Am I selfish? We’ve all wondered from time to time whether we could do with being a little more open and giving. The line between self-love and self-absorption can be a fine one, but being aware of your selfishness is the first step to fixing the relationships you may have broken, and creating new ones that are healthy and sustainable. Here are the signs that you’re more self-serving than altruistic.
You expect your partner to put your needs first.
If you and your partner had had stressful days at work, you expect them to be the one to make dinner while you lie down on the sofa and vent your frustrations. If you want to go out to eat but your partner wants to stay in and watch a film, you expect them to put their desires aside and go out with you. If you don’t always get your way, you question their commitment.
You never adjust your plans to accommodate others.
In contrast, you never change your schedule for anyone. If a friend needs to reschedule because they don’t have childcare, you say you’re too busy. If your boss wants you to stay a few minutes late at work, you’re outraged and consider calling HR. Anything that threatens your routine upsets you. You can’t accept that life is unpredictable, and sometimes, you need to be flexible.
You complain a lot.
Nothing is ever good enough for you. You are proud that you have high standards, but it goes beyond that. You are constantly disappointed in your partner but struggle to articulate what annoys you beyond trivial things. Your friends get on your nerves when they’re not as entertaining as you expect them to be, and if an experience isn’t as fun as you predicted, you let everyone around you know that you’re dissatisfied.
You take everything personally.
If someone cancels plans with you, you immediately assume it’s because they don’t like you. When someone tries to give you constructive criticism, you feel attacked. If you’re around someone who’s in a bad mood, you decide it’s because they hate being around you. All of these things indicate that you think everything is about you. You find every opportunity to resent the emotions of others instead of trying to understand their feelings or feel sympathy.
You don’t like your partner spending time with his/her friends.
Being jealous of your partner’s friends is a sign that you want your partner all to yourself. You think that spending time with other people shows that they lack commitment to your relationship. If you could have it your way, they would only spend time with you outside of work. However, friendship is crucial to anyone’s happiness and actually makes a person’s romantic relationship happier. You can’t be everything for your partner, no matter how amazing you are.
You cancel plans a lot.
Part of being a good friend or partner is following through with plans. Self-absorbed people are so concerned with their own needs that if they lose interest in an upcoming obligation or find something better to do, they have no qualms about canceling, no matter how last minute. If you’re constantly canceling and rescheduling appointments, it may indicate that you’re selfish.
You’re jealous of other people’s success.
It’s hard not to feel a twinge of jealousy when someone we know scores a big win in their professional or personal life, but this is usually superseded by excitement on their behalf. If you’re a selfish person, however, you will not be able to enjoy other people’s accomplishments because you will always think of them in relation to your own. The better off another person is, the more resentful you are of them.
You feel used when people ask you for help.
You don’t have to be thrilled about picking your friends up from the airport or buying them coffee when they forget their wallets, but it’s part of having close relationships. If you expect people to drop everything when you need help but resent them when they do the same, you are selfish. Being a good friend and partner means that you don’t keep score of how many favors you’ve exchanged. You’re there for each other, even when it’s inconvenient.
You never apologize.
No one enjoys apologizing, but it’s part of maintaining healthy relationships. Sometimes, you just have to accept that you were wrong, or that you regret the hurt you caused. If you refuse to apologize, it’s a sign that you do not take responsibility for how your actions affect others. Expecting your partner to always apologize, even when you were both in the wrong, is another example of putting yourself first at the expense of your relationship.
You compare yourself to everyone.
Whether it’s the person in front of you in the checkout line or an old friend from high school, no one escapes your scrutiny. You survey those around to see how you stack up against them. You consider whether they are more accomplished than you, have a happier relationship, or are more attractive. You struggle to appreciate the attributes of others because you always feel that they exist to point out your comparative inadequacy.
How to be less selfish
Even if you exhibit selfish behaviors, chances are you’re not a terrible person. In fact, you’re likely not even aware that you’re guilty of some of these things. Now that you are aware, however, it’s the perfect time to make a change. You can instantly become a more generous and caring person by doing these things.
Master the art of listening.
One of the most generous things we can do in life is simply to listen to people. Most of the time, they don’t want you to solve their problems or do anything other than to hear them out. Instead of just being quiet while another person is talking, practice truly being less selfish by absorbing and thinking about what the other person is saying. This will not only increase your understanding of them, but it will make you a more sympathetic and empathetic person as well.
Check in on the people you care about.
It only takes five minutes to pick up the phone or send a quick text to say hello and ask how someone is. Whether it’s your grandparents, a friend you haven’t seen in a few months, or even your bestie you don’t get to chat to much these days because things are so hectic — check in and let them know you care. You would be devastated if anything happened to them and you never reached out.
Give genuine compliments.
Think about how amazing you feel when someone says something nice to you. It takes very little effort and can really make someone’s day to hear a genuine compliment. If you like a colleague’s shirt, tell her! If you’re proud of a friend because she achieved something amazing, lavish her with praise! It’s one of the easiest ways to boost someone’s mood and while it’s a selfless act, it has the added bonus of making you feel great too.
See how you can help.
Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a friend move apartments, or stay late at work one night to finish a project with a colleague who’s falling behind, helping out a little from time to time is the opposite of selfish. While you don’t want to take this too far and let people take advantage of you, sometimes it’s nice to inconvenience yourself a little bit just to make someone else’s life a little easier, don’t you think?
Every day, think about how lucky you are. You have a roof over your head, a job that pays you, food on your table, and an amazing support system. Not everyone can say that, so the fact that you can makes you incredibly fortunate. Why shouldn’t you try to make sure other people get to enjoy half as much of a wonderful life as you have? It’s only right!
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