Men who feel unsupported at home tend to display these 11 subtle behaviors without realizing it

There’s a lot of pressure for men to be everything—to make a lot of money, to be tough, to be smart.

And if they don’t fit the norms, they’re not considered “man enough”.

It’s no wonder a lot of them are hiding low self-esteem amidst a tough exterior.

Want to know how to spot them?

Take a closer look at the men you know.

If they display these 11 subtle behaviors, it’s likely they feel unsupported at hom

1) They’re hungry for praise

We all want to be appreciated for the things we do.

And if our efforts are often ignored—especially by the people we love—we can’t help but feel bad about ourselves.

Long-term, it can impact the self-esteem of even the most confident men.

One tell-tale sign a man is unsupported at home is that they crave attention and praise outside the home.

Their face lights up even if you just say “thank you!”

And sometimes, they could even become a bit annoying by talking nonstop about their achievements just so you’ll say “Oh wow!”

But that’s because they’re so thirsty for external recognition because they get nothing of it at home.

2) They struggle to make firm decisions

If a man is often questioned for everything—from the way he washes the dishes to how he makes important decisions, then of course he’d start to lose confidence in himself.

These are the men who might decide fast…but then the voices in their head would throw harsh phrases like:

“Are you going to f*ck this up again?!”

“Why can’t you be a man and make better decisions?!”

“Are you sure about that?”

And so they’d change their mind…then change again, and again…

The irony?

Their fear of making the wrong decision becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because their low self-esteem makes them mess up.

3) They’re hard on other people

Hurt people hurt people.

If their partner and parents pull them down, they tend to do the same thing to others. And here’s the thing: they probably aren’t even aware they’re doing it!

When their sibling makes a huge mistake, instead of being compassionate, they’d give them a huge lecture bordering on verbal abuse—just like their parents did to them.

They’re very tough on others because “Hey, that’s only fair, right?”

They’re even tougher on themselves because everyone at home would only support them when they did everything right.

For these men, any sign of weakness or mistakes should be banished— in themselves and everyone around them, at work or in their personal life.

Relaxing will be a challenge for men who feel unsupported at home because they’ve been conditioned that in order to be loved and valued, they’ve got to excel, no matter the cost.

4) They laugh hard when others make mistakes

We laugh when there’s something genuinely funny.

But we also laugh to release pent up nervous energy, to humiliate others, and to feel relief that thank god it’s not us that’s being made fun of this time.

Who gets laughed at and who initiates the mocking is kind of the pecking order in competitive environments (notice most people laugh at the bosses’ so-so jokes).

Men are competitive in nature, and so even if they’re the nicest person in the world, if they’re not treated well at home, then it will show.

They’d laugh at their colleague who messed up a presentation. In their mind, they’re thinking “Oh man, I’m glad I’m not the only one who sucks.”

They’d especially laugh hard when they hear about a man being treated badly by his girlfriend. His laughter is that of relief—”Oh god, some people have it worse!”

Why?

Because it makes them feel superior because they’ve always felt inferior at home.

5) They take things too personally

Tell them their pasta is not al dente or that their car needs to be washed, and they’ll be seriously offended.

They’d snap and say “Yeah, as if you’re perfect.” or “Why do you always make me feel bad?”

You’ll always be walking on eggshells around them but trust me—it’s not because of you. Most of the time, it’s because other people are too harsh on them!

They’re probably just so fed up with how they were treated back home that their tolerance for criticism is now so low.

Every comment and feedback now feels like an attack on who they are and so they fight back.

You see, because their self-esteem is fragile, they get overly defensive or even aggressive to protect their ego.

6) They turn everything into a contest

Turn everything into a contest Men who feel unsupported at home tend to display these 11 subtle behaviors without realizing it

A man who feels unsupported at home would always want to show others they’re good enough—or even better than everyone else!

To make up for their perceived “flaws”, they try to outshine others on the things they’re good at.

If he’s a math wizard, he’d challenge others to a math quiz even if (especially if) they’re clearly bad at them.

If he’s good at singing, he’d invite everyone to karaoke to show them he’s the next Freddie Mercury.

It’s always a contest for a man who feels unsupported at home…because that’s the only way he can boost his self-esteem, at least temporarily.

7) They overcompensate

At work, they’ll keep treating their team to donuts and coffee a little too often.

Why?

Because they’re worried about not being good enough to be liked for their talent alone!

And in a relationship, they’ll shower with over-the-top go for broke expensive gifts.

Why?

Because they’re secretly worried who they are is not enough to keep their partner.

Feeling “not good enough” is a sign that a man has experienced being treated badly. And these kinds of abuse can have a lasting effect on how a person sees himself.

8) They’re driven…but then they self-reject

Sure, they’re not praised for their talents—but they’d still be driven to work on their goals and dreams.

They’d work hard on their portfolio, but then when it’s time for them to press send on their application, they’d change their mind and say they saw one software requirement they’re not excellent at.

They’ll date a woman for months and just when things are going well, they’ll ghost her rather than ask her to go steady because, “What if she turns me down?!”

They want to fight off the voices in their heads that say they’re not good enough, but then in the end negativity always wins.

So they become perfectionists who are scared of rejection.

Because what if they get rejected again?

That would prove that their unsupportive partner or parents are right about them all along…and they don’t want that!

9) They struggle to talk about their dreams

How can they not if they already know that their loved ones don’t believe in them?

Even when they just say “I wish”, they would get an eye roll and a condescending life advice: “Yeah right, here we go again with the wishes! Turn them into reality. Stop simply wishing and hoping!”

And so they’ve taught themselves to just shut up—and even stop dreaming!

It’s sad really. When you ask them “What do you really want to do in life?”

They’d stutter, sweat a little, and say “Well, I’m just happy with the way things are.”

But you know that it’s not the truth because every now and then, you notice that they’re actually unhappy—that they have dreams, too.

10) They always play the supporting role

They’re the assistant, the sidekick, the follower…but they rarely take the role of the leader.

It’s just unnatural for them to make decisions for a group—even if it’s only a group of three people and the only decision to be made is where to have dinner.

Deep down they’ve come to believe that they’re not good enough.

At work, they won’t express their ideas and will just wait for someone else to lead even if it means giving their ideas to them.

They’ve internalized that they’re unlikeable, not charming enough, or just plain not smart enough for people to support them.

11) They are uneasy with praise

Tell them you really like their music and they’d think you’re just flattering them. Then they’d self-deprecate by saying “Pfff. You’re so nice. But I know I suck.”

Tell them you appreciate them doing things for you and they’d blush and say “You don’t have to say that.”

That’s because they RARELY hear praise and only hear complaints and insults.

If praise is a regular thing for them, they wouldn’t have this kind of reaction at all. They’d just say “Oh thanks!” and not act like a high school boy who just got a kiss from his crush.

Final thoughts:

For men who feel unsupported at home, being appreciated for who they really are—warts and all— is all they’ve been wanting their whole life.

If this sounds like you, it’s not too late to reparent your inner child by practicing self-compassion.

Unearth a hobby you used to love as a kid just for the sheer fun!

If these behaviors remind you of your  partner, friend or sibling, don’t even try to fill the void by being overly supportive because that may backfire into a codependent relationship.

Instead, be an honest mirror and love them especially when they mess up.

As tempting as it is to stroke their egos just to make them feel better, that’s really not going to help unless they learn self-validation.

With a little patience, they’ll start to see that despite their imperfections, they will always be deserving and worthy of support.

Picture of Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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