Relationship Not Working? Change Your Dance Moves
He still isn’t home. It’s 10pm and Carla’s not happy; the grey tick marks on the What’s App message shows her message to her husband has been delivered but not read. Why doesn’t he care enough to check in with her? She’s finding it hard to focus on the work she’d promised herself she’d get done tonight.
Finally, at 11.30pm, Rich walks through the front door. Carla notices the strong pull to fall into the habitual pattern. Where have you been? Why didn’t you respond to my message? The bitter disappointment, the accusations, the ensuing argument.
But she does something different tonight. She looks up, greets him with an open smile, and asks if he’s had a good evening. They sit and chat on the sofa. There’s warmth, affection, simplicity, a chance to connect.
He hasn’t done anything different. But she has – and it feels so satisfying.
She’s just changed her dance moves.
When a relationship isn’t working, identify the default dance moves
There’s a dance in every relationship. Whether with your partner, parent, child or colleague, there’s Their Move and then Your Move.
Rich does the Late Back move and Carla responds habitually with the Where Have You Been move. It’s their familiar dance and it never ends well; Carla always ends up feeling disempowered and dissatisfied.
Can you identify?
That person does or says THAT THING that pushes your buttons and you respond with your default move. You show up as anything but the best version of yourself and your response further erodes connection.
When a relationship dance isn’t working – when you’re experiencing stress and frustration – check what dance move you’re doing.
Then change your relationship dance
The great news is that your dance move is 100% in your power. It takes two to tango. If you don’t respond in your habitual way, the dance of disconnection can’t continue.
Rather than the attack-defence, attack-defence dance, decide to change the dance.
When they say or do THAT THING, try a different move. Do something – anything – that’s different and notice what happens.