Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Man to Man: Tango is therapy for Jealousy

Tangueros, this is a man-to-man talk, okay?  I'd appreciate your comments and have a good discussion about this.  [Ladies, there are generalizations that you may not like, but you are listening in on a discussion in the men's room at a milonga; so commenting through the air duct is weird.  If you feel you have to say something, say it too me at my email address:  mark.word1@gmail.com.]

Hey Guys:  Tango is therapy for jealousy.  Jealousy is expressed all over a man's face and his aura is yellow.  Jealousy is something you just cannot will away, but if you can learn to dance with others and enjoy that fully enough that you want your partner to experience the same thing, then you are a better partner for her.  What to be better?  Then consider getting over jealousy.

The men who need therapy the most may never come to the milonga more than once. If a jealous man tries to continue, he may not be able to stand the intensity of the "therapy."  So if you are reading this, you probably are pretty mature already in this area.  Maybe there is some work to do on your aura still?  I know I have more work to do; so this reflection is just from a regular guy, not a tango priest.

Tango is not just therapy for men or a man problem.  To be fair, woman also have a huge task with jealousy that men rarely experience at a milonga. She may sit and wait for a dance as her partner is dancing. This is the most salient Jealousy Test that undoes/slashes/destroys female motivation to learn tango and to keep coming to milongas.

But we men, I would argue, have a formidable job in the therapeutic soul work needed to free themselves from a yellow hue of the jealous aura.  Sure women can be jealous, just as jealous as a man.  Who has the hardest task actually is not a gender issue.  It is the issue of a person's soul-growth.

Jealous of how fast women learn
This has two parts:
1.  The myth of male incompetency:  First and foremost is the myth that women are better dancers than men.  "Myth?"  That is what I said.  That women are naturally more talented dancers will be a "truism" and not a myth to most readers of this blog.  Cross-culture study on this will find cultures in which men are considered the "best dancers."  Female incompetence also would be a myth.  Or we can just go along with that belief and say "men have less talent than women."  Choose one of those, as you wish.  Functionally they have the same effect.  If the student believes that blue eyes makes one smarter, and has brown eyes, then it follows that the risk is greater that he will find learning more challenging.  If you believe woman are naturally better you have just demotivated yourself and you should feel jealous.
2. Two different learning paths: The second part of feeling jealous for us men is that we are often left behind by peer women because we have different learning tasks.  Learning to lead takes more time and effort.  Women take off and leave us behind while they are with men who guide them quickly to new levels.  Also, we men can be jealous of the guys that are so much farther ahead of us.  We watch as the women are standing in line to dance with the veteran leader.  Being in the role of leader makes it difficult to find yourself dancing at a level five steps hirer than you really are.  Women experience being led to higher levels all the time.  There is reason that we might feel jealous.  Get over it!  Mastery is you ticket to your own nirvana.

Jealousy of the Good Looking Tanguero
I often hear man-bashing when the tangueras see a pretty woman getting "all" the dances.  But my experience over and over is that women stand in line with good looking men who dance like clowns.  Men and women are similar in their interests in good looking partners.  The problem is that we don't express our disgust (a nice defense mechanism to say "I feel jealous").  What's the problem -- let the ladies have their fun.  There's no reason to stew about it.  Women have at least some way of dealing with their jealousy by talking with other tangueras.  The antidote for the poison of jealousy here for me is just to love the music, dance with friends, take classes and love mastery of this beautiful dance.

Male vs Female Ego

Female ego can be remarkably insensitive to issues of male jealousy.  Male ego, let me first say, can be incredibly immature and grow to be controlling and violent over its delusional world-view.  We all know that.  But the stealth and allowable immaturity of the female ego sometimes goes unnoticed by our cultural radar.  I had a fathers' group once -- by far the most powerful therapy group I have ever led.  One of the tenants of my group was that it is okay to say (to oneself), "Women come and go in my life, but my children will always be the center of my heart."  The majority of fathers I know say this is true, but would never say it to a woman they want to keep in their lives.  And I warned fathers not to say this to a woman who is immature and self-centered.  She wants to be the center.  Women are "allowed" to have their children as the center of their hearts.  Women express this about their children both out loud and in their behavior, but fathers must hide this love and cannot even express it out loud because of female ego.  I say all of this only to make the point that intelligent woman can express their praise for a good partner in a way that a culturally sensitive man would not to his dance partners.  I often hear unabashed praise about a good partner from a tanguera.  Sure, a man could say to his female partner or female tangueras, "Wow, she is such a great dancer.  She has a wonderful embrace, and I can dance so much better when I am with her."  But why would he say such a thing which may demotivate his dance partners?  Have I experienced the magic of dancing with a woman who brought me to a new level?  All the time.  But I have learned not to say this to another partner.  I learned not to praise another partner by the time I had my second girlfriend.   At least in the tango world, I have noticed that women generally haven't learned a bit of restraint.  They unabashedly praise a good leader.  That is GOOD for me!  I want to learn why they praise that tanguero.  It helps me become better or at least know what a woman enjoys in her partner.  It's also therapy for the jealous soul.  But it could undo/slash/destroy the motivation of a man who is not ready for chemotherapy on his jealousy-tumor.  You are not going to change women; so learn from this.  It may be unwanted therapy, but at least it is inexpensive.

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