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The Relationship Dance

The other night I made a bold move. I went to a dance class all by myself. Yup. Little Miss Independent here. I was inspired by a dear friend of mine who took me to a swing class group the other weekend. There, I muddled around a bit on the dance floor. The leads I danced with were very kind. When I explained to one that it was my first time, he said, "Well, at least you know how to follow really well". I explained that I had a very good teacher.

I saw how my friend danced with about twenty different partners with amazing beauty and confidence. "How did you get so good?" I asked. She replied, "I learned to dance by dancing with a lot of great leads". It got me thinking about relationships. Is a couple only as good as their lead? And what if someone doesn't know how to follow? How do we negotiate the Relationship Dance?

Today, being a couple isn't as easy as one person always leading and the other person always following. With roles between men and women changing so much over the years, the "lead" in relationships shifts depending on the situation. Honestly, sometimes it's difficult to tell if anyone is leading at all. And what if both people want to lead but want to lead in different directions? On the dance floor, either scenario creates a very uncomfortable dance. The same can be said for relationships.

At my dance class, I learned the Bachata. Although I had delusions of dancing on stage and practiced vigorously the night before with The YouTube, I understood something quickly during the class: My dancing would be limited by how knowledgable (and confident) my lead was. In some instances, when the lead was completely lost, I took the lead myself. A big no-no and I'm sure my teacher would disapprove. However, one of the great benefits to the class was that we rotated partners many times. This meant that I was able to dance with about fifteen different leads that night. I got to know who could lead, who couldn't, and who acted like they knew what they were doing but really didn't. Because the Bachata is also a very sensual dance, I had to be comfortable with the partner I was with.

In a relationship, it's ok to take the lead. It's also ok to follow. Maybe that's what dating is about - finding out who we have a rhythm with, who we're comfortable with, and who we can partner with. This takes time and experience, even a bad experience. For a marriage, a person also needs the confidence to walk away from a partner when it's clear that no amount of lessons will create an acceptable dance.

At the end of my Bachata dance class, I did not find my ideal dance partner. But I had fun, learned a lot, and enjoyed dancing with some great dancers. I'm willing to go again. Can I say the same about relationships?

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