When it comes to partnership knowing yourself is so important. There is a romantic idea that our partner will automatically know what we want if they love us, however your partner is human and they aren't able to read your mind. What you are looking for is a partner who is sensitive to your needs and who will listen to what you tell them. It's our own personal job to know what we want and to be able to communicate that authentically. That's why knowing yourself is so important, because if you don't know what you want and aren't able to stand in that, then your partner will either be guessing or crossing your boundaries again and again.
Clarity of understanding yourself will facilitate authentic communication. It is my experience that once I not only know want, but am able to stand in that whole-heartedly, then I am effortlessly able to communicate what I want and need.
So how does this relate to partner dancing? As a follow, when we see our leader as making all the decisions it's quite easy to think that they have the power and control in the dance. Whereas a sensitive leader will direct the dance but will listen to the follow, noticing if there's resistance or joyful allowance in the moves that are lead. Far from having the power and control, the leader's role of listening and noticing is key to facilitating the flow of the dance between the partners.
Similarly, the follow's role in knowing themselves, eg, how they like to move and dance, is key to allowing a follow to be clear on these things. A lead can't listen to what a follow likes in a dance if the follow isn't clear in themselves in how they like to dance and express themselves.
However, as a follow being clear on what you like and want can be easier said than done. We may have trouble showing up for what we want because of all sorts of emotional baggage around it. For example, stories of not being allowed to have what you want because it feels selfish, or wrong in some way. These things can sabotage our best efforts to show up authentically with showing what we want in a dance, so taking time to examine these beliefs is the cornerstone of being able to express yourself clearly in your partnerships, dance or otherwise.
It works the same way for leads. In a leading position you may also be faced with similar stories about losing control or fear of being too pushy, all beliefs that can sabotage a clear and authentic, joyful leading experience.
And of course, the dance partnership is a microcosm of all relationships in life. These stories may be more prevalent in your daily interactions with other people off the dance floor, so it's good to recognise these stories and patterns to help you flow with your partners on the dance floor.