9 signs you’re dealing with a highly insecure person, according to psychology

Are you dealing with an insecure person? It’s easy to write off your friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, or whoever’s behavior as strange, mean, or even crazy!

But are they really strange, mean, and crazy, or are they actually highly insecure about themselves?

Insecurity issues can manifest themselves in all kinds of ways.

They can make people act out and hurt the people closest to them, usually unintentionally.

Let’s explore the 9 signs you’re dealing with a highly insecure person, backed by psychology.

Up first:

1) They try to put you down

Insecure people don’t feel good about themselves. Actually, that’s an understatement.

When someone is highly insecure, they despise who they are!

They might feel unattractive, like an imposter, or simply not good enough.

When someone feels this low about themselves, they probably won’t be very kind to people around them.

So, they put you down to feel better about themselves.

It’s like if you got 80 out of 100 on a test and were really happy about it, they might tell you it isn’t that great and you could’ve done better.

Experts say this behavior sometimes stems from jealousy.

But most likely, it’s because they want to feel more important.

Their ability to make you feel bad about something gives them a sense of control and authority, which makes them feel good.

2) They get easily jealous

Years ago, my friend was dating this guy. Let’s call him Tim.

Tim was a great guy when he was great. There was just one problem. He was extremely jealous! It started out small, but then it got worse.

He’d wake up in the middle of the night angry at her for having boyfriends before him.

When she went out with friends, she’d have to tell him at least 10 times that it wasn’t because she preferred their company over his.

One time, he picked a fight with a guy in the supermarket because they looked at each other in the “wrong sort of way”. Yes, she ditched him not long after that.

But the point I’m making is, this is very jealous behavior and it doesn’t just come from nowhere! It comes from a deep sense of insecurity in a person.

Experts would say that Tim’s jealousy came from a fear of inadequacy, abandonment, and replacement. It’s why he felt so toxically jealous all the time.

3) They criticize the things you enjoy

We mentioned earlier that insecure people like to feel important by putting you down. Another way they do this is by outright criticizing the things you enjoy!

Once again, this behavior stems from a sense of jealousy over your happiness.

It’s like if you enjoy running or going to the gym. They might tell you how stupid it is or that only annoying people go to the gym.

Or if you love a certain band, they might say how childish you are or how bad the singer is, just to make you feel bad about your interests.

Even when it comes to your friends, relationships, and the company you keep, they might criticize these people – all in the name of jealousy (and their own insecurity).

4) They boast about their accomplishments

Did you ever know someone in school or work who was always showing off?

Or have you ever been on a date with someone who couldn’t stop talking about their achievements (neglecting to ask you anything at all about your life)?

Well, people like this may sound confident and accomplished, but there’s a good chance that they’re highly insecure.

Experts say people brag because they want others to like them or pay attention to them.

When they talk about things they’ve done, they think you’ll think better of them.

This gives them validation and a temporary boost in confidence.

That doesn’t sound very sinister, but it can cross the line into toxic when 1) they brag by putting you down or 2) they only ever want to talk about themselves, not you…

5) They strive for perfection

Not every insecure person is cruel or insults you out of jealousy!

Sometimes, the person who bears the brunt of their criticisms is the insecure person themselves, not anyone else.

Experts say it isn’t uncommon for someone with insecurity issues to try to control everything in their life.

They don’t believe in themselves, so they think they need to be perfect.

But they think nothing they ever do is perfect, which makes them feel worse. It’s a vicious cycle.

Unfortunately, people who want to be perfect like this sometimes want others to be perfect, too.

So, they might hold you to the same standards they hold themselves to, which is pretty unfair.

6) They have intense trust issues

Remember when I talked about my friend’s ex-boyfriend, Tim? The reason he picked a fight with that guy in the supermarket definitely stemmed from jealousy.

But it also came from the various trust issues he had.

Explosive and unnecessary anger isn’t the only sign of trust issues in a person. It can also come across in more subtle ways.

Like if you tell someone they’re great and they think you’re lying. Or if you say you love someone and they think it isn’t true.

Experts find that chronic distrust like this stems from past trauma, like an unloving childhood or a betrayal in a romantic relationship.

Essentially, the person with the trust issues fears that a past hurt will reoccur if they get too close to someone or believe them at their word.

7) They constantly want reassurance

Another behavior of someone with insecurity issues is reassurance seeking.

They might ask you the same question over and over about whether you still like them or if you really do like their new haircut.

Before making any decision at all, they might need your opinion on it – or even for you to tell them that it’s the right decision.

Despite popular belief, there isn’t actually anything wrong with wanting reassurance occasionally.

Getting validation from a partner or friend is actually a very healthy part of a relationship.

It’s also important to get validation from your loved ones to feel a sense of overall belonging.

But when someone’s need for reassurance becomes excessive, like we described above, it crosses over into problematic territory.

Experts say this can put a strain on relationships and lead to resentment from the people whose assurances are being sought. It can also damage the person’s self-esteem even further…

8) They get unnecessarily defensive

Imagine asking your boyfriend where he went when he returns home from being out with friends. “Why do you want to know?”, he says in response, a shocked look on his face. It’d be weird, right?

That’s because it is weird! It’s unnecessarily defensive behavior. People usually act this way because 1) they have something to hide or 2) they’re insecure about what they’ve actually done.

It’s like when I first changed jobs, I was worried about what my former colleagues would think.

One of them asked a really basic question and I got unnecessarily defensive in my answer, thinking she was challenging me on it. She wasn’t. I was just insecure!

Experts say that unnecessarily defensive behavior is common in people with insecurity issues, alongside other issues around power and control.

9) They lie about their life

I had a friend in school once who would always tell lies about where she went on vacation or how much her new clothes cost. I also dated a guy who would constantly lie about the little things.

It’s easy to feel frustrated by this kind of behavior and feel like it’s disrespectful to you. Which, of course, it is.

But the main reason the person is doing it is out of shame and insecurity. Experts say people lie about their lives to boost their self-esteem and create a false sense of self. They lie about things they’re ashamed of.

It’s hurtful and maybe even annoying to you, but to them, it makes them feel better about themselves.

Unfortunately, the effects are only temporary.

In the end, they wind up feeling worse about lying all the time, especially when it ends up hurting the people they love…

Final thoughts

Dealing with an insecure person can be downright upsetting. Their behavior, while usually unintentional, can be hurtful and cruel.

While it isn’t nice to feel insecure about yourself, that doesn’t mean people can walk all over you in the name of insecurity.

Of course, you can try to help your friend, coworker, partner, or whoever it is who is struggling with their self-esteem.

Talking to them about how their behavior impacts you and supporting them when they make positive changes are good places to start.

But just remember that sometimes, you may have to be cruel to be kind.

If they aren’t willing to change or hear you out, your distance is probably better than your presence – for you and for them!

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