The first time you get physically intimate with someone new is always fraught.
You don’t know if the experience will be good. You don’t know if you’ll like the same things. You don’t know what he’ll think of your body and what you’ll think of his.
But if you want to be held, then you’ve got to break the touch barrier.
Shaun Galanos has studied what it takes for a woman to feel comfortable being touched—platonically or erotically—by a man she doesn’t know.
He’s a former erotic masseur and cuddle party connoisseur who uses communication to build trust and create safety before any touch occurs.
In this week’s YBTV interview, he shares his process for helping women feel comfortable receiving sensual touch. He also discusses the importance of platonic touch and how we can ask to be held even if we don’t want it to go any further.
What You’ll Learn
What would it take for you to feel safe and comfortable receiving an erotic massage from a man you don’t even know?
Shaun Galanos has spent a lot of time thinking about this question. As a former erotic masseur, he recognized that it was “riskier for women to step out and experience these types of services … because there there needs to be an element of safety, and that’s where I came in.”
He designed the entire experience, from his website to the massage itself, to help women feel comfortable seeking and receiving sensual touch.
In the process, he learned why we should be talking a whole lot more before we even begin touching one another.
Desires, Fears and Boundaries
When you think about the first time you became intimate with a man you were seeing, sometimes the experience can be great…
But often it’s a complete dud. You’re both nervous, you don’t know how to read each other’s signals, and you’re not sure how intimacy is going to change your relationship.
But there’s a simple solution to all that awkwardness and nervous tension:
Shaun does this practice called, “Desires, Fears and Boundaries,” before he initiates touch with a woman.
They take turns expressing their desires, fears, and boundaries for the upcoming experience, so that they’re both on the same page before intimacy begins.
“The goal is really over-communicating on the front end, because it’s the lack of transparency that makes people put up boundaries,” he says. “When you don’t know exactly what the person’s intention is, then it becomes really cloudy and it becomes really hard to relax.”
But “when you’re with somebody who you know is going to trust your boundaries—because you’ve expressed them and they’ve agreed to them—you can really relax.”
Shaun has also found that establishing a high level of trust from the get-go can help partners relax their boundaries a little bit.
“When you’re around somebody who respects your boundaries, some of those boundaries actually kind of come down,” he says. “What was initially a no becomes a maybe and then could even become a yes in the span of an hour, because you trust them. You’re not the only person that’s looking after your boundaries; you’re not the only one that’s enforcing them. The other person is also enforcing them.”
When Shaun moved to Montreal, he wanted more physical intimacy in his life without necessarily having to get sexual with someone.
“Even though I’d had all this experience talking about communication and doing massage,” he says, “I still felt like I couldn’t initiate or or engage in physical contact with someone that wasn’t going to lead to sex.”
Then he discovered cuddle parties, gatherings where participants enjoy cuddling without any additional expectations. It was “a way to explore what platonic non-sexual touch between a man and a woman actually looks like, and it’s been incredibly freeing,” he says.
Cuddle parties reinforced Shaun’s belief that communication is the bedrock of intimacy. “One of the things that we learned in the cuddle parties is that it’s okay to ask for whatever it is that you want,” he says. “You also have to trust that the person that’s receiving the request has the autonomy to say no.”
As women, we often feel that we can’t ask to be touched or held by a man unless we want it to go further. We end up feeling starved for touch. So, can a woman ask a man to help her fulfill her need to be touched without getting sexual?
“I think you have to start off with the assumption that the best way to get your needs met is to ask for them to be met,” Shaun says.
Even though it’s possible a man will feel friend-zoned by your request, “you have to trust that the person is going to be able to say whether that’s okay with them or not—and, if it’s not, it’s not our job to protect other people’s feelings.”
The Love Drive
“My whole goal has always been to support women in whatever way I can,” Shaun says.
Not only has he been an erotic masseur, but he’s also a state-certified rape crisis counselor, love coach, and the host of the podcast The Love Drive.
The Love Drive began four or five years ago, when Shaun was driving taxis in San Francisco. “I’d always had this passion for talking to people about sex, love, and dating, and I got this idea to put cameras in the cab and interview my passengers about all sorts of stuff related to their private life.”
Today, The Love Drive is a podcast where Shaun interviews guests on topics ranging from loving bravely to ending a toxic relationship. His goal is “supporting people in having a more intimate, loving connection with themselves and with others through the power of communication.”
He’s also a love coach who answers all your love questions each Friday on Instagram and coaches “people privately in all matters of the heart: sex, love, romance, dating, emotional intimacy.”
Jump to Topics of Interest
2:27 The Love Drive
3:43 Erotic massage
5:01 Women are as sexually adventurous as men
5:36 The importance of safety, honesty and transparency
6:48 The conversations that needs to happen before intimate touch
9:01 Respecting boundaries
10:45 Supporting women through rape crisis counseling
11:35 Shaun’s wake-up call
13:45 Cuddle parties
16:50 How to ask for platonic touch
19:02 Shaun’s love coaching and #FreeLoveAdvice Friday
Shaun is a love coach and the host of The Love Drive Podcast. His mission is to spread love through emotional intimacy and he believes that communication and vulnerability are the keys to a more loving and more connected world. Find out how you can work with Shaun.