21 Selfish People Traits And What To Learn From Them (2024)

Selfishness is not seen as a good virtue, and selfish people are often viewed negatively. 

But if selfishness is all negative, why is it that many people with this personality trait have a good status at work, and some even live longer than those who value the well being of others?

In this article, We’ll see 21 traits of selfish people, and what we can learn from them.

What is a Selfish Person?

A selfish person is someone who is overly concerned with themselves. They have a terminally self absorbed mindset, and they do things to serve themselves, even if the actions will harm others.

The complete opposite of a selfish person is a people pleaser. Both of these are extreme behaviors. The people pleaser will act selflessly but neglect themselves, and the selfish person lives their life to satisfy their own needs, without helping others.

By definition selfish behavior is detrimental to others, and being selfish is regarded as a negative trait. Let’s explore the traits of selfish people, and we’ll find some lessons we can learn, especially for those who are people pleasers.

Related Article: Insights – Selfish vs Self-Centered vs Self-Absorbed

1. They Are Concerned Only with Their Own Needs

A selfish person puts themself first. It doesn’t matter what others are going through, the person will care about how it affects them. Maybe you have dealt with people like this, and were frustrated by their behavior.

What we can learn: One thing we can learn from self absorbed people, is to pay attention to our own interests more. If you’ve had a lifetime of acting selflessly, at your own expense, perhaps it’s time you put your needs first. 

2. They Have a Sense of Entitlement

Selfish people have an innate thought that they deserve what they desire.

If you’ve ever had self absorbed friends, I’m sure you’ve seen them feel genuinely surprised when things don’t go their way.  

They’ll take what they think they deserve and they’ll reject anything less. This self centered behavior may be important for you to observe and learn from. 

What we can learn: Take time to identify the areas where you deserve more credit or compassion; and practice stating your boundaries to your partner/friend/boss. 

3. They Rarely Feel Remorseful

A selfish person may have done things to hurt other people, but one thing you won’t catch them doing is feeling remorseful about what they’ve done.

If you’re hurt by them, they’ll find a way to make it your fault. 

Selfish People Traits
Photo by Vera Arsic from Pexels

What we can learn: Empathy is a great trait to have, and I would never tell you to ditch it completely. But don’t apologize for everything.

Try catching yourself the next time you’re about to say “sorry,” and really think about if you need to apologize or not. 

4. They Don’t Care About Consequences 

Selfish people tend to take action based on what they feel they want to do. The potential reaction of others is not on their mind. They will do what they want, when they want. 

What we can learn: If you’re a people pleaser, it’s likely that you’ve stifled a lot of your dreams for the sake of others. You’ll end up empty and resentful if you keep doing this. 

Inject a bit of self centered energy and go for what you want, without a care for the consequences.

Watch this video about why we should dare to be more selfish in life:

5. They Rarely Consider The Feelings Of Others

Selfish people, generally speaking, don’t care about the thoughts and feelings of others. What’s important to them is always how they themselves feel. 

What we can learn: This may be a valuable lesson for those who worry too much about how others see them. 

Remember that people don’t think about you as you think about yourself. Keep this in mind next time you’re tempted to worry about how others view you. 

6. They Will Do Anything To Get What They Want

Selfish people tend to be more ambitious in life. Because of their traits of entitlement and self absorption, it’s no wonder they want the best for themselves. 

And they will gladly step on others, and go through hurdles to achieve what they think they deserve. 

What we can learn: If you have a goal you desperately want to achieve, be aware that there will be obstacles.

Without putting others down, you can learn from the selfish people, by putting effort into overcoming whatever obstacles come your way. 

7. They Need To Be The Most Important person In The Room

Since they care little for the opinion of others, selfish people think of others as below them. They may feel that they are the most important person in any group. 

What we can learn: While putting others below you is not a good personality trait, we can learn to place a little more importance on our opinions. 

Don’t shrink back in group settings. Let them know if you disagree with an opinion, or want to talk about something else entirely. 

Related: Am I Selfish? Signs & What’s Positive About It

8. They Are Not Above Manipulation

If you’ve ever had a selfish friend, or partner, you will know how they can manipulate you into doing them favors, with their words and subtle body language. 

As a people pleaser, you’ve likely found yourself wondering why you’re doing so much for them.

It’s likely you’ve been caught in the selfish person’s manipulation tactics. 

What we can learn: Manipulation itself is simply the art of persuasion and conversation, used for selfish means.

If you can master the art of conversation (without the manipulation), you’ll be more successful in social and romantic settings.

9. They Naturally have a Self-Centered Personality

One who is selfish behaves the way they do because of their innate self absorbed personality. 

This means that they are concerned with the thoughts, actions, and feelings of themselves. They are rarely concerned with the motivations of others. 

What we can learn: If you have a problem with being overly giving in relationships, you might learn something valuable in this trait. 

Take some time to evaluate the direction of your life, your goals, and your feelings.

Write it down if you must, and keep it handy to look over, for the next time you feel you are compromising yourself for others. 

10. They Don’t Share Easily

Look back to when you were a child at school. The kids who didn’t share their toys were scolded by the teacher for being selfish.

It was never seen as a good thing to keep your things from others. 

Adult selfish people are the same. Selfish people will think twice, or thrice, before giving to others of their money, time, or resources.

More often than not, they keep it to themselves. 

Selfish People Traits
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

What we can learn: Thoughtful and compassionate people give generously, but should also learn to set boundaries with their time and affection. 

Think about if the person will actually appreciate it or give back to you. If not, be selfish and keep it to yourself. 

11. They Do What They Want, No Matter Who’s Watching

A selfish person is not good at listening to what others say, if what they’re saying is, “Don’t do that!”

They tend to do what they feel like doing, even if others want to do something else.

For example, if the selfish friend wants chicken, but the other friends want fish, selfish friends wouldn’t care.

They’ll make sure that they can eat chicken, if it means convincing the group, or even going alone. 

What we can learn: Try indulging in the foods and hobbies that YOU love. You don’t always have to do what others want to do. 

12. They Don’t Care About What You Think

Selfish people do what they want, because they truly do not care for the opinions of others if it contradicts their own.

At worst, they will viciously cut down anyone who opposes their ideas. 

What we can learn: While reading the room is a good trait to have, people pleasers may overvalue their friends’ opinions at the expense of true freedom. 

Try letting go of what others may think about you – simply relax and be yourself. 

Related Article: How To Focus On Yourself And Not Others

13. They Are Uncaring To The Needs of Others

Selfish people are not the type of people that you come to when you have problems or want to express your feelings about something. 

If it’s not about them, they likely won’t pay any attention, no matter how much you need them. 

What we can learn: It’s noble to want to solve people’s problems, but don’t let it drain your mental and emotional energy. 

Learn to set boundaries. Not everyone that comes to you with a sob story deserves your time. 

14. They Will Not Show You Their Weak Side

A selfish person is very guarded when it comes to showing vulnerability. It is humiliating to them.

They would rather have others think of them as smart, than risk looking like a fool in order to gain real knowledge. 

What we can learn: It’s important to not always be an open book when it comes to your weaknesses. Not everyone has your best interests at heart.

When you share your vulnerabilities, make sure you’re sharing them with the right people. 

15. They Do Not Accept Criticism

Selfish people do not accept criticism kindly. They won’t hear even the good kind of criticism. Selfish people react badly to even well-meaning constructive criticism. 

What we can learn: Learn to walk away when someone is saying something negative to you, or about you. Especially when you know that you are trying your best. 

16. They Don’t Listen to Those Who Don’t Agree With Them

Aside from not accepting criticism, selfish people also don’t listen to alternative opinions, whether they are critical or not.

With a selfish person, it’s always “my way or the highway.” 

What we can learn: If you share your goals with another person, and they start giving you reasons you can’t accomplish them, learn to kindly dismiss them. 

People often don’t like change, especially in their friends and family. If you know your dream is valid and possible, walk away from those who want to keep you down. 

17.They Overvalue Their Achievements

Selfish people likely remember and can recall every little achievement that adds to their self esteem and value.

Even if it’s a participation trophy they won in the fourth grade, they will hold onto anything that makes them look good. 

Selfish People Traits
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

What we can learn: While selfish people overvalue their achievements, perhaps you undervalue your achievements.

It’s okay to be proud of how far you’ve come. Don’t be afraid to gloat a little bit about achieving your goals. 

18. They Don’t Care What You Say If It’s Not About Them

If you’re talking to a selfish person, they will only be interested if what you say is about them.

As long as the conversation is about them, they’re engaged and receptive. 

If the conversation can be used to their own advantage, they’ll listen to that too. But otherwise, no matter how interesting the story, a selfish person just doesn’t care. 

What we can learn: Not every conversation deserves our attention. Especially talk that involves gossip or criticism spoken behind someone’s back. 

19. Selfish People Use Others 

Selfish people are not above using others to get what they want.

Whether  it’s through manipulation or letting others take the blame for their mistakes, they won’t hesitate to use other people.

What we can learn: While using others in a negative way is not good, don’t be afraid to ask others for help, especially if you have been kind and helpful to them in the past.

20. They Know How To Make A Great First Impression

Selfish people know that they need to be in your good graces in order to use or manipulate you.

Therefore, they will put all their effort into making a great impression with new people. 

When people think of them positively (at first), it will be easier to ask favors of them in the future.

What we can learn: Our purpose may not be to use people, but making a good first impression is a powerful skill to have.

When meeting new people, make eye contact, smile, and speak positively.

21. They Often Make Self-Contradictory Statements

Selfish people might have one opinion this week, and then completely contradict themselves the next week.

When others call them out on their lack of self awareness, they will often deny and react harshly.

What we can learn: The lesson here might not be obvious, but it’s important to remember.

It’s okay to change your mind, at any given time. Especially if it involves your decisions and actions. 

A people pleaser often thinks they owe other people consistency. But human beings are not consistent, so you don’t need to hold yourself to this high standard.

FAQs About Selfish People Traits

How do you identify selfish people? 

Selfish people can be identified by their behavior, which is for their own interest and often causes detriment to others. 

For example, they might push to the front of a queue, because they believe they should be served first. 

Even if they have a lot of money and food, they often won’t share it. These are some signs of a selfish person. 

How to deal with selfish people if you are close to them (family members or partner)?

Selfish People Traits
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

If you are close to a selfish family member or you have a partner that is selfish, there are some things you could do to help them improve their emotional intelligence. 

If you would like them to improve their selfish ways, try to explain it in a way that would benefit them.

You can also let them witness the negative consequences of their selfish behavior. This is a powerful technique that could persuade them to change their ways.


While it never pays off long-term to be a selfish person, we can see and learn from these 21 selfish people traits, and possibly include some of them in our daily lives.

True emotional intelligence exists in the balance between selfish and selfless traits.

About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.