Confident or Cocky? 16 Subtle Signs that Split an Arrogant & Modest Man

If you’re confused as to whether he is an arrogant man or a confident one, here are the signs for you to tell the difference between the two.  

arrogant man

There is no denying that there is a relatively fine line between being an arrogant man and being a confident one. Many say that one trait cannot be present without the other and to some extent, that belief rings true.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “arrogant” refers to “having or showing the insulting attitude of people who believe that they are better, smarter, or more important than other people.” On the other hand, “confident” is “having a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.”

We surveyed 20 girls and gay men asking them what their top five favorite and most hated traits in men are. Arrogance was listed in everyone’s top 5 most hated traits, whereas confidence was listed in everyone’s top 5 favorite characteristics.

So what do these general findings tell us? There is undoubtedly a fine line between arrogance and confidence and thus, a fine line between being loved and hated. [Read: 15 reasons nice guys finish last all the time]

How can you tell the difference between arrogance and confidence?

If you are new to the dating game or if you simply feel that you have to pay more attention to the signs that your partner is exuding, here are 16 hints that can help you determine if your man is arrogant or confident.

1. Modesty

First, you have to keep your eye open for modesty. Arrogant men do not even know what this means. They tend to be very boastful about their accomplishments, love tooting their own horn, and constantly show off. Not once will they attribute their success to someone else.

Confident men, on the other hand, will be happy to engage you in conversation about their successful endeavors but tend to say things like, “It took plenty of hard work on my part, but I would never have accomplished what I had without the support of my mentor.” [Read: Things to look for in a guy before dating him]

2. How he treats others

Another way to tell if the man you are dating is confident or arrogant is to pay attention to the way he treats others. We do not mean watching him suck up to his boss or more successful friends. We’re talking about waiters, cabbies, housekeepers, the parking lot operator, the barista, and so on.

Arrogant men tend to be rude and snappy, whereas confident men never forget their manners. Always remember that a man should not be judged by how he treats his equals, but rather, by how he treats those whom he deems are lower down on the totem pole than him.

3. Admitting mistakes

Another difference between a confident man and an arrogant one is that the former is not afraid of making and admitting his mistakes. For example, if you are on a date at a haughty French restaurant that lists several items on the menu in French, a confident man is not afraid to ask your server for help.

An arrogant man will probably act like he knows exactly what every item is, even if he does not speak a word of French. He would rather project to the world that he knows everything and can do no wrong as opposed to admitting that he has a weakness.

4. Maintaining eye contact

A confident man will have no problems maintaining good eye contact with you during a conversation. He will undoubtedly focus all his attention on you, urging you to express yourself assuredly.

On the other hand, an arrogant man will probably have a shiftier gaze. Whether he looks behind you, next to you, or around you, arrogant people will not focus on the person they are having a conversation with as they are more concerned about finding someone else to speak to. More aptly, someone else whom they think will benefit them more.

5. His general behavior

Your man’s general behavior will indicate whether he is arrogant or self-assured. An arrogant man will likely give off the impression that he is better than everyone else. From the way he brags about his expensive car to the way he shows off his shiny watch, his arrogance will be all-encompassing, negative, and hard to miss.

On the other hand, a confident man will be more down-to-earth and respectful in nature. He may own an expensive car and a $30,000 watch but will choose not to tell you about them. [Read: 30 characteristics that make him an alpha male]

6. Willingness to learn

An arrogant man would rather work his butt off to give others the illusion that he knows everything when in fact, he knows nothing. A confident man will work his butt off to learn something and excel in it. 

He is not ashamed to admit that he cannot do something and will make a conscious effort to make it happen. His confidence lies in the fact that he will eventually learn what he needs to learn, but he just hasn’t gotten there yet.

7. Do rather than say

You will know that you are dating an arrogant man when his words count for more than his actions. For example, you may mention in passing that you are looking to make a career switch and want to test the job market.

He will not be ashamed to boast that he knows this CEO and that manager and that headhunter and that shareholder, and will promise to hook you up. Whether he is unable to or simply not bothered to, he will probably not follow through with his promise unless it is going to benefit him directly.

When it comes to a confident man, actions speak louder than words, and if he says something or promises you anything, there is a very high chance that he will follow through.

8. What is said and how it’s said

What he says and how he says it separates the arrogant men from the confident ones. Arrogant people somehow operate under the pretense that they know everything and everyone. 

Even if you know that what they are saying is absolute bollocks, they do it with such certainty that you start doubting yourself. Arrogant men tend to speak to others in a condescending tone and are not afraid to correct or dismiss others, even if it means sorely embarrassing them.

On the flip side, confident men value other people’s beliefs and opinions and are very likely to value opposing views and ideas as it gives them the chance to learn and grow. [Read: The clear giveaways of emotionally unavailable men]

9. Social relationships

How your man behaves in social situations will say plenty about him. If he is arrogant, he will most likely put people down, embarrass them, dismiss them or ridicule their viewpoints. He will likely have many acquaintances but only a few true friends.

On the other hand, confident people attract others to them like moths to a flame. They are usually loved by many as they tend to uplift others and are happy with other people’s successes. They don’t feel threatened when other people are doing better than them.

10. How he discusses his good qualities

When a man is arrogant or cocky, he will tend to exaggerate what he can do. In other words, he brags a lot. Arrogance is focused on abilities. So, what they do is play up what they can do and show off to other people. [Read: What is peacocking? The many types and why guys like to show off around girls]

For example, an arrogant man might say things like, “I got three promotions in one year, and I hardly did anything! It was so easy” or “I never studied for tests in school and I got straight A’s.” They love to go around exaggerating how great they are. It might be annoying, but their impact on others generally stops there.

As for confident men, they are much more likely to discuss their good qualities with modesty, humbleness, and good grace.

11. Controlling

A confident man doesn’t want to control other people’s behaviors. But an arrogant man does. Sure, everyone has their preferences for how things are done – it’s normal. But cocky men will think that their way is the best – and only – way to do it. In addition to that, they think that everything they want to be done should be accomplished within their own time frame – not others’.

If other people don’t do things their way, then they will get annoyed. They might make a big deal about it and even yell at others for being “incompetent.” Their view of other people is that they are beneath them and can’t do anything right. [Read: 23 subtle signs of a controlling boyfriend most girls don’t notice]

12. Emotional regulation

An arrogant man will expect other people to drop everything and cater to their needs right there and then. If they don’t get what they want, or if they can’t manipulate people into doing what they want, they can become angry pretty easily.

When a cocky man gets angry, he might have outbursts. He might be genuinely appalled when people aren’t meeting his demands. On the other hand, a confident man can control his emotions and doesn’t expect people to cater to him.

13. May or may not be charming

Arrogant and cocky men tend to be super charming *not that a confident man can’t be charming too*. They tend to be very outgoing because they believe they will always have positive outcomes when it comes to interacting with people. [Read: Covert narcissist – what it is, 34 signs, and how to see the games they play]

This can cause them to be annoying to be around because they might be covering their insecurities with this fake persona. Whereas a confident man is just himself – whether he is naturally charming or not. He accepts and loves himself just the way he is.

14. Does or doesn’t use his charm for personal gain

A confident guy with charm is just that – charming. He has no ulterior motive for acting that way. But when an arrogant man uses his personality, he is trying to win you over for his personal gain.

A cocky man has the desire to be worshipped, coddled, and always be right. They might even have some unhealthy ways of relating to other people. It can turn toxic when he doesn’t want to make other people happy – just himself. [Read: Selfish people – 20 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

15. Challenging others

When a man is arrogant, he wants to assert his dominance over other people. He wants to win at all costs. He’ll talk about his past successes and he wants other people to always view him in a favorable manner. He loves the spotlight and is competitive.

However, a confident man doesn’t need to challenge and compete with others because he has nothing to prove. He genuinely likes himself, and if other people don’t see his good qualities, he doesn’t really care because he is secure. 

16. Attitude

A cocky man can be rude or downright cold to other people. He might even lack empathy for other people, which is the reason for this behavior. He is usually self-absorbed so he doesn’t understand how his words and actions affect other people. [Read: Stop the craziness in life – how to deal with rude people]

A confident man isn’t rude. He lives by the golden rule – “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” So, he is more kind, gentle, and loving with other people. 

Confidence, arrogance, cocky… what really matters

At the end of the day, do not brush someone off just because they are arrogant. There is a very good chance that they are that way because of how they were raised or because they are simply making up for a shortcoming.

Tell them honestly that their arrogance can be bothersome, and no matter what, be as patient as you can with this person *especially if you love them*.

[Read: Sure signs you’re dating a real keeper]

Though they may seem alike, arrogant and confident men are different. These signs can help you tell the difference. Once you do, you can discern whether the guy you’re with is just there to toot his own horn, or if he has a genuine belief in his own abilities.

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