3. If your date rarely if ever offers to do a favor for you or anyone else it might look like this:
- Jim is one of those guys who would do anything for his friends. When he found out that his cousin and best friend, Matt, had been left by his wife and had to move suddenly, Jim told his girlfriend Lisa that he was going to spend the weekend helping his cousin. Lisa said, “Why do you have to do it? Isn’t there someone else? I thought we were going to the planetarium?” Jim realized that he had never seen Lisa go out of her way to help someone, especially if it interfered with her plans.
- When his best friend’s mom died, Barnaby got the call from one of his college buddies saying everyone was gathering to help out with the arrangements, clearing out her house, and supporting their friend during his loss. Barnaby said, “Okay yeah, I think I can be there. What time?” When he was due to arrive, Barnaby texted his friends to tell them something had come up and he wouldn’t make it. To his girlfriend he said, “It’s going to be super depressing and they probably don’t need my help anyway. Two other guys are showing up.”
Lisa and Barnaby can’t really go out of their way to help others. Partly they don’t really see the need. However, they may be extremely demanding of others and unforgiving when they feel let down by their friends and family, but the door doesn’t swing both ways. Some basically selfish people will help when asked, but will not spontaneously offer, simply because it does not occur to them.
4. If your date talks about him/herself constantly, you will know it:
- Donna does not bother to talk about her day when she meets Lou for dinner, because whatever she says will only redirect him to more war stories from his clearly more interesting career/life/experiences. She has become a superb listener, but does not feel particularly noticed.
A selfish person lacks basic curiosity about others. Your date may enjoy a funny anecdote and may even care if you are sad, happy, stressed but don’t spend too much time talking about it, or boredom will set in only to be alleviated when the conversation turns back to you guessed it, your date.
Finally, if your date has been known to accuse you of selfishness, take stock. It could mean that you are selfish (do any of the above scenarios sound like you?) but it may in fact be the classic projection that a lot of selfish people do, especially if confronted, directly or indirectly, about their selfishness.
If Maeve, in the above story, called Bart on his nonsense and said, “No, we are not stopping at the health food store or we’ll be late and I won’t get my suit out of the dry cleaners,” Bart likely would have been appalled at her “selfishness.” Or had Jim told Lisa point blank that her weekend plans were not as important as his friend’s crisis, Lisa may have accused Jim, or his grieving cousin, of selfish behavior! This kind of defensive deflection of any responsibility for selfish actions is common.