Men who feel insecure about their lack of success in life usually display these 7 subtle behaviors

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Success is a subjective term.

Having a flourishing garden is a success; building a company is a success; raising a happy family is a success.

However, in the eyes of society, “success” generally encapsulates your social status, the amount of money in your bank account, your education level, the kind of car you drive, and how stable your marriage seems to outsiders.

And unfortunately, many men fall victim to the trap of what “success” should look like.

The moment they don’t meet the necessary requirements or feel like they’re falling behind other men their age…

That’s the moment insecurity sets in.

And insecurity is exactly what’s at the root of the following 7 behaviors that men who feel they lack success in life often display.

1) They are very competitive in matters of little importance

When you feel like you can’t win in terms of your career or relationships, where can you regain some of that dignity?

In games. Sports. Petty fights.

In other words, things that don’t really matter in the long run but that provide enough space for you to prove to yourself you’re not a failure after all.

A man who is a sore loser tends to be very insecure.

His competitiveness attempts to prove a point rather than to have fun, and oftentimes, it becomes very evident to everyone but the person themselves.

Of course, winning a game of chess isn’t actually going to help you feel better about the state of your life, but it could give you a little ego boost, which is why many insecure men turn to small games and arguments for help.

Oh, and speaking of games…

2) They escape into worlds where they matter

Here’s why video games are so insanely addictive: they not only give us complex and manageable problems to solve, boosting our dopamine levels, but they also make us feel like we are the main characters.

Like we matter. Like we can win battles, build fortresses, manage societies, or get the girl.

Cristian Llop, founder of Main Character Men, describes it perfectly:

“Men are using video games (among other things) to numb the quiet desperation and existential dread they feel when faced with the daunting task of living up to their full potential (and doing the unavoidable hard work this requires). Video games capture the feeling of being a man – of going on a hero’s journey and Becoming The Man – without requiring that the men playing them overcome any true adversity.”

When a man feels insecure about his lack of success in life, he may feel so overwhelmed that he essentially freezes and runs away into fictional worlds to regain some of his confidence.

Unfortunately, this often only makes him feel worse in the long run, not to mention that men who get addicted to video games are robbed of many real-life opportunities to improve their self-esteem and work on themselves.

Am I saying that video games are bad?

No.

But they are only helpful in moderation.

The moment you put on a game just to avoid having to face deep feelings of dread and insecurity is when you’re dealing with a real issue.

3) They put other people down to feel better about themselves

One of my family relatives recently told my cousin who works in TV, “What do you even do? TV. Pf. Such a pointless job.”

He himself works a job he hates, spends his afternoon lying on the sofa, drinking beer, and watching TV (the irony of it all), and likes to complain about everything and anything.

Oh, and my cousin also makes three times more money than him.

This person is a prime example of an insecure man – he feels rubbish about his lot in life but doesn’t want to put in any effort to change his circumstances, and so he does the only other thing that comes to mind: he brings down other people’s achievements so that his own misery doesn’t seem as dreadful.

He is too scared or too lost to work hard in order to reach higher, and so he tries to put other people down to his level.

Of course, this strategy never truly works. It just screams insecurity, and what’s more, it makes the person in question quite unpleasant to deal with.

4) They say that success doesn’t matter to them

Another person I know – let’s call him Mike – isn’t all too happy with his financial position in life.

He doesn’t know how to progress further, though, and so he takes out loans, dates women with a lot of material possessions, and spends money on things he definitely can’t afford.

He wants to appear as if he were wealthier than he really is, but he would never admit that.

Instead, he always says things like, “Money doesn’t matter to happiness,” and “I don’t care about wealth.”

His words always carry that self-righteous and virtue-signaling tone of voice that people who make seemingly honorable and wise statements use.

Then he goes and buys a huge car that plunges him further into debt just so that he can show off.

Don’t get me wrong, some people genuinely don’t care about the societal definition of success.

They are content with what they have; they have decided to make their own way in the world. And that’s admirable.

If a man’s words and actions are in complete misalignment, though, it’s yet another sign he may feel insecure about his lack of success.

And although he tries to hide it behind his words, his behavior says all you need to know.

5) They date people whose achievements don’t overshadow theirs

Most insecure men tend to date women who are less “accomplished” or intellectually minded than them.

After all, they’re already insecure as it is – a woman who overshadows them and whose achievements remind them just how much they lack is the last thing they need.

Things aren’t always this black and white, of course.

Just think of the person I mentioned above – he likes to date women who live in large houses, drive expensive cars, and have degrees because he believes their higher status will automatically raise his own.

However, even men like him strive to convince themselves that they secretly have the upper hand.

For example, they will try to show their superior knowledge in certain areas of life (such as plumbing and other “manly” things) or put their partners down if they make them feel a tad too “emasculated”.

For many men who lack self-esteem, romantic relationships are exactly where they can reconfirm their dignity and keep their sense of pride. 

In order to do that, though, they know they must date someone who won’t challenge them too much.

6) They constantly seek validation

When you lack confidence and don’t know how to build it within yourself, what do you do?

You turn to others for help.

Enter… validation-seeking behavior.

In general, insecure men might:

  • Brag and boast about what they’ve accomplished (if they’re really good runners, you will never hear the end of how fast they are and how many marathons they’ve completed)
  • Fish for compliments (asking you what you think of them way too often, complimenting you too much because they want to get a compliment back)
  • Ask you for your opinion when they’re really just asking for praise (“What do you think about this new expensive watch I bought?”)
  • Show off in front of others or tell too many jokes
  • Act overly confident (if they manage to convince other people, perhaps they will be able to convince themselves, too)

The issue is that seeking validation externally is never a good long-term solution.

And that’s because you’ll never feel like you have enough. You’ll just keep wanting more.

7) They are frozen in fear

So, why are some men insecure about their lack of success in life yet struggle to dig themselves out and pursue better tomorrows?

Well, a lot of it comes down to pressure and fear.

Since men are generally expected to perform really well on an economic level, they may feel that the expectations placed upon them are too overwhelming to face.

As a result, they run away from life rather than toward it.

They bury themselves in video games, delude themselves into thinking they don’t care about success, or seek out people who will make them feel better about themselves instead of challenging them to grow.

 I’m sure you can see the problem here.

These kinds of coping mechanisms never quite work.

They just make it so that we don’t have to look ourselves in the eye for a while.

But life is meant to challenge us. It is meant to make us uncomfortable and force us to leave our comfort zones.

Sometimes, all it takes is to make the first step.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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