How Selfless Love Differs From Selfish Love

There are plenty of ways to love and they’re all valid, but some of them mean different things in different circumstances. One huge difference in how our love is perceived by other people is whether it’s coming from a pure and selfless place, or from a needy and selfish one. Here’s the difference and why that’s important:

  1. Selfless love accepts. When we selflessly love people, we accept their flaws and shortcomings more readily. Selfless love accepts that ups and downs are a part of the journey and that the downs are better off when love is there, anyway.
  2. Selfish love withholds. When love is selfish, it holds back where it should be given freely. Selfish love doesn’t feel safe because it’s conditional, so it doesn’t support people the way that real love is supposed to do.
  3. Selfless love comes from a place of abundance. When we love selflessly, we don’t worry about the outcome of it or whether we’re giving more than the other person. Instead, the act of loving feels good and it’s obvious that whatever comes back to us is the right amount.
  4. Selfish love comes from a place of fear. When people love selfishly, they’re doing it to fill a void, which comes more from a place of fear than from a place of plenty. Fear then diminishes love, as opposed to letting it grow organically.
  5. Selfless love never ends. Love that is given selflessly doesn’t have an end date, whether people are in our lives or not — it just exists because it feels good to us. Just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean we cut off the supply, even if we don’t really talk to the person much anymore.
  6. Selfish love isn’t always wanted. When we love selfishly, other people aren’t really all that receptive, which just feeds into the cycle of feeling needy. It’s a vicious circle, and a totally unnecessary one, but it can be hard to break out of once you’re in it.
  7. Selfless love is a gift. Selfless love is given as a gift and will be received as one, so there’s no stress or drama in the exchange. When people take free love, they’re just more likely to give it back naturally.
  8. Selfish love stagnates. Selfish love creates complicated relationships that can get stuck in one place or fizzle out because it wasn’t there for the right reasons. There’s no way it can grow because it’s all about you, not about building a connection.
  9. Selfless love creates growth. Selfless love provides room for people to grow because it isn’t trying to tie anyone down. That freedom makes for bigger, more open lives with more room to accept and give love in return.
  10. Selfish love thinks love is scarce. When people love selfishly, they keep it close to themselves in an effort to protect it. It’s stingy and self-centered and there’s only enough to fill your neediness.
  11. Selfless love knows love is limitless. Selfless love knows that there’s enough love in the world for everyone and that the way to get more is to give more.
Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog