Strictly come dancing: the movement to our relationships
Anxiety. Depression. Relationships.
These are the keywords most people put into Google when unhappy, depressed or sad, whilst looking for counselling... but why?
When asking most clients “what is it you’re looking for from counselling?”. They tend to respond with "to be happy"... why?
Happiness is different for all of us; but what is not different is our need to feel and be happy, and to feel and be connected to others.
Strictly come dancing attracts over 11 million viewers, but why?
Because we love the dance, we love the moves, we love the romance of it all, the dance evokes emotions of love, closeness, naughtiness and passion. That is what our relationships are like, they’re like dance moves: Dr Sue Johnson describes it as “dances in a love relationship”.
"There are only so many dances in a love relationship. The happier we are, the more fluid and varied the dance with our partner is. We feel safe together so we improvise and play. In other words, when we feel safe and secure, we don’t have to hide and be fearful of what our partner will do, or how they will react.
But do you notice that, when we fight, the dance is always the same? It is narrow – small – not many moves. We feel like we have no options. The negative pattern takes over the relationship.
Luckily, we all get stuck in the same places, so we can chart how lovers miss each other. We know that once you learn to SEE the moves, the dance, the pattern, and see how it plays out, you can chart a way out. The best way is to recognise the vulnerable emotions that shape each person’s steps." Source 2018 Dr. Sue Johnson
If we take some time to consider how we argue with our present partner or past partners, we will invariably have the same moves. Our partner may say something, this triggers a feeling or emotion and you react to this, your partner then reacts to your reaction and so we now begin the dance. This is usually demand- withdraw.
The dance becomes the enemy to our relationship; not us, not our partners. How we develop and use the dance destroys our relationships.
We can learn a new dance. Ok, here comes the science bit...
“The new science of romantic love: what you understand, you can shape.”
Romantic love is an attachment bond.
We have cracked the code of love; for the first time, we have a map that can guide us in creating, healing and sustaining love.
Relationship distress occurs when we fear that our emotional connection - the font of all comfort and respite - is vanishing.
Hot sex doesn’t lead to secure love; secure attachment leads to hot sex and to love that lasts.
Couples can learn to spot and stop the triggers of their disconnection, repairing the bond and shaping a safe-haven relationship.
Improved interaction with a loved one has an impact on the brain. We can create safe-haven relationships that buffer stress and pain. Source 2018 Dr. Sue Johnson
Let’s think about this in terms of the dance...
Who doesn’t want fun, passion, honesty and reliability. Both partners in the dance need to trust and know the other, they need to trust they will catch them if they’re doing a difficult manoeuvre, they need to feel the passion in their partners moves and touches, they need to allow themselves to be vulnerable and trust the other.
Sit and take time to watch Strictly Come Dancing; watch the dancers move, engage, touch, smile and trust - imagine this is your relationship, does it feel that good? That safe? That passionate? If not, why not?
If we don’t have a dance partner right now, but one day we want to be able to dance brilliantly and confidently, we cannot learn to dance sat in front of a computer on a dating site, hoping the person we are talking to will teach me how to dance. We have to go to a dance teacher who can teach us, guide us, enhance the best parts of our dance moves and give us confidence to be able to approach dancing the best we can. Counselling can be your guide; counselling can help to repair what seems to be broken. Even if we are not in a relationship. Most of us want and actually need the connection to another, yet we don’t manage to succeed in these relationships.
We go from one relationship to the next, having difficult, unsuccessful relationships, why?
Is it really possible it's every partner you meet?
If that’s the case, why are attracting the same kind of partner?
So, what if we are right now in yet another difficult relationship... what do you want to do? End it like the others, or save it and work at this relationship?
These journeys are challenging, they’re life changing.
As Dr Sue Johnson says, “what you understand, you can shape”. In other words, what you begin to understand about you, you can make changes. That can change your life.
Why would you want to struggle through with a difficult relationship?
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About Mary Aaron
I am an integrative psychotherapist, working within an NHS setting as a high intensity, primary care therapist. I also work in private practice. My work not only involves individuals but also couples.