Are All Passionate People Selfish?
Posted November 27, 2006 at 8:38 AM by Ben Nadel
I am extremely passionate about my work with ColdFusion. I don't just leave it at the office and then live the rest of my life, detached from work. I am constantly going over problems in my head. During lulls in conversation, my mind often switches over to the task of problem solving; how can I better perform a task, what should I look into next, ooh that would be a good topic to write about. There is a definite level of selfishness to how I handle myself. Because of my dedication to work, I am less available to my friends, my family, even to my girlfriend.
My question is, is it possible to be passionate about anything in life and not be selfish about it? I come from a family of very passionate people. My dad loved his work and as a result would work 14 hour days (I saw him on the weekends). My mom is an amazing artist and will often paint all day. My brother is a school principle and get's to work even earlier than I DO! (he gets to work at 6am)! My other brother and his wife are both doctors and I know there have been times where they only see each other a few days out of the week (due to scheduling). Are these selfish actions? Are these passionate actions?
I know that some people become less passionate because as they get older, they learn to value "face time" over "passion time"; meaning, they would rather spend time with their family and friends rather than spend time with their passion. But, often times, I find this mentality is coupled with an underlying frustration - people will add sentiments like "Who's going to remember how you code anyway?" or even "Which are you going to regret more when you die? Not working enough or not spending enough time with your family?" To me, this has more of a feeling of defeat rather than a feeling of appropriate priorities.
Now, I am not saying that spending time with your family is wrong. I love my family very much and I love being with them. In fact, I love them so much that I don't feel that they ever did anything wrong. I never felt that they weren't around enough or didn't spend enough time with us. I am awed by the collective passion that my family has - the amazing drive and outstanding work ethic. I am proud to come from their blood.
I know that I am sort of rambling on at this point. I think part of that comes from my own conflicts regarding my passions. I love ColdFusion, I love working out and I love dedicated time to these activities. But, at the same time, I feel guilty about doing so. I feel selfish. I guess, my point here is that, to a good degree, being passionate and being selfish have to go hand in hand.
Perhaps the real question is, what is going to make you happier in the long run? Being dedicated to your passions? Or being dedicated to "other stuff" (what ever you feel the trade offs are). And, this then begs the question, do you base your actions on your happiness or the hapiness of others?
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One can have more than 1 passion, so create another passion (ie., family/friends) and be single focused on that item at that moment. I love my computer profession (last 25+ years) but I learned early on, if I forget about work even for a couple hours, the solution will come to me without thinking. I think it helps prevent burn-out and stimulates creativity.
I whole heartedly agree. I have several passions. Unfortunately, not all of them get the same attention. But yes, it does go far to help burn out. All I need are a few more hours in the day :)
Stop being a workaholic your whole life and enjoy life. Life is not all about work and money, it is about spending time with your family. Thats the problem with America, is that there are so many workaholics in this country and no one knows how to enjoy life anymore.
Careful though, your statement makes the assumption that Family is the only thing that makes people happy, or rather that working does not. My work makes me incredibly happy - it is part of the way that I do enjoy life.
Work does make people happy. Unfortunately, not everyone can work in what they really want too so we should be fortunate for what we have. I think the point the commenter above was trying to make is that with so much work that we can't forget about what is truly important besides ourselves and our own successes: our family and friends. As I was taught by my parents: "You work to live, but you don't live to work".
I like the Garden Analogy... If you get too fascinated with the orchids, the dandelions will perish from neglect. Who needs dandelions you ask? Well, it wouldn't be a garden without them, now would it? And you'll miss them when they're gone.
Mind the garden, Ben.
It's funny, my old boss used to say the same exact thing.
Also, I understand that not everyone can do for work what they love. I also understand that as people grow and get older, their priorities change. But also, I bring up work, because that is what I am very passionate about, but I am talking about passion in general. This might be painting, it might be surfing, it might be hiking, you know, whatever your "passion" is.
Let's think a moment about the completely unrealistic movie, Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. In that movie, Patrick Swayze was a surfing enthusiast, and in the end sacrifices his life for the ultimate wave ride. I bring this up because it is completely NON-WORK related (and I think work clouds a lot of people's minds). Surfing is what made him happy. That is what he lived for. That was his passion.... that was what was truly important to him.
You can apply this to families as well. You can be VERY passionate about your family. It is what makes you happy. But isn't that also selfish? What happens when your friends or extended family want to be around you, but you are too busy with your family? This is the same passion pointed towards a different subject matter.
I think the point of passion and selfishness is moot. That was my original exploration. But, I think they are tied together inherently. The real question then becomes... is this a bad thing? Is this a negative selfishness?
Well when I said family I also consider my friends and extended family, my actual family. They are very important to me. I don't think what you have mentioned would be a negative selfishness. You have to certainly take the bad with the good but I've seen many people have a lot of passion for what they do, especially you. I think it becomes a negative selfishness when you forget about the important people in life. When you forget the others that have helped you and supported you get to where you are. There's nothing wrong though at all with being passionate about your work. We are all perfectionists in our own way.
Great post Ben. Good questions to ask and not only once, but every so often to make sure you are happy where you are. And as you say, your priorities will change. Now that I find myself with a wife and 3 children, mine definitely have.
I'm in the midst of some life changing situations (changing jobs, possibly moving) partially because I've been too much of a work-a-holic and haven't had time for my family. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about your work. The great thing about your line of work (programming) is that it is challenging and always different. It would be a bit harder for someone to be as passionate about flipping burgers.
However, I believe that variety is the spice of life. Don't spend too much time in front of the computer without taking a walk, hanging out at a coffee shop with friends or family, reading a book, etc. Missing out on other parts of life would be the only negative side of too much passion for work. Heck, even going to CFUGs or conferences or mentoring someone can be a break from the code, but still in your passion's focus.
I agree. Variety is the spice of life. I love to hike but have not had time to hike (for reasons that go outside of work). Over thanks giving, I went on a short family hike and it was a BLAST! I realized how much I miss it. I would really like to get back into it. But again, finding the time for "me" stuff is always hard as I have to integrate with many other parts of life.
Read "Atlas Shrugged". This question is a central theme of that great novel.
I have been meaning to get to it! Atlas Shrugged is actually my father's favorite book of all time. Some months ago I listened to The Foutainhead and found it to be terrific! I will get my hands on Atlas Shrugged. Thanks for reminding me :D
I think life should be structured so BOTH can happen. You only live once, make the most of it in every way one can. To get more face time with my nephews I am teaching them CF.
Brian - "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" are both books by Ayn Rand that posit "the virtue of selfishness". Both are must reads.
Ben - you seem to be confusing passion and obsession. You can be passionate about something without it dominating your life. Like most things in life, balance is the key. If you become too focused on any one thing, you lose perspective and inevitably there is unintended fallout.
You make a good point regarding passion vs. obsession. I think obsession does have negative consequences. I would say that there is little difference between obsession and addiction. If it seems that I am confused by the two... then I would say that I am not sure where I fall along the spectrum (hence the confusion, perhaps). I tried to go to a workaholics meeting once time (but couldn't find the right address). I don't feel that I am addicted to my work - but on the other hand, it does invigorate me.
To be honest, I have never found it hard to integrate my passion for work and the rest of my life, with one exception: girl friends. I don't mean this in a negative way, but having a girlfriend is like having a second job (in terms of level of commitment). Most any other relationship can be intermittent - you can see a friend every few days or weeks, see family when it is time... but a girlfriend requires the same consistency as work. I find it hard to balance work + girlfriend + everything else i love to do.
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts on the issue.
Balance... I have to be honest that sums it up best and if anything it's what I was trying to point out. Wonderfully said Gus!
On a side note Ben I'm not receiving emails when someone else posts a comment to this blog although I'm subscribed. When you make a comment I do receive an email. Also I never understood why I get an email for the comments I make (including this one)?
That is strange that you only receive the emails when you or I post. Is that just for this thread? Or for other posts that you have subscribed to?
As far as getting the emails for the first post and every subsequent posts, I do this as I think it creates a nice email thread. I use GMail (but I assume this would work for Outlook as well) so all of these emails get grouped under the same subject. I can look at all of the messages and see what the earlier conversations were. If I didn't include the poster's message then the email thread would be incomplete, and looking back on it, it would not be obvious where you were making comments, or where people were responding to your comments.
I did this as a feature but if it bother people, I can take it out.
Gus, I know. That's why I said it. ;-)
Virtue Of Selfishness has just been added to the iPod. I have had it for a long time, just haven't had time to rip it off the CD. It will make due until I can locate Atlas Shrugged.
As one person said earlier when you have kids and your own family things get shuffled around some.
I could code, be creative and work on marketing and business stuff all day and all night -- and do many days. What I find difficult to do however is to switch gears some days ... walk away at the end of the "business day", eat dinner and be a dad without thinking about work for a few hours. It hard when you love what you do. I love being a Dad but as I said it is hard to shut that piece of me down.
It usually take me 2 full days of little work to no work to detox and relax.
when I stop thinking or doing any programming outside of work my skills improved greatly,
its all about the brain soaking up what it can, over using it takes it longer to soak up knowledge and think more logically
well for me and others I've talked to anyway
Ben: Part of your 'girlfriend problem' might also be related to your choice of using 'Skin Spider' to express your passion!
Interesting idea. However, my issues of life-balance pre-date Skin Spider. More over, I think you are confusing the application that is Skin Spider with the video content that it indexes. Skin Spider as an outlet for passion is purely ColdFusion and problem solving related. I use Skin Spider as a romantic outlet no more than I use my Girlfriend as a programming outlet (which is to say, not at all).
Passion and Selfishness do not always walk hand-in-hand. While it is quite rare, you don't have to be selfish to have a passion or devote yourself to something passionately. Being a Christian is the best example because as I devote myself to Christ and live out my passion for Christ, it makes me less selfish, more selfless. I can not help but reach out and touch the lives of others because of my passion for Him. His Passion inspires me, and my Passion is a sacrificial one that gives instead of takes. It's an odd irony, but in this one aspect--Love for others--passion is not about you, but about your neighbor.
I think religion is a very special case because it is through NOT being selfish that you can actually realize your passion. I don't want to say that religion is not a *learned* skill, but for lack of a better word (no offense is meant), this is not how other areas of expertise work.
For example, if I wanted to be an expert at nuclear physics, I would say that this is not something that could be achieved through giving my time to others. Of course, you can learn from others, but I think much of it would require studying, attending schools, conferences, reading books, and many other activities that were very self-centered.
So, while religion does present a very interesting scenario, I believe it to be the exception and not the norm.
interesting topic and something I have become increasingly 'passionate about'. I've clocked up a few miles now, many of them lazy, so i fit the 'changing priorities as you get older' group. Nevertheless I think it was circumstances and had I got it right i would have focused earlier. That said and this may raise a question for you. If you can catch up later and find work to be passionate about is it really lost time. On a continuum that would suggest that if you just keep working you get further but that's not true.
On a slightly more challenging note and a psychological one I would say it is interesting that you feel you started to ramble when you get to an area that might indicate contradiction. I appreciate that you have no complaints of your family being hard workers but the fact you mention that you have no sense they didn't spend enough time marks a conflict triggers an exit to negate it. A non issue should not raise a question but it seems to.
I agree with you, families that work hard probably don't spend less time together. When I'm busy I just seem to manage to fit more in, I seem to do less when I have little to do and end up going back to things i forgot about in quiet times and do them when I'm busy. As such i hope my daughter understands my wanting to work hard.
So don't feel guilty about going to the gym, you probably deserve it and besides being fitter makes the mind work better so you're probably more creative and productive because of it. you just have to believe it and enjoy it.
I appreciate any kind of challenge to more closely examine my feelings. It's been almost four years since I first posted this; and, I have to say that I have probably become even more dedicated to my passions than ever before. And, I'll be straight with you - I love it.
That said, I have also tried to a make it a point to more actively engage my friends this year (one of my new years resolutions).
At the same time, however, I have definitely put thoughts of a romantic relationship on the back burner this year. If it happens to come my way, then awesome. But, I am not going to think too much about it or fret that I have chosen this path.
The year is only a few months in and I'm already making some great progress on my resolutions. Things are going well. I love my work and I love the choices that I have made.
"Who's going to remember how you code anyway?" When I was young I used to think of this kind of reasoning as defeatist and resigned. The thoughts of someone who has given up. Now, at 30, I start realizing that it is a realistic way of thinking.
I am turning 30 this year. And, if I take a moment to reflect, I am probably more intensely into my "own stuff" than ever before. The problem I am experiencing is that as I learn, the world of opportunities does not shrink, but rather seems to expands as exponential rates. Every day seems to lead to more and more questions that need answers (and time to answer them).
Trying to balance this journey and my personal life is, as always, a strain. I have even made one of new year's resolutions to See my friends more often (which I am doing OK at). But overall, I find that with age, my hunger is intensifying, not calming.
your quest: do you base your actions on your happiness or the hapiness of others?
do you mean that you're not happy spending time with your family, friends & girlfriend thats why you're not passionate about it?
Its great to be passionate about your work but it'll be even better to be able to share this passion with your loved ones..
maybe do something which you and ur loved ones are passionate about then you can stay true to yourself and have great memories to keep ;)
I wrote this post four years ago... and it is still a balancing act that I am working on perfecting. In the past year of so, I've started to do more of the things I enjoy and I've tried to cut out more of the things I don't like. And, I've been enjoying it. I still get to see my friends - I think I've just been trying to be a lot more efficient with my time.
But, like I said, it's still a balancing act that I am working on :)
Actually, just today, I was reviewing The Social Network movie and I talked a bit more about the balancing act, although this time in terms of Flow:
Needless to say, this is clearly a whole area of my life that still requires exploration.
Though i do not think all passionate people are selfish , iam constrained to concede if they are not they may have to give up their passion on force of circumstances.
Though i do not think all passionate people are selfish , iam constrained to concede if they are not they may have to give up their passion on force of circumstances.
Why the strain? Why force yourself to spend more time with your friends, when that's not what you want? If you wanted it, then you'd do it. Find your balance, it will be different than other people's balance. Maybe for you balance means work 6 days a week with 1 social day. Do what works for you and find a woman who wants the same thing. Find a busy doctor or attorney to be with. End the power struggle with yourself. Surrender to your passion. Maybe in 5 years you'll wake up one day and say "I'm tired of this particular passion, it feels empty, now I want to be consumed with surfing, or having kids.". Sometimes you need to fully consume yourself with something for many years until you've exhausted it from your system. Be honest with yourself and the world. Say "I'm Ben and I love doing x, y and z. I spend two days a week socializing and that's how I like it. If you want to be apart of my life, understand that I like it this way and I'm not changing it for anyone except for myself; should I discover a new passion." Once you start doing this you'll probably even meet a woman who digs this about you.
To answer your question: All people are selfish, it's just the passionate ones have chosen to focus on doing what they care about, rather than what they think they are supposed to be doing.
I absolutely love Franklin's comment and completely agree! I've always been a passionate-to-the-point-of-obsessive kind of person ... when I get excited about something, then I want nothing more than to immerse myself in it and forget everything else. I've recently started writing, something that I've always been passionate about, but which was discouraged by my parents, who considered it a waste of time. I basically live inside my head, now, spending all day, every day, writing, and thinking about my plot and characters. I'm constantly distracted, but my boyfriend of 7 years doesn't particularly mind ... he does his own thing, I do my own thing, and we're both happy to spend time together when we surface from our respective time-sinks. It's great to embrace your passion and not make any excuses about it; there's a woman out there who will love you for it! :)
I am not sure exactly how I came across this particular post now, but I must weigh in since I think that MY opinion is way more important than anyone else's, of course (HAHA...that was a joke, by the way).
In answer to this question, my personal opinion, as formed by my life experiences, is that passionate people are NOT necessarily selfish people. It is quite possible that your passion is something that can be shared with other people with like passion, and that's not selfish. Or you may have a passion for helping others. Or there are other ways it can possibly be NOT selfish. At the same time, you can allow your passions to overcome you and at that point, they could be extremely selfish.
I will give you an example of a passion of one of my friends that I consider to be REALLY selfish. A friend of mine was married to this guy for 5 - 7 + or so years. I sang at their wedding, and they did seem, at least for parts of their marriage to be pretty solid. Unfortunately, she was not happy with the passion in their marriage. Until she started working her last job, she was fine with that. She just dealt with a passionless marriage and was fine with it. But then, she stupidly (I say stupidly as a matter of opinion, but others could think it was smart of her to do this), contacted an ex-boyfriend with whom she had had this great relationship with. She rekindled the passion for him, and decided that her marriage just wasn't worth it anymore. She let the passion for him completely overtake her. Was that selfish? You better believe it was! She wasn't thinking about her husband at all. What's worse is that she actually tried to lie and deceive and tell everyone she was doing this "for her husband"...to make the marriage stronger. No one was fooled. When their marriage broke up over this guy she was with, I personally, was devasted. I did feel it was a little selfish of me to be devastated, but I couldn't help the way I was feeling. Afterall, it wasn't really my life that was impacted all that much, but theirs. She did it, though, caring only about her self and this passion of hers she had for this man who was not her husband. I thought it was really selfish. She didn't give consideration to her husband as to how he felt. It was like, I'm going to do this, and it doesn't matter how it makes YOU feel about it, I am going to do it. Other people were hurt by it as well. Her husband was a really likeable guy and a lot of people really liked him, and liked them together. Also, a lot of people really liked him for her. The other guy is a total jerk. Saying "he's better off without her," (referring to her husband), does not assist him in getting over the pain of losing the wife he loved any more than if he WASN'T better off without her.
That was an example of selfishness, I feel, in it's purest form. @Ben, I can not see you as selfish, because you share so much of yourself with others and share your passion with the world and all of the others of us who also have a passion for coldFusion. As far as girlfriends/the opposite sex goes, either find a girl who is so fascinated with your passion that it becomes her love as well (and therefore would not be selfish, as you would be sharing a part of yoruself with her as you shared coldFusion with her), or find a girl who herself has a passion for coldFusion or something else web related, or find a girl who has such a huge intense interest and passion for something else, so that when you are pursuing coldFusion...your passion...she is pursuing hers, and she will be so busy, she really won't notice you are pursuing your passion. She won't feel neglected, and you won't feel like you are neglecting her, because she will be so happy having a boyfriend who lets her do her passion.
It's funny someone brings up doctors. I recently thought that I needed to date someone like a doctor or a busy businessman so that he could be busy and doing his thing while I am doing mine, because I am too busy to date anyone who is not as busy as I am.
Another suggestion, if you can bring yourself to do it: I have found it is great and very helpful for passionate people to date, if they can, long distance. That way, the other person is not always breathing down your neck and in your business, and you can get your passion stuff done, and then, when you ARE together, it means more. You come together when you need to see each other, but other than that, you are two busy people who have your own passions. You don't take each other for granted as much as some other couples do who live together. I will admit, eventually, it may move into more serious area, and one of you may want to make the move, but don't even think about that in the beginning. Just enjoy it for what it is, and have fun with it. I have found I always enjoy long distance relationships. They help me to grow as a person as well...
that is one of the most badly written stories I've seen ever. I would stear clear of emotional literacy topics if I were you. Especially when you start with a story about good friends whose wedding you sang at but you can't remember precisely when it was. Incidentally she didn't have passion for the other man, she was starved of attention in her marriage and sought it elsewhere, the other guy could have been anybody.
I wasn't attempting to write a brilliant literary piece, I was relating an occurance that happened in my personal life that I felt was relevant to the topic. She is marrying the new man now, when the divorce is final with the old husband. And maybe the reason I can't remember <exactly> when it was is because I am trying to block it out. I'm sorry if you don't experience emotion on that level, but it was really a sad experience for me. Nevertheless, even if I go through sad and hurtful times emotionally, I am still glad I experience these emotions and these things, because I would rather feel hurt and pain than nothing at all and be a robot without any feelings or passion. To me, passion is not life, and being led around by something that does not contain reason, like most people's passion for certain things, is dangerous ground to tread on, but it IS the spice of life. And you can have life without it, but to me, that's not a fun life, and one I would rather not have if I actually have the choice.
I think if you're passionate, you are more selfish than say Mother Theresa. The more commitments you have, the busier your schedule. The busier your schedule, the more obligations you must attend to. Thus, less time for others (especially on-the-spot emergencies).
The irony is that the more passionate you are, the more attractive to others you are thus you'll be pulled even tighter between the polar opposites (spending time w/ friends vs. working on your passion).
How has your view changed over these five years?
@Randall & @Ben,
NO! My answer is no...not necessarily is what my answer is.
I disagree with you while agreeing with you. It's very unlikely that anyone can argue that Mother Theresa was selfish, but does that mean she was not passionate? I would argue with THAT. I think that Mother Theresa was VERY passionate, and by your last comment, she was VERY busy also. But she was also unselfish by...pretty much everyone's...standards.
And since my last comment was directed @someone, this is directed at no one in particular, but just a comment in general addressing the subject of selfishness. I have very, very unfortunately been schooled in the educational institute of life on the subject of selfishness. I have had selfish people in my life, absolutely surrounding me. And not always by my own choice, either. Your life is made up of 2 kinds of people, and then hybrids in between, all along the spectrum of free choices versus what you are forced to live with. The first type on one end of the spectrum are people you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to live with. People you don't get to choose. That includes your family, especially your mother and your father. For those of use who are lucky, we are given wonderful, awesome mothers and fathers. But just remember, there are those of us who are not...in fact, there are those of us who are very, very unlucky, and some...not me...who are given very abusive mothers and fathers, and mothers and fathers who treat us in the worst way. At the worst end of it, there are mothers and fathers who kill their own children. For the lucky ones, as hard as it is to believe, and as much as they don't want to think about those cases, they do exist.
On the other end of the spectrum are the people you have in your life who are your pure choice. That cute girl you bump into at the grocery store or on the subway, whose number you got. You have nothring in common with her, really, other than the fact that you are both two human beings, but you like her regardless and choose to have her in your life.
Then, the in betweens. Those include people we work with. We have a choice with them, but it is not an easy choice. If we want to continue working there, we are forced to be around them and have them in our life in some way or another. (unless we decide to get them fired). But you pretty much have to have them in your life if you don't. You have a choice, but it's a choice between having that person in your life or quitting work there, or getting them fired. It's really not much of a choice, so it isn't really what I consider to be pure choice, but it isn't like you are absolutely forced to have them in your life, either.
The point I am getting to is that, not by my choice, and certainly not by my pure choice, I have been surrounded during certain types of my life with very selfish people.
And let me tell you, people mean different things when they talk about selfishness. You could have a person in your life who seems like the sweetest, most unselfish person in the world to other people, but you know them as selfish. They could, for example, do stuff for other people, but with ulterior motives. They could be doing stuff for other people, but only to be liked by those people. Although maybe not OVERTLY selfish, it is still selfish in a way.
Back to the selfishness of wanting to be liked by others. Let's use mothers as an example since I have already brought mothers up. Let's say it's a mother who wants to be liked by everyone. She figures her children pretty much HAVE to like/love her, because they are forced to, because they are her children. So, every time the question comes up between a mother and her children versus offending someone else, she hurts her children just so she doesn't hurt anyone else's feelings...and that is just so she can be liked by everybody.
I would say that is STILL selfish, even though the people she did those things for would say she was the most unselfish person in the world, ultimately, she is selfish.
Another example: using this same mother. let's say that she has small children...birth to 3 y/o range. let's say that one of her "friends" wants to use her because she is so "selfless". Let's say said friend asks her to go to the liquor store to pick up alcohol for her. Let's say the mother "unselfishly" agrees to go. But she can't take young children into the liquor store. So she leaves her 2 young children, both under the age of 3, in the hot car while she runs into the liquor store to run an errand for her friend, all in the name of being "unselfish". In my opinion, that is VERY SELFISH, but the friend she did it for wouldn't view it the same way. To me, it is so selfish to worry about what other people think and to screw your own children over to gain the favor of others.
Anyway, the point I was making was that not all passionate people are selfish. Only if you let your passion take over and you completely disregard other people due to your passion, then maybe, but not all passionate people.
The last comment I wanted to make is this: survival REQUIRES, to some degree SOME selfishness. Now, it's not good to take this and run with it and become totally self-absorbed, but at the raw basic level, survival does require some selfishness. let's remember the times of the cavemen. :-) 2 men are left. They are both starving...there has been a shortage of food. There is 1 piece of food less. The less selfish man, who says, you take this food, I won't eat....that man will not survive. The selfish man, who grabs the food, knocks the other man on the head with it, and eats it will live. At least a little bit longer. Obviously, you can argue points with that illustration, but I am sure you get the drift anyway.
Also, if you are involved with a person in a relationship who is very selfish, then it is REQUIRED for you to get selfish just so you come out of the relationship an ok person. Trust me, I know. As for me, I prefer a less selfish person, because I like to not be selfish in a relationship. I've had it both ways. In a relationship with someone who is selfless, I have the freedom and ability to be selfless also, and I love that. Those are the best relationships IMHO.