If you’ve ever been called self-absorbed, you can be sure you weren’t getting a compliment. Not only is the root definition of the term negative, but it’s also super-saturated with unfavorable connotations. As generally understood, the concept is pretty much synonymous with self-preoccupied, self-centered, self-obsessed—and even egotistical and selfish.
Dictionaries (e.g., Dictionary.com/Random House/Collins English Dictionary) define self-absorption unappealingly as “preoccupied with oneself or one’s own affairs,” frequently adding that it’s “to the exclusion of others or the outside world.” That is, self-absorbed individuals typically don’t show much concern about anyone or anything outside their (narrow) self-interest. As such, they typically make little effort to understand others’ thoughts and feelings. And overly focused on themselves, they can easily miss the mark when they try to. (In other words, they generally don’t make the best of friends.)