I was at a dance class where a pro was explaining what men and woman look for in a dance relationship. The man, he explained, needed to measure up to the woman’s expectations. He needed her to try to follow the lead to the best of her ability and have fun doing so. If she did that then he was fulfilled. If she didn’t follow the lead (or at least try to) then he was frustrated and felt useless. If she followed the lead but did not enjoy herself, he felt insufficient. Only by following the lead and having joy did he feel fulfilled and happy.
The woman wanted to know first that she was safe, then that she was beautiful. She wanted to know that the man wanted to take care of her, and that he would make her the center of his dance. If she didn’t feel safe then obviously she felt threatened, either physically because the man did not know how to lead, or that he would cross an inappropriate boundary. If she did not feel beautiful then she would feel like he didn’t care.
In dance it appears that the man does all of the speaking and the woman all of the listening. Through the lead he is always telling her the what, when and where of the dance and she faithfully follows. He leads to the left and she goes left. He leads her to the right and she goes right. He tells her to spin and she spins. He tells her to take a dip and she takes a dip.
But in a different way it is the man who does all of the listening and the woman who does most of the speaking. Through the connection he can feel her balance and energy, what foot she is on, how skillful she is. He can see her body move through the patterns and see the expression on her face. Her voice in a sense comes from her very being. She is telling the man her abilities, needs, desires and joys. Even though she has not “said” a word, her body has spoken volumes. The man uses this information to tailor his lead so that the woman’s experience in the dance is as wonderful as possible.
In the dance the leader and the follower are not merely communicating information, but more deeply communicating who they are. The communication of the man is an expression of his masculine nature, sharp and defined, and in leading he is powerful yet gentle, thoughtful and attentive, creative in a masculine way. In every way his lead is a gift of himself to the woman, a gift that is shared completely in the moment it is given. The communication of the woman is an expression of her feminine nature, broad and continuous, and in following she is passionate and energetic, faithful and attentive, creative in a feminine way. In following and in being filled with joy she makes a response to the gift of the man with her own gift of herself. Together their gifts create a beautiful expression for others. In this shared expression he draws in the lines of a picture and she colors and shades them in. It is the sharing of these gifts that makes dancing so wonderful.
Because of the very different yet complimentary nature of the ways leader and follower communicate we note that communication is not so a much a two-way street, with two very equal and same lanes, but two very different but equally important kinds of paths. This exchange in the dance is not one way then the other, but on two “separate” paths and thus the exchange of blessing is continuous. On the first path the man gives blessing and the woman receives, while on the second path the woman blesses and the man receives; there is never a need for either to ever stop the giving or receiving of the blessing. This sharing of our inherent goodness is blessing; hence the “two paths of blessing,” one of initiation from leader to follower, the other of response from follower to leader.
In dance man’s desires are to meet or even exceed the expectations of the woman and lead her to joy. He does this by leading the patterns. A skilled man leads in such a way as to show the woman that she is the center of his dance. He pays attention to everything she says and does. Learning how to pay attention to and appreciate everything she says and does is not easy. In the beginning, as he learns, the man is more concerned with remembering patterns and staying on the beat. He has learned very few on the proper connection techniques that he will need to pay attention to the woman in the way that she desires. It is a skill that requires knowledge and discipline!
Once he sufficiently learns to pay attention he desires that the woman follow his lead and find joy in doing so. If the woman does not follow the lead he feels useless or unappreciated. If she follows flawlessly but does not enjoy herself then he feels used. Only if she follows the lead (as best as she can!) and has joy doing so, will his deepest needs and desires be met.
The woman needs first to feel safe, and second to feel beautiful. Safety has to do with the feeling that the man has her genuine interests at heart, both emotionally and physically, and also has the ability to make those interests a reality. She knows that he will not do inappropriate things, and that he will not physically hurt her because he has proper technique. When talking to women they know which guys have a lead that is powerful yet gentle and which ones have a lead that is only powerful, and they like to avoid the second group! Only once she feels safe can she then feel beautiful. She wants everyone to see her dance and realize how beautiful and amazing she is. Another way to say this is that she needs to know that she is the center of the dance, that the man is watching over her.
As previously mentioned, to meet these needs the couple needs to focus on the needs of the other. If they try to meet their own needs then the dance lacks beauty, musicality and comfort. The man cannot force the woman to follow the pattern- instead he must seek to make the woman know that he is paying attention to everything she says and does, that he recognizes her great beauty. The woman cannot not seek to be the center of the man’s attention but rather to faithfully follow each lead. When this happens each receives what they desire without seeking it.