Make It Stop: “My Boyfriend Downright Refuses To Ever Dance With Me!”

I’m a dance teacher with a highly-trained professional background and my boyfriend refuses to dance with me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a slow dance or vintage Prince or freakin’ Kelly Clarkson, he’ll shake his head no and plant himself in a seat. It saddens me. His non-dancing isn’t a relationship dealbreaker as he has plenty of other noble qualities, but it’s getting hard to hide my frustration. I want him to shake a tail feather with me, dammit! How get I get him to stop being so stubborn and join me on the dance floor?

This breaks my heart. Side note: I’m pretty sure this is what “Footloose” is about. I’ve never seen “Footloose” because ‘80s Kevin Bacon doesn’t do it for me. (I think he looks like a piglet.) But I feel the movie involves a Southern town that bans dancing, Kenny Loggins, and Kevin Bacon doing cartwheels in a barn.

It sucks that the two of you have had such different experiences with dancing. As a dancer, you probably see dancing as a team-builder, while he might see it as an activity that has always left him feeling alienated.

Some guys aren’t dancers and they never will be. I don’t know your fella so I don’t know exactly why he’s reluctant to shake what his momma gave him. My hunch is that it’s a confidence issue on his part, but who knows. Maybe he’s woefully uncoordinated. Maybe he hates feeling like he’s not good at something. Maybe he got dumped by his seventh-grade girlfriend after they slow-danced to “Stairway to Heaven” and vowed to never set foot on a dance floor again.

You have a few options. If you want to dip his toe in the dance waters, try to dance at home while you cook a low-key dinner. Like, don’t expect him to bust out the Macarena while he’s trussing a chicken, but if the soup is simmering or the pasta water is boiling, grab some wine, turn up some old Motown hits and encourage him. Teach him some basics, like shaking his hips to the beat. That pasta-swirling shake might be the only dancing you’ll get, but at least it’s something. Hopefully, fun moments like that will boost his dancing confidence over time.

You could try to bargain with him. Like, maybe if he takes one swing dance lesson with you, you’ll take a golf lesson with him (or whatever interest he wants to explore with you). The best-case scenario is that you will double the hobbies you enjoy as a couple. You could even dance between holes on the golf course! Or, if your birthday is coming up, say that the only thing you want is for him to take a dance lesson with you. It could work! Maybe he’ll realize that his ability to cut a rug is something that’s truly important to you and give it a whirl.

If he’s dead-set against any form of dance instruction, get his blessing to dance with a pre-approved list of other people at your next event. That way, you already know which family members and friends to hit up when “Celebrate” by Kool & The Gang comes on. It’s not ideal, but at least you won’t spend half the night badgering him to join you and then feel let down when he won’t acquiesce.

Lastly, if he isn’t receptive to any of your attempts to get his boogie on board, accept him for who he is. I mean, would you rather have a happy boyfriend or a stressed-out boyfriend? In his brain, dancing = stress. As his girlfriend, your job is to eliminate stressors, not heap ‘em on (and vice versa). So if he’s happy keeping both of his feet on the floor at all times, then do your best to let this go.

Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through” and the blogger behind the blog, Shmitten Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected] with the subject “Make It Stop.” She’ll make it all better, or at least make you laugh. Girl Scout’s honor.