Why He Loves It When You’re Selfish

Why He Loves It When You’re SelfishRelationships thrive on selflessness.

They require sacrifice, compromise, and putting each other first.

We know this deep in our bones, and yet…

Have you ever noticed lopsided relationships, where it seems like one person is doing all the giving and the other person is doing all the taking? One’s a saint; the other is selfish.

It seems like the answer would be to have a stern talk with the person who’s being selfish.

He needs to think of others besides himself for once. He needs to see how much his partner is doing for him. He needs to start pitching in.

But I have an unusual suggestion:

Maybe the person who’s always selfless should start being selfish once in a while.

As she learns to be more selfish, their relationship ends up balancing itself out and becomes better than ever.

How in the world does that work?

Let me guess. You want to know because you’ve been the one doing all the giving. You know what it’s like to feel taken advantage of. You don’t want a repeat.

You might think the solution is to pick a less selfish man in the first place. If you could find a man who was giving like you, you’d be set. You’d both serve each other, and your relationship would be paradise.

That’s one option, certainly.

But another option—the better one—is to prevent your relationship from getting imbalanced in the first place.

Where Imbalance Starts

Relationships tend to get polarized.

He’s tidy, she’s messy. She’s the organizer, he forgets everything. He’s on time, she’s late. She’s the strict parent, he’s the permissive one.

This polarization happens even if couples start off fairly well balanced.

Let’s say that, in your relationship, you’re the tidy one and he’s the messy one.

Before getting together with him, though, you didn’t see yourself as a particular tidy person. You’re just tidy compared to him. He keeps things clean enough to suit him, but he’s no Mr. Martha Stewart.

Over time, that small difference grows. You clean the house; he messes it up again. He doesn’t see why he should do any cleaning when you do such a good job of it. He notices that it seems to give you pleasure to keep things tidy, so why should he deny you the fun?

You end up frustrated and feeling used. You don’t like feeling like his maid! He couldn’t survive without you making sure he has clean underwear. He doesn’t think of anyone but himself.

What’s the answer to this problem? Handing him a mop?

To answer that question, let me tell you about something called The Shadow Effect.

The Shadow Effect

We have a tendency to assign bad traits to other people and good traits to ourselves. That’s why we never feel that we’re being selfish, while we can see rampant selfishness in others.

But what we’re doing is projecting our own shadow traits onto other people.

As long as your partner is the selfish one in the relationship, you’re not. His selfishness keeps you in the selfless role.

But you are selfish. We all are! Selfishness is part of the human condition, along with messiness, forgetfulness, tardiness, weakness, and every other trait you can imagine.

So it’s not true that he’s selfish and you’re not. What’s true is that he’s the selfish one between the two of you. You’ve made an unconscious agreement that he gets to be selfish and you don’t.

Your reward is feeling self-righteous every time he does something selfish or you do something selfless.

Honoring Yourself

Tired of having such an unbalanced relationship?

Then try some selfishness on for size.

Find that place in yourself that wants to say no to other people’s requests, just so you can come home early and have a long hot soak in the tub.

Find that place in yourself that wants to have what you want for dinner, instead of always letting him decide.

Find that place in yourself that is bold enough to say, “I’d really love it if you would do X for me,” instead of waiting and hoping he’ll guess it on his own.

Do some things for you every now and then.

Will that make you a selfish person?

No. It will just make you less resentful. And it will bring balance to your relationship.

Your partner, freed from the shackles of being the selfish one in the relationship, won’t feel judged anymore.

You’ll start to see that the relationship feels better to both of you when you give him opportunities to serve you and let him know how much you appreciate it.

You’ll begin a new dance, where both of you give and receive without keeping track.

Balance is a beautiful thing.


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6 thoughts on “Why He Loves It When You’re Selfish

  1. Anita said:

    Lana: Asperger’s is on the Autistic Spectrum. It is a medical condition, not a psychological condition. (My ex-husband has this slightly too.)

  2. Patsy said:

    I also had a one-sided relationship. I did most of the giving, and he let me. I sometimes liked it, sometimes resented it. Then I read a book about co-dependency, and realized that I did everything for him because I wanted to make him “happy” and healthy, and I wanted to heal his wounds from long ago. Guess what? That didn’t work. I thought I was not trying to change him, but in fact, I was. I thought I could make him love me the way I wanted to be loved.
    And then, I discovered, by chance, that he has Aspergers – look it up, if you don’t know what it is. In essence, his brain is wired differently. He cannot empathize with others. He’s still a good person, but he will NEVER change, even if he wanted to. So, after deep introspection, I decided to stay in the relationship. He is IN my life (and we do have fun together), but he is not my WHOLE life. Our relationship is more balanced; I no longer have expectations that I know he cannot meet; I appreciate his good aspects and know neither of us is perfect. So far (after 3 years), this is working, despite rough spots before I understood the Aspergers part, and my co-dependency part.

    • Lana said:

      Hi Patsy,

      I feel like the description of Asperger’s is similar to Narcissist, if not, please correct me. It is such an interesting topic to discuss…
      I try not to diagnose other people, since I am not a specialist, but sometimes the description fits so well to a person. Labeling is also not a good way to deal with different personalities, especially our loved ones. Love helps to overcome differences in relationship, and knowledge of psychology definitely works well.

      • Lily said:

        Hi Lana,
        One of the symptoms on Aspergers is Narcissism. I hope this helps!

  3. Alex B. said:

    My relationship seems to be just the opposite. My man doesn’t want me to the one to do for him. He is constantly reminding me that he was there for me when my husband died very suddenly (at 46) I’m 44. This is his brother that moved in with us the day after my husband passed. They had spoke of it the year before, and my husband told his brother that if anything ever happened to him he wanted the brother to be here for us. Our relationship began with him being the “saviour”. I have no idea how to get things back to balance. It may seem very strange to many of you that I would go from being with my husband to his brother but believe me when I say, this wasn’t planned at all. I met my husband when I was 18, he was 20. We dated for 4 years then broke up and we married other people. We each had children with our ex’s (me 4 him 1) and we got back together when I was 36. He was 38. We had an absolutely beautiful 8 years together and then one night while he was making dinner, he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack. I tried for a while to save him but he was gone quickly. I had not ever really engaged with his brother prior to this because he has always been a bit reclusive and so we didn’t really know one another. That being said, he showed up the next day, handed me a whole lot of money in order to keep the family going and moved in. I was in shock, grieving (as was he) and the relationship just sort of happened. All of that for me to say, I have made several huge mistakes in our relationship and he is a martyr. I do love him. Is that weird? There are so many things that I have had the opportunity to learn and love about him. I did ask him to move out because I felt like I needed time to grow and heal and he was stressed being here anyway. The whole point of this comment though Is to ask…how do I get the balance back? I cannot undo all of his help and kindness in the beginning and even ongoing but he wont allow me to be there for him and yet he reminds me that he has done so much for me. (But generally only when I’m acting ungrateful or throwing a fit because I want more time with him or…something to that effect) I am still learning and growing and I still hurt and miss my husband so much!
    Thanks for reading.

    Alex.

  4. Nancy said:

    I have to stop agreeing with you, or I will loose all credibility as a reader. I’ve only had one true relationship from a marriage, I am still perceived as all bad traits known to man. Which occurred when he emotionally left me. I choose not to believe gossip about him, I also know I’m not the worst at everything in the world. Knowing that, I’m also quite aware of my shadows and his light. I guess when someone chooses or looses his love for you, excuses are made as to why. I’m grateful in hindsight, as it grew uglier and uglier, I was the target of all wrong in his world. So, it took awhile but as you say we are all human and well live in a broken world. —
    So believe me when I say sometimes you can see both sides and if one does not want something to work, I assure you it won’t.—
    He seems happy with his new girlfriend, and I believe my prayers for him and his girlfriend make a difference. I’m no saint, I want no part of them but will always love that part of my life. Now with all knowledge gleaned from last years, will Make me a better mate for future true love!
    Next time, I hope to disagree with you ! LOL😂
    Always grateful,
    Nancy

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