Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Are men generally less confident these days?

(105 Posts)
Aggieisback1 Mon 05-Jun-17 20:19:39

I have met a number of men since divorce 2 years ago. When I was last single in my 20s men all seemed to be full of confidence and not mind knock backs. Maybe it's because 25 years have passed but so so many of the men I've met recently are really quiet and lacking in confidence. I'm also surprised how many 40 & 50 sthg men have never been married. Ironically it is the divorced ones who seem the cockiest and the shy guys low on self esteem. Wonder of anyone else had noticed this?

HildaOg Mon 05-Jun-17 20:23:48

It's demographics. All the confident men have been snapped up and that gives them more confidence. The divorced ones are more typical of the average then those who've always been single.

Aggieisback1 Mon 05-Jun-17 20:35:01

The thing is, I have a few attached male friends and they are also not as confident as they used to be (although still more so than the always single guys). Some of the perennial bachelors have been really lovely too just shy.

HildaOg Mon 05-Jun-17 20:48:41

Maybe it's age? Maybe its their percieved lack of success in life? My male friends who've been very successful in their career are extremely confident (often quite cocky), much moreso than when they were younger. The more money they have the more brilliant they think they are. Often deludedly so. I suppose if I was to compare them to a man who isn't successful there'd be a huge difference in levels of confidence.

Aggieisback1 Mon 05-Jun-17 21:12:14

There are of course some women(not me) who respond to cockiness in men so perhaps that is what has happened and before you know it the ego has inflated..generally though there seem to be more unconfident men around

TheNaze73 Mon 05-Jun-17 21:57:27

Hildaog has nailed it. Confident ones are either snapped up or choosing to be single, to do what they want.

Aggieisback1 Mon 05-Jun-17 23:04:25

Have to admit I haven't met many confident doing what they want single men. Maybe I'm not going to the right places.

HildaOg Mon 05-Jun-17 23:17:24

Go for successful professionals. I don't know a single one who doesn't think the sun shines out of their own arse. The further up you go the more fantastic they believe themselves to be.

Peanutbuttercheese Tue 06-Jun-17 09:26:36

Agree about successful professionals and also about money. My DH is like this and I would say a bit arrogant he has folk metaphorically kowtowing to him at work. My brother is crazily successful in his field and rich AF. He is confident but has managed to remain humble, I think that's quite rare.

I have had quite a lot of male friends over the years and they are lovely but they were friend zoned all the time by multiple women. I remember one getting quite upset and saying well I know you don't see me as a sexual being Peanut. I didn't but other women didn't either. He was average in looks and pretty much average in most things. Average should be fine.He was a nice guy a decent cook, respectful, friendly but that missing vibe. I can't even really explain it.

RiseandGrind Tue 06-Jun-17 17:01:09

What an interesting thread. Good idea OP.

I'm in my forties and in my experience, I'd say that a lot of men are now very aware of how they present and the old ways (cocky/confident etc..) are covered to a certain degree with a humble veneer.

I'm single and never married and although I've had a few long term relationships, I've been 'out there' more than I've been in relationships/settled so have dated quite a bit.

I agree with the posters saying that money makes a huge difference in terms of confidence, much more than youth or looks. It's strange though as women in my experience tend to gain confidence with age, I know I have, even though I'm no longer pretty or young.

Very interesting.

Aggieisback1 Tue 06-Jun-17 20:52:52

Great post Rise thanks. I just wondered if you thought the humility was put on, as you used the word "veneer"? The men I've met recently have been nice but there's a kind of wistfulness to them too

Slimthistime Tue 06-Jun-17 20:57:06

"Have to admit I haven't met many confident doing what they want single men"

But single by choice men aren't men you will notice much, just like women, out with mates, doing own thing, giving no available signals because we're not available.

FritzDonovan Tue 06-Jun-17 22:30:33

Agree to some extent with the 'veneer', I've more recently been aware of men who I previously thought weren't actually cocky about themselves, but digging deeper they seem to have a more entitled attitude (not sure that's the right word) to things I wouldnt have expected. They don't come across as cocky because they assume these things/ responses /behaviours are the normal baseline.
If that makes sense.

outabout Tue 06-Jun-17 22:41:41


engineersthumb Tue 06-Jun-17 22:55:31

Interesting thread. I'm happily married but have had long spells single. The problem is its difficult to know what bring a man is meant to look like. Partly this is due to a world that has changed so much since our fathers time, employment, education and social attitudes have significantly changed. Attitudes to women have changed too both within the workplace and outside, whilst work in this area needs to continue hopefully most people consider these changes to be for the better. As part of these changes men are encouraged to be more respectful and thoughtful, this coupled with the aforementioned changes in society, leaves a lot of us unsure of how to proceed around women. The perhaps more callous or less enlightened man seems to be more able to start relationships but possibly less able to form lasting relationships. This may lead to much of the "why are all men bastar#s" attitude so comments in this forum and from women generally. Of course this could be sour grapes at all those swines who got the girls! Or maybe it supports my wife's comments on dating engineers "the odds are good" ( being largely a me professional) "but the goods are odd!" (being largely comprised of social misfits!). The moral? Be careful what you wish for!

engineersthumb Tue 06-Jun-17 22:57:29

(male profession) must get bigger keys or smaller fingers!

FritzDonovan Tue 06-Jun-17 23:29:37

Interesting you say attitudes to women have changed both in the workplace and outside it. I'd be interested to know how others have experienced this. From my experience, it seems men are supposed to see women more equally in the workplace, but outside of it, overall respect for women is lower. Obv this may have been experienced differently for others, but the prevalence of disrespect (for want of another word) in (now) everyday areas like dating, availability of and attitudes towards women in the sex industry, ongoing cultural oppression, etc leads me to believe that some men may be less confident in their ordinary interactions with women because there are so many discrepancies in the treatment of women on the whole.
Sorry, that's a bit of a ramble/tangent.

Slimthistime Tue 06-Jun-17 23:35:20

Engineer we were actually talking at work - mixed group - about how we are confused that some people seem to have find the changes confusing!

Aggieisback1 Tue 06-Jun-17 23:52:07

Thing is, I'm not entirely sure it is a bad thing that men aren't as confident IF it leads to them questioning and maybe rejecting the whole toxic construction of masculinity. I think part of the reason there is still resistance to feminism is the very word patriarchy. It sounds academic and remote, not the kind of word you'd associate with a regional accent or even a group of men discussing with each other. In actual fact I think there is a recognition among women and men that patriarchal assumptions eg the stoical unemotional provider are making many men deeply unhappy and may well be behind the shocking suicide rates.
I was discussing this with a female friend recently who said she thinks the stress of being or needing to be seen to be the main breadwinner is breaking many men into pieces. This kind of worked when there was affordable housing jobs for life and unions plus women didn't work nearly as much therefore needed a man to support them economically. If I were being optimistic I'd say the better side of the low confidence/openly lower self esteem I have recently noticed is men adjusting their expectations of themselves from alpha male provider just to ordinary flawed human being. I do think women have a role to play in perhaps vocalising that they don't all necessarily expect the man to earn more all the time, and of the value of a good and loyal companion who will share childcare and housework.

FritzDonovan Wed 07-Jun-17 00:23:34

I do think women have a role to play in perhaps vocalising that they don't all necessarily expect the man to earn more all the time, and of the value of a good and loyal companion who will share childcare and housework.
I agree, however, that's not how the majority of the workplace is set up. DH earned more than me, so when childcare wasn't working out (which I was responsible for by default, even while working) I was the one who left work. It's more common this way round, I expect, and also then more difficult to get back into a career at the same level. I am currently working from home, very long hours, dh will put kids to bed etc, but no housework has been done past clearing up after dinner and his/kids laundry at the weekend. No matter how vocal I am, old fashioned views are still entrenched. I think men should be questioning their views on masculinity.
As an aside, I read an article on vasectomies recently, appears men still worry about being less masculine afterwards, best case scenario they saw it as doing something heroic (as a favour) for their wives. Despite the fact deaths are 12 times more likely from female sterilisation, with more severe problems. Even my Dh at one point accused me of forcing him to have it, even though we had discussed and agreed together, with no argument.
I would positively welcome less confident men if it meant they were reassessing their role in the patriarchy. Sadly, I don't think enough do.

engineersthumb Wed 07-Jun-17 08:08:49

"The toxic construction of masculinity". That sounds somewhat anti male, perhaps it should be read as "The outdated toxic attitudes within the masculine constuct" in which case I would probably agree.
Fitz Donovan, you make an interesting point about equality. However, it's quite possible to interpret equality with treating women with no more respect than you would treat another man... and some men don't treat anyone with respect! Basically I hope that as a society we are heading in the right direction trying to improve the way we treat each other regardless of gender, but it's a long road. Men are not solely to blame, some women weponise their sexuality to achieve their aims, some women perpetuate the "I'm a girly girl and don't understand anything" whilst then complain about equality; and their are some women out their who are just plain vicious and commit acts of violence then rely upon their gender as protection. I don't think that these descriptions fit most women just as I don't think that the descriptions of masculinity given in many of the feminist articles fit most men. In short thee are good and bad men just as their are good and bad women, we should be, and hopefully are thinking about how to treat each other with respect. In the meantime it's confusing as he'll to figure out what masculinity looks like so if there are some less than confident men out their it's probably no surprise.

engineersthumb Wed 07-Jun-17 08:12:38

Your group may not have found it confusing but others do. I came from a very working class background working in construction/industry. The first time I took a job in "the office" I really felt that I would be viewed as less of a man in my circle even though it was a better paid more senior position.

outabout Wed 07-Jun-17 08:37:25

I see the biggest problem as the differences between men and women being assumed to be a 'problem'.
If you leave aside sex and dating tor the moment I believe in equality between both. This means that for all aspects a man and woman can and should do (ideally) exactly the same, and if working get the same pay for same job. Now, when 'paired up' you negotiate who does what and possibly of importance to what 'standard'. There are differences in standard and approach obviously so sort out what what is acceptable. If your DH likes a really sparkly and clean kitchen then DW should share some of the work and help get the 'basics' done so all stuff in cupboards or wherever. Then DH can finish off to his 'standard' but is not being expected to do it all. Similar to other scenarios, work out what is 'best' for you.
Accept differences and accommodate, which through negotiation does not mean compromise.

corythatwas Wed 07-Jun-17 08:38:18

"Quiet" doesn't have to spell "non confident". My dh is very quiet and gentle in his manner, certainly nothing cocky about him, but he is one of the most comfortable-in-his-skin people I have ever met. His parents did a good job of instilling self esteem.

Otoh I have known quite a few men who were outwardly very cocky and macho precisely because their self esteem was low and they were always worried about not living up to male ideas.

Aggieisback1 Wed 07-Jun-17 09:19:31

More interesting posts. From what I've seen the women I've met in the last few years seem well adjusted and really comfortable with themselves. Some, not all the men I've encountered seem to have this lingering self doubt or sadness, sense that their opportunities and best years are gone and that they aren't able to be what is expected of them, that they are falling short of something. I have been wondering for years if and when there will be a genuine mens movement that isn't anti female but looks to deconstruct the expectations which cause so much hurt and restricted lives for men. I read something yesterday about the massive unemployment in white US working class males and associated health and suicide issues. Overall men are of course still the privileged gender but a) hearing this probably drags you down even further if you feel your life hasn't turned out as it should have
b) if men's relative status is static and women's is increasing it may seem like relatively men are in decline

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: