The Masks People Wear…Again

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Sometimes I find myself thinking that your friend’s answer to the question, “How are you?” defines the level of relationship especially if they’re having a bad day. If you two were really close and they were having a bad day, they would tell you, “I’m having a bad day but I don’t want to talk about it,” and you would understand. It wouldn’t effect your relationship. But if you’re not that close and you are honest about not wanting to talk about it, they might take offense, thinking, “They don’t trust me enough to talk about it.” That’s why it’s easier to just say, “I’m fine,” and leave it at that.

In general, there are two types of masks people wear (I can imagine a collective groan from you, Oh no, there she goes again since I’ve written about it here and here ), but anyhow…

There are those that are meant to be deceitful. They’re associated with cheating, lying, and essentially projecting a false image of oneself so others would approve of them. Then there are those you wear as a courteous move in order not to bother the world with your problems. Basically, you don’t want people to keep on bombarding you with ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and so you learn to hide under this mask. Which is not particularly that bad because our brain cells process tens and millions of thoughts, and having us project our thoughts incessantly can be both tiring for us and the poor listener. 

However, the existence of all these masks show you the standard depth (or not) of relationships nowadays. To really be friends with someone is to expose yourself, be vulnerable, and yet I guess we can concede that due to many disappointments it’s not always good to put yourself in that situation until the person proves to be trustworthy. So masks are easier to wear and take off when it’s appropriate. 

Then there is technology redefining relationships. It builds what could be called a virtual (online) mask. It can be deceitful and/or courteous. With virtual masks you can hide behind usernames, passwords, blogs and twitter handles and this is what I’m doing right here.

I personally find myself thinking about how technology seems to give us a false sense of connection. When I was young , I still remember how ‘calling home’ meant collecting coins, walking all the way to the call-box and screaming so people at the other side would hear us. But the people we called weren’t many. They were mainly relatives. And we called them on important occasions. Eid, wedding, …etc. Now years later, all it takes is a few taps on this device and you are immediately connected to people thousands of miles away…and you don’t have to scream (even though the older generation still do, but you get my drift). However, look at how long our list of contacts is. Just saving a number to your phone gives you the opportunity to immediately connect with them through whatsapp. And yet, how many of us really do? And when we do, how many of us go beyond the polite courtesies? If there is a story that needs to be told, calling works better. And even that removes the body language from the equation, so the impact isn’t as much as it would be if you can actually see people’s faces reacting to whatever you’re saying.

I was also thinking about how unfortunately dating has become so common in the Arab world nowadays despite it being unacceptable religiously. What I really don’t understand about people who get into it is how much can you really know somebody before marriage? Even if a couple has been together for so long (let’s say the eight years it takes for high school and university), one really can’t know a person completely until they’re married to them. The late-night phone calls and the outings…these are all controlled environments that help advance the plot and highlight specific character traits that the two sides intend on showing. However, when situations happen that really tests relationships after marriage, they end up breaking down completely at the seams, because they discover that this person they thought they loved before marriage has changed. But that makes you wonder if they have really changed or would that be the sound of the mask striking the floor as it is pulled off?

Think about it.
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Marriages that don’t last

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So lately I’ve been hearing a lot of sad news about people whose marriages have ended. The most recent story had the marriage last for two weeks before it was over. I have to admit that being the selfish person that I am, the first thing that comes to mind when I hear of a divorce of a couple whose wedding I had attended, I think, “I shouldn’t have wasted my night going. I could have read a good book.”

But oh well. What to do?

Most people don’t enter a marriage with the intention of getting a divorce. But sometimes relationships reach a stage where even the engineering simulation program Aspen can describe…


And both sides have to go their separate ways.

The sad thing is divorces are becoming really common nowadays and as usual society always blames the woman.

In the past, no matter how abusive the husband is, the woman would stay put for the children or for having nobody else to support her financially ….but nowadays more women are able to catalyze a divorce because they have a way to support themselves and their children. So of course society would blame the woman for having an exit strategy. But would they blame the man for being abusive?

I was reading the book Emotional Intelligence and the author, Daniel Goleman, writes about how many marriages break down due to lack of finesse when it comes to facing conflicts. Basically, the main point he was trying to make was that it’s not that healthy couples do not face conflicts, but they know how to face those conflicts. Lets take a case where the man always forgets to take out the trash. Instead of commenting on what he did – or did not do – she would attack his character, “You’re always irresponsible.”

Now of course, anybody could tell you that it would be normal for the male ego to respond and turn a small comment to a shouting match. So Goleman advised said to, “Tell them what they did wrong, just don’t attack their character.”

So there’s one nugget of information to take today in hopes that the divorce rate would go down in our society, because a divorce = 2 possible weddings down the road and that’s one equation I can do without since I’d rather be reading a book.

(c) Jaspal
(c) Jaspal


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They tell me I should be jealous
Jealous of the woman waiting
By the window for her husband to return
The food turning cold
As hunger claws her stomach

They tell me I should be jealous
Jealous of the woman waiting
By the TV for his leave to be approved
So they could travel to golden sands
Smoothened by the crashing waves

They tell me I should be jealous
Jealous of the woman waiting
For her phone to ring with his tone
Or the TV to be switched off
So she could get his attention
Before he turns on his playstation

They tell me I should be jealous
Jealous of the woman waiting
Waiting to be happy
Waiting to be listened to
For her life to begin

Photo under Creative Commons license by Anastas Tarpanov

What Happens?

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My blogger friend wrote What Happens? about how friendships can go sour and she asks the question, what happens?
Being the expert on the topic I couldn’t help but write about it as well. The thing is, change is inevitable and not all relationships can weather the storms of change in terms of geographical distance and lack of communications, and so the two people may just lose touch with each other. So basically, the first answer to what happens? Is that “Change happens.”
But sometimes it’s deeper than that as two best friends who are working together or a married couple living together become estranged because of something that one of them did; an act that causes the other person so much pain it’s like they walk around with a heart in a clutch so tight it’s like those footballs that are made out of plastic bags in Africa (the ones that have to be made tight otherwise it loses the qualities of a ball). So when the hurtful event occurs, be it cheating or lying or having their trust broken, turning away from the person becomes a matter of self-preservation because they can’t have their hearts go through that again. And that’s when a change in the relationship takes place because they say that trust is like a glass that can’t be pieced together into its original form once shattered.
So sometimes it’s a matter of two people growing apart and sometimes it’s a hurtful event that changes the relationship and sometimes it’s just a dose of reality because one realizes that they gave a relationship more value than it is worth. Take for instance a maslaha friend, one who only calls up when they need something. You might consider them a close friend while they are only using you for money or something that you have, so what happens is that you wake up to the fact that the friend is nothing but a maslaha friend and that’s when you might try to stay away, i.e. you give the friendship its true realistic value after being deceived for so long.
But you know everybody in your life is there for a reason, some will break your heart, others will open your mind, and some will do both; it’s all part of coloring your life’s experiences. And what else to say but c’est la vie.

How a broken heart can sometimes feel (Image from
How a broken heart can sometimes feel (Image from