In this episode, Dr Laura Dabney explains the importance of selfishness in a relationship. Despite its negative connotation, being selfish can actually make you a better person and partner. Learn why being in tuned to what you want and how you feel is critical and how you can create a balance of giving and selfishness in a relationship. 

What does selfishness mean in a relationship? 

Simply put, being selfish is taking care of yourself first before others like your partner. Being selfish has always been frowned upon because of its bad connotation but it just means you take responsibility for getting your personal, emotional, and physical needs met, and that’s an important part of becoming an adult. You can’t build a deep, meaningful, and authentic connection when you have little or no concern for yourself in the first place. 

What are the consequences of selfless giving and not putting yourself first? 

When you put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, there’s resentment that’s taken but not talked about because of the assumption that your needs weren’t as important. Constantly meeting others’ needs could also lead you to believe that it’s the way of keeping the relationship alive. You’re giving in to the point where it’s hurting you and so the other person could start pulling away emotionally, sexually, physically. 

The best person to know you is you 

One reason why people tend to not say or advocate for their wants is this fairy tale idea that we expect that the other person should know what we want and we don’t need to tell them that. In reality, this happens because the person is not in touch with themselves, particularly sexually, so they hope the other person will take over.  

Being selfish in a healthy way 

Taking care of ourselves is our job as an adult – that’s the definition of being an adult. It is not a negative quality. Take time to reflect, carve out some alone time, name a feeling and practice feeling it. If you have a well-developed sense of who you are and the ability to communicate it to others or your partner, you’ll be a happier person. 

The balance of being selfish and giving 

In a relationship, you have to set boundaries to know where you end and the other person begins. Know what you need and present it to your partner. Hear what the other person has to say and then figure out a unique formula on how you can make things work for both of you. The best relationship happens when two adults show up and enjoy each other. 


Dr. Laura Dabney has been a psychiatrist in Virginia Beach, VA for twenty-plus years. She has treated patients in more than a dozen cities across Virginia, including more recently Richmond, VA. Her psychiatric expertise has been featured on radio, podcasts, websites, and in print media. She consults for a number of large institutions, including the Virginia Veterans Administration Medical Center. She received her MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School and has been Board Certified in Psychiatry. 

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James Hamilton Healy

James Hamilton Healy is a Best Selling Author, host of Business Innovators Radio and contributor to Small Business Trendsetters and Business Innovators Magazine covering Influencers, Innovators and Trendsetters in Business, Health, Finance and Personal Development.

Jessa Zimmerman

Jessa Zimmerman is a couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist. On Better Sex, she and her expert guests share their insights, strategies, and ways of thinking about sex that will help you improve your intimate relationship.