If someone does these 8 things, they’re highly insecure

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We all know that person who’s always fishing for compliments, or the one who can’t stand being in the shadows even for a moment. 

You might wonder, why do they act this way? 

Well, chances are, they’re masking deep insecurities. 

Understanding the signs of insecurity isn’t just about judging others — it’s about gaining insight into human behavior, and maybe even your own. 

In my journey to better understand people, I’ve picked up on 8 behaviors that pretty much scream, “I’m insecure!” So, let’s dive in and explore what they are.

1) They constantly seek validation

We’ve all been in a situation where we need a little reassurance. It’s human. But some people seem to be on a never-ending quest for it, and I’ve often wondered why. 

I remember meeting a guy at a local game night who couldn’t seem to enjoy the fun because he was so busy fishing for compliments

“I organized this whole thing, you know. Quite a turnout, huh?” His eyes would scan faces, hungry for approval.

It’s easy to feel impatient with people like this. But before we judge, let’s remember: people who constantly seek validation are often fighting a hidden battle with self-worth. 

They’re looking for a sign that they matter, that they’re good enough. 

It’s a poignant reminder that sometimes the people who seek approval the most are the ones who feel the least secure in themselves.

2) They’re overly competitive

Who doesn’t love a little thrill of competition? It can be fun to test your skills against others — unless you take it too far.

When a need to win overrides everything else, every group task becomes a competition, and every other person’s success a bar you have to surpass.

If it sounds stressful to live like this, it’s because it is — but people who are highly insecure often don’t know how to stop

They desperately want a way to lift their self-esteem, and this is the only way they know how.

When you meet a person like this, see if you can take some time to acknowledge and recognize the hard work and effort they’re putting in — regardless of the outcome.

This can help them focus more on the journey rather than the destination, and recognize that the only person they should aim to beat is their past self. 

3) They get defensive easily

You know the type: you offer a simple suggestion or make an innocent remark, and they suddenly put up their guard as if you’ve just challenged them to a duel. 

I remember suggesting a different route to a colleague to avoid traffic, and you would’ve thought I questioned his navigation skills for life. “I know where I’m going,” he snapped.

I know firsthand this can take you aback, maybe even make you want to snap back. 

But try to remember that this immediate defensiveness isn’t about you; it’s about them. It can be hard for us to see, but they’re not just defending their choice or opinion, they’re defending their entire sense of self. 

Their armor goes up because they interpret anything that isn’t agreement as criticism. And criticism, in their mind, is something they’re not sure they can emotionally afford. 

In this case, the best thing to do can be to gently and calmly tell them that wasn’t what you meant, and let it go.

4) They show excessive humility or self-deprecation

You ever meet someone who just can’t take a compliment? Like, if you tell them their outfit looks great, they quickly say something like, “Oh, this old thing? I just threw it on.” 

I had a friend who was an incredible artist, but any time someone praised her work, she’d downplay her talent, insisting that she was an amateur.

While humility is an admirable quality, excessive humility or self-deprecation can often signal deeper insecurities

People like my friend find it uncomfortable to be the focus of any praise because they don’t feel they deserve it. 

It’s not just modesty they’re showcasing; it’s a protective mechanism. They’re shielding themselves from the high expectations they think others may place on them, or perhaps more importantly, the higher expectations they’ve already set for themselves

What can you do here? Offering them more specific praise could be a small step in helping them recognize their talents and their worth.

5) They lie frequently

We’ve all told a little white lie at some point, maybe to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or to make a story more interesting. 

But what about people who seem to have a habit of bending the truth, even when it’s not necessary? 

This is often a smokescreen for deep-rooted insecurities. For these individuals, reality might not measure up to their idealized version of themselves or the life they think they should be leading. 

To bridge that gap, they create stories, embellishments, or outright lies. It’s not right, I know, but these people often don’t have bad intentions. They’re just trying to convince themselves that they’re enough. 

Obviously though, that doesn’t make it right — and indeed, the need to lie often isolates people from genuine relationships and self-acceptance. 

While it’s essential to maintain your boundaries and sense of truth, understanding their motive might help you interact with them more compassionately.

6) They overcompensate with material objects

Ever notice how some people seem obsessed with showing off the latest gadgets, designer clothes, or flashy cars? 

Like a neighbor of mine, who never misses an opportunity to flaunt his new iPhone or show off his luxury watch. 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about enjoying the finer things in life. But with him, it always seemed like he was trying to prove something.

People who overcompensate with material objects often do so as a smokescreen for insecurities they don’t want others to see. In their minds, these possessions serve as proof of their success, desirability, or worth. 

The issue? They’re pinning their self-esteem on external things rather than internal qualities.

It’s a shaky foundation to build one’s self-worth on, and deep down, they know it. No amount of ‘stuff’ can fill the emotional void they might be experiencing.

Try to offer them a a compliment on something less tangible, like their kindness or humor. It could catch their soul and perhaps help them see where true value lies.

7) They get extremely jealous

Friends will celebrate your successes with you — but if any of them are highly insecure, they’ll struggle with this more than a little.

I remember back when I told a friend of mine that I landed what I then considered my dream job. He did his best to be happy for me, but I could see that deep down he hated it.

Little comments criticizing the company kept slipping out, and he asked probing questions as if he was trying to find something wrong with my win. 

I almost felt like he was battling another side of himself. And the truth is, my heart went out to him. My success clearly triggered him in some way — it shone a light on his own fears of falling behind or not being “enough”. 

It wasn’t about me at all. And I couldn’t control his emotions, but I could control my response. I tried to be realistic, confident about my win but not exaggerate about it.

And, to give him as much kindness and understanding as I could. 

8) They’re obsessed with social media

Another behavior of many highly insecure people is being very attached to social media — and in my experience, particularly Instagram.

This platform gives you the feeling like you have a glimpse into other people’s lives — and that really sets you up to start comparing yourself.

It’s a dangerous and, honestly, miserable game to play — but when you lack confidence in yourself, it can be addictive. 

Especially when you factor in the burning desire to get likes, comments, and shares of your own. 

Every notification can give you a surge of worthiness, and you constantly check up on how you measure up compared to the accounts you admire. 

It’s hard to break out of this pattern — I must admit, I’ve been there myself. The best remedy is to realize that social media is certainly no reflection of real life.

Most people only ever share the highlights of their day, and even if not, you only get to see a few minutes out of their 24 hours. 

Breaking out of insecurity

You’ve just learned 8 behaviors that people may do when they’re highly insecure

They’re not just quirks or personality traits; they’re cries for validation, for worth, for understanding. 

If you recognize these signs in someone you know — or maybe even in yourself — take a step back and consider what’s really going on beneath the surface.

The best thing you can offer people like this is understanding and empathy. We all have our own internal battles, fears, and worries. 

Maybe you can’t change someone’s life, but you can make a moment in their day a little brighter, a little more authentic. 

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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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