sex & relationships

To be selfish or selfless: that is the question

As with most love and life questions like this, the answer will depend entirely on everyone’s individual relationship dynamic, and how you behave as a couple.

As with most love and life questions like this, the answer will depend entirely on everyone’s individual relationship dynamic, and how you behave as a couple. It’s important to be both selfish and selfless, and equally important to be neither too selfish nor too selfless. Confused? Don’t worry—let’s break it down.

Be Selfish

It can be too tempting to try and give the other person everything, just to make them want to stay with you. These relationships tend to last a long time, but they’re poisonous. If you establish yourself as the one person who will give, buy and accept almost everything, this pattern will continue and be hard to break.

We all deserve to be treated well and respected, and if that involves you demanding a date night or even time to yourself, that’s perfectly okay. An open and successful relationship should mean you can tell your other half what you need, and they should be willing to accommodate you without any arguments. 

Be Selfless

It’s important to take care of yourself but the wonderful thing about being in a relationship is having someone else in your life to care about too. Make sure your boyfriend/girlfriend feels appreciated and wanted, just as you want them to make you feel.

Being selfless isn’t just about buying gifts though. It’s much more about consideration and knowing your partner and what makes them happy or brings them down. If the person you’re with is so great that they make you want to be selfless, you’ll start sacrificing small things for them, and it won’t be a chore.

Selfish in moderation

Being selfish is generally only a good idea when you really need some time to yourself or space to breath. Don’t use being selfish as an excuse to get your way, either in a relationship or just in your day-to-day life. Selfishness can extend to using your relationship to ignore deadlines or get time off work. Don’t ignore your other priorities in life, like family or friends, just to spend time with your other half. The key to a successful relationship that doesn’t consume you is to know your priorities – you are first and foremost the most important, and then you need to rank your partner, family, friends, job, school etc, in your personal order. Knowing where you need to be will prevent you from treating anyone in your life in a selfish way.

Selfless to a degree

As hard as it may seem, with a little time and patience you’ll find the mid-point between being not being too selfless, and also not being too selfish. It’s all about balance—think about your own needs and also the needs of others around you. It’s vital to be honest with yourself about the lengths you’re willing to go to in order to please the other person in your relationship.

Caring about them and being attentive and understanding is a must, but paying their bills and never telling them when they upset you is being more of a doormat than being selfless. Don’t ignore them, but equally don’t let your world revolve around them.

Relationships will always be confusing when it comes to matters like this. We never want to give or take too much; particularly if it means realising we are more committed than the other person. Sometimes, it’s better to be honest, particularly if you’re the one being endlessly selfless and getting nothing in return.

Equally, don’t be the selfish one, no matter how hard life gets. If you’ve found the right one, they’ll be as committed to this seesaw game as you are. It’ll all work out, with a little bit of time.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.