What is the role of the Relative Male in a relationship?

In today’s write up, I will attempt to clarify the role of the Relative Male in a relationship… as we examine the role of the Man in a Tango. Now I know some of the Ladies may think that this is not for them… after all they’re Ladies not Men. Remember, we’re relating this all to relationships… and often you will find yourself the Relative Male in a relationship… whether you’re a Woman or a Man.

Okay! So… “the Man leads…”

As we have agreed: “to lead” means “to go first”. So, the man initiates the movement. He is inspired to create something… so what does he do? He invites a Woman to dance with him. It is an accepted norm that the Man asks the woman to Dance…why? Who made the Rule?

Whoever wrote the Law of Nature – made this rule!

It doesn’t matter whether we call this “leader” a Man, a Relative Male, or anything else for that matter (and I know the ladies have a couple of choice names for us guys )… the natural order of things dictates that the initiator of an idea, a plan, movement or even a mood, automatically becomes the leader.

So we have our Man initiating the movement… in our case - asking the lady to dance… the Lady, of course, now, can choose either to dance with this Man or Not. She must choose to follow his lead or not… let’s assume that our Lady does decide to dance with our Man. (We’ll go into the Ladies role next week… and discuss how and why she makes this choice to dance or not)

For our Man, our Relative Male, the dance has only just begun.

The role of the male is two fold… Leading the woman through a Tango is only half the job. Before he can lead his Lady across the dance floor he has to “Contain” her.

Okay, here is where I get into a lot of trouble again… my girlfriend always says: “Contain! It sounds so… so… like a bird locked in a cage!” I have tried to find a better word, but still feel “Contain” is the best word to use. So let me perhaps define “Containment” in this context. First of all: “Containment” is not imprisonment. A Glass of Wine. The glass contains the wine. A Flower Arrangement. The vas contains the bouquet. A picture is contained within a frame.

To “Contain” his female, the male must make her feel safe, secure and confident in his ability to lead. It is why, in the Tango, the Embrace becomes so important. By taking his Lady in a warm, firm, comfortable embrace, the Man attempts to contain his Lady. But it doesn’t end there. To “Contain” his lady he must also be totally aware of her… on which foot does she have her weight? Is she well balanced? Where can she step with her free foot? Is she comfortable with in his embrace?

Only once the female is contained can the male attempt to lead her in his Tango. When we turn this on our relationships how do we contain our females? First we have to recognise when our females are contained and when not.

In life, when your Relative Female is not contained… you’ll know it ‘cause she will resist your lead with negativity and criticisms. You say “Let’s go to the movies…” and she says she’s not in the mood.

It’s the hardest thing for a male to have his lead, his plan or idea, rejected or criticised. It’s his Idea… it comes from within him… he feels it is part of him… and so he takes this criticism personally. But he shouldn’t. The female is only, perhaps, pointing out to him little loopholes in his plan or obstacles he over looked. Don’t take it personally… she’s not contained. Become aware of her… be sensitive and really listen to what she is saying. She is giving clues as to how to improve your lead. So what is she really saying? Maybe it’s not your idea of going to the movies that she’s “not in the mood for.” Maybe she’s not in the mood for your kind of movie. So you say “I was thinking of seeing that new film with Meg Ryan and Richard Gere.” Suddenly she’s up in a flash and volunteering to drive.

Only once your female is contained can you attempt to lead her. And to contain her you must make her feel safe, secure and confident in you. To do this you have to listen to her, and be totally aware of her… you have to consider her, and know what she wants and needs in order to be contained. You shouldn’t take her criticisms or negativity personally… see them as clues as to how to contain and lead her. She may be standing with her weight on her right foot and you’re trying to lead her to step with that foot… be aware of her… she can’t step with that foot… she’s standing on it! Be aware… consider her and know what she can and can’t do.

So now our Man has his Lady in a comfortable Embrace… he knows which foot she has her weight on and which foot is ready to step. His Lady is contained. Now he can lead her into the first step.

Now every Woman likes a different kind of lead. Some like a gentle yet firm lead. Some like a strong and forceful lead. Others respond beautifully to the lightest of leads. But I think the most important thing is this. Lead has to be clear and confident! A man who has been dancing the Tango a while, who knows what he is doing, is always more of a pleasure to dance with than the beginner who has to think too much… right, ladies? … but why?... because a man who has been dancing a while is more experienced and so leads with confidence.

Now that’s the thing. It takes time and practice… lots of lessons and Milongas… before a man gets confident and clear as a lead. In life it’s the same… it takes practice and time before we become competent leaders… because the most important ingredient to clear and confident lead, is “experiencal knowledge”. Just as the Man who has knowledge and experience of Tango is a better lead than the man who doesn’t. In life the best leaders are those who know how to…

But it doesn’t end there… at any moment our Man’s Lady could spin out of control… maybe stumble a bit… loose her balance… suddenly she doubles up and he finds her on the left foot instead of the right. In the Tango I teach that we have dramatic pauses. The Tango is made up of dramatic pauses. “Resoluxion” (Tango close), “La Crusada” (the woman’s lock or Cross). Pauses in the Tango are used not only as part of one’s musical interpretation, but also as a way to end the chaos that maybe happening with the feet… to restore balance… and calm everything down… - before dancing on. These pauses are used to regain “Containment” of the Lady.

In our relationships we must learn to recognise when the wheels are beginning to come off… know that it’s time for a dramatic pause to regain “Containment” of our females. A time to listen to them, consider them, make them feel safe, secure and confident… and see how their negativity and criticism is giving us clues to getting things back on track. And only once we have them contained again, can we attempt to lead them in the next step.

In relationships, the role of the Relative Male is the same as the Man in the Tango. He is “Initiating” a movement – a Tango. He must “Contain” his female – take her in a comfortable embrace. He must “Lead” her with confidence and clarity. And use Dramatic Pauses to regain “Containment” of his female. And above all remember that “Leadership” is not “Dominance”.

Just as it takes time and practice before a man becomes confident as a Tango lead… it takes time and practice to become a confident lead in relationships. But I promise that if you start to understand and take responsibility for your role as lead in a relationship, you will soon develop relationships as beautiful and passionate as your Tango.

And on the topic of “Responsibility”… the relative male is always held responsible for his creation and therefore his relative females. It’s why we call the manager when we’re not happy with the service in a restaurant.

If, in the Tango, things are going wrong it’s either because the lead has not been good… or because the man has not contained his female. It’s why we say: “In the Tango, the only mistake the lady can make, it to let the man step on her toes!” (…and this will be a very important statement when we discuss the role of the relative female.) Of course some men might say that the other mistake she can make is not to follow. Well, gents… if she is not following, then you have not contained her. Take responsibility! Stop blaming your relative female… contain her and she will follow your confident lead - like a dream.

But remember… if the relative female doesn’t want to follow in the first place we can’t force her… just as when our gent asks his lady to dance… if she doesn’t want to… he can’t force her on to the dance floor and make her dance with him… remember “Force is Rape!”

So, if your relative female doesn’t want to dance with you… move on and find one that does. And… relative females… if you don’t want to follow your relative male don’t hold it against him if he passes you over and asks some one else to dance instead. In other words… if you don’t want to work with your boss… don’t hold it against him if he fires you and hires some one else in your place. Remember this… when you took the job in the first place, you were agreeing and committing to dance with your boss. So resist if you are not contained or comfortable with his lead… but always be committed to working with him – because that’s your responsibility in this relationship… the commitment that you make to the relationship.

When a man asks a woman to dance he is making a commitment to her… and so it is the woman’s responsibility to meet him half way and make an equal commitment. When your boss employed you he made a commitment to provide you with work… when you accepted the job you committed to doing that work. If you no longer feel committed to doing your job - resign… or expect to be fired.

Of course, it’s not that easy to “fire” our children… or “resign” from our parents… but essentially the roles of the relative males and females with in a family dynamic are played out with the same responsibilities and understandings that we find in the Tango.

Next week we discuss the Role of the Relative Female in a Relationship as we take a look at the role of the follower in a Tango.