Men who pretend to be confident and assertive but are really not usually display these 10 behaviors

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There’s a fine line between true confidence and mere bravado.

Often, men put on a show of assertiveness, masking their real feelings. They portray themselves as confident, but behind this facade, the reality is quite different.

Being able to spot the difference is key. Men who pretend to be confident and assertive, but aren’t, usually display certain behaviors.

In this article, I’ll be highlighting 10 such behaviors that give away their act. So, let’s dive right in and decode the pretense.

1) Overcompensation

In the world of psychology, there’s a phenomenon called overcompensation.

Often, individuals who lack confidence and assertiveness will go to great lengths to hide their insecurities. They feel the need to act tough, speak loudly, and dominate conversations, all in an attempt to portray an image of confidence.

The interesting part is, truly confident men don’t feel the need to prove their worth. They’re comfortable with who they are and don’t feel the need to overcompensate.

2) Avoidance of difficult conversations

I remember vividly an old friend of mine, let’s call him Mark. He was the life of every party, always speaking with conviction, and presenting himself as the epitome of confidence.

However, I began to notice something interesting. Whenever there was a difficult conversation to be had or a conflict to resolve, Mark would avoid it. He’d either deflect it with humor or change the subject entirely.

In my experience, confident and assertive men don’t shy away from tough conversations. They’re comfortable expressing their thoughts and dealing with disagreements in a respectful manner.

Mark’s behavior was a clear indication that beneath all that show of confidence, he was uncomfortable confronting issues head-on. I later learned that he struggled with self-esteem issues that he masked with his outward display of confidence.

3) Frequent self-promotion

Self-promotion is a common tendency among individuals who lack genuine confidence and assertiveness. They often feel the need to highlight their achievements, skills, or possessions in an attempt to gain respect or validation.

Research shows individuals with lower self-esteem often employ subtle methods of self-promotion. This might include strategically positioning themselves in group settings, highlighting their accomplishments through casual conversation, or indirectly seeking validation through social media posts or passive-aggressive comments.

Truly confident men don’t feel the need to constantly promote themselves. Their actions speak louder than words, and they let their accomplishments do the talking.

4) Reluctance to accept criticism

A key indicator of authentic confidence is the ability to accept and learn from criticism. Men who are genuinely confident appreciate feedback, as they see it as an opportunity for growth and improvement.

But those who only pretend to be confident often view criticism as a threat. They may react defensively, deny, or even blame others to avoid admitting their mistakes.

Their reluctance to accept criticism is a shield to protect their fragile self-esteem. They fear that acknowledging their faults will expose their lack of genuine confidence.

5) Dominating conversations

In social settings, we often encounter individuals who tend to dominate conversations. They may interrupt others, speak louder, or constantly steer the conversation back to themselves. This behavior is often mistaken for confidence and assertiveness.

However, this can be a sign of insecurity. The need to control the conversation often stems from a fear of being overlooked or undervalued.

Confident men respect others’ opinions and are comfortable with shared dialogue. They listen as much as they speak, understanding that every perspective adds value to the conversation.

6) Being overly competitive

Competition has its perks. It pushes us to excel, to reach for the stars. But there’s a fine line between healthy rivalry and an all-consuming thirst for victory.

I’ve witnessed guys turning every little thing into a showdown, whether it’s a friendly match or a serious work deal—all to prove they’re on top. But behind this relentless drive lies a gnawing fear of falling short.

Real confidence isn’t about one-upping everyone else. It’s about recognizing your own value and chasing after your personal best, no matter where you stack up against others.

7) Lack of empathy

Back in the day, I had this boss—Mr. Confidence, they called him.

Always sure, always in control, the epitome of authority. But as time passed, I noticed something off: he couldn’t empathize to save his life. Staff concerns? Brushed off like yesterday’s news.

Turns out, his confidence was more smoke and mirrors than substance, covering up a serious empathy deficit. Because let’s face it, real confidence comes with a hefty dose of emotional intelligence—like empathy.

8) Always needing to be right

It might seem like a sign of confidence to always stand your ground and insist on being right. After all, confident people are supposed to be sure of themselves, right?

But truth be told, that constant need to be right might signal the opposite. It could come from a fear of looking foolish or inadequate.

Truly confident men are comfortable with being wrong. They see it as an opportunity to learn and grow, not as a personal failure.

9) Dependency on external validation

We all appreciate compliments and positive feedback. But there’s a difference between appreciating validation and depending on it.

Men who pretend to be confident often seek constant validation to boost their self-esteem. Whether it’s about their appearance, intelligence, or achievements, they require others’ approval to feel good about themselves.

On the other hand, genuinely confident men derive their self-worth from within. They don’t need constant praise or recognition to feel secure or accomplished.

10) Fear of vulnerability

You can spot guys who are just faking confidence by their fear of showing any vulnerability. They’re all about building walls, never letting their guard down or admitting to any weaknesses.

But real confidence is all about embracing vulnerability. Truly confident guys have no problem opening up about their fears, doubts, and insecurities. They know that being vulnerable doesn’t make them weak—it actually makes them stronger.

If a guy consistently dodges anything that might make him look vulnerable, chances are his confidence is more of a front than the real deal. That fear of vulnerability? It’s usually covering up some serious insecurities he’s not ready to face.

Authenticity wins: Be you, be bold!

At the core of this challenge lies the battle with self-worth, a universal human struggle.

We all wrestle with moments of feeling not quite enough, and it’s crucial to recognize that each person is on their own unique journey.

For men caught up in these patterns, it’s not about blame but an opportunity for personal evolution. Real confidence isn’t about putting on a façade; it’s about embracing your authentic self, flaws and all.

And for those observing these behaviors in others, let’s cultivate empathy. We all carry hidden burdens that may not be visible on the surface. Let’s seek understanding rather than passing judgment.

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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