The Relationship "Waltz"
By: Dorcas Onabanjo Illustration: Lorraine Sorlet
I have started dating again -- I know, it’s a shock to me, as well. But, alas, here I am. Freshly out of my writer's block and dating a man. So far it’s going well -- there are a few things that cause apprehension but that’s a conversation for another day.
The dating scene has me thinking -- or overthinking, about humans and the way we interact with one another romantically. There are habits and comfort levels that creep into effect when there’s a potential love interest or relationship on the horizon. We seem to fall into steps that I like to call the “dating waltz.” To be clear, I’m not talking about that super odd shuffle we do when we don’t know whether or not we like someone and we’re still trying to figure that person out. I’m talking about that limbo you fall into when you’re comfortable and confident with each action you take because the mutual affection for one another has been established -- so, now, you’re just working out the kinks.
Since I’ve begun dating (again), I’ve realized that I’ve fallen into a rhythm -- it’s, like, I’m walking around singing the “dating tune.” This rhythm was almost automatic despite the fact I’ve been on a dating hiatus. Why did I start singing along so easily? I’m beginning to wonder, is it innate or is it taught? Being a neuroscience major (yes, I will forever harp about that because I am THAT bitch and will never let you forget it!) I look to science to help me understand because what are feelings when one only catches flights?
It would appear that this ‘waltz’ can be explained using ‘attachment theory,’ which was first developed by John Bowlby in the late 60’s and then expanded upon to relate to adult romantic relationships by Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver in 1987. ‘Attachment theory’ is the idea that there is a sequence of developmental steps not unlike that between the bond of a child and parent that results in this conformity, which in turn stems from a biological prerequisite for safety and survival. (This is basically the idea that you need to feel safe and secure with a person.) The added components; however, are sexuality and caregiving. When these two components are intertwined with ‘attachment’ they seem to produce an understanding of how we are supposed to fall into the rhythm of romantic relationships.
The steps develop and inevitably culminate into either an unhealthy relationship made up of co-dependency and insecurities or a healthy relationship with a balance of intimacy and independence (I’m really hoping you have and will only ever experience the latter.)
These outcomes; however, can be attributed to the individual and our reactions to stressors and situations. So, for now, I guess I can say I’m comfortable singing along and dancing to the relationship “waltz.” So long as these new steps are bringing me to a better, more enjoyable understanding of my new beau, us as a new couple, and most importantly, myself -- a woman who is (as hard as it is to admit) most definitely beguiled.