In a world where entitlement rages, it’s no wonder selfishness creeps into many areas of our lives. While we’ve all heard stories of entitlement in the workplace, we do well to remember that our personal lives are no less exempt from the struggle of serving self. If we’re assuming life should be easy all the time, rainbows greeting us at every turn, we’re sure to be disappointed. Relationships require work — work our selfish selves may be less than excited to do.
Selfishness at its core is the antithesis of generosity — a cornerstone component of any healthy relationship. Unselfish people look for ways to make other’s lives better, richer, and fuller — not smaller. Unselfish people seek to share life with their partners instead of forcing their relationships to suit personal desires alone.
What are Some Examples of Selfish Behavior in Relationships?
- Do you exclude your partner from decision-making? If so, explore the reason behind your unwillingness to share in life decisions. As uncomfortable as it is to admit, control could be the cause. Once you choose to enter a partnership with another person, you give up the right to act independently of one another. You’re free to let the world revolve around you, but don’t be surprised if you end up alone by refusing to let your partner share in decision-making that affects both of your lives.
- Do you consistently make plans that cater to your own wants and desires? When is the last time you planned a night specifically for your partner? A healthy relationship is one that allows for both of you to explore common and uncommon tastes and interests. Open your mind, and embrace change. You might even have fun along the way.
- Do you constantly seek to mold your relationship in your own image, or are you open to changing and learning from your spouse? Thriving relationships require give and take from both partners. If you find yourself continually seeking to change the behavior of those in your life, there’s a good chance you’re frustrating everyone around you — including your spouse. Take an honest look at your actions. Do you always push change on others while you stay the same?
- Do you keep secrets? Secrets big and small can damage a relationship. Secrets about spending, plans, emails, mistakes, etc., will eventually bleed a relationship of all health. One secret is too many. Tell it all. If you’re harboring secrets it’s time to do some serious searching within yourself. What are you afraid to tell? Why are you hiding?
A healthy relationship is a generous relationship, which includes:
- Selflessness (Hint: birthdays and Christmas are only a start)
Where do you go from here? It’s time to talk about it, and here’s some inspiration to get you started.
Conversation Starters for Problem Areas:
- When you make decisions without consulting me, I feel devalued and unimportant. I need to feel like my voice is heard in our relationship, and when you don’t talk to me before making decisions, I feel powerless and frustrated. I don’t want to feel like I’m being controlled. I want to feel like I’m in a partnership.
- When you make plans without considering my interests and desires, I feel unimportant to you. I need to feel valued, seen, and heard in our relationship. I would love to share some of my favorite places and interests with you, so we can be more connected.
- When you try to change who I am, it makes me feel like you don’t love me for who I am. I believe it’s important to grow and change for both of us — not just me. I’d love to learn how to grow and change together instead of feeling like I’m your side project.
- When you keep secrets from me, it makes me feel unsafe. I have a hard time trusting you when you keep even small secrets from me. Why do you feel like you can’t share your life with me? How can we stop this behavior from damaging our relationship? Are you willing to stop keeping secrets?
Relationships built on selfishness may not be doomed to fail, but neither are they destined to flourish. Do the hard work of truly sharing your lives together. Is it easy? No. All the best parts of our lives require work — no matter what the internet says.
But is it worth it? Yes.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3