Men who are secretly unfulfilled in life usually display these 8 behaviors

There often comes a time in a man’s life when he wants more. 

Some might call it a quarter or midlife crisis–but feeling unfulfilled is generally not dependent on age. 

Sometimes, we choose paths in life that don’t genuinely align with our inherent interests and goals in the long run. 

Eventually, when the dust settles, we feel a perpetual gaping hole and begin to long and yearn for something greater, whether that feeling is conscious or not.  

If this sounds familiar, you can seek comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone. Far from it. 

There are men across the world who go about their day, acting normally on the surface, yet something deep down tells them, “This isn’t enough.”

In this article, I’ll walk you through the common behaviors a man exhibits when he’s secretly unfulfilled. 

If these items sound familiar, you can start addressing them constructively. Let’s get to it!

1) They withdraw from social activities

Unfulfilled men tend to feel a deep sense of emptiness, something that typically gets more resounding over time. 

These men were once content distracting themselves with things like watching or playing sports, sex, or going to the bar with friends. 

But later on, they might discover that these pursuits don’t provide the true meaning they long for. 

Hence, over time, the interests or relationships that they may have once enjoyed begin to gradually fade, until they’re reduced to insignificant and unappealing. 

2) They become irritable and moody 

I was in an unfulfilling relationship a few years ago. 

I felt like I was stuck in a rut; attached, co-dependent, yet resentful all at once. 

Not a great place to be frankly. 

I desperately wanted to break free of the lethargic, unloving status quo but lacked the inner strength to do so. 

So to act out, I’d often get irritable and prickly, and frequently moody. 

Small annoyances would provoke strong reactions within me. 

Sometimes, my ex wouldn’t do her fair share of chores, like walking the dog or doing the dishes. 

Instead of blowing up, I’d get silently angry, and subtly attack her with microaggressions. 

Looking back, I certainly could have done things differently. 

But sometimes, when you’re in too deep, you don’t see things objectively; including how moody and irritable you become. 

3) Their work performance declines 

Lack of fulfillment can stem from a variety of sources. 

For many men, it may be rooted in an unsatisfying work life. 

We live in the golden age of comparisons, unfortunately. Social media is saturated with people living “their best lives.” 

Our feeds are relentlessly filled with posts of people living lives most of us can only dream of (however exaggerated), of younger, better-looking, and more successful people. 

The latter, combined with things like inflation and harsh capitalism and shitty bosses, can result in feelings of low morale and unfulfillment at the workplace.  

Once a man has mentally and emotionally checked out of a job, this will almost always reflect in his work performance. 

4) Their sleep patterns begin to change 

When the sun sets and the distractions of the day begin to dwindle, the feelings of unfulfillment and emptiness become far more profound.  

For many men, this can result in changes in sleep patterns. 

Maybe they get into the habit of ruminating about a better life, tossing and turning until the wee hours of the morning. 

Or maybe they’ll seek refuge in sleep, using their dreams as escapism–and end up chronically oversleeping, occasionally well into the afternoon. 

It’s not rocket science: an abrupt change in sleep patterns is often due to underlying stress or existential concerns, such as deep-seated unfulfillment in life. 

5) They turn to booze or drugs 

I can say with certainty that I was unfulfilled at various points in my young adulthood.  

I struggled to find myself and my true calling in life. 

There was a point when I felt my existence was meaningless, that I had nothing concrete to live for. 

I felt empty, numb, and lost as I mindlessly wandered through my days, often as if on auto-pilot. 

To break the monotony, I’d sometimes go on alcohol-fuelled benders, as these excursions provided me with temporary solace from the sullen predictability of my life. 

It was a clear coping mechanism–and an incredibly unhealthy one at that. 

Not only would I wake up physically distressed and hungover, but mentally and emotionally, I’d be in far worse shape than the day before. 

As any doctor will tell you, alcohol is a known depressant. 

The chemicals in my head would go haywire, making me far more anxious, far more depressed, far more paranoid.  

And once I felt better? I’d begin to plan my next date of inebriation. A toxic cycle. 

6) They’re frequently cynical or hopeless 

For certain men, being unfulfilled can equate to a lack of motivation in life in general. 

They might become so overwhelmed by these uncomfortable feelings and thoughts that they shut down. 

Sometimes, this can result in being overly cynical about things like work, relationships, future prospects, and so on. 

They may want to improve their position in life but don’t quite know where to begin. 

They might act indecisive and uncertain; and in more extreme cases, they’ll refuse to even try. 

7) There are noticeable changes in their physical health 

Being unfulfilled tends to mean stress. Sometimes, a lot of stress.  

And when we’re stressed for prolonged periods, this can start to chip away at us physically. 

Sometimes, we’ll experience changes in appetite, weight loss or gain, or feel unexpected, random physical ailments and pains.  

Maybe you’ll start getting the common cold or flu just so often that it becomes unsettling. 

People might blame our food choices, alcohol/drugs, or other external lifestyle choices as the sources of any negative bodily changes. 

But a sense of unfulfillment (and the ensuing angst associated with it) can be equally if not more, to blame as well.   

8) They express a consistent desire for change or novelty 

Perhaps you’ll find yourself listlessly staring out the window for hours at a time, dreaming of something more. 

Maybe you find your environment unmotivating and unstimulating and feel a radical change is necessary. 

And guess what? Sometimes, it is necessary. 

Sometimes, a simple change in setting can bring out the best in you. 

So if you feel a restlessness, a ubiquitous sense that something is missing, a desire to escape, then listen to that urge. 

I’ve had friends who changed jobs, relationships, cities, and countries and transformed into different people, with completely rejuvenated, thriving mentalities. 

You got this. 

Final words 

As you may have noticed by now, there’s a fine line between feeling unfulfilled and being chronically depressed and anxious. 

Being able to make that distinction is crucial. 

If you or someone you know is beginning to display these behaviors, seeking professional help from local counselors or psychologists can go a long way. 

Before anything, you have to find more productive and proactive ways to cope. 

Sometimes, all you need to find that elusive sense of fulfillment is just a bit more clarity. 

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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