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10 Traits of Selfish People (and Why They Are Like This)

by Madel

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In a world where wealth and power can get you ahead in life, selfishness can be second nature to some people. For these individuals, it’s every man for himself. They wouldn’t even think twice about who they will hurt along the way.

Selfish people are often described as self-centered, insensitive, and manipulative. They tend to put their own needs and desires above those of others, disregarding the feelings and well-being of those around them.

While everyone can be selfish at times, some individuals exhibit these traits more frequently and heavily than others. In this article, we’ll explore how to spot these characteristics so we can encourage healthier, more positive behaviors within our relationships.

The psychology of selfishness

Psychology defines being selfish as having “the tendency to act excessively or solely in a manner that benefits oneself, even if others are disadvantaged.” 

One of the psychological factors that drive this trait is our ego. The ego, defined in the simplest way, refers to the “I” which allows us to make decisions based primarily on our personal identity. This is why we often hear the term “big ego” which we associate with people who come off as “self-absorbed.”

To a greater extent, narcissism can also explain why some of us exhibit selfish behaviors. Narcissists are characterized as those who have a huge sense of self-importance which causes them to be indifferent to other people’s feelings and needs.

As humans, we have the disposition to keep surviving and thriving. Having such individual needs can conflict with our prosocial behavior. In connection to that, other factors that may feed someone’s selfishness include:

  • Wanting to feel secure.
  • Maintaining certain privileges.
  • Being in a position of high status or power.

While some degree of selfishness is natural and even necessary, excessive selfishness can lead to negative outcomes for ourselves and those around us.

On being selfish

Selfishness is definitely a negative trait to have. But, being human, I wouldn’t say I’ve always been above it. I, too, have made selfish decisions in my life that hurt the people that I love.

Growing up, I’ve always tried my best to please my family and do what is expected of me. But, as I got older and developed a stronger sense of independence, I made some choices that eventually disappointed my parents.

Despite knowing that I caused them distress, I knew that I had to do certain things for my personal development and well-being. I had to set boundaries that might have made them feel alienated.

In life, I’ve realized that we will always encounter that conflict of choosing between ourselves and our loved ones. Oftentimes, putting their feelings above our own is an act of love. But, there are cases when it’s an act of betrayal to ourselves. We just have to figure out which weighs more.

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Characteristics of selfish people

How do we know when someone is acting based purely on selfish reasons? Here are some qualities you need to look out for:

1. They are self-centered

Selfish individuals tend to be focused on their own needs and desires, rather than those of others. They are often preoccupied with themselves and their own interests.

Those who are selfish tend to make everything about them to the point that they can make the people around them feel unseen. Being in a conversation with them, for example, can be frustrating as they can’t seem to talk about anything but themselves.

2. They feel entitled

Selfish people often feel entitled because they have a strong sense of self-importance. Perhaps, they were raised to feel special or they have achieved a level of success that has made them feel superior.

It can be upsetting when we deal with someone who’s entitled. They may take credit for the work that we do or make us feel like we’re not worthy. When you encounter someone who’s entitled, remind yourself that their “superiority” doesn’t mean that you’re lacking or less deserving in any way!

3. They only look out for themselves

When things go awry, selfish people will only look out for themselves. They may even throw others under the bus just to save themselves from the trouble that they have probably caused.

In some situations, selfish individuals may offer to help – but only if it would benefit them. You should be cautious as this type of person rarely has the most genuine intentions.

4. They are greedy

Selfishness can manifest through one’s unwillingness to share what they have with others. Furthermore, they can also become obsessed with accumulating more and more, often beyond what they need.

Being selfish and greedy are traits that we need to watch out for, as this type of person can leave us with nothing if we’re not careful enough.

5. They can be inconsiderate

Selfish people tend to take others for granted and become insensitive to how they feel. Because they are too set in their own ways, they may not even think about how their behavior can affect others.

While prioritizing ourselves isn’t a bad thing, it’s also important to be considerate of others, especially those who are close to us. We have to be mindful of how others feel and what they need from us in order to foster better relationships.

6. They lack empathy

We’ve all heard of the term, “putting oneself in another’s shoes.” Selfish people, however, seem to have the inability to practice this. They lack empathy and have difficulty understanding someone else’s situation.

Those who are short on compassion tend to be blinded by privilege or status, and we might be better off disengaging with them. Instead, let’s focus our energy on the people who can show us the kindness and support that we all deserve.

7. They can be manipulative

Selfish people often do things for their own gain. As a result, they may resort to manipulative tactics just to get what they want.

If someone is manipulating you for selfish reasons, it can severely impact your emotional and mental health. Once you notice such behavior, it’s best to cut these toxic ties as soon as you can.

8. They overstep boundaries

A person who is selfish tends to have little regard for the rules that apply to others and may feel that they do not need to follow them. They can also neglect boundaries just because they are too focused on their own needs.

This type of selfishness can be disrespectful and should not be tolerated. Someone who doesn’t honor your boundaries isn’t worth building any kind of relationship with.

9. They never feel sorry

Feelings of regret and guilt can plague us when we’ve hurt other people. However, a selfish person usually never feels sorry when they cause distress, take more than they need, or overstep boundaries.

Don’t expect an apology from selfish people. After all, they’re too fixated on how to themselves feel good.

10. They are lonely

With all the negative behaviors that selfish people exhibit, there’s little wonder why they don’t have the best relationships. They end up lonely because their selfish ways have driven the people around them away.

We must remember that satisfying our personal interests wouldn’t make our lives more fulfilling. At the end of the day, kindness and love will always matter the most.

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Wrapping up

In conclusion, selfish people are individuals who give high priority to their own interests, often at the expense of others. They may exhibit toxic behaviors such as being manipulative and disregarding boundaries. They always take, but they never give.

Remember that you cannot change someone, but you can always control your response to them. By prioritizing your own needs, you can navigate interactions with selfish people while protecting your well-being.

Does this article remind you of anyone in your life? What do you think makes someone selfish? Feel free to discuss further in the comments below!

Madel Asuncion AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Writer and advocate for young people’s mental health. Firm believer of validating one’s feelings, prioritizing the inner-self, and finding happiness in a plate of chicken curry.

1 thought on “10 Traits of Selfish People (and Why They Are Like This)”

  1. Hello,my husband says I am very selfish and I only think of myself , 28 years ago we both cheated on each other I left and set up a home of my own had a few failed relationships , then went back to my husband but I never told him why I left or why I did what I did , I hate myself everyday and when we fight about the past I get bitchy and mouthy . He says I only see it from my point of veiw and because I got hurt by my lovers I am bitter and take it out on him I am sorry I hurt him and its no excuse but he’s not the easiest man to live with even when we were happy , my kids are up now and I am trying to build my relationships with them and for most part we are good , I know I am not best person in the world and I read and I think my husband could be right I am selfish and toxic


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