Why do People Pretend

In this world where we are never sure of who the other person is and what their intentions are, we are always guarded. We are mostly uncomfortable coming out and showing our real self. We put on the masks to show ourselves in different colors like a survival tactic. However, it takes courage to be real and show our real selves and be proud of it. The more confident and secure we are about ourselves, the less masks we need to put on and the less we need to pretend.  

Why do People Pretend?

We live in a world where we are constantly judged by others. We all are aware of many eyes on us all the time, assessing and scrutinizing us. This constant scrutiny forces us to create an ideal image of ourselves and to show this alter image to the world – to our family, at our workplace, etc. We can take a high stand and tell ourselves, “It doesn’t bother me what people think about me” but we do get affected. We are always conscious of how we are looking and how the other person is perceiving us.

It’s harder to pretend to be someone who you are not then to be accepted for who you are!

We pretend to be nice and docile in front of others although we might be raging from inside, we pretend to smile while we may be crying from inside to show that we are strong, we pretend to be a great saint with no vices just to feel superior to others, the list is endless. we pretend all the time unless and until we are in a room alone with our true selves.

Is Pretending similar to having a double personality

Let’s not confuse this pretense with what some people have – double personality. Double personality is a personality trait that some people attain as a result of personal trauma or any inflicting incident. It is called Dissociative Identity Disorder in medical terms. In this condition, people change from one personality to another unconsciously and the person often forgets what the other personality did once they come out of it. In this case, a person doesn’t change his or her personality to portray an image. 

It’s harder to pretend than to be accepted for who you are!

When people pretend, they do it to change their image consciously to impress people around or to just get by any situation. It is quite surprising that we do not prepare ourselves to pretend most of the time. We use our power of imagination and deduction and play the pretend game as and when the situation comes to survive in this world like, showing ourselves as a strong/weak person, Knowledgeable/ignorant, filled with love/consumed with hate, religious/atheist, etc. With time and experience, we become so habitual of pretending to be a different person in front of others that it becomes our second nature. We keep many masks in our bag and use them as the time comes.

Is Pretending Wrong

Have we seen young kids pretending to be docile and naïve in front of their parents and becoming rouge the moment they are with their friends? Employees pretending to be taking notes in a meeting while they are making sketches or writing poetry. But these are funny, harmless pretends where the disguise is just to get by the situation. These pretends can be for a short period of time or can go for as long as a person is willing to play the part. We all know of a man who pretended to be a teetotaler to maintain his relationship with his partner or an outgoing independent woman who leads a simple life to pretend she is a homely person when her in-laws visit her. These pretends are not always wrong. As long as we are not hurting anyone’s sentiments, as long as we are using these pretends to maintain certain relationships to avoid unnecessary regular confrontations, these pretends are a kind of life savers. 

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be – Kurt Vonnegut

Then there are pretends which are played to portray a false image not for the purpose of love, harmony, or family ties but to show them as someone great, holy saints. These people pretend because they are insecure and always want to portray a better image of themselves. They are trapped in a kind of false image syndrome. They are so used to showing people how great they are that their pretend becomes their second reality. But the real problem starts when they start imposing their pretend personality on others and start living against their nature just to justify it. 

Should We Confront People who are Pretending

So, what should we do when we see a person we know well pretending, to be someone he/she is not, in front of us? Besides getting surprised, we may be tempted to break the bubble but we need to understand the situation in which the person is and why is he/she pretending. If the person is trying to save a bad situation or a relationship, we should let go of it. Even if we see a person pretending to be someone else just to show themselves superior to others, we need to understand that our questioning that person will only lead to an ugly confrontation. The people who pretend will never admit to it and since it is such an intangible emotion, we cannot lay our hands on it. It’s best to leave people alone with their pretends – some do it for love, some for relationships, some for peace, some to cover their insecurities but we all do it so that we can keep living in our own way.

A Quote to End With…

“You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.” ― Navajo Proverb


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