I have been called selfish a number of times in my life.

Always by men. Never for the reasons I would consider valid.

I am selfish in a number of ways and wouldn’t dispute that. I am naturally a loner, I prefer my own company over that of most other people. I don’t play well in teams nor enjoy group projects, preferring to work alone. I do not like a large group of close friends, liking to keep just a few I feel safe and comfortable with. I am selfish, I prefer to be with my self.

But that is not why I am called selfish by men. I am called selfish by men because I do not fulfill a role they require of me. I don’t give them what they want.

I was called selfish by a friend. He had feelings for me, emotions that were strong, and he expected me to reciprocate those feelings and to trust him and value him above all others. I didn’t reciprocate them. I didn’t trust him nor feel safe with him. I did not value his friendship enough. Selfish. When I did not give him the desired responses to his advances, nor answer correctly about how much he was meant to mean to me, I failed him. It was because I am selfish not because I am entitled to my own feelings.

I was called selfish by my ex-brother-in-law. He talked to me about his girlfriend and a fight they had, he told me what he wanted to do and what he wanted her to do, and told me how distressed he was. I sided with her. I explained that just because he wants her to do things a certain way it doesn’t mean she is obligated to and sometimes you just have to accept that people are who they are, not who you want them to be. Selfish. Because I didn’t not give him the answers he wanted.

I was called selfish by a friend who wanted to have sex with me. A friend who I was regularly alone with, who I trusted, who I allowed to spend time with my child. I refused sex and he believed it was his right to “convince me”, believed I was playing hard to get. A friend who believed our friendship was a coy flirtation leading to a sexual relationship. It wasn’t, it was a friendship. He tried to have sex with me, I refused him. He grabbed me, I pushed him away. He chased me, I ran.  A friend who called me selfish because our friendship was what I valued, not the chance it might lead to sex. Selfish because I wouldn’t have sex with him.

I was called selfish by a friend whilst working out in the gym. I often worked out with a friend, despite preferring to work alone, because it made it a better experience for him and he benefitted more from it. So I got involved and helped out, and for the most part I enjoyed it. But not always. Sometimes I was tired and couldn’t keep up to the standards he wanted, selfish. Sometimes I my head was full and I just needed to work out to clear it rather than focussing on him, selfish. Sometimes I didn’t want to be serious and just wanted to goof off and have fun, selfish. The fact it was my gym too and my pleasure in it was why I joined was irrelevent, I was there to serve a purpose and when I failed at that it was because I was selfish. It drained the fun for me.


To put myself before others.

I am selfish. I cannot give myself to people in the way they want. I cannot be a person I’m not just to make people happy. Selfish.

I have been called selfish for refusing sex. I have been called selfish for rejecting advances. I have been called selfish for not having the emotional response men have wanted from me.

My advice is this; be selfish. If being selfish means respecting yourself, not putting yourself in positions that make you uncomfortable, and trusting your instincts, then be selfish. Because it’s not selfish. It’s self respect, self love, and self protection.

Surround yourself by people who love you for who you are not what you can do for them. People who respect your choices and feelings, who don’t demand they change to suit their needs. Be you that you are, not the you that they want you to be.

You are valuable for you who are and not the function you can perform.


About J.J. Barnes

Author of The Lilly Prospero Series Writer and Podcaster at Blogger at Rose And Mum And More Contributor to The Huffington Post
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