Under his thumb for once…

Gentlemen, while you are making a half left turn you bring the right hand of your partner behind your head to the left with your left hand. While you are still holding her right hand with your left hand you put her right hand on her left hand behind your back and you hold both her hands with your right hand. This is one of the few times you are allowed to have her hand under your thumb…

I am instantly reminded of something that happened in a shoe shop last Saturday. I am shopping with a friend in the center of The Hague. In the shop I overhear a conversation between a man and a woman. ‘Wow, I really like these shoes” the man exclaims and he is about to try them on. ‘No way!’ the woman says. ‘These shoes are way too pointy. How about these ones?’ Decisively she grabs a pair of classic shoes and puts them in the face of the man. Without saying a word he tries them on. Less than five minutes later I hear the woman saying with a loud voice: ‘Isn’t that fantastic? Buy one get one free for a pair of these Church’s…!’ In the meantime the man has not said a single word. Two pairs of shoes that he actually does not want to have. What do you mean ‘under her thumb’?!

Every lesson I am surprised how much wisdom can be found in (salsa) dancing when it comes to relationships. Between men and women and also in same sex relationships. The main rule in salsa dancing is: the man offers his hand, the woman accepts. Man and woman keep in touch in such a way that the MAN can let go (NOT the woman!). The man leads. He creates space for the woman or he stops her, in order for her not to keep turning. The man leads so that all the woman needs to do is follow and carelessly shine on the dance floor. Such a beautiful metaphor…

Ladies: a man needs to practice in order to feel, understand and experience how he can lead a woman well. Give your partner a chance to learn. No matter how difficult that may be for you: give him space to find out how he can lead. Gentlemen: take the time to listen to your partner. Gently tell her that you do not yet understand what she needs and ask her to help you find out how you can make it clear to her. And above all else: laugh! Enjoy! Making mistakes is okay. It almost sounds like a course on communication…

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