Yes, it's OK to be a selfish romantic while dating—allow an expert to show you why

Author and boundaries expert Michelle Elman dishes on selfish romantics and why a little greed goes a long way

couple outside in the city staring at one another
(Image credit: Oliver Rossi/Getty Images)

Forget what you've learned: it's okay to be a selfish romantic. In fact, it's actually encouraged. 

Now that countless dating trends continue to shift the environment—from "infla-dating" to "OnlyPlans" and everything in between—it's more important than ever to stay focused on one thing: what you truly want.  

Michelle Elman, life coach and author of the newly released The Selfish Romantic: How To Date Without Feeling Bad About Yourself, is trying to de-stigmatize the perception of a one-sided approach to looking for love.

"The issue that people take with the word ‘selfish’ is that it is at the disregard of others, but in order to put yourself before another, you must regard your needs higher," she tells My Imperfect Life. 

So, what does being a selfish romantic entail, and why is it crucial when searching for a partner? Allow her to explain.

Headshot of Michelle Elman
Meet the expert: Michelle Elman

A five-board accredited life coach and esteemed author, Michelle Elman has just released a new book, The Selfish Romantic: How To Date Without Feeling Bad About Yourself to change the narrative on our quest for love. Check out her other books such as The Joy of Being Selfish and Am I Ugly?

The Selfish Romantic: How To Date Without Feeling Bad About Yourself by Michelle Elman

The Selfish Romantic: How To Date Without Feeling Bad About Yourself by Michelle Elman

Change your mindset on dating and get out there with a confident new attitude thanks to Elman's valuable advice. 

What is a selfish romantic?

"A selfish romantic is someone who prioritizes their needs and vocalizes them, even if it makes them less desirable or attractive," Elman says. "They are confident in who they are and present themselves as an accurate version of themselves, as opposed to the idealized, romanticized version that society promotes."

Essentially, a selfish romantic is someone who stays true to her beliefs, even when she's tested in the midst of those Hinge DMs or coffee dates. (Don't be afraid to stick to your dating dealbreakers!) You've been conditioned to put others' needs before your own. "Selfish" has a derogatory connotation, but the author has set out to flip the script in her new book.

Why is it important to be a selfish romantic?

The threats of ghosting and rejection can make anyone nervous. And we won't sugarcoat it: those fears are warranted. However, you need to advocate for yourself when dating, otherwise, you run the risk of giving in. 

"We should not be putting the opinion of a stranger before our own and when you prioritize them because you want to be liked, that’s when you're attracting someone based on who they want you to be rather than who you actually are," Elman adds. 

Stay true to your wants and needs because it's the only way to find something authentic. While there's no need to be rude, you do have to be honest. 

"We need to give women the same permission men have had to be direct, upfront and clear in their communication. We need to stop worrying about turning men off and realize that only the wrong men will be turned off," Elman says. 

Why we need to set boundaries while dating

Elman, who also happens to be an expert on boundaries, uses her knowledge to prove why we need to stick to our guns while on the hunt for love. 

"Our love life is often the hardest to set boundaries because being a people pleaser or wanting to be liked directly opposes setting boundaries," she says. 

However, the first person you need to please is yourself. How else are you supposed to attract a like-minded partner if you don't have a clear understanding and respect for your needs? If you don't, you run the risk of checking off someone else's boxes instead of your own.

While yes, dating, swiping, texting and meeting up can feel daunting, don't view these new normals as a chore; think of them as an exciting way to put you one step closer to finding your person.

"I was bored of the fact that everyone assumes that you hate dating and anytime the conversation of dating is brought up, it is a negative one," Elman says. 

Get out there with a little confidence and show those dates why you're the catch. Main character energy has officially entered the chat, and she's here to stay.

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.