How can I describe someone who has acted selfishly, but his choice of action is somehow necessary for him? For instance, if your girlfriend tells you that she has to leave you for another city on the account of having been granted a scholarship. How can you describe this act of selfishness?

  • 1
    More than likely it was probably in her "best interest".
    Sep 24, 2015 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


One could say the person acted out of self-interest.

  • Yes, you're right self-interest is not the same as selfishness. Sep 24, 2015 at 21:37
  • 1
    Hmm, I don't know. I wouldn't say that self-interest is incorrect, but I don't think it describes the sense of "I couldn't rightly pass up this opportunity" as the OP requests. I like CRABOLO's suggestion of the action being "in your best interest". To me "self-interest" is neutral, bordering on negative, where "best interests" is positive.
    – WendiKidd
    Sep 25, 2015 at 6:00
  • Well, we're both fleshing out the OP's brief scenario. Acting "in her own best interests" makes a judgment call that her nebulous career would be better for her in the long run than her nebulous romance, and "self-interest" avoids that perhaps unwarranted assumption.For all we know, her parents were pressuring her to get her Ph.D. and she is torn about leaving, since she thinks he's Mr Right :)
    – TimR
    Sep 25, 2015 at 11:00

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