What is selfish in a relationship

Just me: egoism destroys relationships

Self-centeredness is downright en vogue today, and this is not only reflected in the current “selfie culture”: You put yourself in the limelight, want to be noticed and loved at all costs. That has consequences - especially for love. In MEDIZIN popular, an expert explains how growing egoism makes bonds more difficult and destroys relationships. By Mag. Alexandra Wimmer

Doris and Hans, a happily in love couple, arrange to meet for the anniversary in their café. For Doris it is clear: “This is the man I want to have children with,” she enthuses. Finally, the latter appears with a bouquet of flowers. However, not to propose to her, as he had hoped, but to separate: "This year with you was so incredibly beautiful - it can only get worse," he says of the stunned Doris the reason. “Besides, at 34 I'm just not ready to commit myself and start a family. Who knows which other great women I will meet? "
With this cool, calculating attitude towards love, Hans is not an isolated incident. More and more people prefer casual, non-binding relationships - experts are already speaking of a social mass phenomenon: For “Mingles” (from “mixed” and “single”), the relationship is like a vacation: you enjoy yourself, but you already have that in the back of your mind next travel destination. Instead of being a matter of the heart, relationships become part of the “business plan”: the partner should perfectly meet their own needs. You never really commit yourself: A great woman or even the man of your dreams could be waiting around the next corner.

Relationship becomes a consumer good

"We have started consuming everything - including relationships," observes Prof. Dr. Martina-Leibovici. The Viennese general practitioner, gynecologist, doctor for psychosomatics and psychotherapist deals intensively with the new form of relationship and has written a book on it (see book tip). “You stage yourself together: you have hobbies together, you have sex.” This non-binding relationship style has become downright trendy, while loyalty, commitment and consistency are increasingly losing their value. “You get the most out of yourself without the risk of getting injured,” explains the expert. When feelings come into play, when injuries or losses are to be feared, one withdraws.
The undercooled social climate is to blame for the increasing unwillingness to bond, says Leibovici-Mühlberger. “The ability to love is dying out. Feeling for yourself and getting involved in your heart seems to more and more people to be too dangerous and risky. With the spreading numbness of feelings, love dies and with it vitality. ”Instead of getting involved with others, one prefers to concentrate on oneself:“ An egoistic attitude has become socially acceptable: One looks at oneself - not in order to then be able to give, but solely to get and consume, ”the psychotherapist states. “Relationships based on this attitude are used for self-presentation. The opposite only has the function of providing a backdrop so that you can shine in your own piece. ”The partner remains an extra. “A kind of utilitarianism is spreading: are you useful to me? What is your market value? "

Searching for a partner as an "ego booster"

The many possibilities offered by the new media promote this development: “In Internet forums and partner exchanges, the feasibility of choosing a partner is suggested,” observes Leibovici-Mühlberger. You enter your profile, and it has been proven that you cheat a bit by making yourself younger and slimmer - 10, 20 or even hundreds of interested people are "spat out". “The great response is of course a booster for the ego,” says the expert.
But love and real encounters cannot be “made” and even a large number of (virtual) admirers is no guarantee of happiness in love. Mingles circumvent this bitter truth with a “trick”: They tell themselves that they are not looking for a man or woman for life anyway, but only someone to have fun with. ”You keep lowering your expectations - and thereby maximizing them Hit rate.
Instead of a phase of life partnership, you are looking for like-minded people for certain areas of life, "life area partners" so to speak: You are looking for someone to pursue hobbies, for vacation trips or for "casual dates", occasional sex. You can enjoy a dream vacation including romantic togetherness, only to return to your own apartment and your own life afterwards.

Narcissism is rampant

“Mingle” is therefore often not simply a relationship status, but rather a disease: Those who go through life in love with themselves, depending on the constant attention and recognition of others, suffer from a narcissistic personality disorder - this psychiatric disease is on the rise. “Today's 30 to 35 year olds are three times more affected than 60 to 65 year olds,” reports Leibovici-Mühlberger. A narcissistic person is ultimately "a deeply suffering person who has not experienced enough security and love and is therefore dependent on the recognition and attention of those around him."
The consequences for a relationship are dramatic: "Those who consider themselves to be the center of the world are often neither capable of partnership nor of love," emphasizes the psychotherapist. "The relationship stays on the surface - you have 'fun', no joy." That is ultimately extremely frustrating and also the reason why people with all sorts of compensatory mechanisms - from sex addiction to drug use, shopping addiction and alcoholism - are desperately trying to find the emptiness to fill in their life.

Party animal meets wallflower

On the outside, narcissists are often colorful personalities who entice potential partners with flattery. As soon as feelings come into play, they withdraw or, like Hans, end the love interlude. "How much their behavior hurts the other is not even noticed by people with narcissistic disorders," reports Leibovici-Mühlberger.
And what about the Mingle partner such as B. Doris, who finally sought psychotherapeutic help because of the offense? "The person often carries a deeper longing for attachment and is therefore usually the healthier psychologically," explains the expert. Since the relationship lacks trust, connectedness, and love, anyone who fell for a mingle experiences a lot of frustration. Often, for example, when you have been quasi dumped, "a depressive bunkering" occurs, the expert emphasizes. “The people concerned withdraw, suppress or numb the pain, for example with drugs. It will be difficult to get involved with a new partner later. ”The person concerned can also become infected with the“ Mingle virus ”: Anyone who has been injured a few times by a dull love partner runs the risk of losing closeness in relationships to allow. According to a study by the single exchange “Parship”, bad experiences are the reason for a third of 30 to 49-year-old singles not to want to enter into a permanent relationship. And even if both partners are Mingle, injuries are programmed, as sooner or later one of the two usually longs for more commitment.

Princes and princesses

Those “mingles” - men and women - who enter into a relationship and have children, even “pass on” their attitude to the offspring. “Narcissists become narcissistic parents who experience their children as an extension of their ego and project everything possible - performance, success, a certain appearance - onto them,” explains Leibovici-Mühlberger. “These are raised to be little princesses and princes of the consumer society, for whom only the best is good enough.” The consequences are fatal: “The children don't really feel loved. This lack of love and being recognized is the basic trauma of narcissistic disorder, ”warns the doctor. "A whole generation of children is now growing up with it."

Devotion instead of giving

How to put a stop to the development? How to put a stop to rampant egoism? Instead of seeking the applause of others, one should above all think about oneself again - but not in the selfish sense: it is important to accept who one is. “It takes dedication instead of giving information,” adds the psychotherapist. “And it takes courage: the courage to meet, the courage to trust your heart and get involved.” To dock again with the “primal force of love” also means to accept pain, disappointment and changes. The emotional effort is worthwhile: "The only thing that really drives us positively is love," emphasizes the doctor. How well intimate bonds do our health is confirmed by many scientific studies, e. B. from neurobiology, as Leibovici-Mühlberger emphasizes: "We are mentally and physically the healthiest when we expose ourselves to love."

Book tip:
Diagnosis Mingle
Why we don't love anymore
How we come back to life
ISBN 978-3-99001-0990
166 pages, € 14.90
2014, edition a, Vienna

Status 07-08 / 2015