自私 vs 無私：相反詞的五種樣子
Selfish vs Selfless: 5 relations of the opposites
H has a dream – to go on a bike trip for three months alone. “That’s nice. Go for it. I’ll support you,” I said.
“But then we won’t be able to meet, as I have limited holidays,” said H.
“Hmm… But if that’s what you want to do, you should do it. Or I think you’d do it sooner or later anyway,” I said.
“That’s nice of you. It’s selfless,” H said.
“I don’t know if it’s selfless or not because I am also doing what I want. I didn’t just leave everything behind just to be with you. So… shouldn’t it be the same for you? You should do what you wanna do with your life.” I said.
Sometimes, I can’t find the borderline between “Selfless” and “Selfish”.
I don’t need you to act in a certain way
狀態好的時候，我可以支持 H 成為他想成為的人、做他想做的事，而不需要他以特定的方式行事。—— 看起來很無私、很給對方自由。
When I am in good condition, I don’t need H to act in a certain way. I can support him to do what he wants. Back him up. It appears to be selfless, respecting and protecting your partner’s freedom in the relationship.
But sometimes I wonder, “really? Am I like that?” or maybe I just don’t care enough to put efforts in this relationship? I don’t really care what he does with his life because I don’t care if our relationship would last?
像這樣在 —— 我到底是 「足夠安全」了，還是「不夠在乎」—— 之間遊走。
Sometimes I can’t be sure if I am “selfless to respect his dream”, or just “don’t care enough.”
Or both – care and don’t care.
I care about our relationship and want to hold contact. But when relationship clashes with independence, I am also ready to give up relationships.
However, valuing independence also derives from valuing relationships. Without the space to breathe, any relationship would suffocate.
I keep balancing myself between the fine line of these two stands. Sometimes I like that I can give the spaces he needs. Other times I wonder if I’m just pretending that I’m okay with that, and have started distancing myself again.
Then I started to wonder, “Hmmm…. maybe selfish and selfless isn’t as black-and-white as I thought?”
於是，我以「自私 vs 無私」作為例子，開始探索相反詞之間的關係。
I then began to explore the “relations” of the opposites, using “selfish” and “selfless” as an example.
5 relations of the opposites
1、涇渭分明｜Black and white
When we first think of opposites, we think of “black and white,” “either-or.” One person is either “selfish” or “selfless.” One act is either “selfish” or “selfless.” And — if you’re not selfless, you’re selfish.
2、有交集的圓｜Circles that intersect
But in the previous example, “not needing your partner to act in a certain way” appear to be both “selfish” and “selfless.”
Selfish – because you’re also only focusing on yourself. What you want to do with your life. Instead of a shared one. Selfless – because you’re supporting your partner doing what he wants.
有時候行為的詮釋是很模糊的，模糊到可能同時是看似對立的兩者。（就像《戀人的腦補 Love is difficult》中的例子）
In this way, “selfish” and “selfless” are like circles that interact. Certain behaviors could be categorized in both of them at the same time.
3、多一分太多，少一分太少的微妙界線｜A subtle line
Or they are not circles that intersect, but a subtle line that you need to balance with caution.
When I interfere with my partner too much or too less, it all becomes a certain degree of “selfish,” and “only thinking about oneself.” And there’s a “just-right” level of interference that I can show that I care, but not end up in over-controlling or alienation.
When I show interests and opinions on his plans, he doesn’t feel pressured. When I don’t say anything, he doesn’t feel abandoned. — Then I know we’re balanced.
It’s a subtle line, that – a little bit more is too much, a little bit less is too less. And it’s dynamic, always updating and re-balancing between people.
4、左腳與右腳｜Left and right foot
Sometimes, “selfish” and “selfless” are like the left foot and the right foot – when the left one takes one step, the right one also needs to follow up and make one. After that, the left one can take one more.
“Selfish” and “selfless” have to take turns and not to be too far away from each other.
For example, taking care of yourself and others.
Sometimes you have to be “selfish” – to put yourself on the top priority, taking good care of yourself so that you could have the energy needed to take care of your loved ones. When we are taking care of ourselves, it’s more likely to give and expect nothing in return.
If we are not “selfish” enough, ignoring our own needs, we might end up in emotional blackmail – we think that we have sacrificed so much that the others should just be “more considerate and listen to my advice.” Without notice, we started to expect certain returns and rewards when we give.
5、到了盡頭就是對面｜To the extreme, one meets the other
If “selfish” means “doing only for oneself,” and “selfless” means “doing for many.”
Then, if you’re “selfless” to the extreme, can it also be a kind of “selfish”? For example, if one decides to be a religious practitioner, contributing his life to the world. It would be described as an extreme selfless.
但這樣的無私，會不會其實也帶有一些「自私」的成分呢？—— 也許對他的親人朋友來說，他是自私的，因為他只做「自己」想做的事。對於這種「好的自私」，我們比較常用「任性」這個詞 —— 例如：「感謝我家人朋友的包容，讓我這麼任性地一直做自己想做的事。」、「若不是我先生／太太的支持，我可能沒辦法任性地持續耕耘，闖出一片天地。」
But he might be “selfish” to his close friends and families because he only does what he wants to do. Could we thus say that his extreme “selfless” contains certain degrees of “selfish”?
A person that is “selfish” to the extreme could also develop top-notch technologies out of pure curiosity and passions. He didn’t start to build anything because he wanted to contribute, but only for and to himself. He was just curious.
But then, these technologies could end up being very useful and in the end, serving humanity. Thus, the “selfish” act became “selfless.”
Like Akiko in Japanese drama “義母と娘のブルース” put it, “I’m just using you. By raising you, I could fill the hole in my heart. I’m selfish.” But what Akiko seemed as “selfish” actually gave her step-daughter Miyuki irreplaceable support and love. To Miyuki, it was selfless love.