It would be nice if everyone think about us and our well-being, but of course many people are self-absorbed and simply think about themselves. While it is unpleasant to be around self-absorbed people, sometimes it takes a while to identify them. Those of us who are not self-absorbed want to believe that other people care about us as much as we care about them, but that is not always the case. Here are three clues that a person is suffering from self-absorption:
Self-Absorption Clue #1: Talks about him/herself but not about you. In a normal conversation between two people, about fifty percent of the time is spent talking about Person A while about fifty percent of the time is spent talking about Person B. There is a range of reasonableness, so if the division ends up being 70:30 or so, that is probably O.K. But if conversations are completely dominated by one person, it is almost certain that that one person is self-absorbed. The reason self-absorbed people talk about themselves exclusively is that they are thinking about themselves exclusively. If they tried to talk about someone else, they simply would not have much material to work with.
Self-Absorption Clue #2: Treats others like objects. To a self-absorbed person, other people are just part of the scenery, like other non-human objects. Just as non-human objects might occasionally be useful to the self-absorbed person, human people might occasionally be useful, too. When self-absorbed people interact with other people, though, they are thinking about themselves. Consequently, their actions show indifference to those other people. For example, a self-absorbed person might ask a friend for help, but then fail to provide the same type of help when that friend is in need.
Self-Absorption Clue #3: Breaks commitments easily. We constantly enter into informal agreements with each other (e.g., “meet me at noon for lunch,” “call me when you get out of class,” or “we’ll take turns doing the dishes”). Self-absorbed people enter into these types of agreements, too, but when they do so they are only thinking about themselves and the benefits they will derive from the agreements. When it comes time for them to hold up their end of the bargain, they are frequently nowhere to be found.
Everyone acts a little self-centered once in a while. The fact that someone breaks a single commitment does not mean that he/she is necessarily self-absorbed. But if people you know develop a pattern of exhibiting the behaviors described above, it is likely that they are self-absorbed and, as much as you might hate to admit it, there is a good chance that they are thinking about themselves, and not about you.