You’ve been there for others your entire life. Your caring nature and empathetic heart have led you to give endlessly to those around you. But some people take advantage of your kindness and never reciprocate. The emotionally selfish demand your time, energy, and support but are nowhere to be found when you need them. They dismiss your feelings and needs, always centering themselves. Their manipulative actions have left you feeling drained, unfulfilled, and questioning your self-worth.
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What Does It Mean to Be Emotionally Selfish?
An emotionally selfish person lacks empathy and concern for others. They put their own feelings, needs, and desires first without considering how their behavior impacts you. Some signs that you may be dealing with an emotionally selfish person are:
- They make everything about them. Conversations always revert back to them and their problems. Your feelings or experiences don’t seem to matter.
- They lack empathy. Emotionally selfish people struggle to understand other perspectives or share in the emotions of others. Your feelings, worries, or stresses elicit little concern or support from them.
- They frequently play the victim. Emotionally selfish people portray themselves as blameless victims of circumstance to gain sympathy and manipulate others. Their problems are always worse than anyone else’s in their minds.
- They make unrealistic demands on your time and energy. Emotionally selfish people expect you to be at their beck and call 24/7. Your own needs and boundaries don’t register with them.
- They become hostile or punishing when you don’t meet their needs. If you fail to do what an emotionally selfish person wants, they react with anger, aggression, or passive aggression to bend you to their will.
Dealing with an emotionally selfish person can be frustrating and hurtful. You may feel unimportant, unheard, or disregarded, which takes a major psychological toll over time. Don’t let their selfish behavior define your self-worth. You deserve relationships where your needs and feelings also matter. Speak up, set clear boundaries, and consider whether the relationship is worth saving. You have every right to demand respect and reciprocity from the people in your life.
Why People Become Emotionally Selfish
Being around emotionally selfish people can wear you down over time. Their needs always come first, and they lack empathy for what you’re going through. Why do some individuals become this way? Here are a few reasons:
Unmet emotional needs
Emotionally selfish people often grow up with unmet emotional needs. Their parents or caregivers failed to provide affection, validation, and nurturing. As a result, they learned to put their own emotional needs first to compensate, and they expect others to do the same for them now.
Lack of self-awareness
Those who are emotionally selfish tend to have little self-awareness. They lack insight into how their words and actions impact others. They can’t see beyond their own desires and priorities to understand someone else’s perspective. Developing self-awareness and the ability to see beyond oneself is key to overcoming emotional selfishness.
Feeling insecure about themselves or their relationships can drive emotionally selfish behavior. They constantly seek validation and reassurance from others to boost their self-esteem. Their insecurity causes them to be overly self-focused, demanding, and manipulative. Building confidence from within rather than relying on others is important for improvement.
The good news is that emotionally selfish people can change by developing empathy for others, improving their self-awareness, and addressing feelings of insecurity. However, they must first recognize the problem, which can often only happen through feedback from those around them. You may need to be direct by speaking up and setting clear boundaries to protect yourself. Don’t feel obligated to remain in a toxic relationship with someone who refuses to change. Reclaim your life by surrounding yourself with people who treat you well and support your emotional needs too.
Consequences of Emotional Selfishness
The emotionally selfish person in your life has likely caused damage in many areas. It’s time to assess the consequences of their behavior and start the process of reclaiming your power.
Constant stress and anxiety from dealing with an emotionally selfish person can take a major toll on your health and well-being. You may suffer from symptoms like insomnia, weight changes, high blood pressure, and even depression or panic attacks. Make self-care a top priority right now. Focus on exercise, nutrition, sleep, and managing stress. See a doctor if needed. Your health and safety come before anyone else’s demands or needs.
Other relationships in your life have probably suffered due to the selfish person monopolizing your time and energy. They may have isolated you from friends and family or caused damage to those bonds. Now is the time to start repairing relationships and setting better boundaries. Reach out to people who were once close to you. Be open, honest, and willing to listen. Let them know you value them and hope to rebuild trust.
If the emotionally selfish person had any control or influence over your finances, there may be some messiness to sort through. Check statements thoroughly for any signs of fraud or misuse of funds. You may need to make adjustments to your budget, close joint accounts or credit cards, or put a fraud alert on your credit reports. Take back full control of your financial life and make sure this person no longer has access.
The journey toward reclaiming your life will be challenging but empowering. Stay focused on self-care, surround yourself with supportive people who truly care about you, and take things day by day. Don’t feel pressured to “get over it” quickly. Healing from emotional abuse and selfishness takes time. But by taking these steps, you’ll break the grip of toxicity and open the door to healthier, happier relationships. You deserve nothing less.
The Impact of Emotional Selfishness on Relationships
Emotional selfishness can poison relationships. When someone lacks empathy and is unwilling to consider your needs, it creates an imbalance that slowly erodes intimacy and trust.
Compromise becomes impossible.
Without a willingness to meet in the middle, even small disagreements turn into power struggles. There is no “we”, only “me”. Every interaction requires that you cater to them. Over time, you may start to doubt yourself and your own worth in the relationship.
Your needs cease to matter.
The emotionally selfish person expects you to understand and accept their needs but shows little interest in yours. They lack the ability to see from your perspective or understand why you feel a certain way. Your feelings are dismissed or minimized. This one-sided dynamic leaves you feeling depleted, unimportant, and unheard.
Boundaries are disrespected.
Someone who is emotionally selfish sees boundaries as an inconvenience rather than a necessity for healthy relationships. They may repeatedly cross the line in small ways, ignoring your requests for space or privacy, or they may commit serious violations of trust that damage the foundation of the relationship. Without boundaries, you have no ability to protect yourself or establish your own limits.
The toxicity spreads.
Emotional selfishness poisons not just the individual relationship but relationships with others as well. The selfish person’s demands, criticisms, and unreasonable expectations extend to family, friends, coworkers, and anyone else in their sphere of influence. Their behavior breeds resentment, conflict, and distance, damaging the connections between you and others in your life.
The only way to escape the grip of the emotionally selfish is through self-care. You must stand up for yourself, set clear boundaries, and, if necessary, distance yourself from their toxicity. It’s not easy, but reclaiming your autonomy and surrounding yourself with people who love and respect you will help heal the wounds. You deserve relationships where your needs and feelings also matter.
Setting Boundaries with the Emotionally Selfish
Setting clear boundaries is one of the healthiest things you can do when dealing with an emotionally selfish person. Their behavior can quickly deplete your mental and emotional reserves if left unchecked. Establishing boundaries helps ensure your needs are met while also protecting your own well-being.
- Be direct and specific. Don’t hint at what you want; directly state your needs and limits in a calm, respectful tone. For example, say “I can’t talk for more than 30 minutes” instead of “I’m kind of busy today.” Leave no room for ambiguity.
- Be consistent, and follow through. Enforcing your boundaries may be difficult at first, but it’s the only way an emotionally selfish person will take you seriously. If you say you’re unavailable after 8 p.m., don’t answer their calls after that time. Stand up for yourself and the limits you’ve set.
- Don’t feel guilty. The emotionally selfish person may try to manipulate you into feeling bad for establishing boundaries. Don’t give in. Boundaries are healthy and help ensure a balanced relationship. You deserve to have your needs met.
- Be prepared for pushback. The emotionally selfish individual benefits from your lack of boundaries, so they likely won’t respect them easily. Calmly and firmly reiterate your limits as needed. You may need to limit contact with them if they continue to disrespect you.
- Get support from others. Let close family and friends know about the boundaries you’ve set so they can support you. Ask them to refrain from giving information about you to the emotionally selfish person. Their support will help strengthen your resolve.
Setting clear boundaries is difficult but vital for your well-being, especially when dealing with emotionally selfish people. Be direct, consistent, and seek support from others. Don’t feel guilty for demanding what you need to be healthy and happy. You deserve relationships where your limits and needs are respected. Stand up for yourself – you are worth it!
Signs You May Be Dealing With an Emotionally Selfish Person
You may be in a relationship with someone who lacks empathy and compassion for others. Emotionally selfish individuals primarily think of themselves and their own needs first. They lack consideration for how their words or actions might affect those around them. Some signs you could be dealing with an emotionally selfish person include:
- They rarely ask about you or how you’re feeling. Conversations center around them and their interests.
- They invalidate your feelings or experiences. They may say things like, “You’re overreacting” or “That’s not a big deal.”
- They frequently break promises or cancel plans. Their needs and desires take priority over anyone else’s.
- They blame others rather than taking responsibility for their actions. It’s always someone else’s fault.
- They have unrealistic expectations of you and demand constant praise or admiration.
Do small acts of selfishness add up?
While emotionally selfish individuals may not always intend harm, their self-centered behavior can be damaging over time. Consistently having your feelings dismissed or your needs unmet wears away at your self-esteem and happiness. If several signs on this list resonate with you, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.
You deserve to be in healthy relationships where you feel heard, supported, and cared for. Don’t be afraid to communicate your needs to your partner, set clear boundaries, or spend less time with people who make you feel bad about yourself. You have the power to surround yourself with people who appreciate you for who you are. Choose yourself first.
Self-Care Tips for Coping with Emotional Vampires
Dealing with emotional vampires is draining. To maintain your energy and sanity, make self-care a priority. Some tips:
Limit contact when possible.
Don’t engage or make eye contact; keep conversations brief and superficial. Set clear boundaries to protect yourself.
Don’t take the bait.
Remain calm and detached from their manipulations and mood swings. Don’t let their negativity provoke you or make you feel guilty.
Be gentle with yourself and avoid self-blame. Their behavior says more about them than you. You deserve to be surrounded by people who treat you with kindness and respect.
Find your support network.
Connecting with others who understand what you’re going through can help alleviate feelings of isolation and validate your experiences. Call a friend or family member, or see a counselor. Let people who care about you support you.
Engage in regular self-care.
Make time for hobbies, socializing, and physical activity. Stay socially connected to balanced and uplifting people. Exercise, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. Engage in relaxing activities like yoga or meditation. Limit caffeine.
Set small boundaries and practice assertiveness.
Start by saying “no” to small requests to build your confidence, then work your way up to bigger issues. Be polite yet firm and consistent with your limits. Your needs and feelings matter.
Remember, you have the power to rise above their influence. Do not let their toxicity define you. You have inner strength and resilience that they lack. Stay focused on surrounding yourself with people who treat you well and supporting your own growth and happiness. In time, their grip will loosen as you reclaim your life.
How to Communicate Your Needs to the Emotionally Selfish
Communicating your needs to the emotionally selfish can be challenging, but it’s necessary for your wellbeing. Here are some tips to help you reclaim your voice:
1. Be direct but tactful.
Politely but firmly state how their behavior makes you feel and what you need from them. Say, “I feel unimportant when you don’t listen to me. I need to feel heard.” Rather than accusing, use “I” statements to express your feelings.
2. Set clear boundaries.
Decide what is and isn’t acceptable to you. Calmly tell them your limits, e.g., “I won’t tolerate yelling. If you raise your voice, I will end the conversation.” Be prepared to actually enforce your boundaries if they cross the line. Don’t make empty threats.
3. Don’t engage in their drama.
Stay composed when they try to bait you into an emotional reaction. Respond in a neutral, matter-of-fact tone. Say something like, “I understand you’re upset, but I’m going to remain calm.” Don’t get pulled into defending yourself against false accusations, either. Repeat your needs and walk away if they persist.
4. Get support from others.
Connect with people who validate your experiences. Let close ones know you may need their encouragement in upholding boundaries. Consider seeing a counselor, as they can help boost your confidence in advocating for yourself.
5. You can’t control them, only how you respond.
Accept that you can’t force the emotionally selfish to change their behavior. You can choose to limit contact with them and surround yourself with people who treat you well instead. Make self-care a priority, so their actions have less power over you.
The emotionally selfish may resist your attempts at first, unwilling to acknowledge how their behavior impacts you. But by communicating your needs clearly and consistently, you can regain your independence and strength. Stay focused on your own mental health; you deserve to feel heard, respected, and cared for.
Overcoming Emotional Selfishness: Strategies for Personal Growth
Dealing with an emotionally selfish person in your life requires patience and self-care. Their behavior can chip away at your confidence and self-worth over time. Here are some strategies to help overcome their toxicity and reclaim your power:
1. Set clear boundaries.
Be very clear in communicating your limits, and do not feel guilty about enforcing them. Say “no” when you need to and do not justify your reasons. Do not engage in their manipulative tactics. Walk away if they become argumentative.
2. Do not take the bait.
Do not let their actions provoke you or make you feel bad about yourself. Their insensitive remarks and selfish behavior say more about them than you. Remain calm and detached instead of reacting emotionally. Do not give them power over you.
3. Spend less time together.
Put as much distance between you and the emotionally selfish person as possible. Their negativity can be draining, so limit contact and interactions. Make yourself less available and fill your time with supportive people instead.
4. Focus on self-care.
Make sure to engage in regular self-care to strengthen your own emotional health. Connecting with others, practicing mindfulness, exercising, and doing activities you enjoy can help boost your confidence and mood. Do not rely on an emotionally selfish person to meet your needs.
5. You cannot change them.
Accept that you cannot force them to change their behavior. You can only control your own reactions and choices. Do not waste energy trying to make them more empathetic or considerate. Instead, focus on surrounding yourself with people who already treat you well.
Overcoming the effects of an emotionally selfish person starts with realizing you deserve better. You have the power to limit their influence over you and choose to prioritize your own well-being. Stay strong within yourself and keep moving forward. Their selfishness is their problem, not yours. You’ve got this!
You deserve so much more than the scraps of affection and care an emotionally selfish person provides. Take back control of your life and surround yourself with people who truly value you. Break free from their manipulation and neglect, reclaim your independence, and rediscover your own voice.
Though it will be difficult, find the courage to put distance between you and their toxicity. In doing so, you open yourself up to relationships where you feel heard, supported, and genuinely loved. You were always strong, compassionate, and worthy of real intimacy. Now is the time to step into your power and never again settle for less. The world awaits the gift of who you are when you’re not under the grip of the emotionally selfish. You’ve got this. Now go live your best life.
- There Are 3 Distinct Types of Selfishness—and Only *This* One Is Good by Kells McPhillips
- Selfish people: 14 things they do and how to deal with them – We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure. by Jude Paler
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