Life After Divorce . . . Stop Being Selfish

By Lindy Earl

Let’s face it – everyone is selfish.  No child needs to be taught to take a toy from another child.  They see it.  They want it. They take it.  The child does not understand the concept of selfish, they understand what they want, and they know how to get it.

So it goes in the adult world.  We see what we want, whether it’s a new outfit, a car or house, or a person, and we go after it.  Sometimes it goes well. We call these people Alphas and laud them.  Sometimes it goes poorly, and we call these people bullies, and tell them they are horrible.

Everyone is naturally selfish.  If you believe in Darwinism, it makes sense – evolution of the species.  Survival of the fittest.  You need to look after number one.  I get that.

In relationships, however, it’s not good.  Whether we are talking about family relationships, or friendships, or working colleague relationships, or, maybe especially, romantic relationships, selfishness is not good.

I’m not saying there is never a need to think of yourself first.  That’s okay.  Here’s a simple math game.  If you have a mom and dad and two kids, mathematically everyone should get 25% of the attention. Let’s just pretend this is true.  But if junior has an accident, or dad has a heart attack, then they are getting 99% of the attention, at least for a while.  And they may continue to need 50% or more of the family’s attention, and that’s as it should be.

If, however, one person is consistently taking more than their share of a relationship, that’s not good.  I know the excuses – the other person allows it.  They even encourage it.  Your sweetie is just so kind and wonderful that they want you to have everything your way. And it may be true, but it’s not healthy.  I’m not saying resentment will build, although it might.  I’m saying, stop being selfish.

Even if your SO consistently asks you to choose the restaurant, encourage them to share their true favorite, and go along with it.  Do not allow your SO to be too kind, because they are encouraging you to be selfish by always getting your way.

In reality, I doubt that’s always the case.  Some people are just selfish.  They naturally choose . . . everything:  the restaurant, the movie, the dress code, etc.  They make their opinions so clear that it becomes impossible for anyone else to share their opinion.

I’ve seen this in the working world as well.  I was one of four people who had the final say of whom to hire.  One guy, Charlie, was so outspoken that we all felt we had to go with his choice.  We later learned that three of us preferred the second candidate.  Was Charlie an Alpha or a Bully?  Either way, he got his way.  Epilogue: his candidate was hired but was not successful.  Wow, did I learn my lesson!  Yep, in addition to learning to not allow others to be selfish, I learned to trust my instincts.

I also learned that, once you become aware that someone is selfish, the people who always have to get their way, that they are not invited back.  I eventually learned to not invite selfish people to events.  I found the events were much more enjoyable when everyone got along and nobody felt pressured.

Everyone is naturally selfish, but we can train ourselves to not be.  We can practice asking others’ opinions.  We can decide that we will not make the final decision.  We can continue to suggest and share information, but we won’t push.  We will choose to put others first, and as we practice it, it will become a habit, and the term selfish will be removed from our name, often replaced with accommodating or flexible.  I like that much better.

That’s Dating After Divorce.

Lindy is a Speaker, Columnist, Author, and Consultant.  Contact her at or find and like her page on Face Book, and join her FB support group, Single Again: From Devastation to Dating.