If you ever want to evolve and grow into your most authentic self — show up in your intimate adult relationship and highly VALUE the relationship and the other person, while valuing yourself all at the same time. If you devalue yourself, your partner, or the relationship when you face adversity, it won’t grow you much, it will only stunt and restrict your growth. If you’re OK with THAT- then be OK with not valuing this process enough to jump into the puddle when it rains and pours. And then at least have the decency to communicate this to your partner – that you are signing up as a casual partner, not an intimate one. If you want more – then jump in, the rainbow will come.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic relationship either, as I’ve experienced deep growth in reciprocal friendships with my closest female friends, but romantic relationships sure heighten the intensity and turn up the heat like no other. It may feel like an excavation and demolition project at times, but that’s when you know…you KNOW you’re dealing with REAL potential for true healing and growth if you and your partner can hang in there while staying emotionally present and honest, albeit doing it imperfectly along the way, yet not giving up on the relationship. It’s worth it, but it ain’t for the faint at heart.
This is where iron sharpens iron like no other. I cannot do this while being in a relationship where there is little to no reciprocity, or where there is inequality, because that is not much of a partnership. There isn’t a superior or inferior position in the relationship, both partners and their experiences are equally valued. An intimate relationship is much like an intimate dance between two partners, like the Tango, and it takes two – not one – to Tango, or it’s not a Tango, it’s a solo dance with a passive spectator.
As much as I like to dance solo from time to time, to feel free to move to the music in the way my body feels compelled to do without anyone else disrupting my flow, that is not what I want my intimate relationship with my romantic partner to resemble. That is not an intimate relationship to me, though it doesn’t mean solo dancing never happens either. Tango dancing is different from line-dancing, they both involve more than one person, but the interpersonal dynamics are much more riveting because you are vulnerable and so is your partner because of the interdependence involved in Tango dancing. I am not a dance expert, but it doesn’t take an expert to notice how intimate the Tango dance is. Line-dancing is two or more people dancing without deep interdependence, synchronicity -yes, interdependence, not so much. When I think of Tango dancing, I think of integration that involves each individual’s uniqueness. I don’t think you lose your uniqueness or distinct person-hood, you own it and incorporate it. There is a unique type of unity in the Tango that shouldn’t be confused with conformity, which is what line-dancing is about – conformity, which is beautiful and takes skills to achieve, but it achieves conformity, not intimate interdependence. In line-dancing, the other person can mess-up without it hugely impacting YOUR own dance moves, but in a dance such as the Tango, it will to varying degrees, impact YOUR dance moves, YOUR rhythm, YOUR groove and balance because there is up-close interdependence involved. You cannot get away with playing the cavalier avoidant without courting disaster.
I’ve heard that good couples therapy can be as simple as taking Tango dance lessons with your partner. The body talks without mincing words and it’s all about trusting your partner and yourself with both the right and left hemispheres of the brain (intellectually AND somatically/intuitively). An intimate romantic relationship is all about giving and receiving, and the ripple effects of BOTH partners either moving or standing still. This requires trust and repairing ruptures on a continual basis, while growing closer and closer together in the process. It’s when this doesn’t happen for an extended period of time that the big betrayals are more likely to take place. I personally don’t believe that major betrayals are immune from being repaired, but I think it’s in the “minor” or every day accumulative interactions that built, protect, and restore trust with major ruptures needing much more intensive actions and care than smaller ones of course, because the wound is much deeper.
A Tango dance – this is what mirrors an intimate relationship to me, a healthy one at least or the kind that I want. Where I see and FEEL highly valued and relevant and so does my partner. The relationship gets attention and nurturing or we lose track of each other and start stepping on one another’s feet, dropping one another when they need to be securely held, or leaving each other hanging.
I am learning all these things, sometimes painstakingly, because I have the gift of being in love and being loved in return where it looks like we are doing the figurative Tango with one another in how we relate or dance with each other day in and day out. Being in tune with each other, and being conscious about nurturing and protecting this relationship while not having to carry the load on my own because it is a shared responsibility (not an obligated one) with my partner. This is what makes adult romantically committed relationships work for me. It is a gift that I thank god for every day – I have a partner to “Tango” with.