Ask Arlene…About Being Attracted to Your Teacher

Dear Arlene

I have got a problem in that I find my tango teacher very attractive. Is this normal in the passion which tango can generate? I feel my stomach turning to jelly when he holds me in a close embrace and I am worried that my responses are inadequate as a result. Could you advise me how to take emotional control of this situation. I feel that it is getting in the way of my desire to learn. By the way changing teachers is not really an option because I am confident that he is a very competent teacher and dancer.

Trish the Dish

Dear Trish,

I wouldn’t know if this is normal behaviour as I have never been attracted to any of my teachers.

I have felt a bit apprehensive and nervous in the past when dancing with a teacher, but only because I may not have been very confident of my dancing skills at the time.  The ‘oh my God, I am dancing with the teacher’ effect occurred, which happens occasionally when in close proximity to perceived greatness.

I am over that now.

Since changing your teacher is not an option, perhaps imagining them with their wife or girlfriend might put you off your attraction.  Knowing that another person is involved in a relationship usually does it for me, that and the fact that I am paying money for a service.

Trish, you are paying for a lesson.  Try and focus.

Any other suggestions?

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. El Chupacabra
    May 29, 2009 @ 00:28:49

    Ask Arlene .. About being attracted to your student. More often the case.

  2. Sophie
    May 29, 2009 @ 09:50:51

    Hi there
    I sympathise with you Trish, I’ve been there (not with a teacher though, with a previous boss!).
    Here are my thoughts, all IMHO.
    First thing to do is have a little chat with yourself and decide how much you really want to get over your infatuation (you have a choice there, so make it in an active, conscious manner).
    Now, once you’ve decided “that’s it, I’m moving on”, begin by being kind to yourself and chill down, come into the class relaxed and with a clear intention: to dance, to learn, to progress in your tango. Listen to what he says, not how he says it; when you dance, focus on the music, on your posture, on the connection of your embrace, on the relaxation in your neck and shoulders. Be in your dancer body, feel the floor. So he’s there? You’re too busy dancing.
    And what about his partner – if he has one? Listen to her, work with her more. The ultimate part of a woman’s tango can’t be taught by men because they haven’t figured it out (or rather, I have yet to come across a male teacher who has). There are excellent female teachers in London who will bring you to your very best dancing.
    By the way, changing teachers is always an option – you might gain new insights that could suit your learning needs, and you can always come back to him once you’ve overcome your emotions if you still think he’s the very best.
    I like Arlene’s option of thinking of his partner but it seems to me you’re just concerned about your reaction, and not fantasizing about entering into a relationship or affair – so I’m not sure if thinking about his other half would really help.
    I sincrely hope you’ll come through this brilliantly!

  3. Habanera
    May 29, 2009 @ 10:10:45

    A couple of years ago I did go through a similar experience and I had a boyfriend at the time. Had that happened 10 year earlier I would have probably abandoned both tango and my boyfriend but on that occasion I took the decision to focus my feelings back on my boyfriend and for the tango I decided I should just relax, wait and see. And it has been quite a happy decision, as I am very happily together with my man, over the tango teacher, and still happily dancing and discovering different emotions as I dance with different people at different times. Tango can stir a lot of emotions and it takes a bit of practice there as well to be a successful dancer without being overtaken by them. Feelings are feelings, not actions.. it is what we do with them that has an impact on ourselves. Also, I guess being in the tango business may involve more or less deliberately setting up to attract people, whether for money or popularity. So my advice to you, Trish, is to take eveything (your feelings and your teacher) with a pinch of salt.

  4. Sven
    May 30, 2009 @ 08:26:01

    Hi Trish,

    from your posting I understood that your feelings do only occur in the close embrace. In addition to what the previous answers advise you of, another way could be to address your feelings and try to understand how they are incited in the first place. Do you have the same feelings when dancing in an open embrace with your teacher or when dancing close with other partners? Maybe by looking into what exactly makes you feel attracted you might be able to control your attention to these things, and once that’s done you can focus more on the actual “learning to dance”.
    My advice to when dancing in the close embrace is to try to being in control of your own posture. Also if you’re uncomfortable with something he does you can express this (e.g. if you wish that the hand in your back should not hold you that firm). Has the close embrace been introduced and explained/discussed in the lessons? Or why not ask some questions about what you can do to make you feel comfortable when dancing in the close embrace during class?

    Let me know if this was helpful to you,

  5. habanera
    May 31, 2009 @ 22:13:56

    Hi Sophie,

    can you name some of the excellent female teachers in London who will bring you to your very best dancing? I need one..

  6. David Bailey
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 15:24:04

    Am I the only one to think “Go on, go for it” then?

    (I’ll get me coat)

  7. Sophie
    Jun 01, 2009 @ 15:59:15

    Hi Habanera
    Try Alexandra Wood (Tango in Action) who IMHO is the very best or alternatively Kim Schwartz (Tango Movement) or Claire Loewe (Tango South London) who are both very good, all in “salon” style. I don’t know about nuevo at all…

  8. Habanera
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 00:07:08

    Thanks Sophie!

  9. tango totty
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 17:17:36

    Hi Trish

    Well I also think you should just GO FOR IT. It can only help you get a better tango connection.


  10. Alessandro
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 20:12:01

    go for it!
    Argentine teachers are proverbially sleazy 🙂 . Just make it clear enough for him, to distinguish you feeling from the typical student clumsiness!

  11. David Bailey
    Jun 05, 2009 @ 09:12:44

    Hee, looks like we’re all morally-bankrupt 🙂

  12. Elise
    Jun 05, 2010 @ 22:15:41

    Enjoy it and forget it. I have a very nice, friendly, funny, tall muscular tango teacher (private lessons including shared jokes and close embrace…) We get along very well, and after 12 months of weekly lessons it is impossible not to feel tenderness , etc etc. I am literally on an endorfine high at the end of most lessons – and I happily say good bye , see you next week and float home on a skye. If it is the tango or him I don´t know, I would probably not recognize the guy if I ran into him “out of context”. I think being attracted to the tango teacher is like being in love with your GP or therapist – it happens because of the situation, nothing really personal and the professionals are aware of this and dont take advantage. Enjoy, but don´t put the guy in an uncomfortable position – and don´t torture or embaras yourself – La Fregadita

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