Psychologist: "In love, egoism is a must"

Why are you with your sweetheart? Hopefully out of selfishness! Because anything else would, according to the exciting thesis of a psychologist, be fraud.

In a partnership we have to be ready to put our own needs aside and to show consideration. When two people with different minds and needs want to be together, ultimately both cannot always prevail – sometimes one lags behind, sometimes the other and sometimes you agree on a compromise in which both give in a little. But does it follow from what you sometimes hear that we have to overcome our egoism and be as selfless as possible in order to be able to love someone? A thesis of the psychologist Dr. Leon Windscheid suggests a "nope" rather than an answer. He says in the podcast "Betreutes Feeling" with Atze Schröder (Warning, don't be frightened!): "To love (…) is a maximally selfish act." And: "In love, egoism is a duty."

Real love is selfish

Admittedly, that might sound a bit strange or even completely banana at first. After all, we understand love as something beautiful, one of the greatest feelings we can have as human beings (or one of the greatest decisions we make – depending on what we mean by that …). In contrast, we tend to see egoism as something negative and unsympathetic, with which we are very reluctant to be associated (who wants to be an egoist?). So how should love and egoism of all things fit together? Quite simply: by briefly reconsidering our conception of egoism.

Officially and without judgment, egoism means that we act in our own sense and for our benefit – no more and no less (you can find more information and considerations on this in our article on egoism). This can become unsympathetic if we are also reckless or selfish, but it doesn't necessarily have to be if we are considerate and reflective at the same time. Acting for our own benefit does not automatically mean that we accept other people's disadvantages. Degenerate egoism with a simultaneous absence of empathy is certainly nothing nice. But a restrained egoism in combination with compassion and attention is anything but evil. And then Leon's thought doesn't seem so banana anymore.

Because what would the alternative be? Why should we be with someone if not for our own happiness and benefit? To do the person a favor? Because mom and dad want it that way? Because breaking up is always so complicated and hurts terribly? Sure there are couples who are together for exactly these reasons, but … is it really love that connects them? And is your partnership really honest and sincere? Not according to Leon's thesis. He says: "If you are with someone, not out of selfishness, it is cheating. (…) You can only really love someone out of yourself, your self, your own interest."

Certainly there are sometimes phases in partnerships in which one ego has to back off and one of the lovers appears selfless and self-sacrificing. If z. If, for example, one partner becomes ill and the other takes care of him, one would hardly accuse the caring party of egoism. But wouldn't it be nice, even in such a case, to think that the caregiver is pursuing a selfish motive? That he is convinced that he would rather be with this person, even when he is sick and not the greatest joke, than alone or with anyone else? If we think about it like this, egoism as a motivation for a partnership appears not only as a good basis and prerequisite for a crisis-proof, true love and an honest relationship – but also as the best compliment we can ever give our partner.

You can listen to what Atze and Leon say about selfishness and love, for example, via the following link in the corresponding podcast episode.