Six Tips To Help You Stop Being Selfish With Your Partner

Generosity in a couple, as in other relationships, is based on two fundamental pillars. These are empathy and assertiveness. Find out how to put them in place.
Six Tips To Help You Stop Being Selfish With Your Partner

Last update: 22 December, 2021

When you have an argument with your partner, you might find that one of you accuses the other of being selfish. That’s because, when we feel bad, we tend to attribute it to an external condition, hence pointing the blame at the other in an argument. However, your partner isn’t always to blame. Indeed, sometimes the argument will be your own fault.

Detecting this bias and admitting that you’re being selfish isn’t easy. Nevertheless, it’s the first step towards creating healthy dynamics in your relationship. However, it’s easy to mix your feelings up with guilt, self-pity, and other polarized thoughts.

Everyone has something about themselves they need to deal with and change. Furthermore, selfishness has become something of an epidemic in these times of individualism. In this article, we give you some ideas to make the process of solving problems in your relationship both effective and productive.


Selfishness is a really common word today. As a matter of fact, it’s used so often that its definition ends up being blurred. Nevertheless, we generally understand selfishness as an attitude centered on yourself and your ego. In addition, you act in the direction of self-interest and neglect the needs of others.

In a couple, selfishness means you put your own concerns and needs before those of your partner, regardless of their importance or whether they can be reconciled. It’s considered to be a factor of emotional wear, as it finds conflict in the smallest of everyday details.

Selfish gestures are too small to be taken as a serious affront. On the other hand, they’re too conspicuous to be overlooked altogether.

Couple sitting in living room

Six tips to help you stop being selfish with your partner

Detecting an attitude of selfishness in yourself makes you feel bad. Therefore, you’ll want to fix it. However, it’s quite likely that you and your partner have a history of unresolved conflict together. Therefore, you’ll need to address the issue in an orderly and pragmatic way. Here are six tips to help you stop being selfish with your partner.

1. Take responsibility for yourself

As we mentioned earlier, the first step is in detecting this attitude and proposing a change for the better. You should explain this to your partner. That’s because, ideally, they should accompany you in your changing process. Furthermore, it’s something that directly affects them so their help will be necessary in order that you know what direction to take.

2. Develop empathy

Empathy will be the main quality that’ll help you stop being selfish with your partner. Although some people are more empathetic than others, this is an ability that can be learned and developed like any other.

Through empathy, you’ll develop the idea that the feelings of others have the same importance as yours. In fact, it’s a training in emotional intelligence.

Good communication is essential for this. In addition, you must focus your attention on the feelings and needs of your partner. Discuss situations with them as they arise and try to understand the underlying bad dynamics. It’s a non-linear process. In other words, the conflict won’t progressively disappear but will have its ups and downs. Be patient.

3. Train yourself in assertiveness

Assertiveness will serve, not only to make your position clear, but to express your own needs without offending or hurting your partner. This forms part of emotional responsibility. It helps you take care of your partner’s emotions, listen to them, and make your intention to change and fix things clear.

Empathy and assertiveness aren’t two isolated capacities. As a matter of fact, they interact with each other, and with others as well. For example, if you express to your partner that something has bothered you in a respectful way, you’re being assertive, while empathy allows you to take into account their feelings on the matter.

4. Ask your partner how they feel

Maybe, right up until the moment you decided to change, you completely overlooked your partner’s feelings. For this reason, you probably don’t know what goes through their head when you disagree. Indeed, if you haven’t connected up to each other for a long time, it’ll be difficult for you to do now. Therefore, you must ask them how they feel.

In this way, you’ll not only be training your empathy, but you’ll also obtain useful information to solve your problems, and allow your partner to express themselves. Furthermore, they’ll perceive that you care and that you take notice of what they say. This creates a more collaborative attitude on their part too.

5. Ask yourself what your partner needs

Being an empathetic and considerate person isn’t the only way of leaving a selfish attitude behind. As a matter of fact, your partner, in the face of your past attitude, may have stopped sharing their needs, and talking about what they’d like from you.

Therefore, in addition to asking your partner to express themselves, ask yourself what effect your behavior might be having on them. Every little detail counts. What might they want you to do? Will they be angry if you tell them that you just don’t feel like cooking today?

6. See a professional

Couples therapy has some very useful resources for solving unresolved problems. In fact, if you both go to the consultation, although you may not realize it, you’ll already be part way to solving your issues.

Couple in therapy

Check your other relationships

Training in generosity and empathy isn’t only useful for romantic relationships. It can help other kinds as well. In fact, generally, people who assume a selfish attitude tend to extend it to all their environments. Therefore, working on your selfishness, as well as adopting a more generous attitude with your partner, will spill over into your other relationships as well. These might be family, friends, and even work related.

On the other hand, you’re bound to meet some other selfish people in your life.  Perhaps you worry that you might lose ground in front of them. However, at these times, it’s always best to remember all the positivity you get when you’re generous to those around you and act accordingly.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Beck, A. T. (2009). Con el amor no basta: cómo superar malentendidos, resolver conflictos y enfrentarse a los problemas de pareja. Barcelona [etc]: Paidós, 2003 Barcelona [etc.]: Paidós, 2003.
  • Polaino-Lorente, A., & Martínez Cano, P. (2002). La comunicación en la pareja: errores psicológicos más frecuentes. Madrid: Rialp, 2002..
  • Milián, R. P. (2005). Acerca del amor y las relaciones de pareja (IV). Mendive. Revista de Educación3(3), 204-210.
  • Ulloa Hernández, M. A. (2017). Libertad y dominio vs. compromiso y dependencia en la pareja: dispositivos de feminización y de género. La ventana. Revista de estudios de género5(46), 50-104.
  • Guzmán, M., & Ch, C. T. (2014). Estilos de apego y empatía diádica en relaciones de pareja en adultos emergentes. Revista Argentina de Clínica Psicológica23(3), 61-69.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.