Hump Day Crush: Putting on Masks

Every time we head out into public, we put on a mask of sorts.

As we interact with different people throughout the day, we may change masks.

Many people do this without even realizing it. They’ve learned though experience that behaving differently in different situations can really help you get what you want and need.

For example, if I know I’m going to be dealing with a very conservative person, I’d steer clear of hot-button subjects like gay marriage (unless that was the whole point of the interaction, of course). Knowing in advance, I’d choose my clothing appropriately and carry myself in as conservative a way as possible.

That builds a bit of congruence between me and the other person. It puts them at ease and allows the interaction to proceed more smoothly.

I do all of that fully aware of what I’m doing because I’ve spent years learning to be aware of my actions and how I modify them based on the situation. Most people out there switch masks without thinking about it.

Bringing those changes into the conscious realm is another part of transforming a regular crush into a Grown Up Crush.

How does that work?

When we fall for someone, we begin to dress up our mental images of them. We imagine how they’re going to act and react. We put ourselves in fantasy situations and (usually) come out the hero in them. Like the masks we change into in our day to day interactions, we do most of it without thinking. If we take conscious control of those imaginings–if we realize just how much we’re manipulating the fantasy–we can better understand it.

If we take control of the masks we dress our crushes up in, we can eventually begin to incorporate more variety into our fantasies. Using our own knowledge of how we react to situations and our observations of how other people react to situations, we can test ourselves.

Yes, that takes some of the fun out of the fantasy. It brings in a reality that is lacking in a regular crush. But it’s that infusion of reality that lets us learn about ourselves. Those imaginings become more thought experiments or simulations of possible interactions.
If we take the step and actually get to know our crush, we can incorporate what we know of his or her actions and reactions into our thought experiments. Through that kind of work, we can better figure if a romantic relationship would work or, as is more often than not the case, you make better friends than lovers.

Of course, even the best thought experiment has flaws. It takes years of practice and experimentation to eliminate even a portion of biases that creep in. All too often in the beginning you’ll find false positives.

But there will also be those glorious false negatives! Those times when we imagine the worst instead of the positive reality. Those are the times our own masks get in the way of our vision.

And the only way to figure that out is to make that final leap, take off the mask of objectivity, and dive in to reality full on, for better or worse.

At the absolute least, you end up with a good story to tell–and a lot more knowledge of what you are capable of.

  • fiferjanis

    Ugh… I hate the not knowing and dwelling on fantasy. I’ve had it blow up in my face so many times I’d rather just get it out and over with immediately so we can laugh and move on.

    I’m dealing with someone who I let be a crush for far too long. 7 years, to be precise. I knew there was little or nothing to it to base in reality, and thus ignored it… but it didn’t go away. He’d show up at odd times doing odd things in my dreams I knew weren’t real and never would be. We’d far more likely kill each other if sealed in a room together than get down ‘n dirty. But, it just wouldn’t let go of me.

    (In fact, I have to wonder if maybe THAT was the appeal. If we could argue with such intensity, heat and passion; blow each other’s minds with really philosophically deep stuff and fight yet still be peers day after day, couldn’t that somehow translate into awesome sex?) Maybe sex, but certainly not a healthy love relationship. 😛

    Finally, it was coming to a head… I couldn’t think of much else… he invaded my thoughts all the time. It was ridiculous. So I told him. He was taken aback, albeit flattered. He was also not interested in the least. So now I knew. It wouldn’t let go of me that easily. I’ve nearly destroyed the very fragile and volatile relationship we have in somehow trying to justify how I could be so wrong, trying to prove that there was something actually there, and it wasn’t just in my head.

    While it’s taken a few months to ‘decompress’ everything it had built to, I would have much preferred to have gotten that out of the way or at least been able to convince myself there was nothing worth pursuing in the first place… 7 years ago when I first met him and said to myself “yes, I’m somewhat attracted to this person, but on a personal level, we totally don’t fit. It’s just a crush – it’ll pass.” I tried to laugh it off initially. My brain had other ideas and didn’t want to listen.

    It wasn’t/hasn’t been a fun crush. It kind of held me hostage, actually. It was a crush I didn’t want to have. It was a crush that I knew had no basis in reality. It was a crush riddled with complications. It wasn’t a fun flirtation, fantasy, or anything else. It was an obsession that wouldn’t let me go. Even now, I wonder if it’s really gone, or just gone into hiding so it can torment me later, even as I list off the reasons I can’t stand this guy like a mantra to ward away evil.

  • fiferjanis

    Ugh… I hate the not knowing and dwelling on fantasy. I’ve had it blow up in my face so many times I’d rather just get it out and over with immediately so we can laugh and move on.

    I’m dealing with someone who I let be a crush for far too long. 7 years, to be precise. I knew there was little or nothing to it to base in reality, and thus ignored it… but it didn’t go away. He’d show up at odd times doing odd things in my dreams I knew weren’t real and never would be. We’d far more likely kill each other if sealed in a room together than get down ‘n dirty. But, it just wouldn’t let go of me.

    (In fact, I have to wonder if maybe THAT was the appeal. If we could argue with such intensity, heat and passion; blow each other’s minds with really philosophically deep stuff and fight yet still be peers day after day, couldn’t that somehow translate into awesome sex?) Maybe sex, but certainly not a healthy love relationship. 😛

    Finally, it was coming to a head… I couldn’t think of much else… he invaded my thoughts all the time. It was ridiculous. So I told him. He was taken aback, albeit flattered. He was also not interested in the least. So now I knew. It wouldn’t let go of me that easily. I’ve nearly destroyed the very fragile and volatile relationship we have in somehow trying to justify how I could be so wrong, trying to prove that there was something actually there, and it wasn’t just in my head.

    While it’s taken a few months to ‘decompress’ everything it had built to, I would have much preferred to have gotten that out of the way or at least been able to convince myself there was nothing worth pursuing in the first place… 7 years ago when I first met him and said to myself “yes, I’m somewhat attracted to this person, but on a personal level, we totally don’t fit. It’s just a crush – it’ll pass.” I tried to laugh it off initially. My brain had other ideas and didn’t want to listen.

    It wasn’t/hasn’t been a fun crush. It kind of held me hostage, actually. It was a crush I didn’t want to have. It was a crush that I knew had no basis in reality. It was a crush riddled with complications. It wasn’t a fun flirtation, fantasy, or anything else. It was an obsession that wouldn’t let me go. Even now, I wonder if it’s really gone, or just gone into hiding so it can torment me later, even as I list off the reasons I can’t stand this guy like a mantra to ward away evil.

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