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I don't feel like dancing

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  February 14, 2013 07:49 AM

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As for letters, we're going light for Valentine's Day. We'll be back to more serious drama tomorrow. (Although this letter is sort of serious to me.)

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Q: Hi Meredith,

I've got a rather light question for you and the readers.

I'm in my late 20s, my boyfriend "Matt" is mid-30s. We've been friends for about 2 years, dating for 6 months. Our relationship so far is amazing. We talk openly, laugh often, give selflessly, touch constantly ... the kind of dynamic where I'm comfortable being myself but want to grow into better versions of "me." I'm genuinely happy, hopeful, and affectionate in a way that my traditionally saucy/cynical self didn't think was possible.

The problem? I don't like to dance but Matt does. I don't think it's a self-esteem/social issue -- I'm comfortable enough in my own skin and enjoy talking to/meeting new people -- but moving my body around to the beat of some song I don't know just doesn't appeal to me beyond a 5-second rendition of the running man, or a spin and dip if I'm feeling really fancy. I groan and try dancing but spend most of my time fidgeting with my hair or sipping my drink, looking around for something interesting to talk about, hoping no one comes up and -- heaven forbid -- tries dancing with me.

The not-dancing thing has never bothered me until last weekend, when Matt and I went out with some friends. We ended up at a small bar with a band playing cover songs, and our friends all dropped their coats and ran to dance. Matt pulled me to the floor, and I was so completely out of my element I was frozen. I wanted to share that closeness of "letting loose" and dancing with him, but I can't think of anything that would have been more stressful ... it kind of ruined the rest of the night. We've since talked about it and he hopes I'll be able to get over whatever aversions I have, but even after all the Googling I've done, I haven't found any help yet.

I don't think the problem is a social phobia, or a hesitance to open up and share or to be caught failing, I just don't dig on dancing. It's not like dancing is some niche hobby either, it's kind of a world-wide social and cultural norm. How can I get over my weird aversion to dance?

– Tin Woman, Worcester


A: "I don't think the problem is a social phobia, or a hesitance to open up and share or to be caught failing …"

Tin Woman, it is all of these things. Dancing, like getting it on, is all about vulnerability.

I'll admit that it's always sort of strange, the first time you see a significant other let loose on the dance floor, but the experience can be so liberating in a relationship. We need to be able to look silly in front of our partners. We need to be able to let go of our inhibitions without worrying about rejection.

Dancing is a world-wide cultural norm because it's human nature. I recently watched a toddler dance around a room to Marky Mark's "Good Vibrations." She was absolutely free (breaking forth the rhythm and the rhyme). She couldn't help herself. It was instinct.

Your problem isn't a deal-breaker, of course. If you guys have a great relationship, the dancing thing won't kill it. But Matt wants to do this with you, and it seems weird to deprive him (and yourself) of this kind of physical intimacy.

My advice: Take a dance class with him. It's an obvious answer, I know, but it should help you get over your problem. You guys will wind up in some salsa or swing class learning moves that won't be put to much use, but it'll get you used to moving around and feeling a bit less restricted in front of Matt and others.

And that's what it's all about -- feeling free. Please don't miss out on that.

Readers? She mentions doing the running man for a few minutes and stopping. She also mentions being a bit cynical. Is she just too cool for this? Does this reveal a greater intimacy issue? Help.

– Meredith



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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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