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Learning to Trust Your (Dance) Partner

As the title suggests, learning to trust your dance partner is much the same as trusting your life partner. But unless they are the same person, you probably don’t entrust your safety, or give/accept control of your body over to the latter on a regular basis. Leader’s may be afraid to move their partner firmly, while followers might back-lead in a vain attempt to control the action. These problems persist because they are symptoms of the deeper issue of trust.

Let’s start by pointing out how trust usually builds between people.

Trust grows with time.

Any person who blindly trusts another person within a moment of meeting them is asking for trouble. We build trust with others as we get to know them, their virtues and weaknesses. We establish that they are generally good people, who are looking for connection for the same reasons we are. For this reason, dance partnerships often work out better if your partner reminds you of the better parts of yourself.

Putting each other first.

It’s one thing to trust someone not to stab you in the streets, but quite another to trust them as a friend – or to fulfill their side of a dance partnership. This barrier breaks when we recognize the other person is truly acting to our benefit, rather than their own. Dancers do this all the time, literally putting themselves in their partner’s hands. The more you feel your partner is protecting and maintaining a strong connection with you, the easier it is to feel safe in their arms.

Set boundaries, don’t build walls.

Boundaries are an inevitable part of any relationship as trust develops. The two of you are like two countries expanding towards each other: sooner or later, a boundary must be set so both sides feel safe. So if you want your partner to keep some distance while dancing, or find better language to critique you by, tell them! Trust can’t develop if you feel your physical or emotional boundaries are not being respected.

Sometimes, you’ll have to talk it out.

No matter how hard we try, sometimes misunderstandings will arise between ourselves and our partner. The secret to moving past these difficulties is to stay rooted in the trust you have built for each other. Remind yourself that the other person is not deliberately trying to make your life difficult – 99% of all disagreements come from misunderstanding what the other person is conveying. The more trust you have for each other, the more of these disagreements you can deal with. If you reach ‘the end of your tether’ however, it’s up to you to be honest with yourself and end the partnership.

Next week, we look more closely at what leaders can do to build trust with their partner. See you then!

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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