Being in a romantic relationship with someone you care about is a wonderful experience. You can depend on and take care of each other without feeling judged or used. But sometimes it's easy to show qualities of selfishness without even realizing it. Being selfish in a romantic relationship can really affect the dynamic between you and your partner. It can cause resentment and animosity. While it's important to not be co-dependent on your partner and have your own life and goals, you shouldn't have the final say in every decision or never respect the needs of your partner. So why exactly is it so easy to be selfish in relationships sometimes?
"Selfishness is typically caused by hidden hurt and resentment tied to unresolved relationship issues. Instead of getting help for these issues, they sometimes overcompensate for it. It does not mean they don’t care about their SO or their feelings. And oftentimes, they don’t realize their selfishness is causing issues in the relationship," says relationship etiquette expert Mara Opperman in an interview with Bustle over email. "Selfishness in relationships can cause significant issues. Being selfish is all about 'I' and not 'we,' which is what a relationship is built upon. Relationships should be about being together. It’s difficult to be together — both physically and emotionally —when you feel your SO has no regard for your feelings. Selfish people don’t add to the relationship and help it to grow. Instead, they are all about adding to their own life. Overall dating a selfish person can lead to hurt, disappointment, and resentment." continues Opperman.
Thankfully there's a way to overcome this unfortunate problem: "It’s important to remember that people define things differently. The other person’s definition of ‘selfish’ may be very different from yours." says member of the International Coach Federation and principal of Ibis Coaching, LLC Yvonne Acquafredda in an interview with Bustle over email. “Asking the other person to help you understand the impact of your words or actions, and being genuinely open to the feedback, is a great way to compromise and rebuild," continues Acquafredda.
It's important to remember that to have a healthy, loving relationship, you and your partner should try to be thoughtful of each other's feelings. You should consider what they want when you want to make a decision and be empathic to their thoughts. But if you feel like you and your partner have been in a lot of arguments lately, and you don't understand why, here are 13 signs you might be acting selfish in your romantic relationship.
1. It's Your Way Or The Highway
"Every time [your partner has] a discussion with [you], [they] end up doing whatever [you] want to do, and give up on [their] own happiness," says Opperman. This isn't healthy. This could lead to resentment, which could destroy the relationship.
2. You Don't Listen To Your Partner's Opinion
Communication is key when you're in a romantic relationship with someone. And if you ignore your SO's wishes and thoughts, then that might be a key sign that you're selfish. "If your partner believes that your opinion is not worthwhile and theirs is more valuable, [then] this is a sign your partner is selfish," says Opperman.
3. You Don't Take Accountability
Selfish people in relationships never consider themselves in the wrong. They put blame on their partner and think they're always right. "Your partner never apologizes, even when they are wrong, is a sign of a selfish person," says Opperman.
4. You Expect Your Partner To Change
You might be acting selfish in a relationship if you're expecting your partner to change their personality and habits to match your wants and needs. "Your partner tries to change you and mold you into what they want you to be," says Opperman.
5. You Always Put Your Needs Before Your Partners
It's important to consider your partner's needs to maintain a healthy, happy relationship. Selfish people tend to do the opposite by putting their needs first. "Even more so, your partner doesn’t give or share with you and always puts their needs above yours. This is a huge red flag," says Opperman.
6. You Need To Be In Control All The Time
Being selfish means things always have to be your way and you have to control every aspect of everything that happens in your life, especially your partner's life, too. If you do this, you don't consider their goals or thoughts and only want what you think is best. "Try and give up being in control all the time. Trust your partner to make decisions too," says Opperman.
7. You're Rarely Happy For Your Partner
If your partner's happiness isn't one of your top priorities, then your relationship might be doomed. You might feel jealous of your partner's accomplishments or don't want the best for them. These could be signs that you're being selfish in your relationship. "Consider how often you think about making your partner happy, or caring about what your partner wants or feels. There should be a balance and mutuality. That means, each of you cares both about yourselves and about each other. If you can see that going on, [then] you're doing fine, " says Tina B. Tessina, PhD, in an interview with Bustle over email.
8. You Don't Try As Much In Your Relationship
Most relationships end because couples just stop trying. Romance is put off because the needs of one person takes over the other. "Laziness can be a sign of selfishness. If you only want to do things that make you happy, and don’t do things that make your partner happy, that’s a good sign you are being selfish," says Opperman.
9. You Take Your Partner For Granted
You think your partner is never going to leave and nothing is going to change. But sooner or later, your partner could get tired of the relationship because you've taken them for granted for such a long time. "If you take your partner for granted and consider your issues to be more important than your partners, this is being selfish," says Opperman.
10. You're Always Taking, But Never Giving Back
Your partner could resent you if you only take things and never give anything in return. To make a relationship flourish, it's important to find a healthy balance where neither of you take advantage of each other. "Your relationship can feel unbalanced. Giving and receiving are important for both people in the relationship. If you are always taking and not giving back, this is a sign of selfishness," says Opperman.
11. You're Not Empathic To Your Partner
To make a relationship last, you need to strive to be empathetic to your partner. Not showing empathy could mean you're not willing to think about how they're feeling when they're dealing with a tough situation. "If you can’t empathize with your partner and instead, belittle or ignore your SO’s feelings, this is also a sign of being selfish," says Opperman.
12. You Act Impulsively
You might show signs of selfishness if you act impulsively. You think you know what's best for you and your partner without talking to them first. "Some personality traits that could indicate that someone is selfish are if a person acts impulsively, is domineering, is self-obsessed or has a low self-esteem which causes that person to disregard a partner’s needs out of anger, jealousy or sadness," says Laurel Steinberg, PhD, in an interview with Bustle over email.
13. You're Not Flexible
Relationships are usually all about compromise, but you can't have a healthy relationship if you're not flexible. Have an open mind about what your partner wants so you can become less selfish and more flexible. "You say 'no' a lot even when you know it gives your partner pleasure, but you're just not that into it," says clinical psychologist Megan Fleming in an interview with Bustle over the phone.
If you feel like you have a lot of these qualities, don't panic. You can change your habits if you truly want to so your relationship can become healthier. Take it slow, communicate with your partner and apologize if you feel like your behavior has gotten out of control. Your partner will probably appreciate your honesty and work with you to improve the relationship.