Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Lesson in Dancing

Every now and then, we all get knocked back on our heels. It might be finally writing the 400th page of your new novel and realizing you aren't even close to being done. Or maybe you woke up and decided that after a decade slaving away you just don't like your job anymore. Maybe you got too much sun and now realize that warm toes beat cold weather every time. Regardless of why you are taking the hits, and we all take 'em, there are a couple of things we've all tried when hit with a wake-up call.

Deciding to start a new relationship and chain someone to the bow of your personal misery ship is one of the Very Bad Ideas.

Let's face it, drama is inevitable in each of our little worlds. As we stumble along our own roads we collect varying degrees of baggage at some points and discard it at others. When it comes to jumping headlong into a new relationship you probably want to make sure you can tread water by yourself a little first.

It isn't that you won't grow and change and evolve in a relationship. But a certain core of stability must be present so that you have something upon which to build. If you are both emotionally-stunted and only quasi-available, the best you can hope for is some severely dysfunctional chaos. Which might take the form of some really passionate interplay or some wildly distracting conversations. But ultimately, without a foundation, anything you build together will probably end in rubble with first few tremors.

Sadly, the best advice is the oldest advice. You'll know you are ready to be with someone else, when you are capable of being by yourself. Only you can really say when it's time to leap from the sidelines into the Great Dance. From time to time you might even end up on the floor because you let go of the rail a little too early. Those are the times we might need to lean on other partners and friends who help us limp back to the comfort of the couch with cuddling or some casual flings. If leaning on them in your crisis helps you cease being crippled, then lean heavy. But only for a season. If you want your limbs to limber and strong you must learn to lean on them alone.

Partners in the Great Dance are only evenly matched when they can both stand on their own, come together on their own terms, and bring their independent strengths and leverage. If you are properly equipped then by all means, hit the floor. If you aren't properly equipped you should definitely be prepared to hit the floor, but we prefer you don't drag us down with you.

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