When we talk about confidence, we often center those conversations around women – but what about men with low self-esteem?

Increasingly, our awareness of mental health issues is expanding to recognize that everybody can suffer from anxieties. These can be debilitating not just for the sufferer but also for the people close to them.

Let’s think about why men might suffer from a lack of confidence and how this impacts their everyday lives.

Reasons for Low Self-Esteem in Men

There is a multitude of reasons that guys might struggle with their confidence levels, and this insecurity can change over time.

One of the most prevalent issues is around toxic masculinity, and how many generations conform to stereotypes in their early years, and thus find it difficult to function as a well-grounded, emotionally aware man.

For example, male superiority can be exaggerated in sports or the workplace. Being a great team player and a sensitive listener are drowned out by the competition to be a bold leader and deal with problems without asking for help.

Other prominent reasons men can suffer from low self-esteem include:

  • Body image issues and feeling pressure from social media and their peers to reflect an ‘ideal’ body.
  • Past issues around abuse or mental illness that have not been resolved, and that have left someone unable to be kind to themselves.
  • Patterns of behavior leave a man to feel inadequate, underperforming, or not ‘male’ enough.

In some cases, low self-esteem is simply a character trait – but make no mistake; this can be harmful in many ways and cause lasting damage to relationships.

6 Signs of Men with Low Self-Esteem

You can spot a guy who struggles with recognizing his self-worth in several ways.

This often comes out in personal relationships where it is easier to notice signs of hypercritical or exacting behavior.

Examples of signs that indicate men with low self-esteem include:

  1. An inability to cope with stress, criticism, or advice from others.
  2. Emotional insecurity and a constant need to be reassured.
  3. Needing external validation about their physical appearance.
  4. Seeming to be arrogant or being tactless when they succeed.
  5. Being jealous and possessive or needing to be the center of attention.
  6. Making self-deprecating remarks and finding it equally hard to accept praise.

These are signs that a man is struggling with confidence and deflects or tries to hide those emotions by masking his true feelings.

How Low Self-Esteem Can Impact Your Life

If a man lacks self-esteem and doesn’t seek help to process these feelings, it can cause many impacts, some more severe than others.

The most common things that these guys might struggle with are:

1. Workplace success

It will always be hard to get along with colleagues or feel comfortable in your work if you are continually playing a game of one-upmanship.

2. Forming lasting relationships

Men who aren’t happy in themselves rarely make positive partners. This can manifest as intense criticisms both of themselves and their partner, making cynical jibes and always needing to be in control.

3. Sharing decision making

When someone struggles with confidence, they often mask this by putting on a brave face – which often comes across as arrogance.

Imagine being so insecure in your masculinity that you can never ask for help or rely on anybody else to make a choice in case it exposes your lack of self-esteem. This can turn into obsessive control, which can cause problems in every area of your life.

4. Social anxiety

From being able to put on gym clothes and go for a workout, to being able to ask someone for directions if you are lost, a person with cripplingly low confidence levels may hold themselves back from any new experiences.

5. Needing continuous reassurance

It depends on where the self-esteem issue comes from. Still, a man who lacks it may seek continual and repetitive validation – from praising their looks to celebrating their successes, every small triumph becomes a big deal. This can create narcissistic tendencies and drive away friends.

6. Engaging in meaningful conversations

Those without self-confidence often find it extremely hard to communicate with others. This is often because they are hyper-analyzing everything and unable to listen and hear what somebody else has to say without contextualizing it, often incorrectly.

How to Cope with Self-Esteem Issues

We can see that having a lack of confidence can impact every area of your life – from relationships to career prospects. So what can you do if you, or someone you care about, may have self-esteem issues?

The first step is to work on acknowledging the issue. It is impossible to have people walk on eggshells around you forever, so working on strategies to manage the way you value and talk to yourself is essential.

Sometimes, the best place to work through this process is to seek professional counseling or start with a trusted friend or family member who will be able to discuss your feelings with you in a safe environment.

Remember that everybody, including men with low self-esteem, needs help from time to time, and asking for it is a sign of strength.

It is never a good idea to try and go it alone when something is causing you anxiety and problems, nor is there a quick-fix remedy to restore your self-esteem to healthy levels, so take it one step at a time and always, always, be kind to yourself.


  1. https://psychcentral.com
  2. https://www.menshealth.com

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Ted

    Low self-esteem often results in low self-compassion.

    The root cause of the problem includes Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN), childhood/adolescent sexual abuse, and/or physical abuse, and/or psychological abuse.
    Thank you for your article Lauren

  2. not telling

    Being a man with extremely low self esteem, I can say that childhood abuse, peer rejection, and bullying are major factors in it. That and anything one does is never good enough. When this is reinforced over and over again by peers and parents/siblings, one begins to believe it like I did. I am too far gone now, I cannot change, even if I wanted to. I just dont want to exist.

  3. JW Worcester

    This was very informative. Some of this has been true of me. But now that I’m past that and respected in my church, I don’t seem to have the natural ability to recruit people for projects I’ve been asked to do as a team leader. I’ve known people in their teens who command a presence of respect and confidence. They just get the job done, find volunteers, don’t assume anything withot asking for other opinions. It seems there’s a piece missing in that just restoring confiidence misse3s the subtle nuances of behavior that turn competence into positive results of fostering team cohesion and project success.

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