Friday, June 7, 2013

Can You Dance?

I am not the best dancer, but I can move. I can do the hustle, the wobble, the electric slide, and most dances from the 70’s. I can even do some of the newer dances, with the exception of “twerking”. All of that jerking and gyrating is bad on my almost 50 year-old knees. But even though I can’t do the newest dances or “drop it like it’s hot”, I refuse to leave the dance floor. I stay on the dance floor and I do what I can do; I dance.

In many ways, relationships are like dancing.  They both require coordination, rhythm, leadership, decision-making and movement. And, just like good dancing requires a willing partner and good music, so does a loving relationship. How are they similar? I am glad you asked.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch believe that “every couple has a rhythm”, a way of functioning that makes the relationship work.  And the more I observe couples, that more I believe that statement is true.   If you don’t believe me, just observe happy couples who have been together for a while.  If you watch them closely, you can see that they have found their pace, their beat, their speed; their way of co-existing that supports and sustains their union.

If you spend time with successful couples, you will also notice that they have coordinated their lives in a way that helps them share space, time, and most importantly, themselves. They have organized and synchronized their wake-times, sleep times, meal times, sex times, quiet times, chore times and other times in a way that allows them to experience harmony, synergy and sometimes, ecstasy.   Whatever the activity, a happy couple’s rhythm produces happiness, cooperation, efficiency, interdependence and great companionship.  They have what I have coined as good “relationship rhythm”. In other words, they flow.

Good relationship and good dancing also have something else in common: they both require that 1 person sometimes takes the lead. If you don’t believe me, just watch people slow dance, or salsa or attempt ballroom dancing. If one person doesn’t allow the other to lead, they  would trip, fall, and stumble. Without allowing one partner to lead, they wouldn’t be able to execute complicated or choreographed moves; their routines would be haphazard and lack fluidity and grace. Without trusting one person to lead, a beautiful dance could easily morph into a blundering disaster. Without trusting one partner to sometimes lead, dance performances would be simple, basic, conventional and boring.

While many of us see the value in allowing one person to lead in dancing, we sometimes miss the value of occasionally letting one partner lead  in household responsibilities, activities, and chores.  I am not suggesting that you allow your partner to boss you around or dictate how your home should be managed. But I am suggesting that if your partner has experience and/or expertise in areas that you don’t -that you allow her to take the lead.  If she has experience and/or expertise in a specific area and you don’t, I hope that you allow her to direct or at least influence the steps/moves/decisions that make you both better, stronger, happier, smarter and healthier.

Let’s face it -being in a partnership has benefits. And, one of the benefits is capitalizing on your partner’s strengths, talents, gifts, education, skills, connections and other attributes that advance both of you. So allow her to bring her talents and gifts to the relationship. Remember– she is not asking you to step back, she is providing an opportunity for both of you to step up.  So dance and based on your expertise, take turns leading. Trust me, your relationship will benefit greatly.

Good dancers and happy couples have 2 other things in common: versatility and flexibility. Good dancers are versatile; they can adjust to the beat and adapt to the genre. They wiggle and do the Harlem shake, and then go to the country western club and dosey doe. They can stiffen up and dazzle us with the robot, and then they can loosen up and do the running man down the Soul Train line. They can jiggle their legs to do the “stanky leg”, and then slow it down and grove to the tunes of Smokey Robinson. Good dancers adjust and modify to engage the music.

Healthy relationships are the same; they are flexible. They adjust to hard times and  celebrate the good times. They adapt to prosperity and restructure in poverty. They revel in success, and then bounce back from failure. They deal with sickness and appreciate health. They accommodate family, while protecting  “couple time”. Whatever the situation and whatever the circumstance, successful couples adapt.  

Successful couples accept that situations may change, but never their love. Like good dancers who keep dancing despite the genre, despite the tempo, despite the crowd, despite the music, despite not knowing  how to do the most current dances, despite the pain in their bodies - so do successful couples continue to dance and love despite the vicissitudes of life.  Successful couples keep dancing!

Finally, good dancers and healthy couples both do another thing well; they manage space.  Have you ever watched good dancers when they are really getting down? I may be aging myself with that terminology, but have you observed really good dancers when they are “jamming”?  Somehow they instinctively know when to dance closely, and when it would easier/better to dance farther apart.  They know when to pull back so that they can do a certain move, and then they know when to grab their partner’s hand or waist to twist and turn. In other words, they effectively manage distance and space.

One of the ways that successful couples effectively manage distance and space is by developing and honoring healthy boundaries. Together they set limits which allow each partner to be independent, while at the same time, interdependent. Together they establish mutually beneficial guidelines and  relationship rules that ensure that they love, support, respect, protect, honor and value each other. Together, is the operative word.

Happy couples get it right, or at least they work on trying to get it right. They realize the need to be close enough to nurture intimacy, and at the same time, be far enough away to preserve their own identity.  In addition, successful couples manage distance and space by understanding that contexts, circumstances and growth may/could affect how they relate to each other. And most importantly, they talk about it. They don’t hide their feelings, play mind games or expect their partners to read their minds. They talk!!!! But above all, they realize that despite changes in space and distance, they will always find their way back to each other’s arms – literally and figuratively.

Can you dance? Are you able to glide down the floor of life with a wonderful partner? Can your relationship withstand changes, or do transitions stop you dead in your tracks? Do you know how to step sideways or away without losing your partner’s hand, head or heart? Can you deal with closeness, and occasional distance, while still moving to the music?  Are you open to different genres – modern dance, waltzing, salsa, line dancing and just good ole’ busting a move? Do you have relationship rhythm? Can you dance?

If you can’t dance, I hope you will keep moving on the dance floor, love floor, until you are able to experience all of the joy that you can stand. I hope you don’t let one wrong song, one wrong move, one wrong experience or one wrong partner, stop you from dancing and/or loving.

If you are single, dance!  If you are in a relationship, dance! Just keep moving, keep growing, keep seeking, and keep loving. And, eventually you will CREATE the song, the love, the routine, and the experience that you are looking for. And most of all keep one thing in mind……the love you CREATE may just be the love you give to yourself.

It is time to dance……so get moving….get your groove on!  It is your life and your love. You deserve it. And, please remember to vote for Create Love For Women.  You got us to the  finals. And now we need your support to take it to the end.  Please vote…..Create Love For Women Who Love Women for the "Best LGBT Blog/Website" in the GA Voice - Best of Atlanta Awards 2013.  Here is the link: You can vote as often as you like.


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