8 subtle signs of insincerity in a man, according to psychology

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Some guys say what they mean and mean what they say. But not everyone is so direct.

Some guys are insincere and absolutely know it. They intentionally say things to deceive you or get what they want.

Other guys act disingenuous but don’t truly realize it! They might have gut feelings about how they really feel, but they’re squashing them down and saying things out of habit, rather than feeling.

What I’m getting at is that a guy who’s insincere isn’t necessarily a “bad” guy. But that doesn’t stop their behavior from hurting you or causing damage.

Which is why it’s best to get ahead and spot these kinds of guys in your life sooner rather than later! Especially in the dating pool…

When a guy is insincere, here are the 8 most subtle signs, backed by psychology.

1) He’s always ready to argue

Defensiveness is a natural instinct in all of us. It’s designed to protect us from harm, but it isn’t always there for the benefit of others.

When our defensive behavior is largely unnecessary and merely an instinct, most of us can spot it and stop it. But when it isn’t unnecessary, we probably can’t.

When a man is insincere, he won’t be in control of his defensiveness. He’s lying about something – whether it’s the thing you’re talking about right now or something else.

These lies make him on edge around you all the time – which is why he’s ALWAYS ready to pick a fight with you over anything you say.

Even if you’re just making a joke about something and he goes overboard on defending himself, proceed with caution. Like if you joke about him having a work wife or enjoying time at golf more than time with you.

There might be a deeper reason for his defensiveness on the matter!

2) He’s a little too sure of himself

Some people are confident and some people aren’t. Some people know what they’re talking about, while some people don’t.

The thing is, a confident man still talks in “if”s and “maybe”’s. At least, he does when he’s being sincere.

When a man isn’t being sincere, he’ll try harder to convince you about something that isn’t true. How? By talking in absolutes all the time!

A retired FBI agent of 21 years spotted patterns in people who lie. In his years of working, he found that people who tend to be insincere about something will talk in absolutes. They’ll use words like “never” or “always”. They’ll say things like, “I’m certain I/you didn’t do…”.

So words like “usually”, “probably”, or “sometimes” will hardly ever be in his vocabulary when he’s hiding something from you (or the world!).

3) He downplays his accomplishments

Sure, not everyone who brushes off their compliments is insincere. But watch out!

According to that same retired FBI agent we talked about earlier, he might be way less trustworthy than you think he is when he behaves this way.

How so? It’s usually in the way he brings up and brushes off his accomplishments. When he brings these things up to make you feel bad or to highlight his own successes compared to yours, it’s bad, bad news.

Like if he says, “I did way better in my interview than you did in yours. But it’s no big deal, let’s not talk about it anymore”.

In these cases, he isn’t really a nice, successful guy. He might be just telling you these things to inflate himself or feed his own ego!

4) He challenges you on everything

Research also found that insincere people tend to be more up for debate than those who are genuine. Usually, this is done to a) manipulate or b) deflect the focus away from him and his lies.

Sometimes, it’s a subconscious behavior. He challenges you and accuses you of lying because he’s lying himself.

It’s like that age-old wife’s tale about the boy, girl, and the snake.

The boy hid a snake in his pocket, so he constantly feared that she did, too. Whereas she never had these fears. He only had them because of what HE was hiding from her.

If a man always accuses you of having a snake in your pocket, these trust issues probably aren’t coming from nowhere. They might be coming from him and his pocket snake…

5) He talks a lot but never shares

When a man is insincere, he probably won’t keep quiet. He’ll talk and talk a lot. He’ll give all kinds of details about his past accomplishments or what other people have achieved.

But between all the waffle, there won’t be much genuine information that he shares about himself.

When you think about whether he really talks about his emotions or how he really feels, you won’t be able to come up with anything.

This is either strategic and intentional or a subconcious behavior. And it’s all because he isn’t being very sincere about who he is or how he really feels.

6) He never genuinely apologizes

Pay close attention to how this man apologizes if you want to test his sincerity! When someone is genuinely sorry for what they’ve done, you’ll feel like they really mean it.

Experts say a genuine apology communicates empathy, remorse, regret, and a promise to learn from your mistakes.

A guy should acknowledge they were wrong, tell you they feel bad, and agree with you on what they should do in the future to make things better if they’re really sorry.

When this isn’t the case, the apology will be very different. According to research, there are 4 types of insincere apologies:

  • the empty apology, which is a sorry and nothing more, nothing less
  • the excessive apology, one that is so over the top, it feels sarcastic!
  • the incomplete apology, along the lines of, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you’re hurt by that”
  • the non-apology, which sounds like, “I’m sorry, but it simply isn’t my fault!”

If you recognize any of these, it might be bad news…

7) He doesn’t change after saying sorry

An apology isn’t always good enough. The behavior should change in the future when someone actually cares and understands what they did wrong.

It’s like if he flirts with your friend and says he’s sorry after you confront him. If he does it again a few months later, chances are, his apology wasn’t very sincere. He was just apologizing to win your favor or get you off his case!

A real, genuine apology from a man who means it will come with changed behavior. It might be a step in the right direction with some slip-ups.

Like if he says he won’t leave his cup on the side every day, but still does it occasionally, he probably meant it. It’s just that change takes time.

But if he NEVER stops doing what he said he would, he probably doesn’t mean it when he says he’ll try.

8) His stories change all the time

One moment he feels one way, but the next moment, he feels another! Indecisiveness is often another key sign that you don’t really know how you feel. Or that you’re living a life you don’t really want…

I dated a guy who frequently said he wanted a family one day. But then he’d talk about wanting to travel the world in his thirties. Or how he wanted to do this and that with his life/career/etc. (all of which did NOT involve having kids).

All in all, when he talked about what he wanted for the future, you never really knew what he was going to say.

When you confront an insincere guy on this behavior, he probably won’t respond very well. I’ve had someone tell me they “never said that” or “I’m allowed to change my mind whenever I want”.

Later, when it all ended, it became clear that these changes in stories and plans were a symbol of his insincerity in general. Because when a guy is sincere, he A) knows what he wants and says it, or B) is straight up about NOT knowing what he wants!

When his behavior is the opposite, it isn’t a good sign about his character…

Final thoughts

A guy who behaves insincerely isn’t always a “bad” guy. Sure, he might be! He might be totally manipulative and playing you like a fool.

But he might just be a little out of touch with his emotions and struggle with his own fears and insecurities.

Like if he talks a lot but never shares how he really feels. Or if he downplays his accomplishments all the time or has major trust issues. He might just lack confidence or struggle with things in his past.

So he might not be all bad or behaving this way for sinister reasons.

Just be careful and always stay mindful about how his actions are making you feel. If you suspect he isn’t being sincere with you, he might not admit to it even after you call him out. And if his behavior continues and it hurts you, you don’t have to stick around.

His problems aren’t your problems to solve. Only he can do that. And frankly, you deserve a lot better.

11 signs that a man is proud to be with you, according to psychology

If a man consistently displays these 8 behaviors, he’s a genuinely good person