Everybody is insecure. The most powerful CEO, the most in-demand swimsuit cover girl, the most box-office-smashing actor – all of them have one thing in common: they all have something that threatens their self-image and makes them feel nervous. What is unique amongst people, is how they deal with their insecurity. And what is unique amongst Modern American Males is how they deal with their insecurity regarding the women in their lives.

But first, what insecurities to do men have? This probably won’t be a surprise, but male insecurities are pretty much the same as female ones: job/career, physical appearance, the ability to interact with the opposite sex and prowess in the bedroom, just to name a few obvious ones. These insecurities infest the male ego and create a sense of vulnerability, constant comparison to peers, and general malaise. More than that, these insecurities are always there, pulsating in the back of the brain on a daily basis.

These insecurities play out on women in strange ways and to varying degrees. For starters, when you are not enthusiastic about yourself, it is hard to be genuinely enthusiastic for someone else. So if a guy has insecurities that are truly bogging him down, it will be very difficult for him to be supportive of the woman in his life. Also, there is a tendency in men to be more negative about the things that make them the most uncomfortable, like an eye-for-an-eye. For example, if the guy has recently lost a job, or has spent an extended period of time unemployed, then he is probably going to be apathetic or unsupportive of your promotion. Or, if he is fretting about his thinning hair or encroaching belly flab, he may act callously about your new haircut or new shoes.

But sometimes a man’s insecurity can unleash an uglier side as well. He may constantly critique others, including you. He may become overly competitive, almost antagonistic, particularly to those that are succeeding in the areas that make him most insecure. And finally, he may become withdrawn and dejected if his insecurities get the best of him and he feels like there is nothing that he can do well.

So what do you do about this?

Well, there are many options. Typical encouragement and understanding can work. Other times keeping your distance and letting him overcome his difficulty on his own time helps. This is particularly true if the problem has exogenous roots, like finding a job. Sometimes you can lead by example. Go to the gym, do well at your job, whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself, and he will slowly come around. People want to be around people that inspire them to be better versions of themselves. And still another option is to approach it from the practical perspective. If he is feeling bad about his flab, then make a schedule: On Tuesdays you go work out, on Mondays I go work out. And if things get worse, don’t be shy to suggest looking for outside help. Men frequently are anti-therapists, but talking to a trained professional who is non-judgmental and unrelated to all of his hang-ups can be a huge benefit.

The important part to all of this is that there are many ways to help your man find his self-validation from within, but you must also realize that you can’t “fix” him. He needs to want to make efforts to overcome his insecurity on his own, and the most you can do is guide him.

Robot Comic via Captain Scratchy