9 things men don’t realize they do when they lack self-esteem

A classic movie hero is supposed to be a tough, independent, fearless warrior whom men admire, and women desire.

But hey, that’s just the movies, right?

I’ve certainly never seen a real man who possessed such swagger and bravado.

So, what does the opposite look like?

What does a man with low self-esteem do, and how does he portray himself to the world? In fact, he might not even know himself because so many of his behaviors will be automatic and unconscious.

But we’re here to set the record straight and help you pick out the things you might notice in others or want to change in yourself.

To do that, let’s look at nine things men don’t realize they do when they lack self-esteem.

1) They slouch

I’m one to talk, hunched over the keyboard as I am right now!

But here’s one thing your mom and the army agree on. 

(No, this isn’t a tasteless joke – I would never!)

They both want men to stand up straight and proud, not slouch and slump over like their spines are made from wet spaghetti.

And they’re right to suggest it.

Good posture is linked with better core strength, improved digestion, reduced chronic pain, and many more health benefits.

Good posture isn’t easy to maintain as it relies on muscle strength which we don’t all have or keep up. If you slouch, you can rest your weight on your skeleton instead, though this is pretty bad for you in the long run.

Do men with low self-esteem know they slouch?

If they do, they’re probably not doing it on purpose. It just seems to go hand in hand with the deferential posture of someone who’s meek and non-confrontational.

2) They keep quiet

Part of that meekness is keeping their heads down and mouths shut.

Yes, men with poor self-esteem are far less likely to speak up and voice their opinions or share their ideas.


Self-esteem is the judgment you make of your own value, and this is generally compared to others in society. Having low self-esteem means that you think you’re not as good as others and have less value.

So it follows that you would think that what you have to say also has less value.

This is, of course, totally subjective.

It’s not based on any measure in reality, like having your opinions and ideas independently evaluated. How would you even do that?

There are plenty of men who have really high self-esteem but who say the dumbest things.

Ultimately, we’re talking about how these men view each other and not at all about how they truly are.

3) They constantly seek validation

A friend of mine is the kind of guy who will always ask straight-up for a compliment. 

Tommy will send me a link to some video and an hour later ask, “What do you think?”

I know he’s fishing for a compliment. He wants me to write something back like, “That was insane!” or “IJBOL!”

And I normally do that sort of thing, just in my own time. It seems really weird that he goes fishing for this kind of compliment.

But if I think about it, he does this all the time.

He’s constantly asking people what they think about what he’s wearing or what he says.

I have no idea if he realizes it or not, but it seems like he’s constantly seeking validation from all the people around him.

I think I might have a chat with him about his self-esteem.

4) They’re negative

A lot of people don’t realize just how negative they are until someone else points it out to them (with examples).

This includes complaining about just about anything and being overly critical as well.

Men who have low self-esteem seem to take the negative feelings they have about themselves and turn them outward so that the world looks just as bad to them as they look to themselves.

I understand where they’re coming from.

The world is full of bad things – pollution, war, crime, violence, oppression, the list goes on – but there’s a whole lot of good out there, too.

The problem is that when your internal view is so negative, your external view is going to end up being the same. This is a state of mind issue that’s really hard to break out of.

5) They’re self-critical

men with low self esteem often display these behaviors 9 things men don't realize they do when they lack self-esteem

Having low self-esteem and being self-critical go together like birds of a feather.

That’s because low self-esteem is the result of a critique of the self.

You say things to yourself like, “I’m not good-looking,” “I don’t have a romantic partner,” “People find me weird,” and “I’m bad at X, Y, and Z.”

Then you add up your scorecard and decide you’re not a very good person (whatever that means), and your self-esteem is down in the gutter.

Look, sometimes they’re right.

Some people really are odd ducks or not very bright, handsome, or talented. But there are two ways to approach that.

You can either look at your flaws and try to improve them, or you can simply stop at step one and fixate on all the things that are wrong with you.

But this will become a downward spiral, as the more you neg yourself, the worse you’ll feel about yourself and your worth.

6) They quit

It’s obvious when you quit something like your job or a half-finished college degree.

However, men with low self-esteem are constantly quitting on the small tasks and commitments in their lives.

You know that old saying – when the going gets tough, the men with low self-esteem take off.


But it’s true, and this happens because, while they want to do great things and have accomplishments, their negative self-talk blocks their way.

My friend Tommy wants to be a singer-songwriter, but instead, he’s basically left that on the backburner and has gone to work as an English teacher in Asia.

I’d say the name of the country, but he has changed his mind and changed jobs about ten times since I’ve known him, so I’d be afraid to commit to saying where he is now.

He just continually loses his drive because he loses his belief in himself.

7) They flake out

Men with low self-esteem quit more than just their jobs and personal projects.

They also back out of social engagements, even ones that they set up.

This kind of flakiness is great if you’re a pie crust, but if you’re trying to maintain friendships or date people… not so much.

I think what happens is that they get nervous about upcoming social events because they tell themselves they’ll fail or make fools of themselves. If these feelings build up enough, they’ll pull the ripcord and leave the other person holding the bag.

Well, guess what happens then?

People will stop making plans with a flakey friend, and that guy will feel even worse about himself when he can’t find folks to hang out with.

8) They get jealous

If you’re in a relationship with a man with low self-esteem, be prepared for jealousy to rear its ugly head.

How can it not when your man doesn’t think he’s as good as other men out there?

You might not think so – you might totally love and treasure him – but if he feels like everyone’s better than him, he’ll be coming from a very insecure place.

And this insecurity will start to eat away at him.

If you’re ever late or go out without him, his mind will start jumping to conclusions.

He’s not good enough for you, and there are lots of other guys out there, so you’re probably messing around with one of them.

9) They pressure you for sex

This is how sex often works in a relationship with a man with low self-esteem.

He’s seeking external validation, and he counts getting sex as one form of that validation.

When he gets it, he feels better about himself.

When he doesn’t, he thinks you don’t care about him.

So he starts to pressure you to have sex rather than letting it happen naturally based on desire and feelings.

If you feel emotionally coerced into sex, it will stop being enjoyable for you, so you’ll want to do it less. Then he’ll feel even more insecure and unwanted, so he’ll try to apply even more pressure to have sex.

From there, you’ll keep going lower and lower on that downward spiral.


These nine things men don’t realize they do when they lack self-esteem can affect them strongly and also affect your relationships with them.

It’s not easy to show someone the error in their thinking and get them to see themself in a more positive light.

But if you’re serious about helping them build up their self-esteem and you’ve got the time and love to put into it, it just might be possible to help them find some more faith in themself.

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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