What Are the Common Causes of Low Self-Esteem in Men?

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  • Written By: Ray Hawk
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2019
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Low self-esteem in men is often tied to many similar causes for it in women, including a negative body image and being in an abusive relationship. Childhood experiences which didn't support the development of a positive self-image are often cited by therapists as a cause as well. Male self-esteem differs from that of women, however, in that men tend to primarily identify their intrinsic value by the work that they do and the amount of money that they earn, whereas women often consider their careers as a secondary factor to their relationships and physical appearance. Treating low-self esteem in men centers around addressing three broad areas of everyday life. These involve identifying one's life and work goals as well as past achievements made along the way, the ability to interact in social groups in a positive manner, and the building of life-enhancing intimate relationships.

The first step in combating low self-esteem in men is to identify the psychological impact of past experiences so that therapeutic methods of getting past them can be worked into daily life. These experiences can stretch from early childhood abuse to growing up in a dysfunctional family, and recent events such as divorce or the death of someone close. Other traumatic past experiences can be indirectly related to people, such as the failure of a business or loss of personal property in a fire.


Career choice is seen as one of the primary causes of low self-esteem in men more than that of low self-esteem in women for several reasons. Men tend to take on higher risk occupations, or roles that involve high levels of stress, such as in the military, in volatile business environments such as being a stockbroker, or in careers in demanding occupations like mining, heavy industry, or aviation. These types of jobs can involve long hours and sleep deprivation, as well as high levels of anxiety that can start a feedback loop of increasingly intense levels of stress. When failures occur that are often beyond control or prevention, feelings of helplessness reduce male self-esteem further. Risky occupations can also involve low or intermittent periods of pay, and poverty often leads to social isolation for men more than it does for women, which also contributes to low self-esteem in men.

Body image is also an important and often overlooked cause for low self-esteem in men. The international western media projects ideal men as being extremely fit, young, and healthy. Since the period of the 1990s, male sex appeal has been used in advertisements to compel increasing numbers of women in the population with disposable income to purchase products for themselves or the men in their lives. As with advertising that uses attractive women to sell products, most men in society cannot live up to the physical body images of male models in magazines, video games, or on television. Men respond to this perceived inadequacy by trying to build body images that resemble the ideal through intensive physical routines, cosmetic surgery, and other means, which can become an obsession if not approached in a balanced manner.


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Post 5

To anon992135 Post 4:

Lots of people are realizing that there is a toxic anti-male culture designed to bring men and boys down, in order to "empower" girls and women. There are countless videos on the web that talk about the destructive and abusive behavior towards boys and men that has been encouraged by feminism, such as this ever-increasing occurrence of girls/women that are aggressive and dominant (especially towards boys and men). That may be why those girls bullied you (and possibly other boys), since the cultural environment in many westernized societies treat boys as secondary to girls. A comforting thought may be that unless those girls realized the errors of their bullying ways (and matured), they

may continue this behavior - and hopefully as a result will end up lonely since no man will put up with their abuse.

As a woman, this toxic anti-male attitude in society concerns me as a daughter and sister. I know my male relatives have been on the receiving end of some sexism (abuse and expectations of being a work horse from certain females). I hope things turn around for the better. Men and boys don't deserve hostile and abusive treatment.

Side note: there are studies that show that the feminist teachers in schools lower boys' grades, cater the curriculum to suit girls' group-oriented preference in class activities, and that toxic environment they foster is why boys have less motivation to do well in school these days. Just mentioning this, since it shows that the toxic school environment against boys is a common problem. Boys need more male teachers, and male mentors to counter-act all this. It seems the feminists are forgetting that the achievements of men built this comfy society so that they can freely express their views.

I hope you (and everyone here) find comfort and healing soon.

Post 4

I have low self esteem and it has nothing to do with my parents. When I was a kid growing up a lot of girls would make fun of me and being a guy taking that kind of abuse almost every day it affects you in a way many people could not imagine.

I struggle with it still sometimes, but I have never seen anyone to help with it. It affects my relationships because I can still remember being called ugly growing up and I know they were just jerks, but it still hits you. Not many people can understand that.

Post 3

@ysmina-- I disagree with your line of thinking because it implies that men who have low self esteem since childhood cannot do anything about it. But that's not true. Through therapy an self esteem building practices, people can adopt new ways of thinking and new worldviews. We were not born with self esteem, it's something that can be developed.

Post 2

@literally45-- I hadn't thought of that but that's a very good point.

I personally think that in both men and women, low self esteem has roots in childhood. Of course, we all go through difficult times in our life when our self esteem is affected negatively. But these are usually temporary phases and if we seek help and work on our psychology, we can get through it and build self esteem.

I think that building self esteem is a little bit harder when it has roots in childhood. For example, if a man did not receive care and attention from his parents as a child. If he was abused, yelled at, mocked or mistreated at that time, low self esteem becomes deeply rooted, almost like a personality characteristic. Usually, such individuals do not even realize why the think and feel the way they do.

Post 1

I'm not an expert on this topic and I might be wrong. But I think that sexuality also plays a big part in self esteem in men. Sexuality is an important factor for both men and women, but it seems to be more influential in men. This might be cause of the stereotypes and expectations from women.

I know quite a few men who take pride in their sexual performance. I also know that men with poor sexual performance or health issues such as erectile dysfunction often develop anxiety, depression and low self esteem as a result. A friend of mine had erectile dysfunction for a short time and he changed so much. He stopped being social, he stopped

dating. He was so depressed and hopeless about himself and about life.

I think there is a very harmful cultural impression in our society and in many other societies that the worth of a man relies on his strength and performance in bed. I think that this type of thinking is as bad as seeing women only as sexual objects. Both stereotype men and women and belittle them. How can people's character and importance be determined by someone's sexuality? This is so inaccurate and wrong.

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