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The Clumsy Dance of Communication: Real Relationships Part 2

Updated on February 28, 2013

Ouch--You're Stepping on my Toes! A Metaphor About Communication

My first installment of Real Relationships was entitled "This is Harder Than it Looks! Real Relationships Part 1." If you haven't yet read it I encourage you to take a read before finishing this article.

The purpose of this piece is to simply connect with you around the topic the "communication dance" and for you to say, "Hey! I know exactly what she's talking about...I've been there before." It's nice just to know we're not in it alone. Even the very best of relationships have moments of "stepping on toes." So while this article does not give advice (I'll save that for a future installment) I hope it will invoke a little laughter.

We sometimes feel a little bit better about things simply by learning to laugh at them. Yes, it is true that we step on each others' toes. Yes, it is true that it hurts. Yes, it is frustrating to figure out how to communicate in the midst of the bleeding toes--but remember that this is how we learn the dance.

Remember to check out my most popular article, full of tips and advice entitled "What Women Really Want: Ten Things a Man Can do to Improve His Relationship."


You’re stepping on my toes, please get off.


Why am I yelling? Because you are still standing on my toes—get off—now!

Why am I so demanding? We can talk about this later—but right now—I NEED YOU TO STEP DOWN!

Thank you.

Now, let me take of my shoes and examine my toes.

Ouch—my big toe is bleeding. Can you please get me a band aid?

Um…hello? I thought you said you would get me a band aid.

Of course I mean now! My toe is bleeding—now! Present tense.

Why is my toe bleeding? Because you stepped on my toe you clumsy fool!

I called you a clumsy fool because you keep stepping on my toes!

No, I’m not complaining. I’m not nagging. I’m trying to communicate with you!

Can you just please get me a band aid?

Thank you.

Hey—we need to talk.

About what?

About the fact that you keep stepping on my toes.

Yes, thank you for the band aid.

Yes, I know you didn’t do it on purpose.

Yes, I know I’ve stepped on your toes too.

But right NOW I’m trying to talk about my aching toes—can you just listen?

Thank you.

So—I really need you to start watching where you step.

Wait a minute; it’s my fault that YOU stepped on MY toes?

I was in your way?

I was just standing here, safe in my own little space.

Well, yes I asked you to come dance with me.

Well, yes I asked you to come near.

But I asked you to hold my hand, not step on my toe!

Me asking you to hold my hand caused you to step on my toe?

That doesn’t make sense.

Hey—where are you going?

But we are not done talking!

Yes, my toe feels better.

No, I don't want to dance right now.

But this is not resolved.

Hey—don’t think a hug will just make it all go away.

Be careful around my toe.

Don’t get to close!

Yes, I do want your sympathy.

But can you hug me from over there please?


You are stepping on my toes again, please get off.



So, who is in the wrong?

And the answer would be: both are in the wrong--and both are in the right. But really, I think that is the wrong question to ask. So often communication is not about "right" and "wrong" but we sure stand on opposite sides of "different." I tried to write this poem in a way that shows how both parties contributed to the event of the "stepped on toes." Both parties in a relationship have legitimate needs. Both have areas of "clumsiness" or even blind spots. Good communication is not a skill people are just born with--it is something that must be developed with intentionality and learned over time.

So--is this worth it? Read Real-Relationships Part-3: Uh-oh! What-happened? I'm not sure we even like each other anymore, should I give up?

Until then--dance carefully around wounded toes--but don't stop dancing!

For more articles on relationships...


What Women Really Want: Ten Things a Man can do to Improve His Relationship

A Romantic Poem About a Very Unromantic Valentine's Day

One Liners That Just May Change Your Life

How Dangerous Can Dirty Dishes Be? Uncovering the Dirt About Anger


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    • kiddiecreations profile image

      Nicole Kiddie Granath 3 years ago

      I can relate to this a lot. Wanting to be loved and to be close with your spouse, and then they hurt you somehow - probably unintentionally - but it still hurts. It's hard to get close again, but you still want that intimacy and so you have to forgive the "stepping on the toes" so-to-speak, move on, and be close to the person again. As an interesting sidenote, my husband literally stepped on my foot - all the way, with all his weight - the other day, because he didn't see it there on the other side of the stroller (we were in the cry room at church with our son). Later, my foot still hurt really bad from him stepping on it. Kinda funny, but I related to this hub because of that too - LOL. He said he was sorry haha, all is forgiven now ;) Great hub, up and pinning.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 4 years ago

      Hello seek-n-find.

      You obviously do care for people, extending help in area you see need. Thank you , great teacher/writer it's a pleasure following you. My aim is to learn , to know more and quickly as possible. As you see , so far at the level of commenting. It's a challenge/resposibilty , particularly in this case . All I know about dancing is nothing. Never have dance, neither my wife. We were daiting ,- like forever, engaged - less than forever ; though on this side of A.D. ( ha ) My dilemma now, " you ( me ) want to contribute to the relationship cause ?" OK ? ( only an atttempt )

      Back " then" you were just ' you ' ; no Hollywood culture, no movie stars copying , communication started as an art/ virtue never ending learning process to know each other. If both " right " one solution applied, if

      " wrong " - sorry , next time is my turn to be " wrong" . What's the difference?


      Up & interesting

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 4 years ago from Illinois

      @Ericdierker: Oh good! We should all own a pair of those glasses. :-)

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      All the memories are good ones. I have a special pair of rose colored rearview glasses ;-)

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 4 years ago from Illinois

      @Erickdierker: Your welcome--I think? Maybe that didn't stir up the best memories (?) but alas the human species connects through experiences such as these. I hope you will tune back in for Part 3 (I hope to write that within the next week or so) that will focus on effective communication. Best to you and thanks for stopping by!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks for the memories