What is a sense of entitlement?
A sense of entitlement is when someone believes they inherently deserve special treatment, privileges, or rewards without necessarily earning them or reciprocating efforts.
In relationships, entitlement can lead one partner to make unreasonable demands or expectations of their significant other. This attitude of deservingness stems from a self-centered perspective rather than an appreciation for their partner’s feelings, needs, or humanity.
Some signs of entitlement in a relationship include:
Expecting preferential treatment
An entitled partner believes their needs should always come first in the relationship and that their partner should cater to them. They expect their partner to make sacrifices for them but are unwilling to do the same.
Lack of appreciation
An entitled person takes their partner’s acts of kindness for granted. They believe their partner should do nice things for them by default, rather than being thankful.
Making unreasonable demands
Entitled people make requests of their partners that are inconsiderate, inappropriate, or reflect a double standard. They insist their partners meet these demands.
Reacting poorly to being told “no”
When an entitled person’s partner sets boundaries, says no, or does not give in to the entitled person’s wishes, the entitled person guilt trips or throws a fit rather than respecting their partner’s choice.
Difficulty with compromise
An entitled person is less willing to find an equitable compromise. They believe any compromise should still favor their interests or needs first and foremost.
Lack of reciprocity
Entitled people think that any kind gestures should flow in one direction – from their partners to them. They rarely reciprocate efforts or compromise.
Entitled people always find something lacking in their partner’s efforts. They focus on their partner’s flaws rather than giving praise.
Lack of empathy
Entitled people have a difficult time considering their partner’s needs and feelings. They lack insight into how their demands affect their partner.
Why do people develop a sense of entitlement?
There are a few potential roots of entitled attitudes:
Narcissism centers around an inflated, grandiose sense of self. Narcissists feel superior to others, believe they deserve special treatment, and take advantage of others to get their needs met. Their entitlement stems from their exaggerated sense of self-importance.
Children who are given excessive praise, spoiled, excessively catered to, or taught they are superior can internalize an inflated sense of self-worth. Without realistic feedback about their limitations, they develop entitled perspectives that carry into adulthood.
Interestingly, entitlement can also arise from insecurity. People who lack self-confidence and self-worth may overcompensate by demanding preferential treatment to bolster their egos.
Unmet emotional needs
People who grew up with emotional neglect may have learned to meet their own unmet needs by demanding them from others. Their entitled behaviors reflect this engrained, survival-driven mentality.
Some entitled people genuinely lack insight into how their actions impact others. They struggle to empathize or consider their partner’s experience. This self- absorption fuels entitled behaviors.
For some, entitled behaviors reflect a maladaptive attempt to regain control in relationships and push back against feelings of powerlessness or vulnerability.
Why is entitlement damaging in relationships?
Entitlement lays the groundwork for unhealthy relationship dynamics. Here’s why it jeopardizes relationships:
When one partner consistently makes demands of the other but does not reciprocate, relationship effort becomes imbalanced. This breeds resentment from the giving partner.
Lack of empathy
Partners need to be able to mutually understand and validate each other’s perspectives. Entitled people lack empathy and compromise, which makes their partners feel unheard, disrespected, and unimportant.
Erosion of intimacy
True intimacy requires mutual vulnerability, compromise, and reciprocity. Entitlement destroys intimacy by turning relationships into a one-sided power play focused solely on the entitled person’s needs.
Loss of autonomy
Entitled people override their partner’s needs and boundaries. Their partners gradually lose freedom of choice and ability to behave authentically, leading to a loss of identity.
Partners of entitled people often feel taken for granted, disrespected, resentful, and burned out. The entitled person’s constant demands chip away at their confidence and self-worth.
Over time, the entitled partner’s actions breed deep seated anger and bitterness. Their partner stews in silent resentment that can ultimately destroy the relationship.
Lack of accountability
Entitled people blame their partners rather than taking responsibility. This destroys trust and makes it impossible to have honest conversations about issues.
Selfish, entitled dynamics establish a toxic model for any children in the relationship. Children may internalize and emulate these unhealthy patterns.
Overcoming entitlement and establishing compromise
If you recognize entitled patterns in your relationship, here are some tips for overcoming them:
Examine your own entitlement
Honestly reflect on your own potential entitled attitudes and sense of deservingness. Do you make excessive demands of your partner? Do you fail to appreciate their efforts or reciprocate thoughtfully?
Validate your partner’s perspective
Practice empathy by trying to truly understand your partner’s viewpoint and feelings when they push back against your requests. Validate their perspectives and needs rather than guilt-tripping.
Appreciate your partner’s efforts
Focus on the positive – express genuine gratitude for the things your partner does, no matter how small. Balance requests with praise.
Engage in self-soothing
Find healthy ways to meet your own emotional needs independently so you can approach compromise without desperation. Self-soothing will make you less demanding.
Compromise and negotiate
Be willing to find middle ground solutions where both partners’ core needs and priorities are met to some degree, rather than insisting on getting your way.
Understand it’s healthy for partners to set some boundaries. Respect when your partner says no rather than punishing them or making excessive demands.
Own up to entitled patterns. Sincerely apologize to your partner and commit to consistent behavioral changes rather than blaming them when you slip up.
For severe entitlement that threatens to destroy your relationship, seek help from a couples counselor. Guidance can teach healthier relating habits.
The bottom line
True love requires mutual care, compromise, and respect between partners. Entitlement poisons relationships by prioritizing one partner’s needs over the other consistently. By examining your sense of deservingness, practicing empathy, and finding an equitable middle ground, you can overcome entitlement and establish a healthy compromise. This will help restore balance and intimacy.