4 relationship lessons I learned in dance class

Sure, it takes two to tango … but it also takes a little patience, vulnerability, and practice.

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During my last semester of college, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and take a class in country and swing dancing. Dancing is always something I’ve loved to watch, so I was excited … and also a little apprehensive. Sure, many people might be a little self-conscious dancing in public, but I found that worry compounded by the fact I’m the kind of person who trips walking on flat surfaces. I wasn’t sure if this class (or any dancing tutorial) would bring me joy.

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But in the end, what I got out of this class was more than just fun (though there was plenty of that, too). After 16 weeks of dance classes, I had learned over 20 different dances … and a surprising amount of life lessons about how to be a good partner. Because, as you might have heard, it takes two to swing. So while, yes, I learned the two-step, I also learned how to communicate better in romantic relationships.

1. Don’t be afraid to let a man lead

If women in our class started to take the lead in a dance, our teacher would come over and tap us on the shoulder. She would gently remind us that the part of a follower was to trust that the man had the woman’s best interest in mind and wanted to dance well, too. She regularly encouraged us to not be afraid to let him lead and see what happened.

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I won’t lie, our instructor had to come tap me a couple of times in the first weeks. It is difficult for a type-A, leadership minded person like myself to learn the role of follower. It makes you feel somehow blind to what’s coming next, and a little vulnerable. But in dancing, and in our relationships with our significant other, it is good to let the man intentionally take the lead and enjoy the dance, too.

2. Boundaries are a good thing

The dances we learned had a standard step routine and style in which they were supposed to be performed. As long as I danced within those guidelines, everything carried on as it was supposed to. Because both partners knew what to expect of the other; there were fewer dance floor collisions and sore feet.

Just like dance floor rules are important in dancing, boundaries in a relationship encourage healthiness and intention. Don’t be afraid to establish physical, mental, and spiritual boundaries within your relationship, too. I’ve found my relationship is much smoother when both my fiance and I know each others expectations and personal boundaries.

3. Communication is key

Each dance that we learned had three ‘points of connection’: the man’s hand on the woman’s back, the woman’s hand on the man’s shoulder, and the man and woman’s hands together in the standard dance position.

If there weren’t points of connection and tension between those three connection points, there would be no way that the woman could know where the man was trying to lead her to in the dance. In romantic relationships, if there aren’t regular points of connection in the form of communication, the same confusion can ensue off the dance floor.

4. Patience is a necessity

No one in my dance class was a professional dancer. There were so many times my dance partner and I found ourselves laughing through a song because we couldn’t find the right rhythms. Many feet left sore not just from dancing but also being stepped on.

But it was okay. Because patience was something that everyone was asked to bring to every class. In a relationship, the same virtue is needed. No one will ever have the perfect relationship. But you can learn how to become better at the dance of romantic relationships with patience … and lots and lots of practice.

Chloe Mooradian
Chloe Mooradian

Chloe Mooradian is a recent graduate of Washburn University, where she studied history. She loves Pope John Paul II, listening to Ben Rector, and hiking mountain trails. When she’s not buried in a stack of books, you’ll find her writing on her blog, hanging out with her seven awesome siblings or spending time with her husband, Joseph. Her life goal is to become the patron saint of coffee addicts.

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