Relationships Are Hard, But Why?

Couple in the Park

It’s been a very busy few months for all of us at Ladies Again. I joined a salsa dance team (to learn how to be more feminine, of course) and African Femininity started a fabulous new job. We’re also in the process of bringing on new writers to Ladies Again, so that is exciting!

Sometime in the last month, through the rush of all of the things going on in my life, I set aside some time to watch a short TED Talk called “Relationships Are Hard, But Why?” While watching the video, I had an epiphany: So much about what we’ve written on Ladies Again has been about attracting the right person and learning to be more feminine for that person, that it never occurred to me that it was possible that we could be the cause for our own negative relationship issues. I never realized that early childhood attachment issues could re-emerge during adulthood. According to Dr. Stan Tatkin, the TED Talk speaker, attachment issues have the power to negatively influence our ability to maintain healthy functioning relationships.

Dr. Tatkin defines people as anchors, waves and islands. Those individuals who are waves and islands experienced insecure attachment relationships during their formative first years. He defines the three groups in the following ways (summarized by Clinton Power):

Characteristics of Islands

People who are islands tend to:

  • like to be alone, enjoy their own space
  • have been raised to be self-sufficient and tend to avoid people
  • learn early on not to depend on people
  • often feel crowded in intimate relationships
  • be in a world of their own
  • self-soothe and self-stimulate
  • not turn to others for soothing or stimulation
  • find it hard to shift from being alone to interacting
  • under express their thoughts and feelings
  • process a lot internally

Characteristics of Waves

People who are waves tend to:

  • feel a great deal with their emotions
  • have strong attachments in childhood, but they were inconsistent
  • have helped soothe a parent or both parents who were overwhelmed
  • have felt rejected or turned away by one or both parents
  • focus on external regulation: asking others to help them soothe them
  • find it hard to shift from interacting to being alone
  • over-express and like to talk about all the details
  • stay in close physical contact to others
  • often think they are too much and nobody can tolerate them

Characteristics of Anchors

People who are anchors tend to:

  • come from a family where there was an emphasis on relationships
  • have experienced justice, fairness and sensitivity in their family
  • love to collaborate and work with others
  • read faces, voices and deal with difficult people well

Do any of these descriptions sound familiar? Read more in Tatkin’s illuminating book “Wired for Dating.”

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3 Reasons Why Salsa Dancing is the Most Feminine Thing You Can Do

Guatemalan street.

I just returned from a three-week vacation in Central America, which included stops in sunny Belize, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala. While in Mexico, I did something I have not done in years: tried salsa dancing. I learned the basics of salsa dancing when I was in college and I have taken a few newbie salsa classes over the past few years, but I was not a salsa expert by any means when I first arrived in Mexico. While there, I went out with friends to a popular nightclub, which was packed with people dancing salsa and merengue.

Many of the other dancers in the club danced like professionals, with all of the quickfire twirling and spinning that comes along with salsa dancing. Being the beginner dancer that I am, I logically kept my distance and observed the dance floor from the sidelines. I would have watched the dancers the entire night if a man had not extended a hand to me and asked me to dance. As I tried my best to keep up with his movements, he attempted start a conversation with me in Spanish, which did not last long (my Spanish is crap). After a few minutes of dancing, he must have figured that our conversation was not going anywhere because he abruptly stopped dancing to bring over one of his friends who spoke English. His friend, a tall man with a strong build who was wearing a crisp white t-shirt, immediately walked over and took my hand. As we danced merengue, the new man told me that he once lived in Chicago and Miami, and that he came to the U.S. occasionally to earn money.

The new man was an excellent dancer, who was very patient with my fumbling and knee-knocking on the dance floor. He was an excellent teacher because he was willing to dance slowly with me, showing me new turns and spins, and telling me to stand up straight. Best of all, I felt comfortable letting him take the lead by showing me how to dance with the beat and spin in unison with him. To be honest, dancing with him made me feel like a girl. For the first time in weeks, I actually felt feminine and sexy. We danced the rest of the night, right up until the bar closed. I had the time of my life, and I knew then that I would have to make salsa dancing a part of my regular routine.

As I danced that night, I learned a lot about myself and my dancing abilities, but there were a few major takeaways:

Salsa is very masculine because the man leads.

In salsa, it is up to the man to lead and create room for the woman to move her body. With a gentle nudge, the man decides the next move or turn, and it is the woman’s responsibility to surrender and follow his lead. As I was dancing, I thought of salsa dancing as a type of “femininity training.” Sometimes it may be difficult for women to fall back and let the man take the lead, but it is rewarding in the end to be with a man who feels in charge. That night, I learned dance moves I have never tried before, and it was all possible because I decided to let the man take the lead.

You dance together in a partnership.

As we salsa danced, I could feel the value of the partnership. Similar to being in a romantic relationship, salsa dancing makes you feel as though you are moving in an orbit that is bigger than yourself. Together, we moved in a rhythm that was unique to all of the other dancers in the room, and it felt amazing.

The spontaneity is magic.

While you are dancing salsa, you do not know which move your partner wants to do next, and the mystery of it all is incredible. You are relying on your partner to feel the beat and the movement and decide which turn or step should come next.

Bonus: How to be a good salsa dancing partner.

Here is a set of tips (10 Things to Avoid on the Dance Floor) from Joel Salsa, which is based in New York City.

Which type of dancing is your favorite? Are there other dances are more feminine? Share below!

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