A person who focuses on meeting their own needs is an egoist. What does this mean in practice? When our expectations are not aligned with our partner’s vision, they are unlikely to be met. An egoist rarely does anything for others and is reluctant to give in to them. He satisfies other people’s needs when he has a clear interest in doing so. For example, he is interested in getting a promotion at work, so he listens to his customers’ expectations in order to get a good sales result. When he wants to win someone’s favour, he can be charming and kind. On the other hand, when a solution is not in the selfish person’s interest, it will not meet with his approval. For example, when we need him to drive us to the doctor’s surgery and there is nothing in the vicinity of the surgery that arouses his interest, he is likely to refuse to help. Even the egoist husband is reluctant to give real support to his partner when her health is declining.
Egoist versus egocentric – what is the difference?
Who is an egoist and what distinguishes an egocentric? Although the two terms are sometimes treated as synonymous with each other, they are actually used to describe two different attitudes.
The egocentric believes that he or she plays the most important role in the universe. As such, everyone should conform to his needs and vision. He often sees himself as infallible and unique. The egocentric assumes that he is always right. He tries to impose the views he holds on others without considering that everyone takes their own perspective. He finds it difficult to see the mistakes he has made. He would like the world to function according to the rules he has adopted. The egocentric wants everyone to conform to him, to pay attention to him, to remember him and to single him out. He feels superior to others. Example of egocentrism: how could you not visit me when you were at your grandmother’s hospital? The egoist does not see himself as infallible and does not tend to impose his views on others. Instead, he expects the world to cater to his needs. He values comfort and therefore does not do favours unless he sees some benefit for himself in them. The egoist does not give up his needs for the benefit of other people. He treats his partner as a giver and places himself in the role of a taker. He is happy to use support, but does not give it to the other person. We already know what an egoist means. In the following article, we will look at what a relationship with such a person looks like.
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The selfish guy – symptoms
Shortly after birth, each of us exhibited selfishness. Focusing on our own needs ensured our survival. We signalled our needs by crying and shouting. We wanted to have our parents beside us and were unwell when they disappeared from sight or took care of others. Egoism in the early stages of life is a natural survival strategy. We come into the world completely incapable of independent existence. Our elementary needs are met by caregivers. Over time, the focus on our own expectations gradually gives way to altruistic attitudes. Egoism in a relationship is a serious problem and makes it difficult to build a partnership relationship.
Causes of egoism in a relationship
An egoist in a relationship only takes, giving little in return. Attempts to build a partnership with him or her based on equality face numerous difficulties. The egoist often takes on the role of a child and casts us in the role of parent to meet his needs. What has shaped his attitude and approach to other people? The causes of egoism have not been established and confirmed. Some scientists tend to theorise that it has a genetic basis. Some of us are less inclined to altruism than others because we base our survival strategy on meeting our own needs. There are indications of a link between selfishness and the way we are brought up. Sometimes parents give up their own needs for the benefit of their child. They deny themselves a holiday, the purchase of new shoes or an evening out with friends in order not to disappoint their son or daughter. In this way, they unconsciously send the child the message that his or her needs are the most important and that other people are there to satisfy them. Psychologists are also looking with interest at Western societies where the main emphasis is on individualism. On the one hand, its promotion is beneficial. Only by satisfying our own needs can we perceive and meet other people’s expectations. When we are short of energy because we feel tired after a week’s work, we are rather reluctant to respond to a request for help. Rest allows us to recharge our ‘inner batteries’, which support altruistic attitudes. On the other hand, individualism increasingly presents itself as an end in itself, which discourages us from helping and building collaborative relationships.
Common effects of selfishness in a relationship
Both the selfish guy and the selfish woman have problems building healthy interpersonal relationships. People who display this attitude have fewer friends. They find it harder to form a lasting and satisfying relationship. Even if the egoist gets into it, his/her partner/partner will notice the imbalance quite quickly. Romantic relationships function well when each person both takes and gives. The egoist in a relationship feels satisfaction only at the beginning of the relationship. In the infatuation phase, we are more willing to satisfy our partner’s needs because we tend to idealise them. Over time, we begin to feel a sense of injustice. We stop accepting the unequal sharing of responsibilities, living costs and lack of commitment on the part of the partner. Very often, when the selfish person does not show goodwill and does not intend to change his or her behaviour, a break-up follows. Psychological research shows that people who have satisfying relationships with others report higher levels of life satisfaction. Having a support group makes it easier to survive adversity. The emotional support provided by others becomes a source of optimal arousal. Our nervous system goes into a state of relaxation because we know we can count on a partner or friends in times of difficulty. The egoist in a relationship, although trying to take care of his own needs, is in fact often left alone. The rule of reciprocity is at work here. Since we have not helped anyone, others will not support us either.
Is the egoist capable of love?
The egoist treats the relationship as a relationship that satisfies his many needs. Erich Fromm formulated the startling thesis that a person who focuses only on himself does not actually love himself. He feels an enormous emotional emptiness, suffers from low self-esteem and suffers from unmet needs. Because of the deficits, he is looking for someone to answer them. Both the selfish wife and the selfish husband do not love themselves, so they are unable to love their partner/partner. Such people often do not know what love is because they have never experienced it. They do not understand the language of reciprocity, which is based on the balance between giving and taking.
Abraham Maslow, who created the famous pyramid of needs, started from the premise that there is nothing wrong with prioritising one’s own needs. As long as we are able to see other people and can afford to be altruistic, our attitude does not have a harmful social impact. Sometimes we help others without expecting anything in return, because just giving support makes us happy. Sometimes, however, we take care of ourselves and our own development. If we do not prioritise our own needs, we run out of ‘fuel’ to help others. The egoist does not feel ready to help others. He or she is happy to take advantage of their support, but does not offer it. In a relationship he only takes – attention, interest, affection. He does not offer this himself. Is the egoist able to love? He often does not know how to show love. We do not get emotional support, affection or good sex from him.
Egoism in a relationship shows different degrees of intensity. Sometimes it is intermittent and results, for example, from difficulties experienced. In summary, not everyone who exhibits egoistic behaviour is incapable of love. Some people are capable of love, but at a particular time in their lives they are not able to give it.