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On Wanting Your Partner to Learn Faster

You’ve figured out the move, or so you think. Now, if only your partner would just ‘get it’ as fast as you… Sound familiar?

Every couple I’ve ever taught has one person who naturally picks up what I’m explaining faster then the other (and no, the slower learner is not always the man). Once the move becomes ‘doable’, there is often a strong temptation to appoint yourself teacher’s assistant for your partner, or forcibly moving them where you think they need to be. You’re just helping out, so they should thank you, right?

Not so fast. You intentions may be pure, but your efforts may not be as well-received as you think:

1. You are disempowering them. Your partner may be very sensitive to the fact that they aren’t picking up the step as fast as you. Trying to help them do their job in most cases just informs them you are getting impatient, which increases their frustration. How would you feel if your spouse responded to your hard day at work by telling you what to do better next time?

2. Your well-intentioned advice might be incorrect. Or it might include too much information, or be delivered too forcibly, or whatever. Your teacher has likely been doing this for years, and knows the best way and time to deliver information. Usurping your teacher’s position with your own advice is like suggesting to a university prof how they might improve their seminar – DURING the seminar.

3. You might not be getting the step as well as you think. Time spent focusing on your partner’s shortcomings is time not spent on correcting your own, as they say. A major pet-peeve of mine is dancing with a newcomer at a social, only to have her give some helpful ‘advice’ at the end! Her apparent help was really an unconscious attempt to avoid looking at her own challenges.

You may have picked up the common theme here: You may genuinely believe you are helping, but what you really want is to take control of the situation and ‘fix’ it, so you can get on with dancing with a partner who can keep up. Ask yourself the following: Do you frequently feel impatient? Are you often labelled a control-freak? Do you prefer to work alone, or feel your business team just slows you down? These are all signs that you might benefit from changing your approach in class.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to stand there like a goldfish either. Next article, we talk about how you make the experience more rewarding for both yourself and your partner.

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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