little alcohol is OK, but make sure you drink plenty of water, too, as alcohol can dehydrate you.

What a massage essentially does is stimulate your lymphatic system, which helps to flush out toxins. Water is also essential to this “flushing out” process.

Do I have to bring a significant other?

Not at all. Sure, couples massages make great romantic shared-experience gifts, but Monica says plenty of platonic pairs treat themselves to one too — friends, mothers, daughters and siblings.

“There’s been more than I would have expected,” she says. “The most important thing is just choosing someone you can really relax and enjoy the experience with.” 

How often should you get a couples massage?

This all depends on what you’re getting the massage for. If it’s for a gift for a friend or a midweek treat, it can be a one-off or an every-now-and-again thing. However, if you’re having therapy because of a pain or muscular issue, therapists often recommend you go at least once every month, or every two weeks.

Top Tips

A couple getting a couples massage.
  • Do your research to find the right therapist – Not every therapist will provide services that are right for you. These will differ depending on each therapist. Look at online reviews and discuss your needs with your partner before booking.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions – Before, during and after your session, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist about anything you’re unsure about. They want to make sure you’re getting the best experience possible, so feel free to ask about technique, extras, benefits or anything that’s on your mind.
  • Prepare for your couples massage beforehand – Preparation comes in many forms, such as hydrating, finding the right clothing and communicating with both your partner and therapist about what to expect at a couples massage.

FAQs

What should I wear to a couples massage?

This differs depending on the massage type. Generally, you should wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing. However, for Swedish massage therapies, for example, it’s likely that you will be asked to undress and cover yourself with a towel.

Is a couples massage awkward?

It all depends on how close you are with your massage partner. The closer you are, the less “awkward” you may find it. Besides, the experience is meant to be relaxing! Rest assured, the therapists don’t find it awkward — it’s their job.

Can you hold hands during a couples massage?

At some points, yes, but please listen to your therapist if they ask you to move or lay in a certain position. They’re only trying to get to the best spots to help you relax.

Does a couples massage sound like the perfect treatment for you? Discover great deals and offers to help you unwind in style with our local couples massages.

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