Men who are unhappy in life but hide it well display these 6 subtle behaviors

“No one knows what it’s like /To be the bad man / To be the sad man / Behind blue eyes,” sang The Who in their 1971 song. It doesn’t really matter what color eyes the owner of those lyrics has – the sentiment is the same.

It suggests that there are people out there who are greatly misunderstood, and among these people are men who are really struggling with unhappiness.

Even though we’re now living in an age of increased empathy and personal expression, a lot of men were raised differently.

They were taught to man up, pipe down, suck it up, and grow some balls.

Or should I say “we” because I got the same treatment as a boy?

I was taught that boys don’t cry and men have to be stoic and hold in their feelings.

The problem is that if you always keep everything in, you might never deal with your issues, and they can start to take over your life and seriously challenge your happiness.

I should know because this happened to me.

At one point in my life, things really piled up on me, and deep-seated unhappiness crept in even though I felt like I couldn’t let it show. Luckily, people who cared about me were able to read the signs and help me out.

As much as they may try to disguise it, men who are unhappy in life but hide it well display these six subtle behaviors that you might be able to pick up on, too.

1) They seethe

One of the easiest signs of unhappiness in men is a constant, low level of anger.

If there seems to be something bubbling right below the surface at all times, this is a clear sign that something is not OK in a man’s life, no matter how much he’ll pretend otherwise.

This anger comes out in different ways.

For some men, it shows up in an incredibly short fuse. These guys will snap at you or blow up over the smallest thing so that you end up feeling like you’re walking on eggshells all the time.

Other men might have resting bitch… everything. They might just frown all the time and seem like they always have a bee in their bonnet. They might be angry at the world in general or big systems they can’t control, like the government or the economy.

For me, however, it was road rage.

I’ve lived in some places where people drive, let’s say not extremely well.

But I always managed to deal with it by just accepting that this was the local style. However, when I was struggling with deep unhappiness in my life, the rage started to show.

The second I got into the car, I’d instantly frown and start to seethe with anger, letting it out by cursing out other drivers and performing aggressive maneuvers.

I used road rage as an outlet and didn’t even realize how angry I would get.

Trust me, constant anger is not normal, and it’s a sign something is going very wrong.

2) They fight

Have you ever seen happy people beating each other’s lights out?

Some deeply unhappy men let their anger out in violent ways.

These are the guys who seem to get into fights all the time because they just can’t control their aggro.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret:

This is at least somewhat intentional. A lot of men feel like the only way they can let their emotions out is by doing it physically, and they look for other men in the same condition to take it out on.

They seem to feel that other aggressive males are fair game so that as long as they’re fighting with other fighters, they’re not really doing anything wrong.

Admittedly, bashing in heads every weekend can be anything but subtle. But while some guys feel like they have to fight to protect or stand up for themselves, these aren’t the guys going out looking for fights.

That’s the subtle difference.

3) They complain

A lot of men feel that they can’t talk about their emotions, especially their unhappiness.

This leads to feelings of powerlessness, and many subconsciously try to gain at least a little bit of control back by claiming intellectual superiority. In other words, they complain and criticize to make themselves feel right.

This can be full-blown or a really subtle behavior.

Full-blown complainers will find some fault with everything they can see. They might justify their behavior with the simple truth that nothing’s perfect and everything can be at least slightly improved.

True, but that doesn’t give them carte blanche to criticize absolutely everything all the time.

Subtle complainers can be harder to notice.

They might have grievances about everything all the time, but they might complain at really strange times or about things that no one else would.

Imagine being invited out for a free meal at a fancy restaurant and still complaining that your steak was slightly overdone. This is the kind of thing that I’m talking about.

While these complaints might only come once in a while, their odd timing and inappropriateness can be signs that the man making them isn’t as satisfied with his life as he could be.

4) They clam up

Clam up Men who are unhappy in life but hide it well display these 6 subtle behaviors

Have you ever noticed that a man in your life has become a lot quieter than normal?

It’s really common for men to get quieter when they’re unhappy, and it may even be hard to notice at first.

They might just start to express themselves a bit less, giving fewer opinions or keeping silent when they would normally speak up.

What’s going on here?

This is one of the things my friends picked up on when I was going through a really unhappy period.

At the time, I didn’t really notice myself doing this, but once I was able to reflect on what was up, I realized a few things.

First, I was raised with the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” So when I was feeling grumpy, I was more inclined to hold my tongue (except in traffic!).

The other thing was that I was suffering from low self-esteem. And when you don’t feel good about yourself, you start to feel like the things you think and want to say don’t have any value.

This is a major reason why some men start to go quiet when they feel deeply unhappy with their lives.

5) They overdo it

What do I mean by “overdo it”?

I mean things like working too hard, partying too hard, or even working out too hard.

Basically, doing anything to excess.

Sometimes, men have other reasons for overdoing things like setting really tough goals for themselves that are unreasonable. This is a different story.

But other men might throw themselves into work or weight training as a means of escape from reality.

The thing about activities like these is that they’re generally seen as good things. Men are supposed to work hard and be good providers. They’re supposed to be big and strong, right?

That’s what makes these activities easy to hide behind.

But what unhappy men can’t hide is when they start to go too far, working too hard, so they burn out or hitting the gym so much that they seem obsessive.

They can be doing these things to escape having to deal with their feelings of unhappiness, but in the process, they could be doing themselves even more damage.

6) They stop taking care of themselves

Have you ever known a guy who used to look good and dress sharp, only to seemingly give up on his appearance?

This can happen for a few reasons.

One is that he’s older and perhaps in a serious relationship. It’s too bad for his partner; he might feel he doesn’t have to put in as much effort since he’s no longer on the market.

Another reason might just be that he’s become so busy that he doesn’t have as much time to keep up his appearance. Kids and work responsibilities are the culprits there.

But a third reason is that he’s unhappy, even depressed.

This might be hard to notice at first.

He may stop shaving as regularly as in the past. He might stop shopping for new clothes and keep wearing the same old things.

He might start gaining or losing weight.

But as these signs grow, you might start to suspect that something’s wrong and perhaps he’s struggling with something that’s making him care less about himself.

Men who are unhappy in life but hide it well display these six subtle behaviors quite commonly. When the signs start to add up, it becomes pretty clear that they’re struggling.

If you see these symptoms in a man in your life, he may need help.

Try to approach him with empathy and let him know that it’s OK not to be OK.


Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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