I once had a friend who used to call me selfish all the time.
If I was too busy to cater to her needs 24/7, I was selfish.
If I wanted to talk about my issues once in a while, I was selfish.
If I refused to let her cross my boundaries… you guessed it. Selfish.
Once our friendship was over and I had the space to reflect back on the dynamic, I realized that much of the conflict that’d happened was due to her selfishness, not mine.
But frankly, it took me way too long to get there – which is why this article is here to help you recognize the signs of a genuinely selfish person much quicker.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
1) They monopolize the conversation
Do you know that feeling when you’ve been listening to someone talk for ages, saying “uh-uh” and “wow” and “okay”, only for them to just… keep on going?
Of course, this doesn’t automatically mean the other person is selfish – sometimes, we just get so passionate about the topic at hand that we completely lose ourselves in our narrative – but if this happens every single time you hang out… chances are, they are a tiny bit too self-centered.
And being self-centered is closely tied to selfishness because it means that one’s world revolves around them and them only.
They don’t ask you how you are. They don’t remember that important job interview or exam you’ve just had. If you give them your opinion on something, they dismiss it or ignore it altogether because they’re already thinking about what they’re going to say next.
In short, talking to a selfish person feels like sitting down to watch a theatre play, even though you expected to be one of the actors.
It’s incredibly disappointing, and before you know it, your social batteries have reached zero.
2) They don’t put in any effort to get to know you
The monopolization of conversations is a symptom of an overarching issue that selfish people often battle with – they simply don’t care enough about getting to know the inner workings of other people’s minds.
They are so immersed in their own universe that they rarely go out of their way to learn about the worlds of others, which can lead to relationships with one-sided dynamics and conflicts.
This can manifest in different ways, such as a lack of interest in your hobbies, passions, and day-to-day life. There will be no “How was your day” questions, no initiative to read your favorite book, and no big celebration when you reach a small milestone in your professional life.
A selfish person is too busy thinking about themselves to think about you, too.
3) They are only available when it’s convenient for them
The truth is that you can rarely tell the quality of your relationships straightaway.
You must go through months, sometimes years, of getting to know each other and encountering various challenges – breakups, stressful periods, times when each of you is thriving, and so on – that put your relationship to the test.
And if there’s one clear sign that the person you’re dealing with is genuinely selfish, it’s that they are never there for you when you need them.
Sure, they might hang out with you when you’re doing well, and you may be getting on great, but the moment life gets you down, your friend vanishes into thin air.
This applies to the small things, too.
Need your friend to print off something at the library for you while they’re there? Nah. They won’t bother.
Want them to teach you how to apply makeup properly because they’re so good at it? They’ll keep their secrets to themselves.
A selfish person is available only when it’s convenient for them. The moment you become the slightest nuisance, they cut and run.
4) They minimize their mistakes and maximize yours
The problem with selfishness is that it makes you so immersed in yourself that you completely forget (or refuse) to consider the impact your actions have on others.
Therefore, a selfish person will minimize their mistakes – they’ll say the fact they weren’t there for you when you needed them most was not such a huge problem and they’ll look for any excuse that’ll allow them to shift the blame – while maximizing yours.
I once had a flatmate who got really upset when I didn’t stick to the cleaning rota, but the moment she did the same thing, she waved it off as not a big deal.
Anything that makes their life inconvenient or that may attack their personhood is seen as a threat. Anything they do to inconvenience or upset you, though… meh.
5) They feel entitled to your time and energy
…and this can manifest both through negligence and holding on too tight.
If someone feels entitled to your time, it means they are likely to require your presence any time they fancy, no matter how busy you are. If you don’t come at their beck and call, they will cause a scene, pout, or make you feel guilty.
But excessive neediness isn’t the only sign of selfishness. The opposite applies, too. Let’s say someone keeps making plans with you and canceling on you at the last minute, stringing you along only to give you…nothing.
This is because they don’t factor your own plans into consideration, feeling entitled to all the time you have to offer.
Both are huge signs that you’re dealing with a genuinely selfish person.
6) Their actions don’t match their words
Saying one thing and doing another may not seem selfish at first, but in fact, it shows a lack of empathy and consideration.
If someone says they’ll change their behavior, only to upset you again and again, it means they’re not putting in enough effort to ensure that they’re treating you right.
Similarly, if they never keep their promises or are all talk and no action, it signals that they don’t care enough to show up for you as a reliable person you can lean on.
They might tell you what you want to hear and they might even apologize, but when push comes to shove… they won’t transform their ideas into real-world actions, especially if it’s inconvenient or bothersome for them.
7) They view you as a means to an end
This sounds quite drastic, but hear me out – many selfish people can hide this intention behind subtle and nuanced rationalizations even they manage to fall for.
For example, your partner might have fallen out of love a long time ago, but they are staying with you and not giving you the love you need because the familiarity and comfort of the relationship is convenient for them.
They may not feel entirely fulfilled, but if your purpose is to make them feel loved and safe, it’s enough. The fact that they can’t love you right and that you’d be happier with someone who can genuinely appreciate you is an afterthought.
The same goes for every relationship in your life. While every friendship does serve a purpose – and these purposes may differ – the friendship itself should be inherently based on a connection and a desire to hang out with that person rather than an ulterior motive.
A non-selfish person wants to form friendships because of the pure joy of the connections themselves. Selfish people, on the other hand, tend to have other intentions in mind.
8) They often call you selfish
Take this last sign with a grain of salt – sometimes, a true friend will point out your potentially selfish behavior so that you can work on your own weaknesses and grow as a person.
But sometimes, it is precisely selfish people who project that quality onto others, calling them selfish to hide their own misgivings. It is quite ironic, yet it’s true – some of us can be so selfish and self-centered that we end up thinking the rest of the world is the actual problem.
And if a person you know displays the above-mentioned 8 warning signs, it means they might be a genuinely selfish person.