My best friendships and romantic relationships have had, at their core, a foundation of physical play.
It’s hard to emotionally check out when you’re being (on the receiver end) thrown through the air, twirled, and thrilled while still being kept safe and supported.
It’s hard (on the giver end) to not develop a deep fondness for someone who is surrendering to your protection and allowing your co-exploration of a lot of really fun stuff.
And since partner play is rarely one-sided for long, you have to build complimentary-but-separate skill sets in order advance, and there are few surer ways to build mutual respect than to see your partner working hard at their end of a move so that you can come together like dynamic puzzle pieces and do something greater than either of you could do by yourself.
Friendship And Romance
In modern society, we often strangely limit the types of interactions our relationships can involve.
It’s ok to cuddle with your girlfriend and get a kiss on the cheek from grandma, but if you do anything more than give a handshake or a chaste half-hug to an acquaintance or friend, you’re crossing some lines. We have to spend a long time making small talk with strangers before we can even get to know what’s important to them and what drives them, much less spend a lot of time in physical contact.
Meanwhile, in Andrewville, I often meet new people at acro jams and have them on my feet or in the air within minutes of being introduced.
I certainly connect with some of these people more deeply than others, and just like in any relationship, physical play connections can vary in their enjoyability and intensity.
But I definitely get a better and quicker sense of a person through physical play than I ever do through the reserved verbal communications that are the norm in new relationships. When I see someone light up and become super excited during a move we’re working on, I feel like I understand who they are on a deeper level.
The mutual build-up of excitement and satisfaction when working on and eventually achieving a new move that presses the skill levels of both partners can be almost intoxicating.
Sex certainly fits my definition of partnered physical play, but play can also be entirely platonic. You can have a strong connection with someone built on trust and physical exploration that has no romantic element whatsoever. The vast majority of the people I play with are just friends, and while our play makes us more intimate, it doesn’t make us lovers.
That being said, I find that any romantic relationship is made stronger by having a strong basis in physical play. And I’ve developed awesome romantic relationships with several platonic partners after we both realized through play that we were compatible and had deeper feeling for each other. Interestingly enough, I’m pretty sure that few if any of those romantic relationships would have come about had we not first broken the ice with physical play.
Giving It A Try
Many people are intimidated by the idea of beginning a modality of physical play. You don’t want to look like an idiot, and many people have feeling of inadequacy.
The only way to fix that is to love yourself and push past the fear. Some of the easier ways include:
- Signing up for a partner dance class
- Finding an contact improv or ecstatic Dance meetup.
- Attending an acroyoga/partner acrobatics class or jam.
- Go through an introductory youtube series on acroyoga with a partner.
- If you or your partner are more passive, consider learning massage.
- Find some cool partner workouts on youtube and invite a friend to play.
If you have a preferred way you like to connect with a partner through play, please tell me about it in the comments below.