15 Common Insecurities Men Never Talk About.
The world that exists inside the male mind is often a mystery to most women (and sometimes to the men themselves). Not only are our brains biologically structured differently, but, well, men just don’t usually talk about how they’re actually feeling.
For the sake of this article, I’m diving deeper into the subconscious and sometimes involuntary thoughts that permeate our minds. Some are confident and triumphant. Others remain hidden because we are embarrassed by them or think your opinion of us would change if you found out.
However, I believe that mutual understanding between men and women leads to happier and healthier relationships (obviously), so, helping to shed some light on the inner workings of the male mind is, one could argue, an act of public service (you’re welcome).
Before we take this deep dive, I want to make something clear:
Nobody, under any circumstance, is trying to throw a “pity party” for men in this article. Nor is anyone trying to say women don’t face similar or worse insecurities, or that the plight of the woman is any less important simply because we are talking about men for the next few minutes.
A conversation about apples doesn’t mean that oranges don’t exist. It just means the conversation is about apples.
Inevitably, any time I write an article about men, comments flow in about how “it goes both ways” or how women “have it worse.”
We all know it goes both ways. We all know women face immense pressure and their own insecurities on a sweeping level and have been doing so since the beginning of time.
Join me, though, on this journey in shining light on the thoughts of men. If you’re looking to discuss other topics, there are plenty of other places on the internet for that.
Now, moving on:
1: “I place much of my value on my success.”
Despite living in a society where (thankfully) women have caught up to — and in many cases surpassed — the career and financial success of men, men have still grown up witnessing and being conditioned to fee like the “provider” in a relationship.
Regardless of his relationship status, though, he’s looking around and comparing what he’s achieved to what others are achieving.
This, I believe, magnifies when he gets married or has a family, because he has an internal drive to provide for them — even if his wife is making just as much (if not more) money than he is.
Listen to me when I say this: This is not about overpowering his wife nor ‘being in control.’
If a man is using his financial stature to control or manipulate a relationship, he is no “man” at all.
For most, the drive to be successful is about meaning and purpose.
It’s about pride.
It’s about showing that he is capable of supporting and providing for his family.
This gives him a sense of direction. A mission to accomplish. A feeling of contribution and significance in the world.
If he and his spouse can work together to create the life that they both strive for, then even better, because teamwork makes the dream work and less of the weight falls on his shoulders.
This is, after all, the world we live in now. It’s 2023, not 1953, and families and marriages are structured differently. Shit is expensive.
If the “old way” of doing things works for you, great! If not, a man shouldn’t feel any less pride in his contributions because of it. We contribute in many different ways now than before — emotional support, affection, being present and loving. It’s not just about money, and men need to adjust to that notion.
Men also need to understand that women want to be part of a team. They want to contribute. They want to work together to build your life. This means something different to everyone in terms of how the partnership will be structured, but the only thing that matters is that it works for both of you.
Don’t take my word for it, though — ask a guy in your life if he can relate to this feeling.
2: “I struggle with body image, too.”
Do me a favor and re-read my disclaimer before progressing here.
In no way whatsoever am I trying to replace or minimize the struggles of women’s self-image with this point.
What I am trying to do is share a shared insecurity that we also experience, but far less often talk about.
Men, like women, are shown images of “ideal” bodies all the time. We see fitness models on Instagram, we see billboards and posters at the gym, we see superheroes in our favorite movies and TV shows, we played with muscular action figures growing up.
Men want to be seen as strong and powerful by both women, and by other men (for different reasons, depending on sexual orientation).
Assuming a man is heterosexual (since I write from that perspective), he wants to be attractive to women, and respected by men. For many, this means looking strong and substantial.
For others it means being lean and defined.
For others still, it means having a defined jawline, flowing hair, or a strong beard, or being a certain height.
Not everyone is bestowed with the qualities they wish they were, and for some, it eats into their confidence.
I believe confidence is found in embracing your best qualities and working to magnify them.
I have a private client who always talks about packing on muscle and size, but he is not built that way. He is a ballroom dancer and is lean and graceful.
I, on the other hand, have always been bulkier and bigger. People think it’s great that I gain muscle quickly, but it can make me look bloated and overweight in clothes, causing my own frustrations.
Both of us would be best served to do what we can with what we have, and stop wishing that we looked or were built differently.
When we can admire another person’s appearance but not be jealous of it, is when we can find comfort in ourselves as we are.
3: “I feel like my potential is going to waste.”
How many men (and women) do you feel like are just…settling?
They’re settling for mediocre jobs where they put in mediocre effort and get mediocre results that keep them stuck in a mediocre life.
Listen, man, I’m not trying to get you down here, this is just the (unfortunate) reality of the world we live in. In fact, it’s one of the big reasons I started coaching people over a decade ago, to help them break out of these negative patterns.
For a man who is feeling this way, it’s a constant tugging on his suit as he drapes it over himself every morning.
“I could be doing so much more than this.”
“Is this really all there is in life?”
“Am I ever going to get a break?”
“Is this all that I’m good for?”
Just typing these words breaks my heart. More than that — it makes me sad, mad, and frustrated.
It’s frustrating that so many people just coast through their life accepting whatever is handed to them. They assume they can’t do any better — that happiness and fulfillment is reserved for “them.” You know, the ones who check “other” on the box.
Not for him, though. Not for this guy who’s been sitting in traffic for an hour to go sit in a beige box for 9 hours until it’s time to sit in traffic again.
Happiness simply can’t be waiting in his future…
And, the truth is, it won’t be unless he makes massive change.
For some, the frustration is enough to do something different. For others, it becomes nothing more than a blanket. Something that’s almost comfortable to experience. They become “comfortably uncomfortable” and tacitly accept that this is their reality.
Make no mistake, though — no matter what they’ve accepted, they know, deep down, they are capable of so much more than they’re doing.
If they never take action on that feeling, it’ll follow them for the rest of their lives.
4: “I’m not sure if a woman will ever love me.”
Guys face insecurities about their dating lives, too.
In fact, guys are flooded with insecurity every time they think about asking a woman out, or making a move, or professing their love to someone.
We don’t talk about it enough, but it’s a massive weight on one’s self worth to put themselves out there in this way.
No, acceptance or rejection from women shouldn’t change a man’s level of inner confidence…but it often does.
At the very least, rejection makes him feel like he has to start at square one and find someone new all over again.
This, sometimes, perpetuates the internal narrative:
“Is this going to happen for the rest of my life?”
“Am I not good enough?”
“Am I not deserving of love?”
“How do other guys find it, but not me?”
Emotions take over in times like these, which is why we must built a strong enough sense of self worth and self esteem to not be shaken by the storms that we’ll inevitably face.
5: “Am I good enough in bed?”
Let’s be real about this — much of a man’s ego is tied to his sexual performance and fortitude.
I’m not even just talking about “players.”
Even if a man is monogamous and married, hell, even if he’s only been with 1 woman his entire life, he still wants to feel that he can satisfy her in the most intimate area.
Sure, this insecurity fades over time as a man becomes more experienced or builds a strong connection with you that ensures you are both happy and fulfilled — but it still takes the process of learning in order to get there.
This is where you can help to guide and reassure him if he needs it. The good news for you is that he’ll be willing to take direction and ensure that you are “feeling good” about the experience. It’s a win/win.
6: “Would I be a good dad?”
Obviously, not everyone wants to have kids. If you’re set against it, feel free to move on to #7.
For those who do want kids, though, there’s the inevitable wonder of whether or not we’ll be any good at it, or just fuck the entire thing up.
If you’re a mom and have experienced “mom guilt,” then you get it.
Parenthood may just be the largest responsibility anyone can ever undertake, and therefore it comes with equal measures of pressure and self-doubt for first-timers.
How could it not, being something you’ve never done before?
Parenthood is full of lessons that can only be learned through personal experiences. You can read everything you want, listen to as much advice as you want, watch as many advice videos as you want — nobody is going to know what your childr(en) will be like, nor what your family dynamics would be like.
This is an insecurity that every new parent (man or woman) will feel, and one that must be plowed through in order to be overcome.
If you’re dedicated and committed to be the best parent you possibly can — then you will be.
7: “Do people respect me?”
Being respected is huge for men.
“Need” is a very strong word, but I’d submit that being respected falls into the category. Men need to be respected by those around them in order to feel significant, loved, valued, and confident.
We all know that self respect is paramount, but respect from others cannot be understated.
When a man feels respected at work, he’ll be more connected to the tasks and more likely to share ideas.
When he feels respected around his friends, he’ll feel a deeper sense of belonging and community — important for all humans.
When he feels respected in his relationship, he’ll feel loved, valued, and appreciated.
I’m going to get real with you for a second here…
This is an insecurity for a lot of men because the truth is that they don’t respect themselves.
They know they’re leaving potential on the table (see point #3).
They know they’ve not worked out in months (see point #4).
They know they’ve let themselves off the hook too many times, and lose credibility with themselves every single time it happens.
Inevitably, then, they project that feeling into the world and assume that everyone else is aware of their shortcomings (they’re not, obviously).
The internal narrative is just the same, though: “They must know I’m not worthy of respect.”
This can chip away at a man’s self worth until there’s nothing left. It’s a vicious cycle — the less we respect ourselves, the less others will respect us.
Conversely, though, building self respect through creating healthy habits, routines, and mindsets will only serve to raise your standards and earn more respect from those around you as well.
8: “Am I useful?”
Here’s a word you’ve probably not considered before when thinking about how men feel about themselves.
I actually believe that many of us would feel more fulfilled in life if we strove to be “of use” to the world around us.
No, I’m not talking about being used.
I’m talking about having the skills and ability that can benefit our loved ones, our community, our family, and the world in general.
I think this is where a lot of men’s self respect starts breaking down.
They don’t feel as though their place in the world is solid. They’re not sure what their “purpose” is. They’re unclear on what value they’re bringing to the people around them.
And, as a result, they feel “less than.”
Everyone has the ability to be useful in their own way(s), it’s just a matter of putting in the time to figure out what your skills and abilities empower you to do.
9: “Showing my emotions makes me weak.”
WE ALL KNOW IT. YOU DON’T NEED ME TO TELL YOU.
Men have been conditioned from a young age to hide or suppress their emotions because “it’s a sign of weakness.”
No the hell it’s not.
It takes immense internal strength to face and to express one’s emotions. I could easily argue that hiding emotions is the weakness.
Avoiding how you really feel and pretending those emotions don’t exist shows a lack of strength to face them head on.
Not to mention it causes massive mental and emotional health problems down the road as we keep things bottled up and issues unresolved.
Unfortunately, this is still an internal narrative of many men who feel “weak” or insecure when they show emotions — particularly to male counterparts, and to an intimate partner.
They want to project themselves as strong, capable, solid, and stable.
No, I’m not saying you should pull out the box of tissues every time a Hallmark commercial comes on TV.
What I am saying is that being connected with who you actually are and what you really feel is a far greater sign of strength than pushing it all beneath the surface.
10: Hair loss and aging.
HA. Boy, did I hold on to my hair for far too long.
My hair used to be my trademark. I had a mohawk when I was younger. I styled it all different ways, in all different colors, and loved the idea of a “rockstar” hairstyle while wearing a suit or tuxedo.
Then, a few years ago, it was far too obvious that I was trying to hold on to clearly thinning hair.
It looked worse than finally letting it go and embracing the “bald look.”
While I miss my hair at times, I enjoyed far more benefits by finally shaving it off.
I stopped stressing about what my hair looked like in photos.
I saved a ton of money on gel and shampoo.
People told me I looked far more confident.
The truth is that all of us age, and we do it in all different ways. It’s natural to feel a loss of identity or “self” as the process happens, because pieces of ourselves (literally) that we loved are just…gone, or changed forever.
The key is to look forward and create the new version of yourself with the strengths and opportunities that you have.
We cannot control if we age, but we can control how we age.
11: “Am I on the right path in life?”
Men often question the decisions they’ve made in the past, and the ones they continue to make in the present.
“James, surely successful and secure men don’t feel this way.”
Every man feels this way.
During a workshop I was giving to a group of CEOs, the chairman of the board asked me what percentage of CEOs I believed experience “impostor syndrome.”
(This is when you don’t believe you’re deserving or worthy of your position and someday people are going to find out that you’re actually clueless).
100%, I said without hesitation.
100% of them experience it.
“Exactly.” He said.
Everyone questions the decisions they make at one point or another — some, more than others.
Obviously women experience this, too. Think about the inextricable link between a man’s career and his sense of self worth, though — imagine feeling that your career choices are a reflection of your value and life itself — the standard is so high that decisions often get second-guessed.
12: Failing at work.
I believe another reason why men stay so comfortable and unfulfilled in their careers is that the risk of staying still feels less than the risk of climbing higher.
After all, the lower you are, the shorter the distance is to fall.
So, what do we do? We convince ourselves that it’s not worth taking the chance and we just…go about our day.
We don’t speak up in meetings.
We don’t share ideas.
We don’t volunteer to take the lead.
What if we disappoint our boss, our spouse, or ourselves?
That risk feels far too great, so most people just shrink themselves into a corner and become consumed by it.
The sad irony is that by doing so, they’re risking far more than they would’ve by speaking up.
They’re risking happiness.
They’re risking more money.
They’re risking pride in their work.
They’re risking respect of their coworkers.
As the old saying goes: No risk, no reward.
13: “Am I a good boyfriend/partner/husband?”
Say it with me: Men need reassurance, too.
Most will never admit it, because, well — it shows insecurity.
This is the vicious cycle so many men fall into.
They avoid expressing their needs because they think it’s a weakness.
As a result, their partner never knows what their needs actually are.
It follows, then, that the needs never actually get met.
Then, he becomes more confused and lost in the relationship.
The truth is though, that any good man — note — good man worth his salt WANTS to be the best partner that he can for you.
He wants to make you happy, he wants to build a future together, he wants to love you and for you to love him.
He doesn’t want to piss you off or disappoint you or make you feel taken for granted.
Often times, men find themselves diving into a different area of life in order to feel better about themselves when they’re feeling inadequate in their relationships.
Ironically, this can take them out of the house (emotionally or physically) even more than before, creating a larger divide in the relationship.
This is one of the MANY reasons why healthy communication is so important.
14: “I never say the right thing.”
Some guys just do not have the words.
They’ll have the thoughts, or the feelings, but not the words.
They just don’t know how to communicate their feelings, or wants, or needs.
They don’t know how to speak up at work.
They don’t know how to express themselves to their partner.
They don’t know how to identify their feelings to themselves.
So, the natural response is simply to not say anything at all. Avoid the embarrassment and the confusion.
Obviously, this does more harm than good.
The irony is that the best way to overcome this insecurity is to dive right into it. To practice communicating. To have the hard conversations. To find new ways to express yourself, whether it means writing things down, or practicing an internal dialogue before speaking to someone else.
15: “Who am I, really?”
This is THE #1 question that I work with my clients to answer.
NOT what they do for a living.
NOT what their relationship status is.
NOT who their kids are.
NOT their bank account balance.
Who are you? As a human being at your core?
If you strip all of those external factors away, who is the person left standing in the middle of the room?
What are their values? Beliefs? Worldviews? Moral code? Standard of conduct for themselves? What is their mission and purpose in the world?
These are just of a few questions that help us define our identity to ourselves.
They’re also the least asked questions over the course of our lives.
Most people have never discussed this topic with another person, let alone themselves. Their decisions are based on what would make the most money, what their partner wants, what’s best for their kids…
Sure, that should all be considered when making a choice, but within the guidelines of our own values. Our values and beliefs serve as the compass on the journey. The guidelines that we make decisions within.
If we don’t have these guidelines, we can never be sure if the decisions we make are in alignment with our truest selves.
I believe this is one of the biggest insecurities that plague men and women alike. They’re uncertain on their identity. Uncertain on their purpose.
When this foundation is shaky, it is impossible to build a solid structure (life) atop of it.
The more weight we put, the shakier the foundation gets.
The shakier it gets, the less sure of ourselves we are.
Hence an avalanche of insecurities that only grow larger over time.
If, though, we can become abundantly clear on who we are and what is truly important to us, we can begin making decisions that are in alignment with those values.
Decisions about how we show up in the world, how we treat others, and how we treat ourselves.
The stronger our sense of identity grows, the less power our insecurities have over us.
They may never completely disappear, but we can cast them into a dark corner, and what once felt like a shout, becomes nothing more than the hint of a whisper.