Men who deeply fear rejection often display these 3 subtle behaviors, according to psychology

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There’s no getting around it; most of the time, rejection sucks. None of us desire to be rejected. 

And when we have been, it doesn’t just go away. We tend to fear it thereafter. 

Research backs this up. In a study by Relate and Eharmony, it was found that a whopping 60% of men have experienced insecurity in dating situations, and almost one in five admitted that these insecurities came from previous relationship experiences. 

As the saying goes, “Once bitten, twice shy.” 

For men(and women, too), this fear of rejection can be like a hidden puppet master pulling the strings behind the scenes. 

The resulting, often unconscious, behaviors can ruin otherwise good relationships, friendships, and even business opportunities. 

What behaviors?

Well, that’s what we get into today. Let’s dive in. 

1) Reassurance-seeking

Let’s be honest; we all need a tap on the back from time to time. However, men who deeply fear rejection tend to take it to another level entirely. 

As noted by mental health counselor Nancy L. Johnston, “Our insecurities about our lovability make us think that our partner might abandon us at any point. As a result, we may vigilantly watch and listen for any sign that our relationship with our partner is over.”

In a relationship, a man who deeply fears rejection might frequently ask, “Do you really love me?” or “Are you sure you’re happy with me?” or “Do you think we’re okay?”

At work, this might appear as constantly seeking feedback, overanalyzing interactions with colleagues, or needing repeated affirmations of their contributions and value.

I’ll be honest: looking back on my younger years, I was one of these men. I was caught in a relentless cycle of seeking validation in my relationships. It wasn’t just about needing to feel loved or cherished; it was more a battle against my own self-doubts. 

Every question I posed, every reassurance I sought, wasn’t truly about the answers I received. Instead, it was a desperate attempt to quiet the nagging fears that haunted me, telling me I wasn’t enough. 

But this endless quest for reassurance was like running on a treadmill, constantly moving but never truly advancing. Each time I asked for confirmation of love or affection, it provided only a temporary solace, a brief pause in the internal turmoil driven by deep-seated insecurities.

I won’t go into details here, but as I experienced firsthand, the worst part is that, as put by Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourn, a Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences, “Being overly sensitive to rejection just may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

How to help someone overcome this 

To support someone showing this behavior, encourage open communication, reinforce your appreciation and support for them consistently, and perhaps suggest professional help if the behavior significantly impacts their life.

2) An overly-agreeable nature

We all have that one friend who never seems to disagree with anything, right? 

You suggest a restaurant for dinner, they’re on board. If you propose watching a horror movie when they’ve previously confessed they prefer rom-coms, they still enthusiastically agree. 

While it’s great to be flexible and accommodating, there’s a limit. This people-pleasing nature could actually be motivated by a fear of rejection. 

This is widely acknowledged by experts such as those at Psychology Today, who have noted that ” the people-pleaser needs to please others for reasons that may include fear of rejection, insecurities, and the need to be well-liked.” 

But it’s not just about agreeing on small things like what movie to watch or what to eat. Such tendencies can lead to men who fear rejection, putting others’ needs above their own self-care and even going along with things they really disagree with just to keep others happy. 

In relationships, it might look like always yielding to the partner’s choices without voicing personal preferences. 

At work, it might result in taking on excessive responsibilities, leading to heightened stress and potential health risks, including, as noted by Medical News Today, a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. 

How to help someone overcome this 

To assist someone with this tendency, encourage them to express their preferences and desires, set healthy boundaries, and practice self-care. 

It’s important to reassure them that their needs and opinions are valid and respected.

3) Passive aggressiveness

Here’s one that might surprise you, but the experts back it up. 

As clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow told Insider, passive-aggressive behavior often stems from low self-esteem and a fear of conflict, confrontation, and rejection. 

So, how does this look in the real world?

Well, it’s often most evident in the language one uses. 

For instance, if a partner suggests dinner plans, a passive-aggressive response might be, “Fine, whatever you want,” delivered with a sullen tone that belies the surface agreement, signaling underlying discontent or disagreement. 

Another common example is when one asserts, “I’m not mad,” while their body language—crossed arms, averted gaze, or an irritated sigh—clearly broadcasts annoyance or frustration. 

These behaviors communicate feelings indirectly, leaving the true message veiled and unresolved. I won’t go into too much detail here as I have published a full post on these sorts of passive-aggressive phrases. If you would like to learn more, you can find it here

Other, even more subtle forms of passive-aggressive behavior often go overlooked. 

For instance, someone might agree to take on a specific responsibility, like organizing a group outing or managing a project at work. However, they might then make choices that compromise the task, such as neglecting crucial details, “accidentally” omitting important information in communications, or setting unrealistic deadlines that doom the project to failure. 

The silent treatment is another classic example of passive-aggressive behavior that can be quite damaging.

After a disagreement or perceived slight, a person might choose to completely ignore their partner, colleague, or friend. This isn’t merely about seeking solitude to cool off; it’s an intentional act of withholding communication, attention, and affection as a form of punishment. 

Of course, these are but a few examples. For more information, make sure to check out our full post here

How to help someone overcome this 

To help someone displaying passive-aggressiveness, it’s beneficial to promote honest and respectful communication. 

Encourage them to express their feelings and needs directly and validate their emotions when they do. Providing a safe space for open dialogue can help mitigate these indirect expressions of discontent.

The bottom line

That just about wraps it up for today, folks. 

Fear of rejection can be a powerful, invisible force that shapes our behaviors in ways we often don’t realize. 

The key to overcoming, or indeed helping someone overcome, this fear lies in recognizing these subtle signs and understanding their roots. 

As always, I hope you found some value in this post. 

Until next time. 

Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business.

As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys.

In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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