6 Signs Someone Is Too Self-Centered

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Someone who is self-centered or self-absorbed tends to be focused on themselves and may have difficulty showing consideration for others.

Self-centeredness differs from self-care, because while self-care involves taking care of your needs and putting yourself first once in a while, particularly if you’re dealing with something stressful, self-centeredness involves thinking only about oneself.

This article discusses the signs that someone is too self-centered and suggests some strategies that can help you understand their behavior and cope with it. We also help you explore whether you might be too self-centered and how you can be less so.

What Are the Signs of a Self-Centered Person?

These are six signs that someone is too self-centered.

They Dominate Conversations

People who are self-centered tend to speak the most in conversations and meetings, says Aimee Daramus, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist and author of “Understanding Bipolar Disorder.”

When you talk to them, it can feel like the conversation only focuses on their life, their accomplishments, and their problems.

They Lack Empathy

Being empathetic toward others requires one to put themselves in another person’s shoes and understand their feelings. Self-centered people may not be able to see things from another person's perspective in order to empathize with them.

They Take More Than They Give

Self-centered people often take more than they give. Your relationship with them can feel one-sided because it feels you put in all the effort to maintain it, without getting anything in return.

They Want Things Done Their Way

People who are self-centered often want things done their way. They may have a hard time compromising and doing things someone else's way.

For instance, they typically won’t let anyone else pick the movie or restaurant, says Dr. Daramus.

They’re Quick to Blame Others and Avoid Responsibility

Self-centered people may not be able to recognize that they've done something wrong and may blame others for any mistakes.

They Always Want to Be the Center of Attention

Self-centered people tend to want to be the center of attention. If the focus happens to shift to something or someone else, they may try to find a way to bring it back to themselves.

For instance, if someone tells a funny anecdote, they may interject with their own story and try to one-up the person. Or, if there’s a situation that captures everyone’s attention, they might find a way to insert themselves into the situation and make it all about them. A self-centered person may even try to comfort someone by telling them stories about themselves, says Dr. Daramus.

Reasons Why Someone Might Be Self-Centered

While you may experience the impact of someone's self-centered behavior, it's important to consider that there are reasons why they may behave this way.

These are some of the reasons why someone might be self-centered, according to the experts:

  • Upbringing: The person might have been raised in a way that taught them they didn’t have to consider or include others, says Dr. Daramus. "If they’ve been taught that it’s OK to consider only themselves, they may not even realize how they come off."
  • Rejection: Self-centeredness can also come from early feelings of rejection, says Dr. Daramus. The person may not have been heard or prioritized when they were young and therefore may have an intense need to feel seen as an adult, says Yolanda Renteria, LPC.
  • Trauma: The person may have experienced something traumatic. The experience could have taught them not to rely on others and to look out for their own needs above all else.
  • Sociocultural factors: Sociocultural factors can also contribute to self-centeredness. For example, in a society where people believe that wealthy people earned and deserved their money (and low-income people must have deserved their fate), the person might see their entitlement as the rewards of “doing the job right,” says Dr. Daramus. Or, she says that people might only be self-centered with people they see as “other”.
  • Mental health conditions: A 2020 study found that being self-centered and being unable to see others’ perspective is linked to higher levels of depression and neuroticism.
  • Neurodivergence: Any condition that limits someone’s social skills, such as social anxiety or autism, can sometimes feel like self-centeredness to people who are trying to connect with them, says Dr. Daramus.
  • Sociopathy: People who have antisocial personality disorder, formerly known as sociopathy, may frequently disregard or violate the rights of others. If someone's self-centeredness stems from sociopathy, they might be aware of it, but they may not care, says Dr. Daramus.

Coping With Someone Who Is Self-Centered

These are some strategies that can help you cope with someone's self-centered behavior.

Tell Them How You Feel

While some people may have awareness of wanting to be the center of attention and take the attention away from others, most people who do it probably don't realize that they are doing it or how their behaviors impact others, says Renteria.

If the person is unaware of their behavior, you can have an honest discussion with them about how their words and actions are affecting you. Most people respond to being re-directed or can learn to be re-directed, says Renteria.

Suggest Therapy

If the person is open to the suggestion, therapy could help them examine their behavior, explore what's causing it, and learn to be more considerate of others.

Assert Yourself

If the person is being inconsiderate, you can assert yourself to make sure your needs and preferences are heard. Dr. Daramus recommends being diplomatic but specific in your needs and preferences.

For example, if you’re upset and need to vent, but the person tends to monopolize the conversation, you can ask for their attention. Dr. Daramus suggests saying something like: “Hey, I had a wild day at work, do you have 15 minutes to listen to me vent?”

Or, if you’re trying to plan an outing with them, Dr. Daramus says you can take charge and avoid giving them control over the decision-making process by saying: “We’re planning to go for this movie, would you like to join us?”

Adjust Your Expectations

Being around a self-centered person can cause you to feel disappointed, upset, or angry if they’re inconsiderate toward you. You may even feel used because you've given them so much of your time, energy, attention, and support without receiving much in return.

However, recognizing them for who they are and adjusting your expectations accordingly can help you cope. For instance, a colleague who tends to be self-centered may not be the best friend you confide in and rely on for support, but can still be fun to hang out with once in a while.

Set Boundaries in Your Relationship With Them

Self-centered people can take up a lot of your time and energy if you let them. Setting boundaries in your relationship can help you protect yourself.

For instance, if it’s a friend who’s calling you for a chat, let them know at the beginning that you only have 15 minutes before you have to get back to work.

Or, if it’s a coworker, Dr. Daramus recommends setting agendas for meetings in advance with time-limited goals so they don’t take up your whole day.

Keep Your Distance From Them

If being around them is draining your energy or causing you to feel angry or upset often, it may be best to avoid them.

If it’s a friend or romantic partner who doesn’t seem capable of change, you can choose to end your relationship with them in order to protect your mental and emotional well-being. 

If it’s a family member, colleague, or neighbor whom you may not be able to avoid entirely, you can limit your interaction with them to what is strictly necessary and distance yourself from them as much as possible.

How Can You Tell If You Are Too Self-Centered?

While we can recognize self-centeredness in other people, it can be harder to recognize it in ourselves. Dr. Daramus says these are some signs that can help you identify self-centeredness in yourself:

  • You monopolize conversations: You tend to monopolize most conversations, meetings, and interactions. When you’re trying to connect with others, you do so by telling them about yourself rather than asking them about themselves.
  • You don’t really listen: You have a hard time listening to others. After a conversation, meeting, or date you can’t really recall what others had to say. Your performance at work is limited because you’re not paying attention to others' inputs and tapping into their knowledge base.
  • You attract people with weaker personalities: You don’t get along well with people who are assertive. Most or all of your friends lack strong opinions. There aren’t many interesting, opinionated people in your life because you don’t pay attention to their ideas.
  • You’re alone when you need help: Since you tend to attract people who aren’t very assertive, you find yourself alone when you need real help. It’s fun to get your own way until you have an emergency and no one around you is strong enough to help.

How to Be Less Self-Centered

If someone in your life has pointed out that you’re too self-centered, you may wonder how to correct that. Dr. Daramus suggests some strategies that can help you be less self-absorbed:

  • Listen to others: Try to listen as much as you speak. Ask people what they think about a subject. Get to know them better, instead of only talking about yourself. Let them steer the conversation sometimes, both at work and in your private life—you might be pleasantly surprised at what you learn.
  • Participate in things others want to do: Instead of wanting things done your way all the time, occasionally participate in activities of others’ choice, to strengthen your relationship with them and make it more balanced.
  • Be more empathetic: Try this simple exercise to be more empathetic: When you talk to someone, and they mention a problem or difficult situation, take a few minutes to picture yourself in their shoes and think about how you would feel in that scenario.
  • Ask what others need: When you’re comforting or helping someone, ask what they want from you. Don’t make the situation about yourself. Try to be more thoughtful and considerate of their feelings and needs.
  • Consider therapy: If you’re having a really hard time with this, consider therapy to help you understand what’s driving your behavior and how to be more thoughtful.

Research shows that while being self-centered can feel good in the moment, being selfless leads to more authentic and durable happiness.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is self-centeredness the same as selfishness?

    Self-centeredness and selfishness are similar concepts, but they’re not exactly the same thing. 

    Self-centeredness is a single-minded focus on oneself and one's own needs, desires, preferences, and problems. Someone who is self-centered may be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and may not be very attentive to the needs and perspectives of others.

    On the other hand, selfishness is a lack of concern for others, to the extent that someone may actively pursue their own goals and desires at the expense of others.

  • Is self-centeredness the same as narcissism?

    Self-centeredness is similar to narcissism, but less severe, says Dr. Daramus. “While a narcissist has trouble caring about others, someone who is self-centered can have relationships and care about others, but they tend to focus more on what‘s going on with themselves than with others.”

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Wegemer CM. Selflessness, depression, and neuroticism: an interactionist perspective on the effects of self-transcendence, perspective-taking, and materialism. Front Psychol. 2020;11:523950. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.523950

  2. American Psychological Association. Antisocial personality disorder.

  3. Dambrun M. Self-centeredness and selflessness: happiness correlates and mediating psychological processes. PeerJ. 2017;5:e3306. doi:10.7717/peerj.3306

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.