Men who struggle to show vulnerability often display these 8 subtle behaviors instead

It’s one of the most confusing things in life:

A man who appears so confident, so self-assured, yet so…cold and indifferent.

You’ve tried to peel back the layers, you’ve done your best to understand what’s really going on beneath his strong exterior, but to no avail.

You just have this nagging suspicion that he’s not showing his full self, even if everything else about him seems perfectly fine.

Well, that man might be someone who struggles with vulnerability.

Below, we’re going to discuss the psychology behind a man who is struggling with showing vulnerability.

So, if you have such a man in your life—or if you’re wondering if you’re one of them—keep reading to learn more.

1) They often hide their feelings

Feelings are part of being human – they are what make us real and genuine.

Many men, however, tend to hide their feelings as a way of protecting themselves, according to psychologists.

This is especially true for those who struggle with vulnerability. They may fear that showing their true emotions would make them appear weak or less masculine.

This behavior is not just about the big things in life, but also about simple everyday emotions.

A man who struggles with vulnerability might not be comfortable admitting when he’s tired, upset, or even when he’s happy.

If this is the case, there’s a good chance he’s just not comfortable showing his vulnerable side.

2) They struggle with receiving compliments

Here’s a little something about me – I’ve always had a hard time accepting praise.

You know, those moments when someone appreciates something I’ve done, and instead of saying a simple thank you, I tend to downplay it or brush it off.

I used to think it was just me being modest, but then I started to notice it in other men as well.

But this act of refusing to accept compliments gracefully is more than just modesty—it’s another subtle behavior of a man who struggles with vulnerability.

We might fear that accepting praise would make us appear arrogant or undeserving. Or perhaps, we’re just not comfortable being the center of attention, even if it’s for something positive.

Whatever the reason, struggling with receiving compliments is a telltale sign of a man grappling with showing vulnerability.

3) They avoid serious conversations

Looking back, I can see a pattern in my past relationships. Whenever things started to get serious, I would change the subject or make a joke to lighten the mood.

I thought I was just keeping things light-hearted, but now I realize I was avoiding vulnerability.

Serious conversations often involve digging deep into our thoughts, feelings, and fears. They require us to be open, honest, and vulnerable.

For many men like me, this can be a scary prospect. We fear judgement, rejection or simply being misunderstood.

So instead, we steer clear of serious topics and stick to safe, surface-level conversations.

4) They use humor as a defense mechanism

Humor is an essential part of our lives. It can bring joy, relieve stress, and even diffuse tension.

But did you know that some men use humor as a shield?

Instead of opening up about their feelings, they crack a joke or make a sarcastic comment.

It’s like a magician’s sleight of hand, distracting you with laughter so they can trick you and hide the real stuff.

When humor is used this way, it’s not just to make people laugh; it’s to avoid vulnerability.

5) They struggle to ask for help

We all need help sometimes, whether it’s solving a problem at work, dealing with a personal issue, or even just opening a stubborn jar of pickles.

But for some men, asking for help can be incredibly difficult. They see it as a sign of weakness, an admission that they can’t handle things on their own.

This belief is so deeply ingrained in our society that it’s become a stereotype: the man who refuses to ask for directions even when he’s clearly lost.

But the truth is, asking for help doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it takes courage to admit that you don’t have all the answers and to reach out to others.

6) They build walls around themselves

Have you ever tried to push or break through a wall? Quite impossible, isn’t it?

Now imagine trying to break through an emotional wall, one built by a man who struggles with vulnerability.

This wall serves as a defense mechanism, keeping others at a safe distance and protecting the man from potential emotional harm.

But while this wall might provide temporary safety, it ultimately leads to isolation and loneliness. It prevents meaningful connections with others and stifles personal growth.

If a man is consistently aloof or distant, it could be because he has built an emotional wall around himself to avoid showing vulnerability.

7) They often have control issues

Control can be a comforting thing. It provides certainty, minimizes risks, and helps us feel safe.

But some men take it to the extreme, seeking control in every aspect of their lives.

This isn’t just being a perfectionist. It’s having a fear of losing control and facing the unknown.

A man who insists on controlling everything might be doing so because he’s terrified of showing vulnerability.

Because when we lose control, we become vulnerable. We expose ourselves to the possibility of pain, failure, or rejection.

As Psych Central puts it, “Being vulnerable means accepting that you can’t control what will happen but that you’ll still act or speak in a way that’s authentic to you.”

8) They struggle with self-acceptance

Self-acceptance requires acknowledging and embracing all parts of ourselves, including our vulnerabilities.

For the type of man we’ve discussed, self-acceptance can be a major struggle.

They might be hard on themselves, setting unrealistic expectations and berating themselves for falling short.

This negative self-talk is often a mask to hide their vulnerabilities. They believe that if they’re perfect, they won’t have to face their fears or insecurities.

The problem is, nobody’s perfect. We all have flaws and make mistakes. And it’s okay. It makes us human.

If a man consistently struggles with self-acceptance, it could be the most telling sign of all that he’s not comfortable showing vulnerability.

Final thoughts

Recognizing these subtle behaviors is the first step towards understanding and empathizing with men who struggle with vulnerability.

It’s important for them to remember that vulnerability is not a weakness – it’s a strength. It allows them to connect with others on a deeper level and to grow as people.

If you’ve noticed these behaviors in yourself or someone you know, don’t despair. Change is possible.

If you’re a man struggling with vulnerability, remember that it’s okay to show your emotions, to ask for help, to let go of control.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is one of the bravest things you can do.

And if you know someone who struggles with vulnerability, offer them support and understanding. Encourage them to express their feelings and let them know it’s okay to be vulnerable.

At the end of the day, we’re all human. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, our fears and insecurities. It’s what makes us unique. It’s what makes us real.

So let’s be real. Let’s be vulnerable. And let’s embrace our humanity in all its beautiful, messy glory.

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.

People who stay quiet on social media and prefer to observe usually have these 9 traits

If a man uses these 8 specific phrases in a conversation, he still has a lot of growing up to do