10 signs a man actually only cares about himself, according to psychology

We all have a little bit of a selfish side. But for most of us it’s limited and tempered by real empathy and interest in others. 

There are men out there who truly only care about themselves, however. They have absolutely zero regard for the perspective, interests or well-being of others. 

Clearly, these are the type of men everyone should be staying away from both professionally and personally. 

Drawing on insights from psychology, let’s take a look at the indications that a man genuinely only cares about himself. 

1) He makes every conversation and argument about himself

No matter what’s being discussed or why, the selfish man turns it into a discussion about himself

It could be how he feels, his own point of view or why a situation is affecting him a certain way:

But the key point is that these aspects involving him are always the focus. He insists that his views, his feelings and his experiences are clearly the most important of all. 

The same thing happens in arguments or in a relationship, where whatever problem is occurring he makes it about himself. 

2) He ignores the emotions and needs of others

This ties into the previous point, because a man who only cares about himself shows his selfishness in many ways. 

He just doesn’t care about the emotions or the needs of others. 

If he even bothers to pretend to care, it’s only a vague nod or an “sorry to hear that, yeah.”

He’s not engaged at all, and he’s right back talking about his problems or pursuing his desires and interests. Other people only factor into his life insofar as they can satisfy his desires and priorities. 

This can often verge into outright narcissism. 

As therapist Karyl McBride recounts:

“One narcissist I know wanted his girlfriend to give him 24-hour notice if she was going out with her friends and he wanted to know where she was going. Meanwhile, he maintained spontaneity in his own social life.”

3) He only offers transactional emotional support

If and when he does offer emotional and compassionate support, the self-centered man only does so transactionally. 

In other words he’s always going to call in favors and hold it against somebody if he helps them out. 

And he’s never going to aid somebody who’s truly helpless and powerless unless there’s some recognition or glory in it for himself. 

Helping and compassion for its own sake are not in his repertoire. 

If he’s helping, he’s doing it for an ulterior motive (sadly!)

He may consider himself a wonderful guy, but when it comes down to the wire he’s not going to offer emotional support to anybody unless he gets something in return (be that sex, wealth, business connections, prestige or anything else). 

This ties into the next point:

4) He’s only generous and helpful with strings attached

If and when he does offer real-world assistance of some kind, the self-centered man always has an ulterior motive. 

It’s not only emotional support and empathy which he uses for leverage:

If he gives out a small loan, gives a friend a ride, refers a colleague for a promotion or is understanding to his girlfriend and helps her through a rough patch with her health?

She owes him. That colleague owes him. That friend owes him. 

At least that’s the way he sees it. 

And when he spontaneously shows up with kindness and help or a thoughtful gift? There’s always something hiding in the gift horse’s mouth. 

“On the off chance that he does surprise you with a gift, it’s only to get back into your good graces,” explains psychology writer Jordan White. “He never gives just to give or because he truly wants to.”

5) He doesn’t take responsibility for himself

The self-centered guy can be quite charming and charismatic. He may also be intelligent and committed to his goals. 

But when it comes to mistakes or facing failures, he runs the other direction. 

He just doesn’t take responsibility for himself. 

He either blames other people for mistakes that happened or situations that are out of his control. To be fair, this may be partly correct!

But the issue is not that he’s always wrong in what he blames but more so that this is his go-to move and his instinct: to always point the finger, just never at himself. 

As psychology writer Sanjana Gupta puts it:

“Self-centered people may not be able to recognize that they’ve done something wrong and may blame others for any mistakes.”

6) He uses manipulation to get what he wants

The self-centered man is not above using manipulation to get what he wants. 

That manipulation can come in many forms, including:

  • Taking advantage of the love somebody else has for him to get what he wants.
  • Using his charm to talk a person into an unfair business deal.
  • Playing the victim to elicit sympathy and get his way.
  • Pretending to forget something in order to conveniently forget and have his way. 

And many more…

When he’s doing these kinds of things on an ongoing basis, it’s not just a one-off or him going through a morally questionable phase. 

Let’s make no mistake:

These are all behavioral patterns of a thoroughly selfish man.

7) He only gets selectively involved in projects if they benefit him

The self-centered man only gets involved in work projects when they benefit him. 

He doesn’t care much about the wider vision or the big picture. 

He’s only interested in what he can get. 

“Self-centered people often take more than they give,” Gupta observes.

For example, if his company is going to expand and wants his help advising on how to do that, he’ll do the minimum possible because he doesn’t see what’s in it for him. 

Whatever the situation, he’s only invested in a bigger project or a group endeavor when he can clearly and linearly see how it benefits him. 

8) He has an inflated sense of his own importance and status

The self-centered guy has a highly inflated sense of his own status. 

In his own mind he’s an ultra-VIP rock star who everybody should respect and listen to. 

He wouldn’t be surprised to see people ask for his autograph. That’s how important he is in his own mind. 

High self-esteem is great, of course, but this crosses the line into actually delusional self-importance. 

He’s so full of his own idea of his greatness that he doesn’t get in touch with the reality of day-to-day life and what’s expected of him and simply complains when things don’t go exactly how he’d like. 

9) He rarely listens to what others say and doesn’t actually care

Self-centered men are dismissive of boundaries and frequently overstep them. 

That’s because they don’t truly care how others feel or what others need. 

This ties into their habit of barely listening when another person is talking. 

The result is that those who end up in a relationship with a self-centered man feel completely overlooked and condescended to:

This guy just isn’t listening to what they say in most cases, and when he is listening he’s clearly not invested in any real way.

“Feeling heard is a vital part of feeling loved, so the result is usually to feel emotionally sidelined,” observes psychologist and couples counselor Debra Campbell. 

10) He pursues superficial and transactional relationships 

When it comes to his relationships in general, the self-centered guy only loves when he gets something from it. 

His relationships tend to be superficial and based on status:

He thinks of love and intimacy as a reward for “success” and importance, and he gives out his own time and affection accordingly. 

If he can’t get something from a relationship, then he doesn’t invest his time and attention into it, much less his money. 

And when it comes to giving out emotional support and love in a relationship, it really only goes one way: to him.

“You’re his emotional support, but he’s definitely not yours,” notes White. 

“There’s no way he could be — the guy doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise. He’s too busy telling you about his rough day at work or the fight he got into with his friend.”

Dealing with a selfish man

The key to dealing with a social man is for those who are close to him to set healthy boundaries and realize it’s not their fault. 

His behavior is his issue, and he has no right to take it out on others or make other people his doormat.

As social worker and psychology writer Saya Des Marais, MSW notes

“If you’re affected by a selfish person in your life, then it’s important to remember that it isn’t your fault. Setting strong personal boundaries can help you maintain a healthy relationship with this person while protecting your own well-being.” 

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