What do you mean by that? When you’re trying to get on the same page with Bae, “what do you mean by that?” can be the difference between a knock-down-drag-out and an epiphany.
Words, before love, before our hearts and homes, and sometimes before our bodies, are the things that we share with Bae and Bae with us. Getting on the same page, using words, is the key a long-lasting relationship.
But when my Bae and I were in a chapter where we could either dive deeper and grow closer, or call it quits, some words came up that needed defining. Every conversation, especially an argument, boils down to one of theses six things. The better you understand these simple definitions, the quicker you and bae can overcome disagreement, and instantly help you grow closer, embrace deeper, and make more beautiful memories.
Pride: the “me” that I show myself
Every gay man should be able to understand pride. It’s what we celebrate half naked on the beach every year: the me that I show myself is valued, affirmed, and enough.
Ego: the “me” that I show others
Ego is the external expression of pride. It’s the what-you-ain’t-gon-do that keeps the world from coming for you. The ego is the part of the self that is built to protect its soft insides. But, if we’re honest, the more inflated the ego, the more broken the self.
Self: the “me” that I actually am
When we peal back all the cute shoes and selfies, the self is what remains. Regardless of who you tell yourself you are, and who you show yourself to be to the world, the self is who you actually are. This is the part that is pure honesty. But more importantly, it’s the piece of you that takes the greatest courage to share.
Embarrassment: hurt pride
Every time you’ve been embarrassed, from that time in the high school lunch room that you laughed so hard milk came out your nose, to when Bae found out that you fuck like A$AP Rocky, the embarrassment came because the version of yourself that you’ve believed you to be was hurt.
Whether you told yourself that you really are the cool kid, or deluded yourself into thinking you had some bomb d***, when the version of you that you’ve told yourself is violated, embarrassment is the result.
But you can be embarrassed all by yourself. And when you are, what you do to express your embarrassment will probably lead you to dishonesty.
Dishonesty: hurt ego
From cheating on a test when you were in school to cheating on your partner, all dishonesty stems from the version of you that you’ve attempted to show others being violated.
When I’m dating someone, for instance, I make you believe that I’m a good person who keeps his promises, says what he means, and considers his partner’s feelings. When I cheat on you, my dishonesty is a result of not being able to live up to the version of myself I’d been telling you.
The deeper lesson, however, is that the emotional pain your dishonesty causes is the direct proportion to how big your ego is. When you’re in the middle of an argument and Bae is deeply hurt, that is your opportunity to do an ego check.
Objectively approaching your relationship disagreements, as difficult as it may be, is the way to uncover deeper truths about yourself. your self-awareness grows from disagreement and conflict more than from good times.
Self-aware: the state of pride, ego, and self being completely aligned
Self-awareness is the deepest level of personal evolution. When the me that I show myself is directly aligned with the me that I give to you and the me that I actually am behind the brunch boots and IG filters.
If I tell myself that I am an honest person, and I tell you that I am an honest person, and I actually live an honest life, then I become self-aware. Some may think of the self-awareness as integrity.
Being self-aware should not be confused with ‘knowing yourself”. People who know themselves feel like they have all the answers about who and how they are. But consider this, my grandfather passed at the age of 88. One could wager that he knew more about himself in his 80s than he did in his 60s or 30s. The degree to which he knew himself may change over years, but his self-awareness can always be at max.
People who lack self-awareness are usually violated when they get new information about themselves. When that argument happens and Bae tells you you’re being selfish, or you’re not listening, and your response is “no, I’m not” without taking a beat for introspection, you lack self-awareness.
Being self-aware is the ability to receive new information about yourself–whether good or bad–without being slighted. It’s the acknowledgment that I will only learn so much about myself through my own experience; eventually, I will have to take the lessons of others to gain a better understanding of me.
Photo credit: @KenLaurence on IG