Sunday, February 12, 2012

Don't hate the player: Dating and the masks we wear (by anon)

            It happens to everyone and is a part of human nature.  Intimate relationships.  Despite the grumblings of a few temporarily embittered people (which has happened to myself at one point), humans do more than seek these relationships: we need them.  With few exceptions, we constantly search for someone to tell our deepest fears to, to hold us, to make fun of people at Walmart with. 
The process of getting to that point is my concern here.  We twist, turn, and squirm all in the pursuit of a partner.  Anybody who has gone through this process damns it to hell and wishes for things to be "simpler" and more "honest".  But would that be as effective?
"Just be yourself!"  Yeah, right.  That is one of the biggest lines of horseshit there is when it comes to dating.  For us to succeed (success as in being classified as a couple) we have to put on "masks".  While hiding our true self these masks function to project ourselves in a more pleasing manner for that special someone.  This can be in a physical form; wearing a button shirt, khakis, and some nice Kenneth Cole Reaction cologne.  This can be in a mental form; even though you are terrified of horror movies (like: anything classified as a horror movie) you watch several with the other person because they cannot get enough of them.  Without these masks it is harder to get the attention of the person of interest as anything more than a friend.  Why would they take special interest in you?  Your appearance may be nothing special to them and, more importantly, you may not seem to have much in common at first.  This leads to people trying to clean up their language, keep up their appearances, and try new things.  All with the goal of appearing more dating-friendly.  If you really want to attract someone, do not be your true self immediately.  Tailor the best possible mask for that special someone.

Nevertheless, one cannot make a mask too foreign to themselves or else it will come off as noticeably fake and lead to failure.  As a physical example imagine a man who normally dresses "Goth" and the woman he is interested in likes well dressed men.  The man will not and should not suddenly start wearing button shirts, belts, and the like.  Say he did though, then he would obviously be uncomfortable which would greatly hurt his chances with the woman.  As a mental example, imagine the man is a staunch liberal but the woman he likes is a staunch conservative.  Once again, he will not and should not try being and thinking like a conservative.  So when one crafts a mask, try to make it resemble yourself but with a few modifications.

Wearing a mask is not immoral, dishonest, or evil.  Nor is it moral, honest, or good.  It is a tool to be used in the pursuit of a relationship.  The tool is then evaluated based on how it was used and how effective it was.  Do not go about complaining how fake people are and how difficult it is to date someone.  Every single person wears a mask, whether it is intricate or simple, when trying to date someone.  You yourself have done this, whether consciously or not.  All I ask of you is to understand this is the way things are because, in general, it works and that no ill-will is meant by donning the mask.  Once one actually has that relationship or is near it however, they should slowly strip away the mask, but that is an issue better left to another posting. 


  1. Bravo. As much as it seems stupid and unfair, this is very true. You could say we put on masks as part of our human "mating rituals"; a psychological version of the peacock's feathers.

  2. I find this true as well. No one is 100% themselves when first starting to go on dates with someone. You reveal yourself in chunks. When I first started dating my fiance I was more polite then I normally am (I am blunt most of the time) and I also put on that "mask" of the getting to know you phase. The more time you spend with someone the more you know the real them. 4 years later I am still learning things about her and relationships.

    Prof. Chaos

  3. I once heard that after meeting someone new, particularly someone you are dating, the first six months, you're not yourself. You stand in as a representative of yourself, and once you get more comfortable with the other person, you get more comfortable with being yourself. This is why I believe it seems that relationships tend to fail the most between 6 months and a year from when they start. Anyway... yeah there is nothing wrong with sending a representative, and hiding your "true" self for a little while after you meet someone new, because the reality seems to be that we do that kind of thing in order to protect ourselves from being embarrassed or something. Sometimes it takes a while to appreciate a person for who they are, so we want to give everyone we meet time to do that, as they give to us. But, dressing differently, pretending to be interested in things you just aren't interested in, or just adding characteristics to yourself that never really existed before, just to attract the person you're dating more, is kind of lame. I guess there's a fine line between putting in a representative, and just plain trying to come off as someone you're not. I still believe in staying as authentic as possible when meeting new people, while at the same time, perhaps hiding a few things that might be too much for someone new to handle right off the bat.

  4. I too see truth in these words. Some of us, however, seem incapable of "masking." (I think I'm one.) We are who we are, and find it difficult to deny or hide our personalities -- they are either too intractable or too prominent. Sadly, it seems to follow that we struggle to establish relationships, be they platonic or romantic. This observation gives rise to some sadness in me: By what right principle must I alter or deny who I am merely to be liked or loved? Must the price paid for affection and belonging be so high?

  5. I agree with the most recent comment. It all seems to be fairly relative but for the most part people do put up some sort of mask. I always strive to let my own personality shine through, although sometimes it is hard to display your true personality in front of complete strangers or even acquaintances.