If a man mentions these 7 phrases, his lack of success bothers him more than he lets on

Many men experience pressure to succeed in life, often instilled from an early age.

Not only that, but “success” is defined by career achievements, financial stability, and social status.

Unfortunately, these metrics don’t always correlate with someone’s level of happiness.

Even worse, men are encouraged to chase them to the detriment of personal fulfillment or self-discovery.

This can create a lot of anxiety. When they stumble or fail, their self-confidence takes a plunge.

If a man mentions these 7 phrases, his lack of success bothers him more than he lets on.

You might want to give him a pep talk.

1) “Ugh, I never seem to catch a break.”

We all know someone who complains about everything and loves to play the victim, no matter what’s going on in their life.

I was once friendly with a guy who did this on a regular basis.

He lived a great life, owned his apartment, had a good job, got to travel a bit.

Yet, he was constantly whining about being unable to catch a break.

He had this idea that he was the universe’s gift to society and that he should be much more successful than he was.

In reality, he had achieved the exact right amount of success for his talents. As he was unwilling to grow, this whining ended up annoying anyone willing to listen.  

However, sometimes life deals you a tough hand and, no matter how much work you put in, you can’t seem to move forward.

If that’s the case for the man in your life who utters the phrase, he deserves nothing short of compassion.

Especially if he’s not usually one to complain.

He’s likely disillusioned with the unpredictability of life’s challenges and could use some support.

For a lot of us, the road to success is paved with countless obstacles.

2) “I’m not where I thought I’d be at this age.”

Comparing yourself to unrealistic expectations or societal standards can fuel feelings of disappointment.

I blame those pesky 30 under 30 lists.

They perpetuate this belief that you need to get your life together from early on.

Well, let me tell you, my 20s were a mess, and I’m still trying to figure out things in my mid-30s.

The pressure can be even greater on men because they’re told they need to be good providers.

If they experience a bunch of false starts in their youth, their lack of success might bother them more than they let on.

So, if a man actually admits that he feels like an underachiever?

Give him a big hug.

He’s probably even harder on himself on the inside.

3) “I’m still figuring things out, you know?”

From my experience, this is something men say when they realize that they might not have achieved as much as society wants them to.

The phrase is uttered during a first date when the topic of work comes up, and it follows a long-winded explanation about how he has this job but it’s not what he pictures themselves doing long-term.

It’s as if he’s trying to reconcile his aspirations with the reality of his current circumstances.

If you veer the conversation in the right direction, this phrase can serve as a gateway to deeper conversations about identity and ambition.

It can help you determine if he’s doing things to improve his circumstances, which signals that he’s willing to grow.  

That’s a good thing.

4) “It feels like I’m constantly playing catch-up.”

If a man admits to lagging behind his peers, his lack of success probably bothers him more than he lets on.

In the age of social media, it’s easier than ever before to compare ourselves to others.

Every promotion, new car, or exotic vacation becomes a yardstick against which individuals assess their own progress.

The pressure to measure up can be overwhelming, amplifying feelings of inadequacy and fueling a neverending battle with your sense of worth.

Men aren’t immune to these struggles, and they can end up in a vicious cycle of discontent and self-criticism.

Remind him that the only man he’s competing with is himself.

As long as he’s doing better than he was a year ago, he’s on the right track. 

Anything else is a nice bonus.

5) “Sometimes I wonder if I’m on the right path.”

Aren’t we all?

This phrase suggests a level of uncertainty and introspection regarding his current life path.

He’s questioning whether the choices he’s made have led him to where he wants to be, either personally or professionally.

Typically, individuals who express this sentiment grapple with feelings of dissatisfaction.

Behind this questioning lies a sense of unfulfilled potential or the fear of not living up to their own standards.

If you want to help him, start by asking a few probing questions:

  • How do you define success for yourself, beyond external measures?
  • Are there any areas of your life or career where you feel particularly uncertain?
  • How do you envision your ideal path forward, and what’s stopping you from going that way?
  • What are some small adjustments you could make right now to feel more aligned with your goals?

Not everyone is skilled at self-reflection.

Coming up with answers might help the man find a way to cope with the disappointment and determine what he wants to do next.

6) “Things don’t always turn out quite like you planned.”

If a man mentions this phrase, it typically reflects a sense of disappointment with the reality of his circumstances compared to his aspirations.

In other words, his lack of success bothers him more than he lets on.

By acknowledging this reality, he is indirectly expressing a level of discomfort with the current state of affairs, while also conveying the fact that he’s trying to make peace with it.

Despite his best efforts, success remains elusive.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, for sure.

7) “This guy got so far and he’s hardly even trying.”

When a man says this phrase, it can indicate a sense of frustration or unfairness regarding his own perceived lack of success.

He’s comparing himself to someone who appears to have achieved a lot with seemingly little effort, which can trigger feelings of resentment.

Meanwhile, he is doing everything he can to succeed, and he’s falling short.

You see how this can be frustrating.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned by now, is that when a man expresses irritation over someone else’s achievements, it’s a reflection of his own insecurities.

Acknowledge his emotions and let him know it’s okay to feel cheated or envious at times.

Then, remind him that appearances are deceiving.

What may seem effortless from the outside often involves unseen challenges and endless perseverance.

There’s no reason why he can’t reach the same success if he applies himself.

The important part is to not get discouraged.

Bottom line

Persistent feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction indicate underlying issues that warrant reflection.

If you suspect that a man in your life is struggling, encourage him to open up.

While society is getting better at challenging gender norms, we still have a long way to go.

Convincing him to share his concerns and challenge what success means to him is a step in the right direction.

Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Pleșa is a freelance writer obsessed with television, self-development, and thriller books. Former journalist, current pop culture junkie. Follow her on Twitter: @alexandraplesa

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.