Should You Be Selfish in a Relationship? Yes, and Here’s Why

by Sarah Vulpio

Sarah Vulpio is a Chicago-based artist and writer. Her work has appeared in Points in Case, Little Old Lady, and Cosmopolitan. She is a content creator for Fitz Games, an original comedy-based card game. She is currently working on her first book, set to be released in late 2021.

Apr 22, 2021

When you were young, your parents probably taught you sharing is caring; that if you didn’t share your toys, you were selfish.

Now as adults, society tells us asking for what we need makes us a selfish person, especially as womxn. We’re programmed to be the “good girl” who does what she’s told and never asks for anything in return. 

Selfishness: a survival instinct with a bad rap 

Whether society chooses to believe it, selfishness is something we all possess. It’s inherited in all of us, so it’s human nature to put ourselves first. Despite all the negative connotations associated with selfishness, it’s not all bad. 

Redefining “selfishness”

In order to redefine what it means to be selfish, you need to understand the difference between the good and the bad.

Egoism is the idea that it’s normal to act for yourself and no one else, but there’s a big difference between egoism and healthy egoism. Healthy egoism means by caring for yourself, you’re taking care of everyone around you.

In saying all of this, make sure you’re mindful about sharing the attention you give yourself with others. While you put yourself first, make sure your selfishness isn’t neglecting their needs, and vice versa. 

One key sign you may be exhibiting toxic selfish behavior is setting expectations for your partner you don’t follow yourself. For example, you tell them not to get upset when you make plans and not invite them, yet you throw a fit when it happens to you. 

Another sign of selfish behavior is insisting you’re always right; that it’s your way or the highway. Ignoring your partner’s opinions, and refusing to see their side is not only selfish, but disrespectful. Put your pride aside and keep your mind open to their ideas.

Good selfishness brings happiness, bettering yourself and your relationships, both romantic and platonic. Bad selfishness is thinking of yourself as a way to hurt other people. For example, narcissism: the bad kind of selfish. Taking a day to pamper yourself after a long week: the good kind.

The benefits of putting yourself first in a relationship

It’s not a crime to think about yourself, especially in a relationship. Yes, they’re about giving, but it’s important to remember you’re also allowed to take. Before you can love another person, you need to love yourself. 

When you ignore your own needs for the sake of helping others who are suffering, you spread yourself too thin. When you do this, your feelings bottle up to a point where you’ll eventually explode. When you forget about self-love and your self-worth, your relationship becomes a one-way street, and not in your direction. 

Being selfish in a relationship benefits you more than you’d think. It makes you more confident in your relationships with yourself and your partner. You see how special you are, which translates to your relationship.

Getting your confidence back

Practicing good selfishness lets people see the real you. When you let yourself be vulnerable and make “selfish” choices, you’re opening yourself to a new level with your partner. They get a better understanding of what you want, and how they can make sure you’re getting what you need.

When you put yourself last, you may notice yourself losing your confidence, your sense of self, your “sparkle;” but don’t worry, it’s not gone forever. 

Here are a few simple ways to get that confidence back:

  1. Learn when to say “no”
  2. Don’t be afraid to speak up 
  3. Ask for what you want/need
  4. Set aside a few hours for some “me” time
  5. Treat yourself every once and a while

Not only will you see a difference, but others will notice that glow too. 

Building a strong sense of self 

As you dedicate yourself to others and their needs, your sense of self starts to slip away. You forget what it is that makes you, you. It’s time for that to change.

Have you stopped following your dreams for the sake of your partner? Maybe you had to put them aside to support your partner’s dreams or felt you didn’t deserve to. Whatever the case, here’s your sign to go for it. 

Once you realize you can give more time to yourself, you’re telling yourself you deserve to be happy.


Being able to support your partner 

When you have a stronger sense of self, you have more time to give to your partner. You can use that energy to support your partner wherever they need it most. 

Though it’s important to give to yourself in a relationship, remember a healthy relationship is a balanced one, but it’s not only on you to maintain this balance; both you and your partner need to keep an open mind to one another’s wants and needs. This means open communication to make sure both parties feel loved and cared for. 

Ways to get your healthy dose of selfishness to improve your relationships

If you’re unsure where to start, think about being emotionally selfish. This could mean asking your partner to be more present in the time you spend together, or actually listen to your problems and not just hear them. Keeping your emotions at the forefront makes you happier, which means a happy, healthy relationship. 

When it comes to intimacy, being a selfish lover is important at any phase in your relationship. It’s making sure your needs are met too. If you’re constantly worried about pleasing your partner, you’re not getting the attention you need (and deserve). If you feel they’re making sex more about them, tell them it’s your turn to take the spotlight. 

This could mean:

  1. Trying new positions 
  2. Incorporating pleasure toys
  3. Guiding your partner so they clearly understand what you want or like

Again, relationships are about balance, both in and out of the bedroom.

Remembering the upsides of being selfish

Selfishness isn’t always a bad thing. It can make your relationship stronger, show others the true you, and most importantly, remind you always it’s okay to love yourself.

By admin

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