Is Your Ego Ruining Your Relationship?

March 21, 2014


The ego is a psychological concept created by Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s when he formulated his theory of how humans develop mentally and emotionally from infant to adult.

Originally, Freud thought that the ego was the part of a person’s psyche that mediated instinctual impulses and overly rigid attitudes.

Freud claimed that when someone did not have a properly functioning ego, they would have undesirable behaviors, such as selfishness, promiscuity, lack of impulse control and aggressiveness.


Alternately, those with poorly developed egos could also exhibit perfectionism, overbearing or pessimistic attitudes and narcissism.

The view of the ego in relationships today

Modern perspectives of the ego interpret it as a general term for someone’s sense of self, or a sense of entitlement they feel should be granted to them by others. Romantic or platonic relationships are often compromised by egos that cannot or refuse to acknowledge the “bigger picture” that surrounds all interpersonal conflicts.

An example of clashing egos

An example of how an ego could ruin a relationship is summarized in this fictional story of a young twenty-something couple who have been dating for several months. Although they have a lot in common, the couple has been arguing lately because of her overwhelming need to be “right” all the time and her defensiveness when he proves her wrong.

Alternately, he has never been in an intimate relationship with someone as extroverted as his new girlfriend. Consequently, his ego refuses to accept the fact that her extroversion does not represent “flirting” or “coming on” to other men. In fact, if he took the time to understand that extroverted people have a psychological need to socialize more intensely than others, his insecure, controlling ego would see that she really does love him.

Learning to let go of your ego in a relationship

Our ability to remain solely focused on our own beliefs and perspectives while ignoring the fact that no one thinks the same way we do is truly amazing and troubling. In fact, the lengths we often go to so that we can avoid disturbing our belief that we are right and they are wrong lies at the root of most failed relationships.

Your ego feels vulnerable

Feeling affection and love towards someone also brings an unsettling feeling of dependency on that person. Humans love being in love because it feels so rewarding and satisfying.

However, your ego does not like you to feel so vulnerable and dependent on another because it is the job of the ego to protect you from “bad” feelings, especially the sadness, anger and depression that comes with rejection by another.

Just let go

So don’t let your ego interfere with another relationship by asserting its negative behaviors. Instead, understand what your ego is doing, why it is behaving in such an antagonistic manner and stop its unproductive behavior by communicating rationally and empathetically with your significant other.

Realize that you do not have the authority to tell another person how to behave, that the world does not revolve around you and that other people cannot read your mind.

A quote about letting go

The Tao Te Ching tells us that when we let go of what we are, we receive exactly what we need. By breaking the cycle of your ego interfering with relationships, you will also experience the joy of having exactly what you need to live a full, happy life.