I have a friend that I love who recently put up a blog post about her feelings on selfishness and her new relationship. She said as a single person she has lived a selfish life and now with a boyfriend she has to take into account the feelings of another person.
While these feelings are completely valid and authentic I had to scratch my head a bit. From my perspective single’s are forced into being less selfish than their married counterparts.
Here’s what I mean…when you are single you are self-sufficient only to a point. You rely on the outside community for emotional, spiritual and other support. In my experience my friends and family become my backbone because I have no other partner to lean on- they are my partner.
Again in my experience almost all married people I know (at least for a while) become more insular and isolated after marriage than they were as singles. With a few exceptions, most of my friends fall off the face of the earth as soon as they get engaged or married. Is this not also a form of selfishness?
I’ve even had a friend who I was a bridesmaid at her wedding and you know how many times we have gotten together in the two years since? Twice. (and she lives in my apartment complex!). I tried calling at first but eventually gave up. I still love her and chat with her when we happen to meet; however, I have been disappointed in her lack of friendship. I wish I could say such experiences were unique or rare.
I rely on my friends. They are my support system, so when one of them drops me it breaks my heart.
Selfishness is defined as “stinginess resulting from a concern for your own welfare and a disregard of others”. In my experience, married people are much stingier with their time and resources than the singles I know. (this is with or without kids). Shouldn’t finding love make you more open to relationships not more isolated? I’ve always been confused by this?
Perhaps as Mormon’s we focus so much on family that people forget the value of friendship. If there is any doubt on the church’s stand check out President Henry B. Eyring’s talk on friendship. He says:
“All of us will be tested. And all of us need true friends to love us, to listen to us, to show us the way, and to testify of truth to us so that we may retain the companionship of the Holy Ghost. You must be such a true friend.”
I understand that the single lifestyle has some selfish aspects. For example, I don’t have to ask anyone’s opinion when I order a pizza. I can get whatever toppings I want. I can watch whatever movie I want to watch at night, spend any money I have to spend, and I have complete control of the remote control! However, I think where it really counts we can be remarkably unselfish and sometimes we aren’t given enough credit for that. We can be the most loyal, loving, service-oriented people in our churches, communities and families.
I suppose both groups have the potential to be selfish. We all do! Isn’t it interesting how selfishness is the only sin which could apply to each of the seven deadly sins? There are some economists who will try to persuade you that selfishness is a good thing (Ayn Rand anyone?). Maybe in economic theory this is true (I believe strongly in the free market) but in regular every-day life and interactions with others it leads to misery- married or single.
I will be very curious for thoughts on this topic. Please add your comments!