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Book review: The Two Step


Book reviews > The Two Step


This is a very different kind of book, yet one that richly deserves to be included in this set of reviews.

The basic premise is that in seeking intimacy (the book is subtitled 'The dance towards intimacy'), people play a two-handed and alternating chance game of 'Seeker and Sought'.

Done entirely as a set of almost 150 pages of cartoons, it describes the dance in an amusing and yet highly educative way.

Seeker and Sought

Both Seeker and Sought gain from the game. The Seeker has hope of achieving their goal of catching. The Sought enjoys the identity boost that the Seeker's attention gives them. Both enjoy the thrill of the chase, where the Seeker fears failure and rejection whilst the Sought fears being caught (at least too soon) and perhaps being rejected after consummation.

Power struggles

The result is a power struggle that plays out as a dance, where different forms attention, chase, rejection, conquest and submission are used to control one another's movements, where each at times seems more powerful than the other.

Territorial Games may form a part of this struggle, with the distance between the players as a critical measure.


As with most games, both enjoy the game so much, completion can result in the relationship deteriorating, such as when a long courtship ends in a disastrous relationship. Throughout the game, an equitable balance needs to be maintained with appropriate reciprocity so that both can travel hopefully. If either gives or tries to take too much, then the other will give up and game fails.

To make this balance work, each learns the rules and the game can fall into habits that either sustain it for a long time or cause boredom and frustration that leads to its demise.

A way of maintaining the balance is for the players to switch roles. As the Seeker gives up, the Sought detects this and chases them, thus maintaining the game.


The ultimate goal is to gradually reduce the gap so intimacy can occur and both can enjoy consummation of the relationship. Power is given up to gain closeness. But even this is not stasis, and before long the dance returns.


Although targeted primarily at explaining sexual intimacy (and seduction, although it does not exactly say this), the book is also a brilliant and detailed exposition of general chase games, such as 'Catch me if you can' game.


Buy Me

Eileen McCann and Douglas Shannon (1985). The Two Step, New York: Grove Weidenfeld

A wonderful illustrated book on the courtship dance that we play with one another. Fun and educative.



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