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Romantic Relationship Dance Therapy

Updated on August 1, 2013

Dance Insights for Romantic Partners

If life is a dance, then a dance requires music. Music requires a beat or tempo. A man or woman, in the dance of life, must dance to the beat and melody that beckons their purpose and life calling. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

Successful dancing to the beat of life, just as dancing on the dance floor, involves acquired skill and ability. Elements of partner-dancing contain truths for maintaining purposeful, romantic relationships. Partner-dancing is distinguished here from group, independent or freestyle dancing. Partner-dancing, at minimum, demands that each partner know and be able to execute basic dance moves in order to confidently dance with each other.

In many relationships, partners to a relationship compete for independent control. Some men attempt to be overly domineering without knowing how to lead. Some women attempt to be defiantly independent without knowing how to back-lead. Both men and women in romantic relationships have often been found not to have a shared vision for being together and do not know the importance of connecting with each other beyond physical intimacy.

Partner-dancing is the coordination and action of opposite moves between dancers in order to dance together in harmony with combined style for the outcome of consensual dance moves. Below are 3 basic elements of partner-dancing used in both swing dancing and ballroom dancing. Each element contains an objective lesson for couples seeking to enter into, or maintain, a viable romantic relationship.

1. Connection

Two people embarking upon a romantic relationship preferably should come together through proper respect and etiquette to connect on some genuine level. In partner-dancing, two people connect on the dance floor by bonding with director and follower dance frames. Dance frames are important to enable dance partners to unmistakably communicate subtle dance cues by relying on their sensory auditory and motor neural networks to execute respective dance moves together. A close, harmonic connection between dance partners allows each partner to move to and from each other sequentially and in synchronized fashion, with equal and opposing force, to complete dance moves in unison.

Connection implies open and honest communication between partners on equal and respectful footing. Men and women in romantic relationships should cultivate honesty and transparency, without condescension, to effectively communicate the rhythms and melodies of their respective life purposes in order to dance in life together to a mutually shared beat. A mutually shared beat between partners in the dance of life will promote romantic partners to create a unique partner-dancing style for accomplishing a shared vision together.

2. Balance

The need to understand and control dance movements through proper body position and balance is critical. Internalized proper balance allows each dance partner to effectively execute dance movements with equilibrium.

For a successful romantic relationship, partners to a relationship must be emotionally well-balanced and mature. Immaturity does not contribute to balanced give and take in a relationship. Unresolved emotional issues experienced from past broken relationships are best to be worked out before attempting new relationships. Loving yourself in a wholesome way is important to be able to wholesomely love another. Romantic partners balanced in maturity, experience and wisdom complement each other and are favored for dancing their lives together to a shared rhythm and melody of love.

3. Leadership

Women quite often lament that they do not wish to be controlled by a man, but at the same time insist on being with a man who has backbone and will stand up and take charge in appropriate situations. A good dance frame equips a man with the backbone needed to properly lead in partner-dancing. In partner-dancing the man is expected to lead, direct and inspire movement in the dance. The woman looks to back-lead, follow and be inspired with movement in the dance. Without such an arrangement, partner-dancing cannot harmoniously occur. Neither directing nor following is about obsessive control of the dance.

Leading, when taken in proper dance context, asks a woman to trust a man to look out for her well-being on the dance floor in all situations and to protect her while directing the dance. Back-leading, when taken in proper context, asks a man to trust a woman to follow him on the dance floor. It also asks her to be mindful of activity behind him and to hijack the dance if necessary for good purpose in all situations when he is unaware of, or blindsided by, obstacles behind him or not in his view. In the dance of life, leadership is a matter of mutual respect between leader and follower. A good leader is also a good follower. Leaders and followers serve each other for accomplishing good purposes together.

Oneness of Purpose

Each partner individually has a unique way of dancing in spirit and movement. However, when individual dancers connect as partners on a dance floor, their individual musical spirits and movements coalesce in oneness of purpose in beauty, grace and form when complimentary danced together in the musical spirit of oneness.

Leroy Green, owner and Master Hand Dance Instructor of Dream Step Dance Academy located in Washington, DC religiously teaches his dance students that there is an order in hand dancing much like the order of the universe. He explains that a man and woman individually unto themselves are unimpressive, but when put together working in a proper way become as one in purpose.

Sadie F. Dingflder, Staff Monitor in an article about dancing titled Dance, Dance Evolution (American Psychological Association 2010, Vol. 41, No. 4) wrote that “Scientists are finding that an activity that probably started as an accident of evolution has become an important cultural force, one that gives us insight into selecting mates and tools for fostering cooperation.” She cites the work of Psychologist Michael Hove, PhD at the MaxPlanck Institute for Human and Cognitive Brain Sciences in Germany as saying “Synchrony seems to blur the distinction between self and other.” She also cites the work of Psychologist William Michael Brown, PhD, a dance researcher at Queen Mary University of London and the University of London as saying, “Couples dancing together in tightly coordinated ways signal that they are highly bonded and committed to one another.”

Partner-dancing has many objective lessons that can be applied to romantic relationships that go beyond the basic elements mentioned in this article. Swing dancing, ballroom dancing and other forms of partner-dancing, if closely studied and observed, provide further insightful lessons for entering into, or improving upon, a romantic relationship.

In addition to providing lessons for positive relationships, dancing is credited with being a means of beneficial therapy for treating many forms of mental and physical illness. Loui Tucker in an article titled Dance as Therapy cites a study of hundreds of elderly volunteers wherein Neurologist Joe Verghese found that “ . . . elderly people who frequently read, do crossword puzzles, practice a musical instrument or play board games cut their risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by nearly two-thirds compared to people who seldom do such activities. And the best part: among the 25 people who danced frequently, their chance of developing dementia was 76 percent lower.”

Whatever the beat you follow in life, remember to be true in timing to its beat and to dance with any partner accordingly even as the sun dances with the moon.

Basic Swing Dance Steps


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    • Aliant Coaching profile image

      H. Williams 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      Thank you Anna Marie for your insightful wisdom on different forms of dance and their effect on the mood and passion for romance. I agree wholeheartedly that anyone's intentions for dancing be with intentions of the "good kind." There truly is no other way to dance. Your post is very much appreciated. - H. Williams

    • abrodech profile image

      Anya Brodech 4 years ago from 130 Linden St, Oakland, California, 94607

      I agree with you, couples dancing can be very good for a romantic relationship. Personally, I prefer the latin dances for a more "romantic" experience because they are much more intense, passionate, and dramatic than other dances like waltz or swing, and they really get in touch with your exhibitionist side.

      For romantic couples looking to add "spice" to their life, I'd recommend slow and sensual bachata to romantic songs, or a fiery and sexy salsa. I have written some extensive hub articles on here both about salsa and about bachata, including lists of the most sexy and most romantic bachata songs, which I find many people enjoy.

      Other great options are rumba and tango, because even though they are both much more serious than bachata or salsa which are fun and playful; they have a slow-burning deep-rooted passion to them which many romantic couples experience in their dancing.

      Whatever the dance you choose to do, it is important to set up rules, boundaries, and expectations BEFORE you start learning to dance together.

      In my 9 years of dancing, I've seen a lot of couples brought together through dancing, as well as torn apart by it. I think it's valuable to come up with realistic ideas of how dancing might change or affect your relationship.

      I've written a helpful article about dating your dance partner and how to handle having a romantic relationship at dance, which I think holds true for many couples.

      Dancing can be very dramatic, both in good and bad ways, so try to make sure that yours is the good kind!

      Happy dancing!

      -Anna Marie