8 subtle signs a man is faking confidence, according to psychology

8 subtle signs a man is faking confidence, according to psychology

Confidence. It’s a trait most men (and women) strive for, a magic ingredient that we think can make a world of difference in every aspect of our lives, from careers to relationships. 

But not all confidence is the real deal. We so often subscribe to the “fake it till you make it” mantra, and this pseudo-confidence can be very misleading. 

So, how do you tell the difference between true confidence and an act? 

Well, that’s what we’re covering today. We dive into eight subtle signs that a man might be faking his confidence. 

1) He brags

Does the man you have in mind seem to fill every conversation with tales of his own achievements?

Does he often inflate his successes or perhaps even make them up altogether to appear more capable or successful than he really is?

Or maybe he’s a bit more discreet about it and does the humblebrag thing instead.

You might hear him saying something like, “I really didn’t want to take the lead on this huge project, but I suppose they couldn’t find anyone else as capable.” 

As noted by experts, bragging like this is often due to insecurity rather than healthy self-confidence. 

Truly confident men don’t feel the need for constant validation or attention and are rarely the loudest ones in the room. They are comfortable in their own skin and have no need to prove themselves to others.

2) He can’t take criticism 

During my tenure as an academic manager at a language school, I encountered many instructors who exemplified true confidence—essential for captivating and educating students. 

But sometimes, I was surprised.

One teacher was particularly notable for his ability to engage his class with undeniable enthusiasm and confidence, making his sessions a favorite among students.

However, despite his outward show of confidence and the generally positive evaluations he received, his reaction to criticism told a different story. 

When it came to any kind of criticism, no matter how mild, it seemed to unravel his composure. He would defensively justify his actions or fall unusually silent, a stark contrast to his typically vibrant self.

The point?

Often, those who hide their low self-esteem with fake confidence can only do it a point, and often, that point is direct and valid criticism. 

Neil Rosenthal, a marriage and family therapist, underscores this point, noting that:

“If someone has very low self-esteem, they’re going to be extremely sensitive to any form of critique, correction, criticism or admonishment –even if what you say is meant constructively, and even if it’s 100 percent true.”

3) He constantly seeks attention on social media

For some, social media is a place to share snippets of life and connect, but for those struggling with confidence, it can quickly become a validation tool.

This is especially true for those who want to appear confident. Asking for validation in the real world would make them look weak, but on social media, well, it’s universally accepted. 

Does he constantly post about what he’s doing, such as his latest vacation spot, his running times, or photos of his workout pump? 

If so, there’s a good chance he’s not just sharing his life; he’s curating it to impress others and make himself feel better about himself. 

But it doesn’t work. In fact, it often has the opposite effect. 

Psychologist Bonnie Zucker has shed some light on this. She says that this kind of behavior really doesn’t help build authentic self-esteem. Instead, it can “feed into excessive reassurance-seeking behaviors and unhealthy attempts at getting validation from others.”

Studies also back this up, showing that people who are always on social media tend to struggle more with their self-esteem.

The point?

If he’s always lighting up your social media with his latest and greatest, take a moment to read between the lines. It might be a subtle clue that the confidence he projects might not be as solid as it seems.

4) He never asks for help

People who are secretly insecure often use these 12 words or phrases 2 8 subtle signs a man is faking confidence, according to psychology

We all know that classic example of a man who doesn’t want to ask for directions. We laugh about it, but this desire for self-sufficiency, or rather, reluctance to ask for help, is actually a sign of a lack of confidence. 

Truly confident people aren’t afraid to ask for help. 

This is widely acknowledged by experts in their field, such as psychologist Barbara Markway, Ph.D., who identified the willingness to ask for help as a sign of confidence in a Psychology Today post.

Think about it. Does the man you have in mind shy away from admitting he doesn’t know something? Does he struggle to delegate tasks or share responsibilities at work or in personal projects? Is he hesitant to reach out when something is clearly overwhelming him, opting instead to struggle in silence? 

If so, he may not be as confident as he initially appears. 

We all need help from time to time. True confidence involves recognizing one’s own limitations and being comfortable enough to admit them. 

5) He wants everything to be perfect

Perfectionism has to be one of the most misunderstood traits. Many think it is admirable and a sign of professionalism, but it often makes us less productive and actually suggests something deeper, less admirable. 

As noted by Psychotherapist Richard B. Joelson, it often comes from a place of self-doubt and a fear of being judged or rejected. He says “Perfectionists are motivated by self-doubt and fears of disapproval, ridicule, and rejection.” 

The folks at Psychology Today echo this, noting that it’s often driven by internal pressure to avoid failure at all costs.

Does the man you have in mind want to get everything perfect at all costs?

It might actually be his way of shielding himself. He’s so focused on every little detail because he’s trying to fend off any criticism that could poke holes in his confident exterior. 

So, next time you see Mr. Perfect spending hours perfecting something trivial, it could be a clue that underneath that polished surface, there’s a battle with insecurity going on.

6) He’s excessively competitive in all matters

Does the man you have in mind turn everything into a competition, be it work, sports, professional achievements, or even mundane daily tasks? 

While some competitiveness can be healthy and motivating, research has shown that excessive competitiveness is often linked to low self-esteem. 

Basically, for men who struggle with self-esteem, every opportunity to compete can become a desperate attempt to prove their worth, making every minor challenge a high-stakes battle. 

This type of behavior is typical of someone who may appear confident on the surface but is internally driven by a fear of being seen as inadequate.

7) He can’t wait to show you his new car, watch…

Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that social media platforms are awash with images of young men flaunting their supercars, luxury watches, and high-end lifestyles. 

Is it just me, or is it getting worse?

Anyway, while these displays might initially impress as signs of success and confidence, they often mask a deeper issue. Research has pointed out that such overt materialism can be a coping strategy for low self-esteem. 

For men who feel insecure, these luxury items serve as a form of armor against perceived judgments and a tool to project an image of success and confidence. This behavior might also be subtly geared towards inspiring others or influencing their perceptions. 

The goal is not to enjoy their wealth but to be seen and admired, to evoke envy and respect, and to assert a social status that they fear they might not otherwise hold.

8) He can’t seem to empathize

A lack of empathy might not immediately strike you as a sign of fake confidence. It’s not what came to mind first for me, at least. 

But experts suggest there’s a link there, and it makes total sense. 

As the folks at WebMD point out, people with low self-esteem often struggle to empathize with others because they’re too caught up in their own issues. 

Combine this with being hell-bent on appearing confident, and there probably isn’t much emotional energy left.

They’re spending so much mental and emotional effort just keeping themselves together that they don’t have much left for anyone else

The bottom line 

While men might not always show their vulnerabilities openly, their behaviors can certainly reveal more than they might wish to admit. 

From an over-reliance on social media for validation to an inability to empathize, these subtle signs can be telltale indicators of a man who is faking his confidence.

I hope you found some value in this post. 

Until next time.

Picture of Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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