9 behaviors men display in relationships when they lack self-esteem

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In relationships, we all have our unique quirks and idiosyncrasies.

But sometimes, certain behaviors in men can indicate deeper issues at play, such as a lack of self-esteem.

If you’re reading this, you might be in a relationship with a man and find yourself puzzled by his actions, unsure if these are individual quirks or indicative of something more significant.

So how can you tell if the man you are dating or in a relationship with struggles with self-esteem?

Is his reluctance to make decisions endearing or concerning? Is his constant need for validation normal or a red flag?

If you want to answer these burning questions, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll discuss a range of behaviors that could potentially signal a lack of self-esteem in men.

1) An over-reliance on validation

It’s natural to seek reassurance from our loved ones, but when it becomes a constant need, it could be a sign of something deeper.

You might notice that he often seeks your approval for even the smallest decisions or actions. He might frequently fish for compliments or constantly seek affirmation that you love him and are happy in the relationship.

While it’s important to express love and appreciation in a relationship, an overdependence on these affirmations might suggest that he lacks confidence in his own worth independently of you.

2) He avoids confrontation

Another behavior that could indicate a lack of self-esteem is an aversion to confrontations or difficult conversations.

This might manifest as him agreeing with you even when he doesn’t truly agree, just to avoid potential conflict.

You might find that he often shies away from expressing his feelings or addressing issues in the relationship. Or perhaps he rarely initiates conversations about deeper issues, preferring instead to brush things under the rug.

While it’s natural to want to avoid unpleasant situations, consistently avoiding confrontation can lead to unresolved issues and resentment. This behavior could hint at an underlying fear of rejection or a belief that his opinions are not valuable or worthy of being heard.

3) He downplays his achievements

I once dated a guy who was incredibly talented. He was an accomplished musician, a gifted writer, and had a successful career in finance.

But despite his numerous achievements, he always downplayed his success.

Whenever he received praise or recognition, he would brush it off as luck or attribute it to circumstances rather than acknowledging his hard work and talent. He would often compare himself to others, viewing their successes as superior to his own.

It took me a while to realize that this was more than just modesty—it was a deep-seated belief that he wasn’t good enough, regardless of his accomplishments.

4) He frequently apologizes unnecessarily

In relationships, men with low self-esteem often find themselves saying, “I’m sorry,” even when it’s uncalled for. This could stem from a fear of upsetting their partner or a belief that they are constantly making mistakes.

Interestingly, this article explains that people with low self-esteem tend to apologize more frequently for things that aren’t their fault. This excessive apologizing can become a habitual response to any perceived slight or inconvenience, regardless of whether it’s warranted or not.

If you notice your partner frequently apologizing for things that he shouldn’t feel sorry for, it could be a sign of underlying self-esteem issues. Try to have a conversation about why he feels the need to constantly apologize and work towards addressing his feelings of self-worth.

5) He struggles with decision-making

A few years ago, I was in a relationship with a man who had a tough time making decisions.

At first, I found it endearing, as it often gave me the reins to decide on things like where we would eat, what movie to watch, or where we’d go on vacation.

But over time, I noticed his indecisiveness wasn’t limited to trivial choices. He would struggle with significant decisions too, like career moves or financial investments.

This constant uncertainty made me realize that it was less about being accommodating and more about a lack of self-confidence.

His inability to make decisions stemmed from a fear of making the wrong choice and the potential criticism or failure that could follow. It was a subtle sign of low self-esteem that I initially overlooked.

6) He tends to be overly defensive

Another common behavior in men with low self-esteem is excessive defensiveness.

They interpret constructive criticism or even casual comments as personal attacks, which makes them react with defensiveness—not because they disagree but because they feel their worth is being questioned.

This behavior can make communication difficult and hinder the growth of a relationship. Encouraging open, non-judgmental conversations can help him feel less threatened and more secure in his worth.

7) He often puts himself down

Men with low self-esteem often frequently engage in self-deprecating humor or make negative comments about themselves.

They might make comments about their appearance, intelligence, or abilities that belittle their self-worth.

But while it’s normal to be critical of yourself at times, constantly putting yourself down is not healthy.

8) He struggles with jealousy

Jealousy is a natural emotion to some extent, but when it becomes excessive, it could indicate low self-esteem.

And men who lack confidence in themselves may feel threatened by their partner’s interactions with others or their accomplishments.

This makes them express unwarranted suspicion or insecurity, stemming from a fear of being replaced or not being good enough.

9) He avoids vulnerability

Finally, men with low self-esteem often have difficulty opening up emotionally. They tend to withhold personal information or avoid sharing their feelings out of fear of judgment or rejection.

But vulnerability requires confidence and self-assurance—qualities that those with low self-esteem often struggle with.

If your partner avoids being vulnerable, it could be indicative of low self-esteem. Encouraging open and honest communication can help him feel safer when expressing his emotions.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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