Mailbag: The dance-partner dating dilemma

by GK on July 21, 2013 · 5 comments

As usual, what it took to bring me out of my Blog Hibernation was a simple question from a reader. Honestly, if you want to guarantee that I’ll write something in a week, no matter how busy I am, just email me with some woman-related quandary from your life. I’m like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I can’t help myself.

Here’s a question from a reader I’ll call Patrick. It’s not his real name, but it’s in honor of the late, great dancing fiend Patrick Swayze:

I know a girl from Modern Jive dancing that I do. I have come to love dancing and have been doing it for about 1.5 years. Despite what rumours may say, I have never been on a date with any girl I’ve met at dancing!

Anyway there’s a girl that also goes dancing and she is one of very very few that make me feel butterflies when I’m around. Problem is, I’ve known her for aaages, maybe almost since I started dancing. But I don’t actually know her. I’ve never had a proper conversation with her. I dance with her every week and have seen how she acts with others, often close by me, but I still haven’t talked to her properly.

I just realised why I probably never got to know her properly: her name! When I first asked her name many months ago it was while dancing and I couldn’t hear her properly. Incidentally, she’s never ever called me by my name either which is strange! Maybe she forgot it?!

Bottom line GK, I want to go on a date with her. Talking to her during our weekly dance classes/events is difficult. The only ‘best’ opportunity is after dancing when we all go to a loud bar. But that’s not very conducive to get to know someone you don’t know very well. It’s fine to fool around people you’re comfortable with. I’m not really at that stage as I don’t have any inside jokes with her and she doesn’t know ME well enough to understand that she can be herself around me.

Please help GK! What are my steps?! What a strange situation that I touch her every week for 3 minutes and then it’s as if we’re strangers again! Please give me the truth medicine even if I don’t want to hear it!

Patrick, you can call me Dr. G and pay the receptionist on your way out, because I’m about to dispense some important-but-bitter medicine on you. I’ve talked about the important of shutting up and leading, but never this literally.

I actually looked up modern jive dancing because I’d never seen it before. And that’s when it fully hit me: you are being the Fred Astaire of wussy boys.

Seriously: You’re telling me that you do THIS with her all the time but you can’t think of anything to talk about?

Let’s put aside the fact that you’re able to do something very attractive that maybe 1% of the men out there can do well. Not to mention the incredible physical rapport you must have worked up with her by now. I’ve been doing salsa class long enough to know that with women who are truly trying to learn dance, you don’t want to be as aggressive as you would in typical club game. (Read my club guide for more on that.)

But 1.5 years is long enough to waste a logistical gold mine like this. You have a wealth of topics you could discuss with girls in your class because of what you have in common, but in waiting so long you’ve put this girl on a pedestal and fed your butterflies a Texas-sized diet. Rather than see things as opportunities, you’ve seen them as barriers. Yes, she may think it’s odd that you haven’t talked to her yet, but there’s only one way to find out.

So what if you forgot her name? It sounds like she probably forgot yours too. This is one of many ridiculously easy ways to start a conversation with her. Own up to it and she’ll probably smile at the tension of that being released. Or you can make inside jokes about one of the many things you guys both see in that class: the weird instructor or the girl who will only dance in leopard-print pants.

Or you can just talk shop with her: maybe there’s a move you’ve been trying to get right that’s giving you trouble. And if ever there were an opportunity to transition to a place where you’re alone with her, the gods could not think of a better one than practicing together. Every day in college dorms around the world, socks are put on doorknobs by couples who got together so they could “study.”

If the after-class bar is too loud, why not invite her to a quieter one? Just tell her that you’d like to get to know her better. She may reject you, but at this point that’s a million times better than continuing to do nothing. Come on, this girl is letting you feel her up every week and you’re worried about her name! You’re like a big bear, man!

Do you see that the common denominator with all these tactics is leading? I hope you do.

There also seems to be the bigger question of why you don’t take an interest in other girls from your class or use your dancing to meet girls in other venues. I’m sure part of it is simply gaining confidence with your dancing — after six months I’m finally there with salsa — but you have a skill that most women want in a man, and you should be using it. This will also keep you from getting too worked up over any one girl.

Go get ’em, Patrick Swayze.

{ 5 comments }

1 Fake Patrick Swayze July 22, 2013 at 10:46 am

Even though you asked if it was okay, I still think it’s so cool that you answered my message to you!
You really did get the measure of me and I didn’t appreciate what a valuable skill I’ve built up. (The music is quite a lot cooler than the YouTube clip(!) but a lot of the moves look familiar – it can get amazingly flirty!)
My take home message from you that I loved, but still get so anxious about is:
“There’s only one way to find out.”
“She may reject you, but at this point that’s a million times better than continuing to do nothing.”
“You have a skill that most women want in a man, and you should be using it.”
Especially that 2nd phrase, that really struck a chord.
Thanks a lot for the medicine GK and awesome Big Bear clip too.
Best wishes,
Fake Patrick ‘Big Bear’ Swayze

2 scn July 23, 2013 at 5:47 am

Nice to see a post on the GK blog.

I’ll put in my 10 cents on this question because I can relate to Patrick’s situation and feelings. I’ve been there. Agreed with GK logistical manipulation in order to get some decent opportunities to talk with her if even briefly.

GK’s practice session idea is great. I wouldn’t be afraid to make it a gift: “I’m having trouble with a few moves and hired the teacher for a private session. I need a partner. I think you get some of these moves better than anyone. Would you like to join me as my guest?”

But my overall approach would be slightly different than GK’s. I find the bear-bunny framework to be old school. The “be a man, just go for it” approach never worked for me. On the occasions I could overwhelm the pounding voices in my head to proposition a girl it was socially awkward for both of us and she often declined.

Moreover in dancing, especially in sexy dancing, especially in a classroom, women want to feel safe to let out their sexuality and submissiveness as part of the art form yet trust their male partners won’t exploit that. Rather than be bold, I would tread judiciously.

The courage you need to muster is with yourself. Get yourself comfortable with revealing personal information about yourself to another person. Then get into a personal conversation with her and do that. Lead her and she will follow. You’re studying how to lead girls, right?

GK nailed it, admit to not knowing her name. But intertwine that with a bold statement. Walk up to her at any time and say, “I feel like a freak because I’ve enjoyed dancing with you for a year can’t even recall your name.” Congratulations, you’ve started a personal exchange. Now, don’t cop out, pull up and talk about superficial dance class matters. Maintaining a lighthearted attitude, instead go deeper on the subject of her. Why is she taking dance class. What does she feel like when she’s dancing. Provide your own answers to those questions and be heartfelt. She will suddenly see you as a person, not just some guy in her dance class.

After a few such personal exchanges of halfway decent duration, you can learn crucial information like whether she is single that will inform you of the most appropriate way to convey your romantic interest.

If she’s single, you might say: “I feel like I’ve violated some unwritten dance class ethics because as I’ve admired the way you move over the past year, I’ve felt a little attracted to you. I have imagined taking you out on a dinner-dancing date where I twirl you around the dance floor at a dance club and the crowd parts to make space for us. Maybe they’ll put me in dancer’s jail, but at least now you have my confession.” Say it with an easy smile like you’re just talking and don’t expect any response from her.

See how that’s bold but self-focused. It demands nothing of her. She’s free to react any way. At minimum she’ll be flattered and respect your honesty. If she does not pick up the attraction/date idea and run with it, just leave it to simmer in her mind. Continue the personal exchanges, even if only in snippets before class. Remain easygoing and matter-of-fact in attitude but deep in personal content.

Throw in comments about how certain of her actions and qualities make an impression on you. Throw in another enticing date idea. This is called charming and seducing a woman over time in the romance novel sense. They LOVE it.

Before long she’ll be the one nudging you to make something happen.

3 GK July 23, 2013 at 11:06 pm

Hey SCN, it’s good to hear from you again as well! That’s some good advice for Patrick, though it actually does sound like something a big bear would do. :)

4 scn July 24, 2013 at 5:45 am

Thanks. Yes, big bear boldness that demonstrates courage and strength. But boldness aimed at oneself rather than at her. A subtle but crucial distinction.

Swingers’ boldness propositions her to do something. It asserts power, forcing her to resist or acquiesce. The bear charges.

Self-directed boldness proffers something personal to her. It gives her power, insight, and options. The bear stands on its hind legs stretching its mighty body to the sky then sits back down contentedly folding its paws underneath.

People don’t want to be asked, sold, or pushed to do anything. They want to discover something they decide they like and choose it for themselves.

5 David Fairthorne November 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm

I am an old man, aged 83. When I was young I was too shy to dance, but now I am learning to dance and getting quite good at it. The ladies seem to enjoy my lead, as I have a good sense of musical rhythm. But I am hesitant to ask my partners for a date, because I am still shy and I am afraid that they may think I am too old.

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