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Selfish Friends: What Makes One, Signs & the 36 Best Ways to Deal with Them

Do you have selfish friends? If you do, then you need to know why they are the way they are and what to do to protect yourself from them.

Selfish Friends

Friends: they’re the family we choose, the support system we lean on, and often the highlight of our social media posts. But in the colorful spectrum of friendships, there are those who seem more interested in “selfies” than in your “self.”

They might not steal your lunch, but they might just take a bite out of your happiness. These friends, donning shades of “me, myself, and I,” come in all shapes and sizes.

Whether it’s a friend who treats your closet like a personal shopping mall or one who thinks “listening” is just a decorative word in the dictionary, selfish friends are an enigma wrapped in an Instagram filter.

Now, how exactly do you spot these elusive creatures, and more importantly, how do you deal with them without losing your sanity *or your lunch*? [Read: Selfish people – 20 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

What Are Selfish Friends?

Selfish friends, unlike the altruistic buddies who might lend you their favorite shirt for a night out, have a tendency to prioritize their needs, desires, and feelings above those of others. This behavior isn’t just a quirky personality trait; it has its roots in psychology.

From the standpoint of psychological analysis, selfishness can sometimes be linked to underlying disorders or tendencies, such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder *NPD*.

People with NPD often have an exaggerated sense of their importance and a lack of empathy towards others.

While not all selfish friends would qualify for this diagnosis, understanding the underlying psychology can provide a window into why some friends seem to always have their interests at heart.

For many, navigating friendships can feel like walking a tightrope, especially when selfishness enters the picture. [Read: How to deal with selfish friends and recognize the ones who hurt you]

Imagine planning a weekend outing with friends, but one friend consistently demands to choose the location, disregarding everyone else’s preferences. Or perhaps a friend frequently talks about themselves but seldom takes interest in your life.

In the world of hashtags and likes, a selfish friend’s actions may not always be overt. They may subtly make everything about themselves or disregard your feelings without blatant disregard.

But, like an ill-fitting pair of shoes, the discomfort they cause is real, and understanding the why behind their behavior can be the first step in deciding how to handle these friendships. [Read: Selfishness in relationships – 15 tips to do the right thing]

Signs of a Selfish Friend

We all have quirks and unique personality traits, but when certain behaviors consistently place one person’s needs and desires above others, it’s worth taking a closer look.

Recognizing the signs of a selfish friend isn’t just about pinpointing flaws; it’s about understanding patterns that can impact a relationship. Let’s explore some of these signs.

1. Always putting their needs before yours

Egoism isn’t just a philosophical idea; it’s a real psychological concept where an individual prioritizes their own interests. [Read: 24 Signs of people who lack empathy to know they don’t care what you think]

Ever have a friend who picks the movie every time, even though you hate horror? That might be egoism at play.

2. Lack of interest or disregard for your feelings

Empathy deficit is when a person struggles to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. If your friend often brushes off your feelings or problems, they might be showing a sign of this deficit.

3. Constantly seeking attention and validation

The constant need for approval might indicate deeper self-esteem issues. Friends who constantly need praise and attention can wear you down, especially if they’re not offering support in return. [Read: Attention seeker – 25 signs, behavior, and psychology of drama-loving people]

4. Rarely reciprocating favors or gestures of kindness

Friendships are give and take. If you find yourself always giving and never receiving, you might be dealing with a friend who’s a bit too fond of taking.

Imagine planning surprise birthday parties for them year after year, and when your special day comes around, they can’t even spare a moment for a quick “Happy Birthday” text.

It’s like being paired up for a school project, doing all the research and writing, only to find your partner simply slapped their name on the front page without lifting a finger. [Read: 19 Signs of a taker in a relationship and ways a giver can stop being so giving]

5. Making everything about themselves in conversations

Conversations should be like a tennis match, not a monologue. If your friend is always swinging the conversation back to themselves, they may have a self-centered tendency.

6. Manipulating or guilt-tripping you for personal gain

Manipulation isn’t just for movie villains; it can appear in friendships too. Watch out for friends who consistently make you feel guilty to get their way.

For example, a friend might play on your emotions by saying something like, “If you were really my friend, you would lend me your car for the weekend.” [Read: Guilt tripping in a relationship – what it is, and how to respond to it]

This is a clear attempt to use guilt to achieve a personal goal, trapping you in a situation where you feel obliged to comply even if it goes against your better judgment or personal boundaries.

7. Frequently canceling plans or being unreliable

Friendship requires trust, and trust requires reliability. If your friend is often bailing at the last minute, you might start to question their commitment to the relationship.

8. Taking credit for your accomplishments

There’s pride in shared success, but if your friend takes sole credit for something you’ve achieved together, that’s a red flag. [Read: 73 Red flag narcissism signs and traits of a narcissist to read them like a book]

9. Being jealous or resentful of your success

Jealousy is a normal human emotion, but if a friend can’t celebrate your successes with you, resentment might be brewing.

Picture landing your dream job or acing a difficult exam, only to be met with a lukewarm “That’s nice” or even outright criticism from your friend.

This lack of enthusiasm can feel like a cloud overshadowing your joyous moment. [Read: 25 Secret signs of a jealous friend and how to deal with their envy]

It may indicate underlying jealousy or resentment, where your successes become a measuring stick for their insecurities rather than a cause for shared celebration.

10. Not respecting your boundaries or personal space

Boundaries are sacred. If a friend continually crosses the line *literally or metaphorically*, they’re showing a lack of respect.

Perhaps you’ve told your friend that you need some alone time to study or relax, but they keep showing up unannounced at your door. [Read: 29 Secrets to set boundaries with a narcissist and typical ways they’d react]

Or maybe you’ve clearly stated that certain topics are off-limits, yet they persist in bringing them up in conversation.

These repeated violations of your stated boundaries aren’t just inconvenient; they’re a sign of a deeper disregard for your wishes and personal space.

11. Using emotional blackmail to get what they want

Emotional blackmail can feel like a trap. Friends who use tears or anger to manipulate you are playing a dangerous game. [Read: 16 Secrets to manipulate a manipulator and make them feel powerless around you]

It might look something like this: You tell your friend you can’t attend their party due to a family commitment, and they respond with an emotional outburst, crying or yelling that you’re ruining their life.

This dramatic reaction is designed to make you feel guilty and responsible for their happiness, pushing you into a corner where you feel pressured to change your plans.

12. Expecting you to always be available for their needs

Friendships require effort, but if a friend expects you to drop everything for them, they might be overstepping. [Read: Clingy friend – what makes people needy and 22 ways to fix the friendship]

It’s like having a friend who calls you at all hours, expecting immediate responses to texts, or insisting that you meet up on a whim, regardless of your plans or needs.

This constant demand for attention and availability can leave you feeling drained and undervalued like you’re a 24/7 customer service hotline rather than a person with your own life and responsibilities.

13. Dismissing your problems or trivializing your emotions

Compassion is key in any relationship. A friend who minimizes your feelings or problems might not be truly invested in your well-being. [Read: The reasons why empathy is important in a relationship]

14. Acting entitled and demanding special treatment

Entitlement goes beyond selfishness. If a friend expects special treatment all the time, they might be living in a world of their own.

15. Ignoring your opinions or dismissing your ideas

A good friend listens and values your thoughts. If your ideas are continually brushed aside, it might be time to ask why.

How to Deal with Selfish Friends

Recognizing the signs of a selfish friend is only half the battle; the real challenge lies in how to deal with them. [Read: Why narcissists ignore you, your texts, and do the selfish things they do]

Fortunately, there are strategies grounded in psychology and practical wisdom that can help guide you through this complex terrain. Let’s explore these strategies.

1. Recognize and acknowledge their selfish behavior

Just like spotting Waldo in a crowd, once you recognize selfish traits, you can’t unsee them.

Utilizing emotional intelligence helps you understand these behaviors without immediately reacting. [Read: Stand up for yourself – why it’s hard and steps to get what you want and deserve]

Think of it as tuning into a frequency – once you know the channel, you can decide whether or not to listen.

2. Reflect on the impact of their behavior on your well-being

If your friend’s selfishness leaves you feeling drained or undervalued, it’s a sign to pause and reflect. You wouldn’t wear shoes that hurt your feet, so why maintain a friendship that hurts your feelings?

3. Set clear and assertive boundaries

Your comfort zone is sacred. If a friend is crossing lines, make those lines bold and clear. This isn’t about building walls; it’s about setting healthy limits. [Read: 23 Secrets to set personal boundaries and guide others to respect them]

4. Communicate openly and honestly about your feelings

Bottling up emotions can lead to an explosion later. Share your feelings with your friend; a genuine conversation might lead to a better understanding.

5. Practice self-care and prioritize your own needs

Remember the airplane rule of putting on your oxygen mask first? It applies to friendships too. Take care of yourself, and you’ll be better equipped to handle challenging relationships.

6. Surround yourself with supportive and empathetic friends

Positive friends are like sunshine on a cloudy day. Surround yourself with those who lift you up, not bring you down. [Read: 26 Whys and ways to surround yourself with positive people and remodel your life]

7. Evaluate the overall balance of the friendship

Friendships shouldn’t feel like a seesaw where you’re always on the ground. If the give and take feel off-balance, it might be time for a heart-to-heart.

8. Consider having a direct conversation about their behavior

Directness might be challenging, but it’s often the most effective way to address an issue. It’s like ripping off a band-aid – it might sting, but it heals faster.

9. Seek professional help or guidance if necessary

If dealing with a selfish friend feels overwhelming, professional guidance can be invaluable. Therapists are like navigation systems for your emotions; they help you find the best route. [Read: Bad friendships – 45 signs you have bad friends and need to get new ones ASAP!]

10. Distance yourself temporarily to gain perspective

Sometimes, stepping back provides the clearest view. Take some time away from the friendship to assess what you truly want and need.

11. Learn to say “no” without feeling guilty

Saying “no” is an essential life skill. It’s not rejection; it’s choosing to honor your own needs.

12. Focus on personal growth and self-improvement

Invest in yourself as you would in a valuable stock. Growth often comes from challenges, including dealing with difficult friendships. [Read: 28 Self-improvement secrets to improve yourself and transform into your best self]

13. Seek activities and hobbies that bring you joy and fulfillment

Find what lights your fire and let it burn bright. Engaging in activities you love can offset the stress of challenging friendships.

14. Practice forgiveness, but also know when to let go

Forgiveness isn’t about letting someone off the hook; it’s about freeing yourself. However, knowing when to walk away is equally empowering. Imagine a friend who has repeatedly betrayed your trust.

You may choose to forgive them, not for their sake, but to release the emotional burden you’ve been carrying. But forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean continuing the friendship as if nothing happened. [Read: How to forgive and forget – 24 thoughts to decide on the right step]

Sometimes, the healthiest option is to recognize that the relationship has become toxic and to make the courageous decision to let go. This isn’t a failure on your part; it’s an acknowledgment of your self-worth and a commitment to prioritizing your well-being.

It’s like closing a book that no longer serves you, with gratitude for the lessons learned and the wisdom to choose a new story.

What Causes Someone to be Selfish?

While it might seem like an unwanted quality, understanding what causes selfishness can help us navigate relationships with more empathy and wisdom. There are several factors at play here, and they’re worth exploring.

1. Inherited traits

Some people may have hit the genetic jackpot when it comes to selfishness *lucky them, right?*. [Read: 47 Hurtful signs and effects of being the daughter of a narcissistic mother]

Jokes aside, research has pointed to genetic factors that can predispose someone to be more self-centered. It’s like inheriting your uncle’s wild dance moves – it’s in the genes!

2. Environmental factors

Ever heard the phrase, “You’re a product of your environment?” Well, it’s true for selfishness too.

Growing up in an environment where selfish behavior is rewarded can shape a person’s tendencies. Think of it as learning the lyrics to a catchy song – if you hear it often enough, you’ll start to sing along. [Read: Mommy issues in women – what it is, 68 signs, causes, and its effect on love]

3. Psychological basis

Now, here’s where things get fascinating. Sometimes, selfishness isn’t just being mean; it’s a psychological defense mechanism.

It might be a shield against feelings of inadequacy or a response to a fear of losing control. It’s like wearing extra layers on a cold day – unnecessary if the weather is warm, but comforting if there’s a chill.

4. Narcissistic personality traits

Selfishness can sometimes be linked to deeper personality disorders like narcissism. [Read: 10 Main types of narcissism and 18 steps to treat and help a narcissist change]

This is more than just loving your reflection; it’s a complex condition where a person’s need for admiration overshadows empathy for others. Picture it as a spotlight on a stage, shining so brightly on one person that everyone else is in the shadows.

5. Cultural influences

In some societies, self-interest might be seen as a virtue rather than a vice.

Different cultures have different rules, and what might be considered selfish in one context might be seen as ambition in another. It’s like adding hot sauce – perfect for some dishes, overpowering in others. [Read: Cross-culture romance – 40 secrets to have a happy intercultural relationship]

6. Lack of emotional intelligence

Understanding and managing emotions isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and a lack of emotional intelligence can lead to selfish behavior.

It’s not necessarily malicious; it might just be a lack of understanding of others’ feelings. Think of it as trying to read a book in a language you don’t understand – you’re missing the nuances.

7. Childhood experiences

The seeds of selfishness might be sown in childhood. Perhaps a lack of attention or inconsistent affection led to a “me-first” attitude.

It’s like learning to ride a bike with training wheels – if you never take them off, you never learn to balance. [Read: Real friends vs. fake friends – 21 ways to weed out users and bad ones]

Know Your Worth!

Navigating friendships requires understanding, empathy, and the wisdom to recognize when a relationship may not be serving our best interests.

The key is recognizing our worth, embracing our own growth, and making choices that align with our values and well-being.

[Read: How to tell if someone is using you – 22 signs a user just can’t hide]

Remember, friendship is like a two-way street, not a one-way alley to selfishville. Stay connected, stay kind, and don’t be afraid to wave goodbye to those selfish friends who missed the sign!

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...