Not a Perfect Match

By Kenn Howard
[A Question of Ethics]

Dear Kenn,

I have two clients who would be just right for each other. They are both single and interested in meeting someone. I just know it would work. Can I introduce them to each other?



Dear Renea,

Ah, romance. D. H. Lawrence described romance this way: “And what’s romance? Usually a nice little tale where you have everything as you like it, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose, and it’s always daisy-time.”

Daisy-time? Renea, you have two clients who you believe could enjoy some starry-eyed daisy-time with each other. While this Ethics Guy admires your romanticism and envies your intuition, we must look at the practical side of things.

First, whether it seems like it or not, you would be violating the oath of privacy you agreed to uphold when you became a massage therapist. Part of the Code of Ethics for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals instructs us to honor the privacy of our clients. It is perfectly fine for your client to talk about her sessions with you and to talk about others with you, but this privilege does not go both ways. For you, the therapist, to reveal anything about one client to another is not permitted.

Second, unless you run a dating service—and, you are not running a dating service—it would not be appropriate to wear both hats at once. Dating and
massage don’t mix. These two pursuits must be kept separate in all ways. Otherwise, the hard-earned reputation we’ve all built around the non-romantic and nonsexual aspect of therapeutic massage would be worth nothing more than the fertilizer used on the daisies.

Massage has been around for thousands of years, but even now, in the 21st century, it is widely misunderstood. It is often inappropriate to mix in other pursuits, especially personal, with our profession.

And third, we must be careful about where our intuition leads us. You may think these two people will be right for each other but, in reality, you don’t really know. We are complex beings and to try to predict who will be compatible with whom is a very sticky wicket.

Although many of the world’s great romances have been illicit, there is nothing that says you have to be unethical to be in love. Ethics has nothing against romance. But ethics does have a problem with certain ways of bringing romance about. This is one daisy that must remain unplucked.

  Kenn Howard is a massage therapist, NCBTMB-approved provider of ethics workshops, and instructor of ethics for the past 14 years. Contact him at