Masks: How they help or hurt sex and intimacy

Masks: How they help or hurt sex and intimacy

By Dawn Van Ness | Sex & Family Planning

MH900305720Halloween is a time of disguises, searching for a costume for yourself or for your kid, and the the idea that to try on different personas for escape as  terrible fun is terribly obvious.

We get to be whoever we want to be and we get to be super creative expressing that persona.  Dressing up and pretending is a thrill.

Some of us will go by a script:  stringy haired witch, caped vampire, a superhero, a supervillian, or a cartoon or toy idol.  Some of us will get inventive:  zombie mermaid with ich,  the Mona Lisa, or a Venus Flytrap.  Masks or personas are donned for a day and night, then disappear.

However, there are masks and personas we put on everyday: super attentive receptionist,  severe sixth grade teacher, no nonsense police officer, sympathetic manager, dispassionate town worker.  We adopt the personas to help us with our jobs.

And not to say that sex and intimacy are  jobs, but they can take some concentration, intent, and work.  Choices are made, sometimes in opposition to what is felt.  And at times some people may have been tempted, in times of stress and difficulty, to adopt a complete persona rather than being their authentic selves.

"I would take you right there, right now if I could."

“I would take you right there, right now if I could.”

Masks for His or Her Pleasure

Some masks are fun.  Normally non-aggressive or fully self-controlled people can release themselves in the throes of passion.  All the heavy breathing, worked-up heartbeat, and thrill of endorphins crashing and cascading leave partners feeling wonderful.  Frustrations are gone, if only for a time.  People feel reset.  People sleep deeply.  The next day, they can go back to dealing with the life that requires quiet, professional restraints.

How easily we adopt the wild persona is related to how good we feel about our sexuality and in tuned we feel with our partner.

Masks That Hurt

Other times, we adopt masks to protect us rather than enable us to operate at a higher level of competency.   At work, there is always one or a few people who play clueless to what is going on around them, or a worker will appear happier or pleasing so he or she may get along with a larger number of difficult, stressed coworkers.

In a relationship, however, someone may act more elicit, chronically, to be the pleasing one, while desiring something more nurturing or gentle.  One dominating, sometimes overbearing or aggressive partner, decides positions or times, while the other person accepts what is decided so they don’t have to risk being forward or risk being rejected.

If the relationship is completely unhealthy, one person may fear harm will befall them if they don’t comply.

More often in the regular world of reasonable, rational, and functioning individuals, what I’ve learned about is one person will willingly sacrifice their wants or desires and submit to their partner’s desires in order to just be as pleasing as possible.

What I’ve witnessed with a few friends is a person mistakenly has ingested the following erroneous belief:  asserting themselves in a relationship is a form of betrayal in a union; this is not true at all.

In another relationship I witnessed another erroneous belief:  if a person asserts themselves in a relationship, this will lead directly to a divorce or chronic fights, just like their own parents;  this too is not true at all.

"If I please him, he won't leave me."

“If I please him, he won’t leave me.”

No matter what the the case for the mostly healthy person and couple, one person pretends to be what they are not in order to hide their wants and needs.  The why is complicated, rooted in the past.  The outcome is sex that isn’t intimate and in some cases isn’t really wanted at all, or is just dissatisfying.

Why Would Someone Cheat Themselves Out of Great Sex?

It is too complicated a question to gloss over, but if you are cheating yourself out of the sex and intimacy you want, then you need to delve into that question for yourself:  why are you cheating yourself out of great sex and intimacy?

Maybe you have unfairly accepted that the person you are with is not capable of delivering what you desire.  Maybe you just have given-up on yourself.  Maybe you have desires that scare you.  Maybe you never got over what your parents said about sex.  Maybe some of this and maybe some of that.

But if you are pretending and not enjoying yourself, even faking pleasure and orgasms, you are cheating and lying in what is suppose to be THE CONSUMMATE INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP, and you are doing it while in the very act that is sometimes called intimacy.

Theatrical Masks

I am not going to touch all the other fun things other people do which involve theatrics, some of which are involved and call for acting.  I will say, however, a lot of actors and actresses in leading roles are falling for each other, so there must be something to the theatrical scene.

However, given the short stints of some relationships, maybe theater should be introduced after intimacy is established for real, and not the other way around.

Primitive Masks

Much like the first set of masks I mentioned, there are things we can do with our partners we would never want to be seen doing, and these things can probably be attributed to “lizard brain.”  If you don’t know what “lizard brain” is, it is a layman’s way of saying that some compulsions, acts, and desires are just our least complicated, most basic part of our make-up that ensures the continuation of the species.

However, “lizard brain” sex for humans is not the 10 second experience of a primate or lizard, but rather an extended, heated, amoral sexual experience.   Ironically, this lizard brain behavior is something we will share with our partner, and the act of sharing is incredibly intimate and full of trust, but the acts themselves are not about emotional, nurturing intimacy;  they are raw un-theatrical sexuality, thoughtless and full of ripe pleasure.

"I don't need you to bring me champagne and roses."

“I don’t need you to bring me champagne and roses.”

Make the Most of It

There will come a time when sex will be a memory, and if you are fortunate, you may be able to kindle intimacy by recounting the time you braved letting yourself go as soon as you both secured the least bit of privacy.    And maybe there will be other times when you braved a hotel room, champagne, and expensive lingerie knowing everyone in the world must know why you went out for date night and left the kids at home with some friends.

But whatever the time or place, or how you manage to excite each other, making the most of it is what counts.

About the Author

Dawn Van Ness is a married 38-year-old with one child and is managing her own small marketing company, Shy Light Media, and an art and writing career, A Dawn Everyday. She writes for others more than for herself, and is passionate in everything that she does.

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