In past articles I have talked about the male learning from the "floor up" and the female learning from the "music down". This is just the tip of the iceberg. The male ballroom dancer thinks and learns in a unique way. Everything that I am writing about, I have experienced myself and then later verified through discussions that other male dancers feel the same way. I have determined that about 95% of males (including myself) think and learn in this manner.
The male side of the two-headed four-legged animal is very different from the female side. When men learn something that has a specific feeling, they develop a comfort level that they never want to change. In his mind, this is how dancing feels. When he learns something new that changes that feeling, he feels like he can't dance anymore. He feels like he is regressing in his dancing because it is unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Even though he is dancing better, it doesn't feel like that to him.
I almost stopped dancing several times because I felt I was getting worse, even though I was getting comments from other dancers of how much I was improving. I finally realized what was happening. I was getting better because I was getting positive feedback from my instructor, my partner and other dancers. I, however, felt awkward and different with this new feeling. Once I adopted the new feeling and developed some muscle memory, I felt like I was dancing better. It is difficult for a man to embrace new feelings when he is secure in the old. Men, you must develop a desire for the feeling to change over and over again in order to continue to improve you're dancing. Ladies you need to provide feedback to your partner that he is dancing better because it doesn't feel that way to him. Men, you need to stick with the new feeling until it becomes comfortable and secure. Once you realize what is happening the transition to new feelings gets easier and easier.
Men have many other unusual learning problems that women don't seem to have and don't realize that men have. For example:
These problems are resolved through repitition of the patterns which develops muscle memory to free up his mind so he can be aware of other aspects of dancing. It is my experience that there is probably about 10% of the female population that learn like men.
Men can become very frustrated because they feel like they are getting worse, when in fact; it is an indication that they are making progress. Once the man realizes this, the frustration decreases and he starts looking forward to change and new feelings. Ladies, it is important that you provide encouragement to your partner to let him know he is dancing better and get him throught this awkward period.
I always tell my students: "If the feeling of your dancing doesn't change, fire your instructor because you are not getting any better".