Facemasks and Dating
Are you single and scared to mingle because of the coronavirus? Does wearing a face covering totally mess up your confidence? Well, you’re not alone. Lots of men are realizing how difficult it can be to find romance behind a facemask.
It could be a form of facemask anxiety. Facemask anxiety is a real thing, and it should be taken seriously. Wearing a face covering can be a nightmare for someone who already suffers from anxiety or claustrophobia, but men from all walks of life might experience some form of facemask anxiety because of the way that face coverings interrupt the normal way that people communicate.
A member of the Guy Counseling support community who wished to remain anonymous wrote to me earlier this week with his concerns over wearing a facemask and dating. He said that “It’s driving me crazy wearing this facemask. How do I talk to a girl I like wearing this thing over my face? And I’m worried that I’ll have to spend the whole pandemic alone.”
I’m sure he’s not alone in feeling this way and that many guys have similar frustrations and concerns. I see two distinct issues here. One – the anxiety of wearing a face covering as it pertains to a romantic setting. Two – the depressive thoughts about the fear of loneliness as a result.
Let’s speak to both of these issues together and hopefully men who worry about finding romance behind a facemask will feel more empowered and less anxious.
Understanding the Problem of Face Mask Anxiety
It can be frustrating when you can’t see a person’s full facial expressions, or you can’t use your own facial expressions in the way that you’re accustomed to doing. You might have trouble hearing a person speak or get so caught up in your own speech that you become awkward and unfocused.
Your breathing might become rapid and shallow. You might feel dizzy, disoriented, or even nauseous. So, it’s easy to imagine the difficulty of communicating with someone you’re romantically interested in while wearing a facemask. For some men, it’s enough to tip the scales into a full-on panic attack.
Wearing a face covering can also trigger post-traumatic stress disorders. Face coverings change the way that you physically look, and this might negatively affect how you perceive your self-image. Having a mask touch your face could also make you fixate or obsess about the sensation, producing sensory overload.
Government and civic mandates have failed society in addressing these underlying concerns before requiring that everyone wear face coverings in certain social settings. Plus, some members of society have verbally and in some cases even physically berated people who aren’t wearing a face covering in public.
Perhaps in the future there will be exemptions for certain people who feel unable to wear face coverings, but for now, it’s important to understand facemask anxiety and search for ways to overcome it.
Is This a Problem for Men or Everyone in General?
Men and women could probably agree that there are times when wearing a face covering are inconvenient when you’re trying to date someone. However, it can be particularly difficult for men given the nature of gender roles in society.
We spoke with Hera Laskri who is a professional relationship coach and counselor specializing in healing traumatic experiences. She was intrigued by the unique dilemma that men face as they try to pursue romantic relationships in the pandemic. She believes that men have a unique perspective in this plight.
“There is still this collective consciousness that men should be the one to go and ask the girl for a date,” Laskri noted. “There is still this peer pressure on men about being the one who should start the conversation and start the romantic relationship.”
That’s an interesting component of this issue because it refers to an underlying problem that springs from preconceived notions about the role of a man in the dating ritual. Men have to be the confident initiators of romantic discourse, or at least that’s what society has taught us.
Now, they’re being asked to uphold that gender role without all the tools and skills that they’ve been conditioned to use. It’s almost as if men need to learn an entirely new style of flirting without much physical contact or facial expression. That’s a daunting task, for sure.
We’re programmed to look for physical cues like moistening the lips, flipping the hair, and gentle touching as signs of interest. Without these cues in place, it can be difficult for men to gauge the level of attraction.
You might start to think to yourself, should I stay socially distant? Is it okay to kiss? Are they smiling or frowning behind that mask?
These aren’t the type of thoughts you should be having on a date.
“Who should be the instigator of the relationship? I think that’s probably why men can feel so much pressure like this because of the subconscious belief that they are the one who should go after the relationship, the one who should be the leader of it. And that can put so much pressure on them,” said Hera Laskri. “It’s already hard but now they have to deal with this.”
Laskri’s comments speak right to the source of the problem. Men might feel greater social anxiety about communicating and dating in the pandemic because there is already so much pressure related to their gender role.
Hera Laskri does amazing work with healing from toxic relationships and improving your own emotional intelligence. To find out more about her programs, please visit Hera Laskri here.
Here are some tips for reducing anxiety during an age of facemasks.
More Physical Expression
If you are worried about not being able to express yourself with a smile or physical touching, then consider using different forms of physical expression. You can practice at home with using your hands more when you speak. You can also position your body better by leaning toward for positive signals and leaning back for negative ones.
Different Face Covering Options
You don’t have to use a surgical face mask. There are a wide variety of face coverings that might make you feel more comfortable. Most establishments only ask that you wear a face covering. So, you can wear a bandana, cloth mask, or get creative with prints or funny messages. Practice at home to explore what makes you comfortable.
There are certain locations and situations when and where a face covering is not required. Instead of meeting a potential date in an indoor setting, try going outside instead. You can take a nature hike or prepare a picnic lunch. You might not be required to wear a face covering at all if you find the right venue.
Talk About It
You shouldn’t keep these thoughts and feelings to yourself. Your crush might be feeling the same way and discussing it with them could be a bonding experience. If you feel overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, then you can also speak to a mental health professional who can give you even more tools to deal with facemask anxiety.
For additional help in dealing with anxiety, you should head over to the Men’s Self Help Podcast and listen to the Anxiety Podcast. It’s an autogenic training meditation that you can use whenever you feel anxious about wearing a facemask.
The Idea of a Lonely Pandemic
Lastly, I wanted to address concerns over spending the duration of the pandemic alone. If you are struggling with the idea of dating in the wake of the coronavirus, then you might feel that your situation will never change.
I want to remind you that this too shall pass. The need for companionship is basic to humanity and nothing will keep you from meeting the right person when the time is right. Work on loving yourself to the fullest and building qualities that make you a better person.
You do not need to seek fulfillment through someone else because you are a whole being. You are not incomplete without someone else to validate and/or comfort you. Having someone by your side is not a goal that should dominate your thoughts. The more you fixate on it, the harder it may become to attract the right type of person.
This is an ideal time to work on yourself, to discover more about yourself, and to explore the true qualities that you seek in a potential mate. You can reach out to people online but try to base your attraction and interactions on mutual interests, not mere physical attraction.
If you form a real connection based on your personality and interests, then you can overcome just about any difficulty that might arise due to the pandemic. Keep an open mind and an open heart and you will be successful.
It can be difficult for men to find romance when everyone is keeping their distance. Let’s face it, this is an anxious time that is fraught with so much uncertainty. At times like these, it helps to remember that people crave connection. That desire to be connected is greater than the circumstances that we’re now facing.
Consider changing your perspective on gender roles. You can let go of the notion that you have to take control of dating by starting and steering a relationship. This might contribute to your anxiety. Just relax and remember that you are a whole being. When you find someone who appreciates you for who you are, then the face covering won’t get between you.
You can experiment with different ways of expressing yourself and different face coverings. You don’t have to wear a really thick face mask if you don’t want to. You might also find venues that don’t require a face mask at all. You might have to work a bit harder these days, but the rewards will be doubly sweet.
I hope this article was helpful. Please feel free to share it and write to us if you have any questions or concerns about relationships or building your confidence.