Men who lack self-esteem but pretend they’re confident often display these 7 behaviors

Truly self-confident men aren’t as common as you think. 

After all, any man can beat his chest and fake confidence. 

But genuine confidence? That has to come from deep within. 

The thing about men is that many of us can construct a fairly convincing facade. 

But once you know a man long enough, you’ll begin to see through the cracks. 

And if you don’t know him particularly well, there will always be certain tells that indicate faux-confidence. 

In this article, I’ll take you through the behaviors of men who lack self-esteem but pretend they’re confident. 

Let’s get to it! 

1) Overcompensation

This one is hardly a surprise. 

Confident men tend to be laid back in their interactions, at peace with who they are, and are perceived to be by others. 

Men who lack self-esteem but try to hide it constantly seem to have something to prove. 

When dealing with other people, they may appear overconfident and assertive, often bordering on aggressive, in a subconscious attempt to cover up their insecurities

You can always spot a man with fake confidence at a social function. 

He’ll be the one bragging about his achievements (embellishing frequently), making unrealistic, grandiose claims, faking knowledge, criticizing others to divert attention away from himself, and trying to loudly dominate conversations. 

Sometimes, he’ll even shake your hand a bit too hard, eliciting mild pain, as a subconscious way of overcompensating

2) Competitiveness

When I was in college, I remember playing pool with a friend in front of a few members of the opposite sex. 

This friend had a few hang-ups, always seeming a bit angry like he could snap at any moment. 

So as we engaged in what I thought was a friendly, casual game of pool, I noticed through his body language that he was hyper-focused on beating me, as if we were competing for an Olympic medal. 

Unfortunately for him, his efforts fell short. I won narrowly. 

He responded by slamming his pool cue on the table and hurling obscenities in my direction–behavior that made everyone in the vicinity feel a little unsettled. 

The bottom line, men who lack self-esteem often display excessive competitiveness, notably in situations that don’t call for it. 

They have an underlying but powerful need to prove their worth and superiority over others. 

If they fall short, they’ll be unnecessarily hard on themselves, not unlike my hostile billiard-playing buddy. 

3) Aggression or defensiveness

Men with low self-esteem may act confident, but they’re ultimately walking on shaky foundations. 

So when their self-esteem is challenged, say by others providing them with well-meaning, constructive feedback, they will sometimes respond with aggression or defensiveness. 

They’ll take innocuous comments as a personal affront; as if they directly reflect their inherent value and worth as people. 

I’ve known many men in my life, both confident and unconfident.

It’s the former who always took criticism well… as fuel to quietly improve on shortcomings. 

Meanwhile, it’s always the man lacking in self-esteem who tends to react violently, often in a desperate attempt to protect a fragile ego from being damaged further. 


4) Need for validation

Men who secretly have low self-esteem tend to be hooked on validation–one of their favorite drugs. 

Since they don’t get much affirmation internally, they’ll constantly seek out compliments and approval from others to feel good about themselves. 

This means they’ll get stuck in a loop of people-pleasing behaviors, such as consistently staying neutral in fear of offending. 

And to put it lightly, they’re active on social media. 

They might have a meticulously crafted online image; one that is confident, successful, well-traveled, happy, and so on, to prove to the world (and themselves) that they are, in fact, the person they project themselves to be. 

They might post one too many selfies (sometimes shirtless), innumerable stories a day detailing every hour of their existence, their new car or home, or how hard they’re working. 

This is mostly a front. 

With every ‘like’, they get their highly sought-after dopamine fix and validation… only to crave more soon after. 

5) Avoidance of vulnerability

Some men might use fake confidence as a shield against showing any true emotions or weaknesses

They aren’t exactly in tune with their emotions, or they may just be extra-sensitive and not want to appear ‘weak,’ but whatever it is, they don’t often feel compelled to open up. 

Hence, they perpetuate a ‘tough guy,’ overconfident exterior. 

Maybe they’ll perceive being vulnerable as unmanly, but in reality, they’re just scared of the can of worms that might open should they be put in a position to spill, thus actively avoiding situations that might call for it. 

6) Jealousy and envy 

Men with low self-esteem aren’t typically happy about other people’s successes in life. 

They get jealous and resentful

The confident man knows the growth is linear, and that everyone is on their own unique journey through life. 

Well, this sentiment doesn’t often resonate with those lacking in true confidence.

Instead, they tend to measure success relative to how everyone else in life is doing, not from within. 

They get threatened when other people, even (and sometimes, especially) friends and peers are doing well in life, being hypercritical and downplaying their achievements to feel better about themselves.  

7) Overemphasis on materialism 

The big retail corporations of the world get it: status goes a long way in our collective human psyche. 

This fact tends to be heightened with insecure, low self-esteem men (and women.) 

Rather than be content and satisfied with what they have to offer in terms of character and personality traits, they tend to overemphasize materialism and status symbols instead. 

This is because they often feel inadequate subconsciously… like they don’t have enough to offer. 

They want to prove to everyone that they’ve made it; and for them, a quick route to achieving that is through superficially projecting an image of success and confidence–meaning branded luxury items, gaudy watches, flashy cars, and so on.  

Final words 

Fortunately, as men get older, many grow out of their self-esteem issues and gradually become more authentic and confident. 

I remember being a young man severely lacking in self-esteem, and many of the behaviors in this article would have echoed with me ten, or fifteen years ago. 

So if you have a man in your life who displays these traits, I assure you, that not all is lost. 

He will get better. 

But if you want to expedite the process, your support and encouragement will surely go a long way. 

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