Ego is a necessary evil as it has helped mankind to evolve and be in charge of its environment. On the other hand it can turn into a lot of trouble at personal level. We notice huge leaps forward in fields such as economy, technology and science, but human relationships seem to be blocked by egoistic behavior. This is quite reasonable because the fields mentioned above selfish, meaning competitive, behavior is necessary in order for the better and most effective ideas to be brought forward, but acting this way in everyday relationships is not the way to go.
In order to understand how the ego can ruin a relationship we first must understand what it is. The ego is that part of the brain that needs to feel accepted and of high status among other people and will do almost anything to achieve that, including deception, immoral acting and general exploitation of people and situations. And once it accomplishes its goal, it will do the same and worse in order to maintain its position and that’s why we yell when someone shakes our arguments or shout when we feel threatened. Obviously different egos struggle for their own benefit creating competition among people. In a few words, we could say that ego is the animal part of our brains that when it is enabled pushes away logic and dominates in any way that seems fit.
If we exclude family, where ego driven behavior is much more tolerated because of the strongest bonds that connect the family members, the most fundamental relationships that egoism can ruin are three with the romantic relationship to be the most common victim, something quite bizarre nonetheless true if we consider the amount of devices nowadays. But why this happens? How a free agreement of two people to spend their lives together ends up this way? The answer should be clear by this point. The reason behind people getting married is, in most cases, in itself egoistic as they intend to fulfill personal ambitions such as the making of a family or the creation of a certain image in society. When those wishes aren’t met, disagreements and blaming take place. Sometimes partners will try to hide from their spouse something embarrassing or immoral that they did because the ego cannot let it fall in the eyes of the other partner. To achieve that ego lies and when one of the two lies, the ego of the other feels deceived thus threatened and tries to defend itself in the ways mentioned above. One more of the many ways that ego ruins a relationship is competition in every possible way that it can manifest among a couple. Competition about who brings more money to the house, who is better with the children or who does more household work are only a few of them. In any case, people are trying to defend their position ruining their once promised everlasting love.
Work relationship is one other kind of relation that ego ruins. In most cases it is the ego of the employer that ruins the relationship as it forces the employer to treat his or her employees with no respect delaying payments, depriving permissions and in general treating the people under her or his command as inferior in order to be able to stay at the top of the hierarchy. The working people can also demonstrate egoistic behavior by not following their deadlines or doing non satisfactory job and still demanding to be paid. This way of behaving can be considered as a retaliation for the boss’s ‘tyrannies’ acts, but even if that’s not the case it is obvious how the work relations can be hurt.
The last basic relationship of a person is friendship. In my opinion, friendship is less vulnerable by the ego because friends choose when to be together and they usually spend their time doing things they all like. But it isn’t unusual for ego to ruin friendships too. A strong friendship breaks when one member of the group starts behaving like a leader and others start to avoid him/her. And here it is. One side tries to climb at the top of the hierarchical pyramid and the other side defends itself by not letting that to happen. Friendships also move to an end when one person constantly absorbs all the consulting and problem solving aspects of a friendship.
Egoistic and competitive behavior may be useful in economics or in science as it leads to the dominance of the fittest idea. However, we saw, that in the personal relationships, ego is very harmful and even though we only scratched the surface of how it operates and in which way it destroys our connections, one thing can be taken for granted; by trying to eliminate the ego as much as possible and by putting forward reason, dialogue and understanding we can achieve far more with the people we love and work together.