"Would it be really easy to assume that I was a douchebag? Definitely. One hundred percent," PEOPLE's reigning Sexiest Man Alive confesses in the July issue of GQ magazine (on newsstands July 1), where he dissects his image and his past. "I'm not an easy guy to root for."
The Voice coach and Maroon 5 front man, 35, pokes fun at his rock star image and acknowledges that the public's perception of him is probably well-deserved as he got a little crazy living life as he tried to figure out his early fame.
Levine admits there was a time when he indulged in the early perks of celebrity, perhaps a little too much.
"Men are not as sophisticated as women. They're not as mature as women. They're not as connected with their emotions as women. There's a very Neanderthal quality that still exists in a lot of men," the Begin Again star explained. "There was a time in my life when I lived probably a bit more on the primal level. And it was amazing.”
How good was it being him? "All of a sudden I had money in my bank account. I hadn't had a break in a long time. And I went a little … nuts," he defended. "I deserved to go a little bit nuts. And I had the time of my life."
Ultimately, his full-tilt male liberation came at a price "and I got burned for it," he said. "People change, people grow up, get more self-aware…" Now he says, he'd like people to see that he's matured – he's set to wed supermodel Behati Prinsloo – and maybe even grow to like him.
"If I knew everyone in the world, they would love me. Every … one of them," he joked. "I'm not arrogant. I'm cocky. It's different. Cocky is playful."