The LoveLife Blog: guidance on mindful, bodyful, soulful loving!

#110: When the Man Leads, the Woman Embellishes

Jacqueline Hellyer - Tuesday, January 06, 2015


A professional ballroom and Latin dancer told me this the other day. I was curious as to how the man, who is leading the dance, could instruct the woman, who is following, how to do all the fancy bits.

The dancer explained that the man is simply leading the direction and major movements, the woman then embellishes.

I thought this was quite fascinating, and also made dancing seem less sexist, less as though the man led it all and the woman was a passive accomplice. In fact, the embellishing is as important as the main moves (not to mention the fact that, as Ginger Rogers once pointed out, she did the same as Fred Astair, but backwards in high heels!) And to be able to embellish, you need to be really connected.

It also made me think of sex. In heterosexual sex, the man might lead more than the woman, but that doesn’t mean the woman is a passive recipient. Just as in dancing, she needs to be totally connected to him so that it all flows and she can embellish. She’s no more a passive recipient than if a male dancer was dancing with a rag doll. Oh no, for the dance to be good, passionate, pleasurable, there has to be a strong connection between them, a flow, a melding into each other. He might be leading, but her following is equal in power and energy. That’s where the dynamism comes from, that’s where the passion is. There is unity and magnetic flow.

In the sexual act, she can move her legs, use her hands, adjust her hips. As they move from position to position, it’s up to her to move smoothly with direction rather than be awkward and clumsy. The more she can let go to the following, the more elegant and flowing the engagement becomes. This is a skill, and a very important one.

Of course, the same implies when the woman is leading, There’s no pleasure in playing with a passive partner, whatever your gender. You need your partner’s focus and energy. Even if he or she is completely letting go and you’re the one doing all the work, your partner is still connected, still responding to and flowing with your lead.

The dynamism of the flow from leading to following, giving and receiving, and the requisite connection and flow between the lovers is what makes sex passionate, pleasurable and profound.

Learn more about leading and following by attending my Bali Couples Retreat - or take up Tango!


Listen to the audio version - the LoveLife Podcast!


Recent Posts

Earlier Posts



to LOVELIFE News for regular inspiration on sex, love and intimacy!

For more great sex advice -
read my books!