How to Respond to a Selfish Partner (30+ Ways)

Ever found yourself in a relationship where it feels like you’re giving more than you’re receiving? Maybe you’ve noticed selfish tendencies in your partner and are wondering how to address them. Don’t worry; you’re not alone.

Dealing with a selfish partner can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to end in heartbreak. With open communication, understanding, and a few other handy tricks up your sleeve, it’s possible to turn things around.

Let’s dive in and explore some practical ways to respond to a selfish partner.

Communication and Conversation

1. Engage in Open Dialogue

Start the conversation by calmly addressing the behaviors that seem selfish to you. Don’t shy away from discussing the issues, as open and honest communication is the bedrock of any successful relationship.

Example: "I've noticed you often decide where we dine without considering my preferences. Can we discuss this?"

2. Express Your Feelings Using I-statements

“I-statements” are a simple yet powerful communication tool. Instead of blaming your partner, express how their actions make you feel. This lessens the defensive reaction and fosters understanding.

3. Provide Concrete Examples of Selfish Behavior

Highlight specific instances where you felt your partner was being selfish. This makes your concerns tangible and easier for your partner to understand.

Tip: Avoid being overly critical or judgemental during this process. The goal is to enlighten, not to offend.

4. Ask for Equal Effort

In any healthy relationship, it’s crucial to ensure that responsibilities are evenly distributed and shared between you and your partner. This not only promotes balance but also reinforces the concept of teamwork, which is essential in maintaining a wholesome bond.

Be bold to assert the need for an equal effort, as it serves as a potent antidote to a one-sidedness that can potentially degrade the overall quality of your connection.

5. Choose a Suitable Time To Talk

Timing is crucial when addressing delicate topics. Choose a moment when you’re both calm and open to discussion, preferably not immediately after a conflict.

Fact: Psychologists suggest that people are more receptive to discussions in a relaxed state as their fight-or-flight response is not activated.

6. Stay Calm and Composed

Keep a tranquil tone and demeanor during your discussion to prevent the conversation from escalating into an argument. Remember, it’s not about winning or losing but understanding each other better.

Setting Boundaries and Respect

7. Define and Communicate Boundaries

Clear boundaries are integral to any relationship. Clarify what behaviors are acceptable to you and which ones cross a line. Once defined, these boundaries should be communicated to your partner effectively.

8. Remain True to Your Values

Maintaining your self-respect and dignity is absolutely vital, even when faced with a selfish partner. If your partner’s behaviors infringe upon your foundational values, it’s crucial to confront the issue promptly.

This instant response not only preserves your integrity but also establishes clear boundaries that will foster healthier communication and mutual respect in your relationship.

9. Negotiate Relationship Rules

To maintain fairness and mutual respect, create relationship rules together. These guidelines ensure both parties’ needs are considered.

Tip: Regularly revisit these rules and modify them if necessary, reflecting the evolving nature of relationships.

10. Explain Your Expectations Clearly

Clear communication about your expectations helps in avoiding misunderstandings. Be as specific as possible to ensure your partner understands your needs.

Making Changes and Progress

11. Offer Solutions to the Problem

When addressing issues, propose possible solutions. This shows your partner that you’re committed to improving the relationship and not just pointing out their faults.

Example: "We can take turns deciding where to dine, ensuring that both our preferences are considered."

12. Focus on Actions, Not Words

Promises made verbally should be backed up by corresponding actions. This will foster trust and accountability in your relationship.

Example: Suppose your partner often promises to help with household chores but never follows through. Instead of complaining, you might say, "I really appreciate when you help out around the house. It would mean a lot to me if you could actually fulfill the chores you promise to handle."

Positive Reinforcement

13. Give Feedback, Not Criticism

Instead of criticizing, offer constructive feedback to your partner. This approach promotes improvement instead of defensiveness.

Example: Use phrases like "I appreciate when you…" or "It would mean a lot if you could…" to deliver your feedback in a positive light.

14. Assure Them of Your Intentions

Let your partner know your intentions clearly, ensuring there’s no room for misunderstanding. Take the time to explain what you’re thinking and feeling and why you’re taking certain actions.

Remember, open communication builds trust and helps in understanding each other’s perspectives, putting you both on the path to a healthier relationship.

Example: "I'm bringing this up not because I want to blame you, but because I believe we can work through this together and make our relationship even stronger."

15. Reiterate Your Love During Difficult Conversations

Even during tough discussions, remind your partner about your love and respect for them. This affirmation reassures them about the stability of your relationship despite disagreements.

Tip: Phrases like "I love you and that's why I believe we can work through this" can be quite reassuring.

16. Share your Feelings Immediately

When you’re bothered by something, share it promptly instead of bottling it up. This prevents future resentment and fosters open communication.

Trivia: Psychologists advise against "emotional suppression" as it can lead to increased stress and relationship dissatisfaction.

Empathy and Understanding

17. Highlight the Need for Empathy

The importance of empathy in a relationship cannot be overstated. It’s essential to understand your partner’s perspective and feelings, helping to build stronger bonds. An empathetic approach can turn a selfish partner into a caring one, improving the relationship’s overall health.

18. Acknowledge their Feelings

When your partner acts selfishly, it’s crucial to acknowledge their feelings. Understand that their behavior may stem from their own emotions or insecurities. This doesn’t excuse selfishness but helps you approach the conversation with empathy and open-mindedness.

“Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable.”

– Karyn Hall, Ph.D.

19. Ask for Understanding

Initiate a conversation with your partner and invite them to view the situation from your viewpoint. This strategy will help foster a sense of empathy and mutual understanding. Doing so will not only make them aware of your feelings but also encourage them to consider how their actions might be affecting you.

The goal is to create an open dialogue where both parties can express their feelings and thoughts, helping to reduce selfish behavior in your relationship.

20. Exercise Patience

It’s important to remember that transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Your partner may require some time to modify their self-centered tendencies. Through this period of change, make sure to exercise patience and demonstrate understanding, recognizing that behavioral adjustment takes time.

Strategies and Techniques

21. Use Silence Strategically

Using silence strategically means deliberately choosing not to respond immediately in certain situations. This helps create a pause for reflection, allowing both parties to cool down and think things over.

It’s a powerful tool for managing conflicts, as it can prevent escalation, encourage thoughtful responses, and ultimately foster a healthier dialogue.

In communication, silence is often used as a tool to highlight a point or provide space for thought.

22. Disengage Temporarily

When dealing with a selfish partner, one effective strategy is to temporarily disengage. This means taking a step back from the situation, giving both of you space to breathe and reevaluate. It’s a healthy way to avoid escalating tensions and can provide clarity, helping you navigate the issues more effectively.

23. Mutual Respect for Private Space

In a relationship, it’s crucial to maintain mutual respect for each other’s private space. This means understanding that your partner has a right to their own thoughts, hobbies, and time to themselves.

Even though you’re in a relationship, both parties should still acknowledge and honor the individual needs of the other. Balancing time together with time apart can make a relationship healthier and prevent feelings of suffocation.

Example: "I understand that you enjoy your video games, and I respect that. Likewise, I would appreciate if you respect my personal time for reading books."

24. Ending on a Positive Note

It’s essential to wrap up challenging conversations with a sense of positivity. Doing so shows that you believe in the strength of your relationship and helps to reassure one another’s feelings of love. Ending on a bright note can reinforce your mutual affection and understanding, even in the face of disagreements or difficult times.

Tip: Use phrases like "Despite these issues, I believe in us and our ability to overcome this together."

25. Offer a Perspective Shift

Initiate a conversation with your partner where you ask them to look at things from your vantage point. This is a valuable approach that can aid them in comprehending how their actions impact you.

Their awareness of your perspective might make them reconsider their actions, promoting a better understanding of your emotions linked to their behavior.

Tip: Use phrases like "Imagine if I..." to help them relate to your experience.

26. Discuss Future Implications of Selfishness

Talk about how your partner’s self-centered actions might affect your relationship in the future. By doing so, you aim to make them realize just how significant their behavior can be.

This discussion can be an essential step in tackling problems caused by their selfishness by potentially making them more conscious of their actions’ repercussions.

Communication Strategies

27. Express Need for Mutual Effort

When dealing with a selfish partner, it’s essential to express your need for mutual effort. It’s all about letting them know that relationships work best when both parties contribute their share of time, care, and understanding.

By openly discussing this, you’re promoting a balanced partnership and inviting them to play a more active role in your shared journey.

28. Practice Forgiveness

Understand that everyone makes mistakes, and show a willingness to forgive your partner. This helps in rebuilding trust and harmony.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”

– Paul Boese

29. Use the Sandwich Feedback Technique

Encapsulate negative feedback between two pieces of positive feedback. This can make the feedback seem less harsh and more constructive.

Example: "I love how thoughtful you are about picking movies. I wish you could also apply that thoughtfulness when deciding where we eat. You know, you're amazing at making decisions when you put your mind to it."

30. Avoid Generalizing

When addressing a selfish partner, avoid generalizing their behavior. Rather than labeling them as ‘always’ selfish, point out specific instances or actions that seemed inconsiderate. This helps communicate your concerns clearly without blaming or criticizing their entire character.

Tip: Instead of saying "You always ignore me," try "I felt ignored when you didn't ask for my opinion on the holiday plans."

31. Request Regular Check-Ins

Regularly discuss the status of your relationship. By doing this, you can work on making things better over time. It also proves that both you and your partner are truly committed to and care about the relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common signs of a selfish partner?

A selfish partner often puts their own needs, desires, and aspirations above everything else. They may be indifferent to your feelings, lack empathy, resist compromise, avoid taking responsibility for their actions, and exhibit a tendency to control or manipulate.

It’s important to remember that everyone can be selfish at times, but consistent selfish behavior in a relationship can be damaging.

What should I do if my partner does not respond positively to my concerns?

If your partner responds negatively or doesn’t change their behavior despite your efforts, consider seeking help from a professional such as a relationship counselor. It’s essential to protect your emotional health and well-being.

If the behavior continues, it may be a sign of a toxic relationship, and you may need to consider whether this relationship is right for you.


In conclusion, dealing with a selfish partner might feel like navigating a tricky maze. But remember, with open communication, patience, and mutual respect; you can make significant strides in your relationship.

Stay true to your feelings and needs, make sure your voice is heard, and don’t forget that every relationship requires effort from both sides.

Keep working on it, and soon, you might see the positive change you’ve been hoping for. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about growing together.

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Brenda Calisaan

Brenda Calisaan is a psychology graduate who strongly desires to impact society positively. She aspires to spread awareness and knowledge about mental health, its importance, and its impact on individuals and society.

She also has a passion for working with children and hopes to dedicate her career to positively impacting their lives.

Outside of work, Brenda is an avid traveler and enjoys exploring new experiences. She is also a music enthusiast and loves to listen to a variety of genres. When she's not on the road or working, Brenda can often be found watching interesting YouTube videos, such as Ted-Ed content.