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Most men grew up being told they have to suck it up. Everything they do has to be manly, rugged, rough, and tough.
I remember my brother bringing my dad his tools to work on the car at the age of six. While getting our dad a wrench, he tripped over some things dad had in the yard, and he fell flat on his chest and had the wind knocked out of him. As he lay on the ground, dad yelled at him and said, “Boy, get up! Be a man!”
This seemed to be dad's favorite phrase, even when my brother broke his leg while playing a game of basketball. As a result, my brother and other men with similar upbringings have been wired to hide their pain rather than openly expressing and dealing with it because it's not the “manly” thing to do.
Many men deeply desire to be the provider, protector, and problem solver… or be perceived as such. But this can be problematic when a man has a fragile ego. Unfortunately, when those men fail to be those things, their egos can be even more damaged.
What is an Ego?
A person’s self-importance and self-esteem are the ingredients that make up their ego. It’s the part of us that is considered our “true self.” A healthy ego is one in which we have a strong sense of who we are and our core values and are comfortable in our own skin.
We are sold on the fact that nothing anyone can say or do can change who we know we are. The stigmas society may try to put on a person with a healthy ego simply have no effect.
I have a friend named Tim who loves wearing loud, vibrant colors. The suit he wore at his wedding was even a coral peach color. Many men in his family felt the colors weren't manly and even questioned his manhood.
However, Tim was unphased by their comments, stating that he “likes what he likes” and that he is sorry their egos were so fragile that they would feel like less than a man if they wore bright colors.
Unfortunately, we often see people with big egos and look at them as “full of themselves.” Those individuals have been known to have a sense of superiority and an inflated sense of pride.
Similar to a balloon, when it is inflated, it can be easily popped. In a sense, the more inflated our ego, the more fragile we become. It takes a lot to bust a balloon with little air in it. When we have a healthy ego, it takes a lot to get under our skin.
Why Do Some People Have Fragile Egos?
Fragile egos come from a lowered sense of self-worth. It is usually based on the viewpoint of others. That is why people with fragile egos often seek validation and affirmation from others to feel important and valued. When the praises don't come, their confidence takes a nosedive.
We all can benefit from and need validation, but we have a problem when it is the basis on which we place our self-worth. Because the ego has become unstable.
If you look at Instagram posts, you can find an insane amount of selfies (looking for affirmation). You can also observe behaviors from those men who are rejected by others, don't get attention from them, or seek to compete with others. All are signs of a fragile ego… and it’s not just reserved for men.
Those with fragile egos change their appearances, opinions, and behaviors to gain or maintain control of a situation and/or to have validation. Male and female egos are similar, but differ in some important ways.
Here are a few differences when it comes to the fragile female ego.
Today, however, we will focus on the signs of a fragile male ego.
7 Signs You Have a Fragile Male Ego
1. Has An Unhealthy Emphasis on Impressing Others
Men with fragile male egos go the extra mile to impress others. We see this in all walks of life, especially on the job and in dating relationships.
At work, a man may volunteer for extra assignments and put unusual and unrealistic responsibilities on himself to impress the boss and feel important.
In relationships, men will take on projects he knows nothing about to impress his wife. As a result, they usually call in a professional to clean up the mess.
Men with fragile egos will also try to sound knowledgeable about various subjects when having dinner with their girlfriend's parents to appear intelligent. This doesn't work because “we don't know what we don't know,” and the man looks worse in the end.
2. Horrible at Receiving Negative Feedback
Nothing triggers a fragile male ego like receiving unwanted feedback. He will take it as a personal attack rather than constructive criticism.
It is as if you are saying something is wrong with them instead of saying something is wrong with the project they constructed or how they handled a situation.
Paul was angry with his son one day for throwing a baseball and breaking a window in the house. He yelled at his son and even belittled him for his limited baseball skills.
Paul's wife shared her concerns with Paul about how he handled the situation with their son, but Paul took her criticism as a way of saying he was a lousy father and didn't love his son. Even though she didn't say any of those things. Paul’s wife simply wanted him to use a better technique to inspire their son.
3. Has Trouble Handling Failure
Men that have fragile egos can have a difficult time handling failure. The foundation of this may have started as early as their childhood. Many of them were often criticized harshly and even severely punished when a certain level of performance wasn’t achieved.
Larry grew up with a relentless barrage of criticism from his father, especially when playing football. Larry was a quarterback for his Jr. High team and got tremendous support from his coach and teammates, but his father was a different story.
Larry's dad made him tirelessly practice throwing the football and run drills at home for hours after every loss.
As a result, Larry had trouble handling failure in other areas of life as he grew older. He seemed to punish and scold himself when things didn't go as planned.
4. Can Be Very Indecisive
Men with fragile egos may take an excessive amount of time to make decisions, even about urgent matters. They don't trust their own judgment.
It is not unusual for these men to ask others for their opinions. They will even change their minds several times before narrowing down a final decision.
You may have made plans with a guy only for him to rearrange or cancel plans at the last minute. Conversation with them can feel like playing double dutch (jump rope). It seems like a decision to jump in is about to be made, but he pulls back at the last second.
Guys, you may have a fragile ego if this sounds like you.
5. Has Aggressive Tendencies
You may have a fragile ego when you feel you need to use force to get what you want from others.
Many men think aggression is their path to success. It reminds me of the movie “Friday.” A man named Debo, played by Tommy Lister Jr., bullied everyone on his block.
Debo used force and intimidation to take what he wanted. People gave him their money, jewelry, bicycle, or anything else he wanted. Debo had no regard for their feelings, even taking a gold chain from a man given to him by his grandmother.
Debo came across as big and powerful, but in actuality, he demonstrated a man with a fragile ego, probably from his youth.
6. Loves to Be the Center of Attention
Men who have to be the center of attention may have a fragile ego stemming back from their childhood. They had to fight for attention from their parents and other important people in their lives.
This is common among the “middle child” or even when an older child feels forgotten when a new brother or sister is born in the home and gets all the attention.
You will recognize this in the fragility of a man's ego when he seems to turn every conversation, social gathering, or event to be about him.
He has no regard for the person to whom the event or celebration is about, and he may even exhibit many narcissistic tendencies.
7. Places an Unrealistic Amount of Importance on Appearance
You know you have a fragile ego when you are consumed with appearing superior to others. You want people to view you as wildly successful, having great social status, good looks, nice clothes, fine cars, and a fancy home. You may even say clever things to appear well-read and knowledgeable.
However, you feel vulnerable when people find out the real you. It's not enough for people to like you; they have to think of you as better than everyone else. Unfortunately, many men like this go broke nursing their fractured egos.
Final Thoughts on the Fragile Male Ego
Fragile egos can create issues that manifest in a person’s job performance, finances, relationships, and overall attitude toward others. But the good news is fragile egos can be strengthened, and a healthier outlook can be established.
You must ask yourself if you are truly defined by your job, money in the bank, the car you drive, or whether you have a girlfriend, etc.
When you realize those things don't define you, you can begin to focus on the things that do… such as the strength of your character and how well you treat others. This is an excellent step toward self-acceptance. Let your personal values be your focus.
This can help to strengthen your ego. Then your life's focus can begin to reflect the mark you leave on the world rather than what it can give you. And this will help you become an overall happier person.
And if you're looking for more articles on self-awareness, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 11 Steps to Be More Self-Aware Throughout Your Life
- 57 Self-Awareness Quotes to Know Yourself Better
- 15 Signs Someone Has a Lack of Self-Awareness