Jealousy happens, especially in the social dance world—and especially if you dance competitively. (They don’t call it “competition” for nothing!). There are unfortunately many cases where a skilled, competitive dancer meets a new romantic partner and, soon enough, their dance days dwindle. That doesn’t have to be the case, but just like any instance where jealousy pops up in a relationship, communication and empathy are key.
If you’re the dancer with a jealous romantic partner, look at your history first. Do many of your romantic partners get jealous of your dance partner? Is it always the same dance partner that stirs up jealousy? If that’s the case, there may actually be some underlying issues. Maybe your significant other is seeing something that you’re not, like your dance partner who has a crush on you or maybe you have some feelings tucked away. It’s easy to write off jealousy and use it as a scapegoat, but sometimes jealousy is there for a reason.
The Green Eyed Dancer
What if you’re the one who’s jealous of a dance partner? That can be tricky to approach, especially if you’re new to the world of dance or competitive dance. Your significant other spends a lot of time with their dance partner, and salsa is a passionate dance. Many practice sessions take place at night, and using salsa clubs as a space to practice is common. These sometimes late nights and private practices can have you coming up with a myriad of fantasies that may or may not be realistic.
The best thing you can do is get to know their dance partner. They are almost never as threatening in person as they are in your head. In fact, many times you might find you like them! Seeing them occasionally at competitions, in passing if you stop by a practice, or otherwise in their dance world isn’t getting to know them. They’re performing, they move with incredible grace, and that can amplify feelings of insecurity or jealousy. Instead, invite them to your next barbeque or outing and get to know them as a person. Those jealous feelings might dissipate quickly.
If jealousy isn’t warranted, transparency is a critical foundation for communication. It can take awhile for it to fade or disappear, and during that interim it can sneak up on your relationship and wreak havoc. That’s detrimental to new relationships, or those that are already rocky for other reasons. Talking to your partner about your feelings, in some severe cases with the help of a mediator such as a therapist, doesn’t always come naturally. It’s work. It can feel embarrassing to admit your jealousy and work through it. This will be the case when jealousy becomes a problem, regardless of whether salsa is involved or not.
Empathy is another practice point that isn’t innate. Putting yourself in your partner’s shoes gives you a new perspective. If you can’t understand why they’re jealous of your very platonic dance partner, visualize how you would feel if the roles were reversed. After all, you know you and your dance partner have zero interest in one another. However, that knowledge comes from experience and a background that your significant other can’t possibly fathom. All they know is that you spend a lot of time, perhaps at night, in very close quarters with someone who they see as having a lot in common with you. Remember: Unless your significant other is also a dancer, your dance partner really is giving you something your significant other can’t or isn’t. That’s a big fact to accept!
Jealousy occurs when we’re afraid of losing something or someone we cherish, and when we’re struggling with self-worth and self-love. In other words, it’s bound to happen to everyone. It’s a natural human emotion. It’s also natural because it’s a built-in defense mechanism. What would happen if humans didn’t have jealousy? Apathy and much fewer strong bonds. Jealousy might be natural, and it’s a throwback of a red flag for us, but it’s also a sign that we need to work on something. Take it as a cue.
If you suspect jealousy in your relationship, no matter which side of the green fence you’re in, first determine whether it’s a healthy or unhealthy form of jealousy. That will give you directions to your next move.