There’s a difference, and I’m coming to understand that being self-centeredness isn’t nearly as fulfilling as being selfish.
My particular brand of self-centeredness is self-conscious and pretentious–it’s all about how others perceive me. It’s about wanting others to think highly of me. In some regards, it’s more about pleasing others than it is about pleasing myself.
In practice, my self-centeredness plays out fairly well for my partners. I want to be perceived well, so I behave in ways that make partners think highly of me. Even though the products of my self-centeredness are difficult to distinguish from altruism, in the end, I’m more motivated by the want to be perceived well than by the want to make someone happy or the want to make myself happy.
In bed, self-centeredness means I’m always acting, but never being. My primary concern isn’t enjoying myself, but trying to look like I’m enjoying myself. I’m too busy worrying about what I sound like that I forget to listen. I’m too busy acting that I fail to feel.
But I’m learning.
I’m learning there’s more honesty and more fulfillment in being selfish. It’s more honest to admit what I want, and it’s more honest for me to take it. It’s more fulfilling to please myself than to please someone else (or to please no one). Being selfish feels good.
Sure, I’m still too self-centered, but I’m learning, and I’m working on it. I aspire to be more selfish.