Insecure men come in every size and age, and they all share the need for affirmation. What does this mean exactly? You’ll understand in a moment when I share the behaviors insecure men engage in more than their secure and confident male peers. First, however, it is important to note that most insecure men don’t even consciously know they’re insecure. While a handful of men will admit to you and themselves that they are insecure, most men are too ashamed and embarrassed of their insecurities to admit it to themselves, let alone you. This point is important because, at the end of the article, we will discuss whether it’s a good idea for you to tell him just how insecure he is.
Frequently asking for reassurance
Insecure men need reassurance like a shopping mall needs customers. Deep down, insecure men don’t believe that they are good enough on their own, so they frequently ask others for validation to make them feel better. The problem is that they only feel better for the moment. Ten minutes later, for example, that feeling of being good enough will be gone and they are going to need more reassurance. Insecure men frequently ask for another person’s opinion. They also frequently ask “How do I look?” or ask for other reassurance about their appearance. Finally, they frequently recount stories of success and ask for confirmation that they did well.
Comparing themselves to others
Insecure men often use social comparison in daily life. They are bean counters, never missing a beat about who has what, and who has the better or worse version of this or that. Insecure men are keenly attuned to power hierarchies, and they desperately want more power and control than they currently have. Insecure men compare themselves to men at work, constantly noting who is more or less successful; they compare their appearance or attractiveness to other men; and they have a habit of putting down men in all walks of life, which makes them feel better for the moment. Some insecure men will also idealize men in successful positions or men who seem to “have it all” on the surface: the pretty younger girlfriend, the family man whose home life always seems happy and free of problems or tensions, or the bachelor who has freedom and social excitement in his life.
Carrying a “chip” on their shoulder or caring about trivial things
Insecure men are pretty transparent, even though many want to believe that no one can see through them. The truth, though, is that people can always smell anxiety a mile away, and insecure men are full of internal anxieties. Insecure men are often bubbling with anger under the surface, and their anger or bitterness is noticeable in situations at work and in their social lives. It’s sad that most of them don’t see how much they carry a chip on their shoulder, so they won’t truly get it if you point it out to them. Insecure men protect themselves with a shell – that chip on their shoulder – but they don’t realize how much they put off others in everyday situations and how much they sabotage their own goals.
One of the most frustrating behaviors for the loved ones of insecure men is their tendency to get defensive when you challenge them or suggest that they were wrong about something. With insecure men, their ego is shaky to begin with, so anything that suggests that they were wrong or inadequate is met with a hostile defense. Simply put, their ego can’t take a lot of blows. These men are more fragile than most people would believe; it’s only the romantic partners or families of these men who know just how insecure they really are. If you want to feel frustrated on a regular basis in your relationship, date someone who is insecure and defensive.
The overall lesson
As frustrating as insecure men can be when you date them, please remember to view the problem through a lens of empathy. In other words, remember that no one wants to feel the way that insecure man feels, and that the poor guy hasn’t quite figured out how to “be” yet in his life. If you start dating an insecure man, don’t play therapist and psychoanalyze him: “I think these are your insecurities.” Instead of turning him into your patient, say this instead: “I think you’re awesome, and I think you’re fine as is. But if you don’t feel like that, you could always go talk to someone for a few sessions.” What he does with that suggestion is something that only he can control.
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve