JJ Barnes

JJ Barnes writes about parenting, feminism, current affairs and writing

By - JJBarnes

Why Strictly Come Dancing tells me I’m insecure in my relationship.

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I love watching Strictly Come Dancing. I love the froth and the glitz, and music and the fun. And, to my shame, I love the scandal.

Every year I love to guess who’s dance floor chemistry is real. I love to guess which smiling partners are actually dying inside, watching their beloved dance a passionate rumba with some stunning dancer. I feel all kinds of shame for this, because it’s not a good trait, but I can’t help it. And, in my defence, it’s part of the narrative of the entire show.

Intimate dancing.

Dancing can be an incredibly intimate thing. It’s why so many people flock to nightclubs and bars to meet people, why dancing often leads to kissing, which often leads to sex. It’s two bodies, pressing against one another, for long periods of time, getting hot and sweaty. Dance training is emotional, it’s experiencing feelings of joy and stress and excitement and pain, it’s sharing that experience is just one other person because nobody in the whole world can know exactly what it is you’re going through. Really, it’s no wonder so many relationships breakdown.

And it’s happened a lot. Whether it’s the professional dancers that start the show as a couple, Vincent and Flavia, Kevin and Karen, Katya and Neil, and then have those relationships breakdown due to an affair, or it’s celebrities who fall for their dancers and break up their relationships for them, Rachel Riley for Pasha Kovalev, Stacey Dooley for Kevin Clifton, Ben Cohen for Kristina Rhianoff, as just a small example. The intensity of dance training, the emotional experience of live shows, and the time away from your actual partner, all builds up to destroy relationships.

Like many people, my partner Jonathan and I discuss whether we’d ever go on Strictly. On the one hand, I love to dance, I love the idea of the glitzy dresses, and I’d love to feel like a glamorous person, but there are many reasons I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it because I’d hate the pressure, I’d hate performing, I’d miss my children desperately, and I can imagine the strain it would take on my relationship.

Me and Him.

Generally, I don’t feel like I’m insecure in my relationship. We’re engaged, we work together, we raise children together, we socialise together. We have the same interests, same passions, and we fancy each other. We laugh and sing and we are best friends. But in that situation? If I was forced away from him, pressing myself against another man, for hours on end? I think we’d struggle. If he went onto the show, dancing for hours on end with a leggy slim woman who can put her leg behind her head and is wiggling her arse against him all day, I know for damn sure I’d be miserable. I would hate her. Every Saturday night I would be crying, every week day I’d be neurotic. Not because I don’t trust him, but because that’s an incredibly intimate thing to be doing, and one of the fundamental parts of our relationship is that we’re only intimate with one another.

Because our relationship isn’t all about just sex. It’s about touching, chemistry, physical intimacy. We dance together, we touch each other’s skin, we gaze into each others eyes longingly. I don’t do that with any other man. Even if it’s just a performance, just acting, the best dancers always look like they want each other desperately, because dancing is a mating ritual, and the best dancers perform that way. It wouldn’t matter if it was fake. I never want to see him looking at another woman that way, and it would hurt him desperately to see me looking at another man that way. And if you’re in pain and hurting every single week of your relationship, even if there’s no affair and no wrong doing, that would surely cause a rift. Not necessarily an unfixable rift, but a rift that wasn’t there before. A rift that needs overcoming, and a rift that could become permanent.

Strictly Come Dancing reminds me that, whilst I am loved, happy and safe in my relationship, I’m still insecure. But I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. Perhaps not having any insecurities implies a degree of not caring. Perhaps if you’re completely comfortable watching your loved one touching and holding hands with and moving their body against another person, it means you’re not as in love with them as you thought. I can think of relationships in my past when I wouldn’t have been bothered, but none of them were relationships designed to last.

Too much insecurity and it’s unhealthy, you don’t feel safe or loved, you can’t bare the idea of them leaving the house without you. Too little and you stop caring at all.

Romantic dancing.

I don’t know how the partners at home cope with watching that show, especially given the attention given to the scandal and the rumours. It’s only week 2 and people are already talking about which couples have succumbed to the Strictly Curse. And whilst much of it will be idle gossip deigned to titillate weirdos like me who enjoy the story of it all, some of it won’t be. And knowing your beloved person is off every week to be part of that world would be heart breaking and stressful.

I can sit comfortably knowing I’m not going to be invited to go on Strictly Come Dancing, but I can also sit comfortably knowing even if they did want me, I wouldn’t do it to us. My relationship matters too much, and whilst I’m confident neither of us is looking to cheat, I know we both would hurt watching the possibility be waved around in front of us in sequins for the world to watch each week.

So we’ll stick to siting on the sofa in our pyjamas, eating, drinking, laughing and talking as we watch other people go through it. Just us. We don’t need anybody messing that up.

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