It’s extremely likely that you will develop feelings for another dancer. It’s also quite possible that you will meet someone who has mutual interest. This leads to the inevitable question: should you date that dancer?
The answer? It depends.
Some people swear that they will never date another dancer. Others claim they could only date a dancer. Whether you’re on one of these extremes or fall somewhere in the middle, there are important questions you should answer before getting involved.
1. How jealous are you?
Jealous people typically have more problems dating dancers. If you are uncomfortable with the idea of your partner dancing with other people, then you may want to reconsider dating a dancer. It’s extremely likely that they will resent you if you try to prevent them from fully engaging in their hobby.
This is extra true if the person you’re considering is an instructor or other visible person in the scene. The chances that they will have a lot of attention (and options) is usually quite high. If you can’t trust them to honor your relationship, you shouldn’t start one.
2. Are you usually on good terms with your exes?
If you are both dancers in the same scene, difficult breakups tend to get even messier. If you have a history of terrible breakups, you may want to reconsider dating within the scene.
The reason is simple: you’ll probably have to see them again. You may even get stuck in a position of dancing with them again – especially if you compete in competitions like Jack n’ Jills.
3. How much time do you spend involved with dancing each week?
If dancing takes up a significant chunk of your week, you may want to consider dating a dancer. If you date a dancer, you can still spend time together while being involved in your hobby. Non-dancers typically won’t ‘get it’, and they may get frustrated… or try to take you away from dance.
Some people are OK with cutting back on dance if they meet someone special. Others aren’t. If you fall into the former category, dating a non-dancer may work. If you fall into the latter, it could cause a lot of stress in your life.
4. How important is it that your partner dances?
The surest way to find a partner who likes dancing is to date someone who already dances. Yes, non-dancers can get into dance, but it’s rare for them to fall as in-love with dancing as their partner. Some may just never get into it at all. Would you be OK with that?
There is also an awkward learning curve, where one person is significantly stronger than the other. This inequality can sometimes cause strain if the stronger partner is ‘teaching’ in a way that makes the other feel insecure.
5. Are you looking for a fling, or something long-term?
Know what you want. If you’re looking for a long-term partner, you need to consider that those types of relationships typically have a worse emotional aftermath if they fall apart. Are your feelings for the person strong enough to warrant that risk?
For a fling, you may find some willing partners in the scene. However, you need to be sure that you want a fling – and that you’ll be OK with interactions post-fling. If you’re having a one-congress relationship, it can be difficult to see that person with a new partner at the next event.
6. Are they looking for a fling, or something long-term?
You need to know how the person on the other side is also feeling. Are they trying to build something with you, or are they legitimately OK with just a fling? If you suspect they’re just saying that they’re OK with a fling, proceed with caution. If you’re in doubt, my personal opinion is that you shouldn’t go there.
Don’t dick around with people who are serious about you. You’ll cause a lot of drama, and make life hell for both you and them. It’s not worth it. If you know they’re into something more, enter only if you feel similarly.
7. Where do each of you live?
If you’re looking for something serious, consider your distance from each other. Distance can work, but it’s not common for it to work out long-term. If you’re both into a fling, it may work out better to have long-distance.
It can be awesome to meet someone great at an event overseas – but beware of getting involved without considering what distance means for a more serious relationship.
8. What size is your scene?
If you’re dating a local, consider the size of your scene. If there are dances every night of the week, several schools, and hundreds of dancers, it makes breakups easier to handle. Even if you did go to the same socials, you still have an ‘escape’ if one of you just can’t handle it. It’s not ideal, but it’s workable.
But, if you are in a 30-person scene with 1 teacher and 1 dance a week, you’re probably going to see that person a lot. Are you OK with that? Can you handle it if something goes south?
9. If it ends badly, who will leave the scene?
In the event of a very emotional or bitter breakup in a small scene, someone usually leaves. If you break up badly, who will that be? If not you, will they? Or, will both of you try to stick it out?
If you do both try to stick it out, will you be able to handle it?
A note on couples who are also dance partners:
If you’re considering dating someone who you hope to partner, think very carefully about mixing business with pleasure. It may seem like the ‘ultimate arrangement’, but it can be very stressful. Many people rush into a dance partnership because they also happen to be dating – but then find both their professional and personal lives suffering.
If a breakup happens, it can also make it difficult to figure out the business end of the deal. For example, if you have a school, events, or travel together, what are you going to do? Do you disband? Does one person take it all? Do you still plan to work together? Are you going to try to find another partner?
I’m not saying this to scare you off. I’m in this type of relationship, and it works for me. But, it’s not always easy. We have to be very careful about setting boundaries between dance work and our personal life. Plus, we’re not even full-time professional dancers; we both have a daytime career. This means these stresses are far less for us than for people who are also full-time pro’s.
In the (paraphrased) words of another professional couple, it can be very difficult to have a bad rehearsal, and have to go home with that person. You have no one to de-stress to at home about your bad work day. If you disagree on something professional, it may impact your feelings towards your partner at home.
The choice to date within the scene needs to be made on a personal basis. It’s a great option for some – but downright terrible for others. The only person that can make that call is you. You need to know yourself, and the person you want to date.
There are also people who fall in the middle. If they meet an absolutely amazing match, they may decide to ‘flip’ to the other side for that one person. Maybe they normally never date dancers, but that one person is just so fantastic. Or, maybe they couldn’t consider cutting back on dance – unless it’s that one extraordinary non-dancer.
Follow your heart, dear dancer – but don’t forget to let your mind guide your heart.
If you are already in a relationship and are thinking about dancing together, check out this article from SmoothStyle