On Relationships:

From the time we’re children, we’re taught by society that we aren’t good enough. By the time we reach young adulthood, we try to paint over the people we are with the brushes society suggests for us. We ignore who we’re meant to be by wearing the hats of the people we believe we’re supposed to be. We eventually forget who we are.

The modern culture of romance, or “dating culture”, is the result of the complete lack of importance placed on the vast substance inherent in our own humanity. We spend our days painting beautiful masks of ourselves and spend our nights wearing them out to down town masquerades.

Every weekend is our carnival, every club is our Venice. With all of us dressed in the height of fashion and wearing the dreamiest of disguises, we’re content to dance our youthful years away.

We paint our masks with the simple stripes of the surface. We think of ourselves, and others, as white or black, male or female, gay or straight, Christian or Muslim. We continue to identify with our surface and mistake it for who we are, when the two are not exclusively connected.

We’ve traded complexity for simplicity. With all of us exchanging our identity for identical illusions, we have slowly rendered ourselves interchangeable. All of our masks look the same.

We build sand castles in the path of crashing waves. We find beautiful partners and we dance the nights away. Sometimes our dance partners stay the night and maybe even for breakfast. Sometimes, we share a second dance. On extremely rare occasions, we find their outer shells so shiny and sparkly that they capture our attention for an entire handful of dances.

These dances last long enough to facilitate relationship status changes on our Facebook and inspire overwhelmingly cute Instagram photos of our morning snuggle and romantic gestures. We do everything and go everywhere with this person. We’ve found the one we want to save our last dance for. We’re totally and completely in love.

The Lovers I (1928) by Rene Magritte
The Lovers I (1928) by Rene Magritte

And then our surfaces begin to erode. They become difficult to maintain. We struggle to keep up the act. Our polished smiles and filtered personalities begin to crack. The weeds from our overgrown interiors begin to force their way through those cracks. We’re confused, and so are they.

We thought we had already shown one another our true selves when we let them see us in sweat pants or without make-up on. They smelled our morning breath. They caught us with food stuck in our teeth. One time, we even farted in front of them.

Our own shallow notions of ourselves had us equating who we are as people with what our natural surfaces used to look like, before we painted them with water colours and doused them in exotic smelling oils.

Are the cracks starting to show in your mask?

But there’s an entire other world inside of us. It’s full of scars, dreams, mistakes, passions, light, and darkness. It’s a place we’ve ignored while we focused on our appearance, on the character we’re acting as. That place of substance deep inside of us – that place which makes us different and beautiful – provides a journey that would never truly end if our loved ones were to explore it.

But that place scares us. It scares us because we’ve never explored it ourselves. It scares us because we have no idea who we are.

It becomes a terrifying prospect to open this place up to the person we think we love. It’s our own little house of horrors. Even if we did muster the courage to ask them to come inside, how can we expect someone to want to see us for who we are when we can’t even stand the thought of it ourselves? The fact that our significant other is also probably feeling the same personal insecurities only exasperates the situation. The situation becomes unstable because both partners have awoken a deep-seeded self-hatred.

We begin to miss someone loving us for the surface appearance that we’ve spent so much time perfecting. We long to feel that superficial attention and shallow admiration again. We return to the masquerades.

We prefer to spend our time there, hiding behind our masks and having them admired by similarly veiled strangers. We begin to look a little too long at new potential dance partners, with shiny new faces that haven’t eroded like those belonging to our significant others.

We’re bored with what we have at home, because surfaces are simple. There is no journey for us to go on.

That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is. Most people love you for who you pretend to be. To keep their love, you keep pretending – performing. You get to love your pretence….the sad thing is, people get so used to their image, they grow attached to their masks. They love their chains. They forget all about who they really are.”― Jim Morrison, 1981 Creem Magazine interview with Lizzie James.

Eventually one (or both) of the partners will realize how difficult it will be to excavate our identities with the appropriate teams of spiritual archaeologists. The road toward self-love has become long and treacherous. We decide a quick reset is much easier.

Being with another person is no place to hide from ourselves, after all. It becomes a race to see who can come up with the perfect wording for whatever arbitrary excuse we’ll use to break up. We’ll call it “losing our spark”, “growing apart”, or “not being happy”.

We’ll break up, get a gym membership, and work on painting over the tiny cracks left from the waltz that lasted a tad too long. We’ll return to the carnival and, thus, the cycle is born anew. We’ll swear off the opposite sex, and then love itself – as though they were the core issues rather than our festering self-loathing.

Eventually that human desire to share ourselves with another will overwhelm us again, at which point we’ll put on our glass slippers, head to the ball, and once again spiral out of control toward midnight.

I’m not saying to ignore your surface, or that it’s not important. I believe the maintenance and development of your body is just as important as your mind and your soul. I believe in balance. Try to indulge in an ignored inner passion.

It makes no difference if that includes cooking, playing an instrument you suck at, or listening to old Led Zeppelin records, as long as it fuels your soul. Read a chapter or two of an old, classic novel while you’re on the stationary bike doing fasted cardio instead of reading your texts. Work a little bit every day on that part of you that we can’t see, that part of you we’ll never be capable of fully exploring. Work on remembering who you really are.

Show me your beautiful and meticulous surface, and I’ll admire it. It might even lure me close enough to share a dance. But if that’s all you have to offer, it’s a dead end. It’s boring, and I’m out. Show me that endless inner garden that you’ve grown, maintained, and explored for yourself, and I’m in.

Take me by the hand and let’s explore one other. Like two children on a magical adventure, I don’t care how much time we spend in there. You’ll have my interest and wonderment forever.

Be good to each other,

– MG.

Photos Courtesy of:

Venetian Mask: 7-themes.com

19 thoughts on “On Relationships:

  1. Isn’t there also the relationship that sees each other grow, though? Can you not explore underlying issues with another person, to grow and nurture yourself as well as the other? Or is that just “too much effort” now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you stumbled upon my point exactly with this comment. I think the only way a relationship will work is one where each partner sees one another grow while also working on themselves. I’ve never suggested you don’t stick with a person who has self healing and nurturing to do – because I think that’s a lifelong journey and not something that ever ends.

      My whole point was that relationships fall apart in today’s society BECAUSE it is easier to live superficially than it is to work on yourself while simultaneously supporting another person on their own personal path of growth.It’s not just the effort that scares us away though, it’s the relative unknown of what we might find once we look inwards instead of outwards for once.


  2. I am a fan already!
    Wow! Beautiful writing!
    Self Love is the key to all of our relationship issues!
    Self love saves us from ourself….The masks and the masquerades!
    Self love brings us closer to discovering who God wants us to be….and not what our culture molds us to be!
    I have also written a similar post on self love. Do check it out.
    Good day! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I spent at least a year on a website called POF, before that I spent 3 years single, after quitting all the drugs and splitting up with a guy I spent 3 years with that I met at 16. I got really fat when I quit everything, my meds were all over the shop, I felt completely unlovable. I jumped from 45kg to 95kg in the space of 4 months. I spent 3 years trying to find a reason to live in general, I couldn’t give a fuck about the exterior, the what other people were seeing, I hated myself more then anyone else possibly could. I lost weight, got a job, started feeling good but I always jump from the very end of each extreme. I went from was perfectly happy for no one to see me and to be alone to, sleeping with everyone to feel some sense of closeness with another because nothing seemed close enough. It was about closeness for me but that got perceived as me being easy so I went with that, because I didn’t understand the difference between being easy and being likeable. I met a lot of good but moreso terrible people on that website. After a year of sleeping around I had given up hope of finding anyone, then Ben started talking to me. He was someone I was not ever going for, someone that I wouldn’t normally be attracted to. He is quiet, polite, gentle, he had respect for me, a big nerd when I was wild and aggressive. I didn’t instantly love him like I did everyone else, I started loving everything about him first. We met in Feb 2014 then spent a week apart and since then I have not spent a day apart from him. I get easily attached, I’m clingy and for once in my life I met someone with those exact tendencies and we work. He’s made me a better person and I’ve done the same. We were both so lonely and now we are not. It’s even at the point when I’ll be thinking about doing someone and he will go do it, or ask me if I want it and vice versa. I wouldn’t of met him without going through all the bullshit first. I wouldn’t have met him without that horrible website. Not everyone is extroverted and can just be physical and connect with someone face to face. I’m pretty sure there’s been people like me all through time who lacked social skills. I found love when I stopped looking at people superficially, but because I’m always straight forward and myself all the time, it took a lot of rejection for love to find me. Just my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I say “the mask” or on the surface, I don’t necessarily mean beauty.

      Sometimes we act “tough” or “straight” as a surface act to hide the soft interior.

      Sometimes we indulge in surface pleasures like getting drunk or fucking a stranger in a stairway – some people do both at the same time.

      Just because you didn’t care about your appearance, doesn’t mean you were not seeking/indulging in surface validation.

      I’m incredibly happy for you that you’ve found Ben, but don’t sell yourself short. You were making yourself a better person before he came into your life.

      That endless inner garden I talked about has its shadows, and everyone has to explore those. Your year of getting laid was experience, like you said, going through all the bullshit.

      Just because it’s not where you wanted to be, doesn’t mean you weren’t bettering yourself by doing it! Every single thing you’ve ever done has led to who you are now, and who you’re with now.

      When I was talking about dances and masquerades, they were metaphors for exactly the kinds of things you’re talking about now. It’s the people who put on the “just looking to have fun” mask, get on tinder or POF, and “dance the night away”, or “getting bent over a desk and nailed from behind with your pants only down to your knees and your shoes still on” if you prefer.

      It’s all just a very superficial, temporary, surface type of fulfilment.

      I think your experience very much with the type of lifestyle that I wrote about on this post! And I absolutely agree, many of us are not extroverted and some of us are shy or awkward – I know I was – but we still seek the surface until, like you, we find something deeper.

      Thanks for being so honest and for commenting again!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. God this is beautiful. Going back and reading through it and comments a year later is so perplexing. I’m loving re-evaluating myself and people that I didn’t know a year ago by this. It’s a fantastic reminder of why I love writing and what I’m passionate about. Thank. You.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so true! It’s amazing what a year, or even a few months, can do for a person!! Sometimes I read my own writing and can hardly remember the place I was in when I wrote the words. It’s one of the reasons I love to write too!

      Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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