The relationship ended. No great reason, no explanation. Things just took a hard turn and fell apart. So, maybe looking back, there were some warning signs of problems. Communication was difficult (maybe non-existent, at times) or emotions would flare for no apparent reason. However, there was nothing significant enough to justify such a negative end to a relationship that started so well. Nothing justified actions that would cause so much hurt!
This scenario is all too common. When it happens… we want answers. Why did they cheat? Why did they change? Why did we stop moving forward? Why did their love turn to hate? Why don’t they care about my feelings? What did I do wrong? How could they just cut me off… cold turkey? Why won’t they talk to me and allow me to have closure?
There is one word that sits at the core of all of this confusion… selfishness.
Selfishness is the root cause of many broken hearts. It is a slow flowing poison that erodes, burns, and sears the bonds of relationships. Strong relationships have a foundation that is based on the ability to grow to love. Selfishness is the direct opposite of love. Love gives, but selfishness takes.
Being selfish involves a lot of “I” and has no room for “we”. Relationships and love are about togetherness; walking together as one. It’s pretty difficult to walk together with someone who has no concern for your presence or pace. Thus, if you enter a relationship with a selfish person (or if you are a selfish person), your relationships will not last.
Here are 6 characteristics of selfishness in a relationship:
1. Selfishness introduces conditions – Selfish people have an attitude that says, “If you, then I.” If you meet their immediate needs or desires, then they may remain in the relationship. Their focus is not on adding to the life of the one they are with. They desire to have things added unto them. The downside of this is, in their quest to be added to, they may not even realize or care how much they are cutting down (or dividing) the person they are with. (Relationship Coaching: Do you multiply or divide?).
2. Selfishness breeds lies and manipulation – Selfish people have a very narrow focus. They are focused on getting what they want, when they want it. Instead of seeing others’ opinions, feelings, and desires as guides (things to consider)… they view them as obstacles (things to get around). This mindset makes it very easy for selfish people to introduce subtle forms of manipulation and lies into a relationship. Over time, as they learn more about you, the manipulation becomes strategic and they are able to get their way faster and more often.
3. Selfishness will lead to hurt – Selfish people will abuse your heart to get whatever they are ultimately seeking. Once you can no longer provide… they will leave you. Dating with selfish goals is wrong and will lead to hurt, disappointment, bitterness and delusional feelings about love.
4. Selfishness blocks the building of trust – Loving with condition is based in selfishness and selfishness will never allow you to give someone the benefit of the doubt. If you do not offer the benefit of the doubt in a relationship, you will never understand what it’s like to love freely. Instead, you will live in situations where you never trust that the other person has your best interest in mind. (Relationships: One Little-Known Factor that could affect your Relationship)
5. Selfishness has roots in insecurity – Selfish people focus on covering themselves because, deep down, they really don’t believe anyone else will truly have their back. They have deep-rooted pain that causes them to feel inadequate in some way. Instead of getting help for their pain, they overcompensate; they convince themselves and others that they are perfectly confident. Unfortunately, this causes them to think more highly of themselves than they ought to (Romans 12:3). (Relationship Coaching: 9 ways to overcome insecurities)
6. Selfishness is impossible – When people want you to accept them as they are, but they expect you to be perfect… they are selfish. It is impossible to have a lasting relationship that is pleasing to God if you both are not willing to learn what it means (and do what it takes) to grow together as one.
If you realize that you have a selfish motive, or any bad motive, for desiring a relationship… take a step back and make an intentional decision to resolve the situation. In the end, you will avoid hurting someone else, or even yourself. Always date with integrity. People were not created by God to be used to numb our personal pain or to be our “right now” while we wait for Mr. or Mrs. Right.
Have you practiced selfishness in relationships? Simply admit it and make the corrections. There is no shame in becoming more of who God would have you to be.
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