After reading my articles on the pro-am relationship, one of my readers asked if I would write about how the relationship between a student and their ballroom instructor might affect relationships outside of the ballroom. He noted that a lot of the students at his studio came to ballroom after a romantic relationship had ended. Ballroom has helped heal a lot of emotional wounds for them.
It makes sense; a ballroom studio and a good teacher provide a safe arena in which someone can start to trust and connect with another person again.
So what happens when you start looking for a new romantic partner? How does your connection with a dance partner affect your connection with potential life partners? How do your expectations change? How does your approach change?
I took extra time to think about this topic because there are so many different layers to explore. The more I pondered, the more there was to ponder. I reached out to other ballroom dancers to get their insight. And still I am having trouble coming up with a clear outline or angle. So I said screw it, just start writing and see where it goes!
First, I recalled my article on partnering in ballroom. I asserted that there were three key elements to a successful dance partnership: physical contact, trust and communication. Well, those three things are pretty important in a romantic relationship too!
Second, I recalled a video done by Dancesportplace.com on presenting your partner at a ballroom competition:
When I first watched this video, I remember thinking that so many of the points discussed as far as how the man treated the lady were applicable to life partnerships too!
So it would seem that ballroom partnerships mirror relationships off the dance floor in a lot of ways!
The similarity can be a source of a lot of confusion for students who forget that their teacher is there just to dance with them. It also helps explain why a lot of dance partners become romantic partners, whether they are an amateur, professional or pro-am couple.
Wants, Needs, Expectations
How has ballroom affected my view of relationships? Well, I am currently not in a relationship. I’m not actively looking either, but the ability and/or willingness to dance is definitely something I would want in a romantic partner. Dance is so much a part of my life now that I don’t think I would be able to connect with another person on an intimate level if they weren’t at least interested in it.
I think my experience as part of a dance partnership has also raised my expectations of how I would be treated. I am lucky to work with a teacher who is supportive, attentive and respectful of my needs. Like it says in the video, the man takes care of the lady. As a lady who prides herself in being strong and independent, I am also happy that I work with someone who treats me like an equal in our dance partnership, despite the built-in inequality of pro-am and the fact that he leads and I follow. Even though it sounds like he has all the control and authority and I’m just there, going where he tells me to go, Teacher always reminds me that the partnership is 50/50. We both need to put in our best effort in order to look good as a couple on the dancefloor.
I would expect nothing less in a romantic partner.
Which brings me to another thought – the fantastic benefits that dance can bring to an existing relationship! In ballroom, or any partner dance, you have to work together to be successful. One person cannot carry the other person through a dance, it won’t look or feel good.
I think the same holds true for partners off the dancefloor. Learning to dance as a couple allows you to form a stronger bond. I think it is the shared struggles and triumphs that bring you closer together.
I wonder if my expectations of a potential future significant other are too high or unrealistic. After all, they are being influenced by my ballroom experiences, which are skewed. The intimate moments, the shared struggles and triumphs, they are all just part of the dance. There is acting in a ballroom partnership. You don’t want that in a relationship.
I think the parts of my ballroom experience that I do want and need duplicated in a relationship (besides the dancing!) are the support, mutual effort and communication. Teacher and I have had our disagreements, but I have been impressed by how willing he has been to open up and talk about the issue so it could be resolved quickly. I appreciate the effort he puts into helping me achieve my goals. And it is nice to have someone be present through your trials and be there to celebrate your triumphs. At the same time, I work hard to be the best partner I can be, even as I am still learning.
Gentlemen and Ladies
Ballroom mirrors very traditional roles for men and women. Men lead, women follow. Men are supposed to show strength, women are feminine. I am not very traditional in my views but I think bringing a little ballroom into relationships would be a good thing. I wouldn’t mind seeing more gentlemen seeking ladies to share a dance, or a life, with. I am strong and can take care of myself, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t appreciate someone else wanting to take care of me.
Guys, please chime in here, but I would guess that men would appreciate women who would let them take care of them, like they do on the dancefloor. At the same time, guys, I would wager that you would also want a partner who put in as much effort as you did instead of expecting you to carry them through everything.
Dance Lessons or Life Lessons?
Of course, every relationship is different. There is no one set of rules that works for everyone. But as ballroom has taught me more about myself, I think there are lessons there about partnerships as well, on and off the dancefloor. I hope if/when I do enter into a new romantic relationship, I prove to be a better partner because of ballroom. But for now, I’m happy just dancing.
I hope this all made some sense and answered the question that was posed! Anyone can contact me anytime with a topic or question to explore in Ask the Girl. Happy dancing!