Dancing - and heartbreak

I'm a very keen swing dancer. Or I was. A few months ago, my life was shattered by the loss of my partner (as in relationship, not a dance partner), and I'm still grieving. I terribly miss the swing dancing, but all of a sudden I can't bring myself to go. It's as though the joy had gone from my legs. When I think about trying to dance, the pain gets worse. Once I did try to go but when I got to the venue I just sat at the edge and couldn't bring myself to ask anyone.
My shoes stare at me from the wardrobe, I still get snatches of dance songs in my head, but I just can't summon the joy to do it. Wondering if I will ever dance again. Has anyone else been through this?


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Staff member
Hi Emily...welcome to df...first let me say that I am sorry for your loss...secondly let me say that early in my dancing, I lost my mom and have also suffered the loss of a child...but I happen to be a grief counselor, so let me share this...grief, and the depression that goes with it, often causes us to have no energy or motivation...those are real physical symptoms...we can also sometimes feel like a third wheel....like who would want to spend time me now?..and we are afraid we will become emotional in public...but the truth is that even though we won't feel like it for a long while, we have to keep putting ourselves out there til that changes...we have to fake it til we make it...it won't happen sitting at home...big hug to you...it will change...I promise


Well-Known Member
What Fasc said, plus everyone reacts to things a bit differently. Depression is evil because it's a self-reinforcing thing; you don't feel like doing anything, but not doing anything makes you feel even worse. A hard thing to do sometimes when your mind is in this state is that you have to start looking at the past as a sunk cost; it's already happened and there is no way you can go back and undo any of it. So the fact that you didn't go dancing last week is something you should not beat yourself up for this week, because it doesn't do any good. You can't go back to last week and change your decision. All you can do is decide that you're going to do something different going forward.

One thing that I've found helpful when I get into that state is to somehow vary my routine, in any way possible. It can be something as simple as getting up earlier or later, or taking a different route to work, or parking on the other side of the parking lot. Any little thing that activates your senses a bit. I'm not sure why this helps, but I guess it helps one get re-focused on the here and now. You notice things that you may not have paid any attention to for a long time. And it helps break the associations between daily routine and past memories.

One other thing: If you find that life itself starts to feel like an unbearable burden, please go see a therapist. And please do write back here and let us know how you're doing. And read some of the threads here -- maybe it'll help you start to get your interest fired back up.


Well-Known Member
Despondency over the termination of a once-close relationship is normal.

"Losing the joy of dancing" is not the same as "suffering depression."


Site Moderator
Staff member
no...it isn't...but it is also very, very likely that a grieving person will be temporarily depressed... not clinically depressed... and that grief and depression will make enjoyment of an activity once wrapped in the lost relationship no longer enjoyable...temporarily...I sincerely doubt that the loss of that enjoyment is independent or unrelated to the loss....and ftr, there is no shame in the temporary symptoms of grief which include loss of interest in most things once enjoyed...even things that had nothing to do with the lost person...all of that is almost always related to grief related depression...not every use of the term depression implies a clinical need to be medicated...really it can also be synonymous with being despondent...it is a term that encompasses a wide range of experience


Site Moderator
Staff member
as to seeing a therapist, unless one finds themselves more than 6 months down the road with the episodes of profound pain not lessening and/or has a history of clinical depression, what they are going through (while unpleasant) will probably not require therapy, though they most certainly would be helped by it...or a support group, or some very good friends....at any rate, back to the specific question at hand, I think OP is best served by continuing to push herself a bit...moving forward requires new connections and experiences....being able to enjoy this again will almost certainly return and you don't owe it to the person who is gone to never again enjoy it...if you allow it, it will come...but you have to let it pull you...same is true for NEW activities in which the two of them had no history...if you allow it, you will benefit from it...isolating is never good...some down time for reflection is, but is must be balanced by allowing life, even one you didn't want to look like this, back in
My wife divorced me because of my mental health problems, and I was in a terrible slump. I danced a lot less, but I didn't drop it entirely. Sometimes I wouldn't go for a couple of weeks. Sometimes I had to talk myself into going, as a pragmatic measure; knowing I would go crazy or lose myself in the depression.

It was still difficult. For years I had been doing East Coast Swing, Lindy-Hop, Charleston and a little balboa in the ECS venues, but I came to a point where I needed to do something drastically new with my dancing. So I decided to start learning West Coast (technically), which in my area is hardly ever danced to swing music, rather modern pop music almost entirely. So I don't really call it swing, just WC. This has been a challenge for me, because the crowd is a bit different. I'm refused dances significantly more, and very rarely get asked so I'm left to do most of the asking. It's been good for toughening up my fragile ego and self-confidence, because I actively have to employ the best case rationalizations talk inside my head, otherwise my Depression left uncheck with encroach on my internal well-being.

I'm about six and a half months in, and started to get the sense that I getting towards a comfortable level as a beginner-intermediate. And I made a leap to push things even further two weeks ago by testing the waters with Salsa. And throughout my adventuring in the WCS venues, I haven't neglected my East Coast dancing, which has benefited from my excursion into learning WCS. New perspective has helped me to continue to love my ECS, with new moves transposed from elsewhere. This is all maybe meant to distract me, but maybe that's all that can be done, for my part.
Back in early 2000's, my now husband, then boyfriend of several years broke up with me for about a month. I didn't know if he would ever come back, and I was a mess. I sobbed myself into an impressive set of abs, gut wrenching sobs, while I did nothing but sit at home cry, sleep, and clean. When I'm emotional, I can't eat...so all this sobbing and non-eating dropped me several dress sizes.

After a couple weeks of this, even though I didn't want to, I scraped myself up and decided I would try to do some thing I always wanted to do (new hobbies). I didn't feel like it really, but I put on a front and gave it a go. What surprised me a little was how that change in mindset and distraction helped.

In short order, the boyfriend did come back...but at that point it didn't matter (at least mentally) to me because I'd gotten back on my feet on my own. I became a stronger person.

I say all this to suggest to you to make yourself move on...you say you dance ECS...why not try something new and give some other styles of partner dancing a go? (that's actually how I started with ballroom...ECS is where I started and I wanted more and more dancing which led to practice parties at a ballroom studio...which led to learning more dances and finding "just" ECS was no longer good enough...I wanted more).

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