Connections are awfully fragile. We may spend a lot of time building them, but it does not take nearly as long to break them down. A building which took a year to construct can be demolished or burned to the ground in a matter of hours. It is not enough to build connections with our loved ones. We must also guard those connections from harm.
There are plenty of connection killers out there. Selfishness is certainly at the top of the culprit list. Building a lasting connection requires trust and we are more likely to trust those who are not always looking out for number one.
Selfish people don’t usually jump out from behind a rock and say, “Give me stuff!” In relationships, it usually takes a little while (at least a few dates or more) before the ugly self-centeredness begins to show. It is possible to connect with a self-absorbed person as long as he or she hides his or her true colors for a while.
Selfish folks don’t typically carry business cards, either. They are not members of a selfishness club. In fact, some may not even realize they are living their lives in an egotistical bubble. Maybe their families taught them that it was good and proper to take care of yourself first. If you try to show a “me-centered” person the error of his ways, you may be surprised by his extreme offense to your attempt. He may even start listing ways he has been selfless lately.
I opened your car door. I let you pick the radio station. I even gave you the last bread roll at dinner last night! How dare you call me selfish?!
How Selfishness Kills Connection
A selfish person will never fully experience the joy of a deep and honest connection. They look at life and say, “What’s in it for me?” Those who have selfish partners eventually begin guarding their hearts from being used or disregarded.
Loving a selfish person is an exhausting task. Every year, thousands of brides say “I do” to selfish grooms – and vice versa. Left to our own devices, we are all selfish. We all seek to be pleased and to get what we want. However, love is the opposite of self-seeking. When we love someone, we set our own needs aside and see to it that our sweetheart has what he or she needs.
Selfishness says, “I can’t help you right now. My show is on.”
Selflessness says, “Would it be okay if I waited until a commercial? If you need me right now, I’ll gladly come.”
Selfishness says, “Sure, there’s only one piece of cake left. I want it, so it’s mine!”
Selflessness says, “I know she loves that cake, so I’ll save this piece for her.”
Selfishness says, “I know I have a girl, but that doesn’t mean I can’t check out other girls! I’m not dead!”
Selflessness says, “I know it would break my girl’s heart if she saw me flirting with someone else. I won’t do that to her.”
Selfishness kills emotional connections because it exalts itself and seeks its own desires. A romantic connection is a two way street. I am holding onto you – and you are holding onto me. In order to keep the connection strong, I have to focus on you and you have to focus on me. As soon as I let go to take care of my own wishes, the bond weakens.
Selfishness says to the other person, “You are not that important to me. You will always be second to me. I will always expect you to sacrificially give, but I will not give in return.” When a person deeply loves another, what does he or she do? He goes out of his way to make sure her needs are met. She goes out of her way to please him and build him up. When our priority is to love someone else, we aren’t thinking about how we can be pleased.
Friends and Family
It is clear that selfishness breaks down a bond between sweethearts. But, it doesn’t stop there. When someone has a selfish character, it spills over into other areas of life. Selfish people sever friendship ties. Their friends eventually get tired of putting up with narcissistic behavior and move on to greener pastures. If you are in a relationship with a self-centered person, and his or her friends keep leaving, it will affect you too. Not only will you have to endure life with a selfish person, but you may lead a lonely life. Couple friends won’t stick around to be abused or taken for granted.
Then, there is the workplace. Those who are only concerned about themselves are probably not going to be as vigilant about doing a good day’s work. They are not going to mind calling in just because they want to be lazy. And, chances are they will not go to great lengths to get along with co-workers. Selfish people are often between jobs.
Is It Worth It?
If you are dating a selfish person, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to give tirelessly to someone who has no intention of genuinely loving you in return. Marriage is about connection, giving, and putting someone else’s needs above your own. That is why Eric works so hard to make sure I have what I need. That is why I do chores I don’t enjoy to make sure he is clothed and fed. If we both approached our marriage thinking, “What can I get from my spouse?” we would be miserable and completely disconnected.
We don’t share our hearts with people whom we think will trample them. Selfish people take from and use others, so it is unwise to trust them with our hearts. How can you connect with someone when you have to keep your heart hidden? Don’t settle for someone with whom you can never share a trusting, open connection.
Are you connected with someone who is primarily concerned with pleasing himself or herself?