The standard rule of a relationship

“Uh so  the standard rule of a relationship is to never go to bed mad, uh which is one my parents like, and on e I really like too: never go to bed mad, because you don’t have fun you are asleep and you’re mad so you should hash out things or if you can’t hash out things completely, then you should take a break and have some ice cream or something, and everything’s going to be fine. Uh, in ballroom dancing, as well, though it’s not as common, I’d like you to think that if you are, uh, mad at your partner, then you do not want to end a practice mad, because then you are probably never going to practice again. Uh, you want to, well same thing as going to bed, only it’s not the bed thing, so if you and your partner get mad at each other, 1) stop it! That’s dumb. 2) You want to fix that and apologize to your partner, and 3) if it happens consistently, then you want to find a new partner because that’s not an ideal way to dance.”


The informant is a PhD student at the University of Southern California, studying linguistics. He is also a member—and next year’s president—of the University of Southern California’s Ballroom and Latin Dance Team. He specializes in the American Smooth dances (Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango, and Foxtrot), though also knows the International Latin dances and many social dances, like Hustle and Salsa. He has been in the USC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team for 2 years, and did ballroom dance at the University of Michigan for 2 years. He competes in the Silver and Gold level Smooth dances, and has placed highly in numerous competitions.


The saying “never go to bed angry” is common advice for any relationship. The reasoning behind it is that if you do not sort out the argument before you go to sleep, then it will only fester, and will eventually grow into the destruction of that relationship. Things may look better in the light of day, but each person would be less likely to sort out their issues the next day, and will just keep the anger bottled up inside. The informant also suggests that the argument cannot be sorted out right away, then take a break from the conversation, and eat some ice cream or something, but still come back to it before you go to sleep. This allows both people to calm down and look at things logically. The disagreement is more likely to be sorted out, then.

This folklore was collected after asking the informant about advice for new dance relationships. The informant learned this proverb from his parents, who probably heard it from their parents or their friends. It is a proverb because it never changes much, but is passed from person to person, and offers advice in a short catchy phrase.

The informant goes on to apply this common relationship advice to his ballroom dance partner relationship. Instead of “never go to bed angry,” it becomes “never end a practice angry.” The anger will be all you can remember about your partner, not how well you dance together, and it is much less likely that those partners will ever practice again.

The informant offers three pieces of advice in relation to this proverb. His first point is that you should not get mad at your partner in the first place. There are few reasons to get mad at your partner, and none of them should include their skill level. Never get mad at your partner for being unable to get a move, because there will come a time when you have trouble with a different move. If you do get mad at your partner, then you should calm down, explain why you are upset, then apologize to your partner for getting mad. Both partners are just doing their best and there should not be a reason to stay mad. However, if you do keep getting angry with your partner and they do not fix whatever the problem is when you tell them, then maybe it is time to switch dance partners, because it is very hard to dance well when you are upset, and no one wants to be angry all the time you are dancing.