Being in love is a great feeling and you’re all set to be the best lover ever and have a good time in the process. However, love comes with a fair degree of learning and compromise. If you’ve been used to having things your way for a long time, or haven’t dated in a while, your independent spirit could sometimes translate into selfishness in a relationship. That, or you’re just self-absorbed by nature and haven’t learnt to put anyone else first.
While wanting to put your own needs first is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be devastating if you’re always being selfish in a relationship and it can hurt your partner. When one starts ignoring their significant other’s needs and treats them with a lack of compassion and concern, the relationship usually starts to get rocky.
While working on yourself is necessary here, seeking professional help is a great idea too. Bonobology has a panel of experienced counselors you could reach out to for a number of issues. In this case, we spoke to Kranti Sihotra Momin (M.A., Clinical Psychology) for more insights on how to define and address selfishness in a relationship.
13 Signs That Scream You Are Being Selfish In Your Relationship
For a healthy, loving and mature relationship, you and your partner need to be thoughtful of each other’s feelings. Empathy goes hand-in-hand with love when it comes to relationships and there are consequences to selfish, one-sided relationships. It’s important to first realize that you’re being selfish, and then work on yourself to actually make the relationship blossom.
“Being selfish is when you consistently put the ‘I’ ahead of the ‘we’ in an an intimate relationship,” says Kranti, adding, “Sometimes, it’s so ingrained in us to put ourselves first that we don’t realize we’re being selfish or hurtful to someone we love.”
Being the partner who says hurtful things, is inconsiderate and selfish, can ultimately cause the other person to pull the plug on the relationship and break up. It is wise to be mindful when you notice a lot of frequent arguments and take stock of your standing in the partnership. Once you start asking the question, “Am I selfish in my relationship?” you’ll be surprised at the little things that come to mind that need to be addressed.
“Selfish people aren’t always aware of what effect their actions have on others and so it’s important for anyone to make the selfish individual aware of what they’re noticing about their actions, as well as the impact on themselves,” Kranti warns.
We’ve rounded up 13 signs that you’re making your relationship all about you, rather than nurturing a strong, give-and-take partnership that will make your love last longer.
1. If it’s not your way, it’s the highway
“I’m argumentative by nature,” says Kelsey. “And I like having things done my way. It could be anything from how cutlery is arranged on the dining table, to how a presentation at work should be conducted. My partner often points out that I rarely give other people to chance to do things their way, or even consider that there could be another way. I’m working on it, but it’s tough.”
People who are used to doing things their way often find it difficult to collaborate or acknowledge that there are other ways of doing things. To them, it signals a loss of control and can make them shaky. In an intimate relationship, this can translate to being a selfish boyfriend or girlfriend and dismissing their partner’s suggestions or point of view.
Think about it. Whenever you and your partner get into a discussion, does it always turn out that your word is the last? Do you even make your partner forego their own happiness and make them give up on the argument? If you do not have it your way, do you start getting angry or threaten to give your partner the silent treatment?
This behavior, over the long term, can build up resentment in your partner, resulting in the end of the relationship. If you have the habit of always having the last word and throwing a fit if things don’t always go your way, it is one of the signs you’re selfish in a relationship.
2. You think you’re always right
Listen, no one likes a self-righteous bore. Trust us, even your partner who claims to love you no matter what, wishes you would stop. It doesn’t matter how well-read, educated or well-travelled you are, you don’t know everything. And assuming you do is killing your relationship.
This is a major sign of a self-absorbed person — to be unable to accept that they’re ever wrong. They feel superior and are baffled by anyone who thinks otherwise. They will actually go to any lengths to prove that they are always right. Does that sound somewhat like you?
If you have a misplaced superiority complex it’s one of the signs you are selfish in a relationship. It is okay to put your ego aside and give up that god complex sometimes. Ever heard of the phrase, “To err is human?” Go look it up!
3. You never value your partner’s opinion
“Wait,” you say. “What do you mean there’s more than one opinion in this relationship?” Yes, since you’re not in a relationship with yourself, you might want to acknowledge that your partner has thoughts, feelings and opinions too. And they could be different from yours.
“I dated this guy who would order for me whenever we went out to eat,” says Nancy. “He thought he was impressing me with his knowledge about food and wine, but it annoyed me so much. And if I ventured an opinion, he would shut me down as though it didn’t count.”
If you’re always expecting preferential treatment in your relationship because you believe that you are the more important being and your opinions are to be valued more, it’s one of the clear signs you’re selfish in a relationship. Not just that, you’re arrogantly assuming that your significant other does not have the capability to take a stand.
Sometimes, you might feel like it’s not even worth it to ask for your partner’s opinion. Doesn’t sound like a very healthy relationship, does it? Mutual respect is a big deal in any relationship, and that includes respecting your partner’s thoughts, opinions, points of view and feelings.
4. You focus on ‘winning’ the argument
Look, I feel you. I love winning arguments — it’s so immensely satisfying. But, some wise person once said that sometimes in relationships, you have to choose between being right and being together. And if you’re choosing being right every time, chances are you won’t be together all that long.
No one’s telling you to let every argument go. But think about how far you go to win an argument. You don’t care if it hurts your partner. You don’t hesitate to push all their buttons, even saying things you know will trigger deep-seated trauma or old wounds.
Related Reading: 8 ways to fight respectfully with your spouse
You will go to any extent to win an argument because, for a selfish person, winning is all that matters. For you, losing an argument is a sign of weakness, and your ego makes you fight to feed it.
In fact, if you look closely enough, you’d realize you actually hate to lose an argument everywhere and prefer to walk out then be proven wrong. If you’re wondering, “Am I selfish in my relationship?” this is a good place to find your answer.
Here’s a tip: Winning every argument in a relationship doesn’t make you particularly winsome. Or give you a winning personality. All right, we’ll stop.
5. It is always your partner who apologizes after a fight
The word ‘sorry’ really isn’t in your vocabulary. In fact, apologizing, to you, sounds like backing down and admitting you were wrong. And we all know you hate that!
All couples fight but if you’re looking for signs you are selfish, you’ll notice that people who have selfish partners are likely to apologize even though they are not at fault. You always tend to defend yourself and dig your heels in, implying that that it was always, always your partner’s mistake.
You emotionally manipulate them to think that they are wrong all the time, find it immensely hard to swallow your pride, and always end up blaming your partner. Sure, happy couples fight too but they make up afterwards and don’t play blame games.
If you can’t remember the last time you sincerely apologized after a fight, you’re being selfish in a relationship and it’s time to make amends.
6. You are always trying to take control
You just love being in control. Of your own life, of everyone else’s life, including your partner’s. To you, dominance and control are equivalent to power. And power is what you like, what makes you feel like a winner. You’re so convinced that whatever you decide is the best thing to do, it never occurs to you that this could be a toxic trait that destroys your relationships.
One of the signs you are selfish in your relationship is if too many people call you a control freak, and not in a fond, quirky way. Selfishness destroys relationships, and if you’re constantly trying to control your partner and your relationship, it can quickly turn into a messy breakup.
It’s okay to want to have direction, to want your partner to do better or be better. But you need to let them live and grow at their own pace, and not take over their entire life.
7. Your needs always come first
“My ex-girlfriend’s favorite phrase was, ‘I want,'” says Wyatt. “It didn’t matter what I or anyone else wanted, it was her needs that had to be met, her needs that mattered. I could want a burger, but we’d get pasta. I could want to stay home, but we’d go out, because it was what she wanted. I’d want to talk about my day, but her day was always more important to discuss.”
One of the signs you are selfish in a relationship is when you believe that your needs are over and above everyone else’s. You’re convinced that no one has as difficult a time as you do, that your outpourings need to be heard first and no one else’s.
Again, this can cause major resentment in a marriage or a relationship. Your partner might fume in silence for a bit and then eventually, they will either start neglecting their own needs entirely to place your needs first or, they will simply walk out of the relationship.
8. You guilt-trip your partner frequently
Another one of the signs that you’re selfish in a relationship is that you guilt trip your partner to make sure your needs and wants are met with. Guilt trips are a clear sign of psychological manipulation and coercion. You, with your tactics, manage to make your partner feel guilty for anything that is not done your way.
In other words, you’re telling your partner they should feel terrible about themselves because things haven’t turned out exactly how you wanted them. And this is something that happens every time you’re not happy with how things are.
Guilt-tripping is a terrible, passive aggressive form of articulating your displeasure at a loved one. It makes for spectacularly unhealthy relationships and definitely underlines your selfishness in a relationship.
9. You are a pro at manipulating your partner
Yes, you are! Remember how you withheld sex and sulked in cold silence until your partner gave in to whatever you wanted? You actually think and work out unhealthy tactics to make them function as per your desire. When your partner has a different point of view on something, you ignore them until they give in.
This can result in deeply hurting your partner and they may start to harbor bitterness towards you, even if they don’t show it right away. Remember, built-up bitterness and negativity is more prone to bring a painful and sudden end to a relationship.
Related Reading: 22 bad habits that ruin a relationship
10. You are always competing against your partner
If your partner gets a new job or a good paycheck, you don’t feel happy but rather focus on how to beat him or her. Simply put, you see them as a competitor, rather than a partner. Not only that, when you are having a hard time at work, you expect your partner to pitch in even at the cost of their own work or priorities.
You are always competing against your partner, and you even expect them to make unhealthy sacrifices to help you ‘win’ — definitely one of the signs you are selfish in a relationship There may also be some unhealthy jealousy involved.
Though it is great to be competitive in a world where the mantra of note is ‘survival of the fittest’, competing against your own partner or walking all over them will only pave the way for bitter times ahead.
11. You have trust issues
You are selfish, and you know it. So obviously, you cannot trust your partner to make you happy, because you have come to believe that it is only you who can achieve happiness for yourself. You never give in 100% of yourself in a relationship, and you assume the other person would do that too. For this reason, your relationships do not fare for long.
Having major trust issues with no probable reason is one of the signs of a self-absorbed person in a relationship. But you must note that there are consequences of selfishness in a relationship.
12. You feel you are a better deal for your partner
Your superiority complex makes you believe that your partner is flawed, while you are the epitome of perfection. You frequently say it out loud that they are not ‘good enough for you’. Whether it is their physical appearance or in psychological matters, you feel you score higher on all fronts. And where you don’t, it is probably not significant.
This leads you to another major expectation – the expectation that your partner will change themselves to be what you desire, to ‘improve’ and match up to your standards.
13. You don’t bring anything to the relationship
You never seem to put any effort into the relationship; rather, you only complain about it not being what you ‘expected’. You’re inconsiderate towards your partner’s happiness and your plans mostly revolve around your own interests and likes.
You never compromise or even if you do, it is mostly as a favor. You never make an attempt to make up after a discord, and still get upset if your partner does not give their everything to the relationship.
Over time, this can make your partner frustrated and want to end the relationship. And can you even blame them?
In the short run, you have the liberty of being selfish but as time goes by, the consequences of selfishness are bound to catch up with you.
How Selfishness Destroys Relationships
If you can relate to most of these signs of being selfish in a relationship, you need to look inward and make some changes to how you treat others, especially your partner.
Being selfish and putting yourself first, are sometimes different things. When you’re selfish you’re barely perceptive to the needs and wants of others around you and needless to say, that is some bad karma.
You knowingly do things that you know might hurt someone just because you can and you want to, despite the consequences of selfishness. You’re often taking your partner for granted. But trust us, they won’t put up with it forever.
Here are a few ways that selfishness destroys relationships:
- Your partner feels unloved/uncared for: When you’re the self-absorbed one in the relationship, you have all your attention and want your partner’s too. This is bound to make your spouse feel insignificant and unloved. They will experience a lack of attention which leads to the next point
- They start harboring resentment: Resentment arises from the fact that your partner is giving their everything to the relationship, but barely getting anything out of it. They’ll start catching on to your selfish behavior and your need to be right all the time, despite the consequences
- The fights in your relationship increase: When someone is unhappy in a relationship, they start to project this unhappiness in the form of arguments. Your partner will start picking more fights with you because they are not satisfied with how you treat them
- Your partner stops giving in to your every demand: Because they’re on to your selfish behavior, they will stop giving in to your every whim and fancy like they used to. This might anger you and lead up to more fights but maybe it’s time to take a minute to reflect upon yourself?
- They talk to you about how things aren’t working out: Your partner might try to communicate with you about how they think things aren’t working out and they feel unhappy. If/when they do this, try your best to listen to them and not indulge in blame-shifting.
If you really want your relationship to work out, this would be the time to actually show your partner you care
- Your partner finds someone else: If, despite them expressing their feelings to you, you continue to be adamant and walk down the highway to hell, your partner might find themselves someone who values them more than you ever did
- The relationship comes to an end: When your partner can’t take it anymore, they will end the relationship. Or one of your arguments might get too heated and you end the relationship because of your obvious ego issues. No matter the reason, the relationship might come to an ugly end
- You have a hard time moving on: Despite who ended the relationship, you know the main reason behind it was your selfishness. You may try to deny it, but it will scar your conscience. This is why you might have trouble moving on after the breakup and finding a new partner if you don’t mend your ways.
Kranti points out that people are sometimes selfish to protect their own self-interests. They could fear doing more for others in case it puts their own needs on the backburner. But sometimes, especially in intimate relationships, this becomes a toxic trait and makes the relationship dynamic one-sided.
“Prioritizing goals, respecting other’s time, maintaining healthy relationship boundaries and well-being in addition to one’s own interests, are always important to consider when building and maintaining relationships,” says Kranti, adding, “In every relationship, be it platonic or romantic, partners give and take from each other in equal measure without keeping count.”
“But a relationship with a selfish person means that they extract your love and affections, without giving back in return. They think that they are needed more than they need you,” she adds.
So, how do you change? The first thing to do is to accept that you’re being selfish in a relationship, and then truly commit to change. Do not panic as yet, just go and apologize to your partner and work on making your relationship a healthy one – for both of you.