Relationships, Part 5: Getting behind the masks

maskYou know the drill. You start dating someone and they seem like the most wonderful person in the world. Then you become familiar with each other and, all of a sudden, they are the spawn of the devil.

You know the reasons. People are polite on their first dates. They’re putting their best feet forward. They want you to like them. And you are doing the same thing. When you begin to date, you are not getting to know the real person, you are getting to know that person’s masks. And they are only seeing yours.

I believe that the masks you choose are as authentic a part of your self as what lies beneath. Appearances do matter. The fact that you select, for instance, a bragging, audacious persona versus a reserved, deferential one says something, even though both may hide a fragile ego.

However, the mask is not the whole story. Sooner or later, in any meaningful relationship, the hidden person shows up. Then you have a choice. You can:

  1. Split up and start the whole process over again with someone else.
  2. Try to change your partner so that the inside of him matches the outside.
  3. Deal with the reality of the situation and learn to respect your partner, even the things you don’t initially like.
  4. Put on a new mask and collude as your partner puts on a new one himself.

Number 4 is a common choice that people make. It leads to trouble. In the next post, I will show you how.

Click here to go to the entire Relationships series.

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