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I cannot speak for all women, but an insecure man is surely not my type. To me, he represents drama and potential heartache, so I keep a safe distance away from this particular male type. But don’t allow my bias to overshadow your views.
Perhaps you’re more patient than I am in this area and don’t mind dating an insecure guy at all. It still helps to know the signs of an insecure man to help you understand him and navigate the relationship.
Different things can cause people to be insecure. Attachment style is a major contributor, which I will explain in more detail. If you’re already romantically involved, I have some woman-to-woman advice on how to deal with your insecure boyfriend.
What Does It Mean to be Insecure?
Insecurity in relation to a person’s personality means they are uncertain about themselves. Their self-doubt relates to how they see themselves and how they think others perceive them. If the self-image is negative, they usually act in ways that can affect their well-being and the safety and well-being of others.
An insecure guy is someone who has a poor self-image and lacks confidence in himself as well as his abilities. As a result, he thinks he has to act in certain ways to make up for his perceived inadequacies.
Although nothing may be ‘wrong’ with him, it’s the negative self-image that causes him to behave negatively. He’s more likely to display controlling behavior, which typically leads to a host of problems in romantic relationships.
Why are Some People Insecure?
Some people are insecure because of their childhood experiences with their parent or primary caregivers. They honestly really don’t have control over how this aspect of their personality is shaped. Other reasons include:
Attachment Styles and Feelings of Insecurity
Generally speaking, people fall into two human attachment styles which help determine if they are either “secure” or “insecure.” The four main attachment styles are as follows:
Except for secure, all the other attachment styles are considered insecure. Insecure types often struggle with low self-esteem, which causes them to have unstable or unhealthy relationships.
The theory of attachment revolves around the idea that adults behave in relationships based on their relationship with their primary caregiver as a child.
Children who were raised in a stable environment and experienced consistent nurturing from their parents develop a secure attachment style. Their self-image also tends to be positive and stable.
The insecure styles are usually those who grew up in uncertain or chaotic environments. They typically experienced parental neglect, abuse, or parental abandonment of some sort. This causes them to feel unloved or unworthy of love. They also develop poor self-image and struggle to create healthy, functional relationships.
These feelings of inadequacy and anxiety show up in their adult relationships. Narcissists, for example, have to always manipulate and control people to feel powerful or worthy. Many of them appear confident, like the grandiose narcissist, but deep down they feel insecure.
Risks of Dating an Insecure Guy
Feeling insecure from time to time is normal and natural, even for individuals with a secure attachment style.
Things can get a bit problematic if it’s an embedded characteristic trait. If you are in a relationship with or married to an insecure fella, you need to know the risks and challenges that come with it.
Not only is it challenging dating him, but you’re also at risk of the psychological effects. There are days you’re going to feel frustrated, regretful, ashamed, anxious, or guilty. Dealing with his insecure behaviors could also diminish your self-esteem.
If he isolates you in an attempt to feel loved or safe in the relationship, that will also take its toll. Isolation may cause a person to experience anxiety, loneliness, depression, and suicidal thoughts, according to the American Psychological Association.
13 Early Warning Signs Your Man Is Insecure
Spotting the signs of someone who lacks confidence is not difficult if you pay attention to the way they behave from the first meeting. The only problem is that women get caught up in the novelty and excitement of dating someone new.
So much so, they fail to recognize the red flag characteristics and early signs of an insecure man. You can avoid this pitfall by acquainting yourself with the following tell-tale signs:
1. Low Self-Esteem
Low self-esteem, or a lack of confidence in one’s abilities, is the root reason why men feel inadequate. Self-esteem issues show up as persistent self-doubt and saying things people who have a poor self-image would say.
Watch for statements such as “I always say the wrong things,” “I’m such a loser,” and “No one cares about me. Psychologists and behavioral scientists call it negative self-talk.
Men who have a negative self-image may appear shy, isolate themselves, have difficulty finding the right words in conversation, or experience anxiety in social settings. Others unfairly compare themselves with guys they think are better than them.
For example, if your ex is handsome, your insecure boyfriend may say, “I know I’m not as good-looking as your ex. What do you see in me?”
A guy who isn’t sure about himself as a man or his role in your life is going to show signs of clinginess.
A common indication he’s needy is a strong desire to stay closely connected. I once dated an insecure and vulnerable narcissist who was ‘tied to my hip’. He wanted to see me every day.
Some women find the behavior flattering. Clinginess or neediness turns me off because it is a glaring sign he’s insecure.
By staying close, your insecure partner always knows where you are. He feels safe in the relationship once you’re not out enjoying yourself.
In his mind, that creates opportunities for other men to interact with you. He cannot fathom the idea of it. On the flip side, a secure guy has no problem with you having male friends or going out without him.
3. Needs Constant Reassurance
Approval and praise are two things insecure men constantly need. Otherwise, they feel worthless and may start acting up to get attention.
Satisfying him won’t be easy. You’ll have to keep stroking his ego and reassure him that you love him. He may want you to promise him you won’t leave him.
An insecure guy needs to hear words of affirmation about his looks, abilities, and sexual performance. If not, he’ll feel undeserving of you, anxious, or depressed. If you’re busy and can’t take his call or give him attention at a given time, he’ll take it as rejection or a sign you don’t love him anymore.
4. Difficulty Asserting Needs
Communication is vital for the health and longevity of relationships. As a couple, you both have to express your needs to be able to satisfy each other.
An insecure man may not say what’s bothering them but expect you to figure out his needs. Not only is it unfair, but it’s also impossible unless you’re psychic.
After failing to assert his needs and not getting them met, he may get angry with you. He may try to punish you by emotionally withdrawing from the relationship.
This might manifest as refusing to speak to resolve problems (stonewalling) or not speaking to you at all (silent treatment). Stonewalling and the silent treatment are passive-aggressive tantrums that hurt your relationship.
A secure man has a stable sense of self and healthy self-confidence. Since his ego isn’t fragile, he takes criticism with grace. Not an insecure guy. He’s afraid of any kind of feedback, positive or negative.
He sees criticism as a personal attack on his character and may get defensive, angry, or aggressive. Like any other insecure person, he doesn’t like to feel exposed and may lash out.
While he appears hostile to others, his defensiveness is a coping mechanism for him. He perceives criticism as a threat to his self-worth and may react by saying something offensive to you. If he’s a narcissist, don’t be surprised if he also gets defensive when you call out his controlling or manipulative behavior.
6. Easily Influenced by Others
If your man habitually lets other people into his personal affairs and relies heavily on their opinions, he just might be insecure.
A guy who doesn’t believe in himself may also experience frequent shifts in self-image, beliefs, and core values. One day he may feel confident and capable, only to feel depressed, worthless, and hopeless the next.
During these periods of vulnerability, he may become indecisive or accept third-party advice on how to live his life. For example, what job he should do or who he should date.
As their partner, you’re going to feel like you’re having a relationship with him and everyone else who’s advising him. This could lead to tension and arguments between you two if you realize your boyfriend is being misled.
7. Lacks Trust
Relationship insecurity and a lack of trust often go together. When dealing with an insecure guy, you don’t necessarily have to betray his trust for him to distrust you.
He’s coming into the relationship with trust issues from the past. Examples of distrust include constantly checking up on you, accusing you of cheating, or suspecting you’ll leave him.
This isn’t your fault. Insecure men learn early in childhood they cannot trust or rely on others due to the inconsistent parenting they received. Their first experience with a lack of trust related to their primary parent or caregiver who unintentionally created it through their parenting style.
Trust issues can also come from being lied to or cheated on in a previous relationship.
8. Jealousy And Possessiveness
Other men are a threat to an insecure man when it comes to the woman in his life, especially if he’s unsure about his appearance or abilities.
He may cling to you to block opportunities for you to meet people of the opposite sex. A lack of trust is an underlying factor and typically stems from betrayal in a past relationship.
Expect him to also grow possessive as you get closer as a couple. This is a huge problem. Possessiveness can cause him to become preoccupied with negative thoughts such as if you’re cheating or will abandon him. Unfortunately, jealousy and possessiveness can lead to stalking and other forms of emotional abuse in the relationship.
Controlling their partners in the relationship is actually a coping mechanism for men with low self-esteem. The tendency to dominate can show up as always telling you what to do or making decisions on your behalf. Some insecure guys tell you what to wear, how to spend your money, and who to be friends with.
In extreme cases, controllers isolate their partners from friends and family members. Isolation is done to secure you in the relationship, detach you from your support system, and make you powerless.
Even though controlling behavior may make your guy feel in charge, it’s harmful to your mental health, safety, and well-being. Please don’t accept this behavior as okay.
According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, “Isolation is a painful product of abuse and unhealthy relationships.”
Emotional manipulation in relationships is a type of abuse. Manipulation may happen in the form of gaslighting you to gain control or cope with negative emotions such as anxiety. Gaslighting isn’t always easy to spot, so you’ll need to watch out for subtle manipulative tactics by your boyfriend.
For example, shifting blame to avoid accountability, denying your reality, or minimizing your feelings or experiences. He may use manipulative phrases such as, “I think you’re having trouble with your memory” to escape responsibility for his wrongdoings.
Some insecure men may be as bold as to call you ‘crazy’. Misery loves company and insecure men will do these things to make you insecure about yourself.
11. Avoids Accountability
It’s difficult to date a man who thinks everyone else, but themselves is to blame. Mistakes are a part of life. They teach us important lessons and help us to grow. Moreover, admitting mistakes is a sign of character strength. Admitting wrongdoing calls for self-reflection, something insecure men resist doing since it means confronting themselves.
It’s easier to just blame you or someone else directly or indirectly for their mess-ups. The thought of being wrong will make them feel awful. Their fragile egos cannot withstand the feeling, so they’ll shift the blame to avoid feeling weak, guilty, or ashamed.
12. Hesitant to Take the Lead
There’s a reason why secure, confident men are found in leadership positions more than those who lack self-confidence. They have to have the ability to take charge and influence people to do what needs to get done, whether it’s at work or within a social organization.
An insecure guy will likely not compete for a supervisory or managerial position. He dreads being judged or criticized, especially if he perceives himself as not smart enough or awkward. He’s comfortable being in the backdrop and taking rather than giving orders, similar to how beta males function.
He may act in a similar manner in your relationship. For example, allowing you to make most of the decisions.
13. Threatening to Break Up
Men with insecure attachment styles are usually on the lookout for signs of threats to the relationship. Acting hypervigilant is a coping mechanism that probably goes way back to inconsistent love and nurturing from his primary caregiver. For most people, that person is their mother.
Since they’ve had to cope with periods of attention followed by periods of neglect or abandonment by their parent, they learn to emotionally detach as a way to cope with abandonment issues.
In your relationship with such as guy, he may threaten to leave you at times if he feels you’re pulling away. He’ll think you’re neglecting or leaving him and will threaten to dump you or dump you to protect himself from emotional pain. Unfortunately, this behavior often leads insecure men to have off-and-on, unstable, and toxic relationships.
How to Deal with an Insecure Man
You could easily walk away from the relationship if that works for you. However, if he’s someone you love and care for deeply, it’s okay to try and work through the challenges. Besides, you have a better understanding of why he behaves the way he does.
Of course, you shouldn’t accept behaviors that are abusive, such as mind control or isolation. Now for a few simple but effective ways to handle the situation.
Step 1: Bring the signs of insecurity to his attention in a gentle, empathic, and non-judgmental way. Remember, insecure men are terrified of criticism and this may cause them to shut down emotionally.
Step 2: Let him know how his insecure behaviors are affecting you and the relationship.
Step 3: Ask how you can support him to help him become secure. (people can change their attachment style through self-awareness and mindfulness).
Step 4: Talk with him about seeking help from a behavioral counselor/therapist.
Step 5: Explain what would happen to the relationship if he keeps being jealous, possessive, controlling, or distrustful of you.
Step 6: Talk to a trusted friend or someone else in your emotional support system if you’re having difficulty coping.
Step 7: Consider therapy. Behavioral therapists and counselors are trained to help their clients develop the right coping skills and rebuild self-esteem.
Final Thoughts on Signs of an Insecure Man
Everyone feels and acts insecure. Even though I prefer to date a secure guy, you may choose to work with an insecure guy. As long as his insecurity doesn’t cause him to abuse you, and he loves and respects you, then it may be worth your while.
Keep in mind that dealing with his insecurities may require more patience, understanding, and a bit of hand-holding. Since we’re on the topic, note these 13 Early Red Flags in a Relationship You Should NEVER Ignore.