If You Want to Date A Confident Leader, You Have to Let Him Lead

As a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women, I spend a LOT of time talking to women on the phone about their love lives.

In fact, I’ve participated in so much girl talk, I’m like an honorary girlfriend at this point.

And the one thing that I consistently hear from women is this:

I want a man who is a leader.

I want a man who makes decisions.

I want a man who has a plan.

I want a man who can take control – start his own company, book his own vacation, and yes, even be dominant in the bedroom.

(My female clients tell me EVERYTHING!)

It’s really easy to see why this kind of guy is attractive.

Confident men inspire confidence in women.

Confident men inspire confidence in women.

And as much as we’ve evolved as a society in terms of gender equality, there’s still a primal urge where many women long for a taste of a traditional marriage.

ALL of my clients have careers, yet the majority still want to feel protected, preferably by a tall, broad, successful man who can bring home the bacon, wipe away the tears and beat up the bad guys, if necessary.

What’s not to like about that?

Who doesn’t want a man who is an equal?

After all… You’re a go-getter.

You’re as smart as most of the men you meet.

You work hard and make a comparable income.

You have close relationships with friends and family.

You have strong opinions and aren’t afraid to voice them.

And yet you often meet men who don’t mesh with you.

The attractive alpha males are egocentric commitment-phobes.

The nice guys are bland and wishy-washy and don’t turn you on.

You figured out what you really want – an alpha male who is nice! Or maybe a nice guy with balls! Someone to make you feel excited and safe simultaneously.

What nice guys don’t realize is that you’re not looking for a man to cater to your whims

Unfortunately, these men are very, very, rare. You’ve probably noticed.

So if it’s so hard to find one of these mythical beasts, what are you to do?

I’ve got a few ideas.

In fact, as one of those men, I’ve got a lot of ideas on that very subject, but before we get to those I have to give you credit for knowing one big thing: you can’t change guys.

Which is why most adult women have largely grown out of their bad-boy phase.

Except, of course, when you haven’t.

So instead of dating the rebellious teenage rocker, you date the 44-year-old guy who’s never been married. He’s not on the road 40 weeks a year, but he works 60 hours a week.

Both men claim to want to find love, but aren’t willing to sacrifice for it.

These guys are a waste of your time.

It’s not that they’re bad people, it’s that they don’t have much to give to the relationship.

Thus, you have two choices – get out of the relationship, or accept that you’ll always come in second to his work or freedom. You know what that’s like.

To be waiting on a guy, to have the strongest feelings for him… only to learn that he’s not willing to put forth the effort or commitment necessary to make you feel safe.

It happens all the time, and it’s a crushing feeling.

Then there are the nice guys. Oh, I know how you feel about nice guys…

Here’s the thing about nice guys:

They really want to please you.

Really. Really. Want to please you.

It’s the most important thing in the world for them.

Which is why they’re always asking you how to do it.

“Where do you want to go tonight?”
“Was there something that I did wrong?”
“What can I do to make you happy?”

What nice guys don’t realize is that you’re not looking for a man to cater to your whims.

You’re looking for a man to lead, to make sound decisions, to drive the car while you ride shotgun.

Yet the guys who do that – the leaders – are often the most arrogant, most difficult, most combustible ones around. Right?

How do you find a guy who puts you first, but ALSO can take the lead?

If the nice guy wants to please you, why should he even bother to make any decision that you’re just going to overrule anyway?

Well, if it’s not by trying to change the alpha male, what do you have left? The nice guy.

But there’s a problem. And, believe it or not, you may be at the root of it.

You want the nice guy to lead, but you refuse to let him do it.

Before you get angry, think about it for a second.

He suggests a bar. You tell him you’d prefer one in a different part of town.
He suggests a movie. You tell him that you weren’t crazy about the reviews.
He suggests a weekend trip. You tell him you had another destination in mind.
He suggests a new position in the bedroom. You say you don’t do that.

Your intentions are pure – you want what you want – but the message that you’re sending to him is unmistakable:

You can be a leader and make decisions, as long as I have final approval.

And if the nice guy wants to please you, why should he even bother to make any decision that you’re just going to overrule anyway? He might as well ask you that awful question:

“What do YOU want to do?”

Hey, at least he knows you’re not going to shoot down your own idea.

I remember the first time I brought this concept up to a private dating coaching client.

She’s mid-40s, attractive, vice president of a big company. Definitely an alpha female – a woman who can intimidate men but really wants a man who is stronger than she is.

She was explaining to me how annoyed she was with this new man she was dating.

“It was bad enough when he took me to a dive bar with live music. But then, when he sensed that I wasn’t happy, he asked me where I wanted to go instead! And I’m thinking, ‘Buddy, just make a decision and tell me what we’re doing. I don’t want to have to come up with everything.’

I told her that I understood why she didn’t like his choice of bars. I told her that I understood how she wanted him to make his own decision.

And then I told her what I really felt.

“It’s like you want him to be the President, yet you want to have veto power.”

She laughed, and then got very silent. I continued:

You can’t have two leaders. If you want him to lead, you have to be willing to follow. You can’t overrule him.

Strong-willed men – the kind that inspire confidence – are less likely to be “pleasers”.

However, if you, as a woman, want to be a leader, understand these two things:

1) You’re not going to attract an alpha male. Male leaders don’t partner with women who tell them what to do.

2) You’re going to attract less assertive men, and you can’t get upset at them for asking how to please you.

Hey, I don’t make these rules! I just observe them.

But it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

Strong-willed men – the kind that inspire confidence – are less likely to be “pleasers”.

They’re going to march to the beat of their own drums and hope that you follow along.

The more you fight with them and try to rein them in, the weaker your relationship. You’ve probably seen this before in your own life. This is why strong men often marry easy-going women. It’s easier because there’s no argument about who’s going to lead.

Nice guys – the kind that you don’t respect as much – want only to please you, and will bend over backwards to do so.

They’ve learned that you’re going to assert your will no matter what they say, and they find it easier to ask directly how to make you happy.

And what’s the point of making a decision that’s likely to be vetoed anyway?

I can almost hear you steaming right now.

“I don’t tell men what to do. I don’t want to be boss. I just want an equal relationship!”
I hear you. And you’re right.

There IS a middle ground. All relationships are about compromise.

I’m not suggesting you let an alpha male make all the decisions while you keep quiet.

I’m not suggesting you make all the decisions for the nice guy either.

I’m just observing these important concepts in understanding men:

The alpha male is less likely to compromise. If you can’t handle that he’s got a strong ego and doesn’t want to do things your way, don’t date him.

The nice guy is more willing to compromise, so don’t hold it against him. It’s necessarily not a sign of weakness; it may be a sign of wisdom.

Nice guys just want to get along, which can be a good thing when you’re a strong-willed woman. After all, you’re going to have less conflict with a man who puts your needs above his.

Your other choice is to date the selfish and arrogant alpha male, who usually puts his needs first, as you can tell from years of trying to tame the charismatic types.

Want to find a man who can pull off the balance between nice and arrogant? Sorry. I’m already taken. ;)

But I know for a fact there are plenty more of us out there.

Just don’t keep on doing the same thing – chasing alpha males and waiting for them to change. Because, as you’ve seen, that can be a really frustrating – and futile – process.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    james

    DROPPING THE TRUTH!!!! GREAT POST EVAN!!!

  2. 2
    Lisa M.

    Evan, first I’m going to admit that parts of this post annoyed me.  Yes, I consider myself to be an alpha female who has been longing to meet my alpha male counterpart in which whom I can submit to.  And yes, I did meet an alpha about five years ago; he was tall, hot and very financially successful and the chemistry between us was absolutely insane.
     
    I’m extremely picky and for the time in my life I was completely enamored (oh, my god!).  And like most alpha males he was extremely arrogant, self-centered, and egotistical and he exuded a ridiculous amount of confidence.  But my big mistake with him was that I wanted to tame him, I wanted him to treat me differently than he had treated all the other women that were ready and willing to do whatever he wanted when he wanted.  I basically wanted him to take me seriously, so I played hard to get (which wasn’t me really playing that’s how I am with every guy). I wanted him to wine and dine me and treat me nicely before I would give into him.  But being that we were both alphas, we were like two ally cats circling each most of the time and neither would give into the others demands. He refused to play nice and I refused to sleep with me (submit to him first) before he would treat me the way I wanted him to. 
     
    Like I said, that was five years ago and in retrospect I realized that we might have had something (I don’t know if that would have been a good thing or not) if I had seen then that I couldn’t change him and that he was not going to change to accommodate me which was what I wanted him to do. He did, however, attempt to make some concessions but they just we’re good enough for me and eventually we went our separate ways.
     
    Today, I see that in order to be with an alpha male-submission is required and I have become okay with that.  It gets really tiresome juggling so many balls all by yourself, at times.
    I also have to admit that I kind of regret not sleeping with him, though. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about him and I’m sweating from the thought of him and the sex we might have had. OMG!
    I will address what you said about the nice guy later.
     
     

  3. 3
    BeenThruTheWars

    Sometimes, those alpha male/nice guy hybrids – rare as they are (and they do exist) – can pose a different type of problem.  They WANT to take the lead, but they also want to please you because they really do love you, so they say yes… okay… fine… ad nauseum… then one day, they get fed up and blow up at you for never letting them have an opinion without stepping all over it, never letting them come up with a plan without amending it, never simply saying, “That sounds great!” and being a good sport, going along.  To you, it seems to come out of nowhere, but to him, it’s been building and building and building until it’s a big honkin’ gusher of pent-up resentment.  Once a guy like that blows, look out.  So ladies, just be aware of how often you use phrases like, “Yes, but – ” or find yourself taking over the plan-making all the time.  Dead giveaway that you’re a part of the problem.  Your best strategy as a girlfriend is, “Be easy to be with,” and as a wife is, “Be easy to live with.”  Peace and harmony reign, and you don’t have to kill your own spiders anymore.  Bonus.

    1. 3.1
      sixfoot0

      Right on! Right on!!!!

    2. 3.2
      Joann

      Totally agree with what you said BeenThruTheWars! My ex was a textbook example of the alpha/nice hybrid and one day he totally exploded.

  4. 4
    thenimirra

    Geez, this describes me to a tee Evan. It’s kinda scary while at the same time reassuring. I routinely fall for the strong-willed guys who are nice and don’t really go out of their way to wound me, but can’t really give to a relationship because they chose to work 60-hour work weeks. My latest crush tells me all how he doesn’t want to be a workaholic, but continues to accept gigs when they come his way, whether that’s at the dead of night or over the weekend. I appreciate your advice that I need to make some compromises and cut the nice guy a break instead of judging him.

  5. 5
    Joan V.

    God I love reading your weekly articles Evan!  Do you have any older brothers?  

  6. 6
    Lance

    The battle of the sexes in a blog post.

  7. 7
    FLower White

    Nother reason why I pay for Evan’s books!
     
    WOMEN are you listening?? I get SO tired of my single AND married girlfriends whining about when the man leads. I say you have two options. Go along with him or GET ANOTHER MAN. The last bit quiets them up!

  8. 8
    Happy

    Nice article, Evan.  I’ve already decided:  I’m holding out for the mythical beast combination plate:  equal parts nice guy and arrogant sumb*tch. This is the guy who has the presence of mind to actually pay attention deeply enough to know how to make quite a few decisions that I’m going to agree with anyway, so, no contest.  I’m a combo plate myself, because of having gone so many years as a single parent, and more than happy to let him make more of the decisions, since I am pretty easy going about most things anyway.  Oh and, BeenThroughTheWars, nice guys, not just Buddhist nice guys, don’t *kill* spiders, they take them outside!

  9. 9
    Still Looking

    I think one way of visualizing the alpha/beta issue is to imagine a bell curve with beta on the left and alpha on the right.  The “whipped” puppy dog men whimpering for attention and the completely subservient docile women are on the extreme left while the totally domineering egotistical men and women are on the extreme right.  I’ve known very few outliers, that is those who are either a 1 or a 10 on the scale.  Most are going to be clustered in the middle.

    Trying to change a male who is a 10 (M10) to a M7 isn’t going to work.  The man has been a super alpha for too long and it’s going to be his way or the highway.  Likewise, an M1 isn’t going to change no matter what the woman does.

    The sweet spot is right there in the middle of the bell curve.  An M5 can easily make the transition up to an M7 or M8 if the woman lets him start taking charge.  Likewise, a woman who wants an M7 can easily lose her M7 man by being too assertive and using her veto power and knocking him down a couple of notches.

    Evan said assertive/confident nice guys are rare.  I think that is because too many men are trying to be nice and please their partners (a good thing!) but they drop down on the scale for the wrong reason – to avoid confrontation.  Most men will become more alpha if only given the chance.

    In one of the other blogs there was a recommendation that a woman can be as alpha as she wants at work, but leave that personality at the office.  That was great advice.  An M8/F3-6 relationship would work fine with me.  
    A question to all — In your relationships have you noticed either you or your partner moving up and down the alpha/beta scale, and if so, what do you think is the cause?  

  10. 10
    Annalis

    Aw, Evan. I think this post is adorable.
    I also have a special trick supplied by a dating coach friend of mine, Gareth Jones.
    His tip to women: See The Tourist, Be Anglina Jolie in that movie. Why? BECAUSE when Johnny Depp asks her to dinner she’s like “Women like to be asked, not told”. Great line. And then when he tells her to go to dinner with him she’s like “Now you’re just being bossy”.
    She’s walks the thin tight-rope of being high-maintenance AND letting him take the lead/ try to please her. She also works for the CIA and sleeps in full-makeup\ lingerie. Sadly, I have yet to pull that off.
    Conundrum: Men don’t seem to appreciate women that are wishy-washy, easy-going, too nice, don’t express what they want, etc. (similarly to women I suppose).
    I let guys take the lead for years and it always resulted in feedback: “You’re too eager to please/ nice because you’re not requesting what you want and being straight with me.” Alpha guys were especially like this. When in fact I was just trying to be easy-going and feminine so they would man up.
    Also, let them take the lead and most guys will dance you straight off a cliff. True story.
    Catch 22 central. Thoughts?

  11. 11
    Annie

    Brilliant post.

    I know you’ve said this kind of thing before, but you really hit the nail on the head with how we women take charge, without even REALIZING it.!!

    I can think of conversations I’ve had, where I have even said to a man, I would prefer if he makes decisions some of the time, because I get exhausted by constant accountability. Then he’ll suggest an Italian restaurant, and I immediately say, no I’d prefer chinese.. hahah!!  So the men end up pretty much saying “What would you like to do?”. Gosh that is so true…hehehe

    Us women can be difficult can’t we? :)

  12. 12
    hunter

    EMK’s post is so true, that, I find it humorous!!!!

  13. 13
    Venus

    Leaders lead.  You don’t have to let them.  A good leader is capable of making decisions that will cater to both parties.  Why suggest a movie that your partner will hate.  Why take her to a bar that is substandard.  A leader should know his following and cater accordingly.  If  he has made a mistake he should be open to suggestions.  A good leader is capable of accepting suggestions and advice without taking offence.  No one knows everything.      When the Alpha guy gets that, there will be no need for veto authority. LOL! 

    OK, so  I am allowed to have some fun with this one.  But what I have said above is generally true. 

    I do believe its possible for two so called alpha’s to co-exist.   Truth is, if a strong woman found herself a man who is equally strong and he is also a competent decision maker, she will likely step back and let him take the lead.  If his decision making skills are underdeveloped or questionable – then that veto authority comes into play.  Its not intended to denigrate him but rather to ensure the best possible solution.  It’s hard to simply sit by and not offer a suggestion that you KNOW will yield better results. 

    That said,  lesson shouldn’t be – don’t correct or assist him, but rather do so diplomatically.  Guide him to your conclusion.  Let him think it was his idea.   Yep it can work.  Alphas have big egos.
      
    If he is a “My way or the highway”  – all the time - guy then he isn’t worth the effort or stress.  Those people are borderline abusive.   A beta would be better choice. 

    As I was reading this article, I wondered if anyone stopped to think about the effect that having to deal with an alpha female has on a beta male psyche.  Always walking on eggshells trying to please, never quite sure if he is good enough, never having anyone to attend to his needs.  Basically secondary in the relationship.  This can be devastating to his self worth! 

    Beta males might be attracted to Alpha females but their best option for the long run is another beta female.  Its a more balanced exchange and he is allowed to lead without being questioned or challenged.  Of course if he absolutely likes being dominated and subjugated then let him choose Alpha and he can live with his punishment or pleasure, as the case may be.  :- )

  14. 14
    Melissa

    Just sharing here… I really think I’ve found one of those rare alpha males who is a genuine “nice” guy that lets me make the decisions MOST the time and just wants me to be happy… HOWEVER.. I’ve had to make compromises to keep getting what I want out of the relationship once the honeymoon phase was over.  I have a very strong personality and I have had to learn the hard way NOT to tell him what to do and not to push when I can tell he really doesen’t want to be doing what I want to do (which isn’t very often).  If I do this with finesse, I get my way most of the time. :-)
    But moreso than that, I’ve learned to make little compromises that make for the longest, happiest most successful relationship I’ve ever had (thanks to Evan). It didn’t come easy, but I realize that the concessions I make aren’t that big of a deal, but they improve the relationship dramatically.
    For example, last weekend he was working on my studio for most of the weekend so I suggested we stop to watch the entire game midway through the day, even though I detest all sports.
    I cook for him whenever I can, even though I’d always rather be eating out. It makes him feel pampered and thus I get a happier boyfriend whose willing to go along with my plans 95% of the time.
    I resist the urge to keep pushing when I know he really doesen’t want to do something (even though I want to), and this has resulted in the first fight-free relationship I’ve ever had.
    I think its definitely a bit more challenging with an alpha male… they like their egos to be catered to a bit more, they crave feeling important and activities to feed their testosterone (but we love that about them… LOL), but like Evan said, if this is what you’re attracted to then you just learn how to do little things that feed the alpha side of them, and in turn you get what you want… that strong, manly rock that makes you feel safe and protected. :-)

  15. 15
    hunter

    My applause to Melissa’s post….

  16. 16
    margo

    Sounds like Melissa has one of those alpha males that’s a combination nice guy. I recently dated an alpha male that was extremely selfish. When he told me he was always going to put his job first, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me run. So glad I did!

  17. 17
    Annie

    @10

    I think that one thing men are also really looking for is authenticity. If you are “trying” to be laid back and feminine, then are you that way? Or are you putting it on? Do you mind him taking the lead and agreeing to everything? or do you want to say something?

    I think it’s a tricky balance, but men really really do pick up on women who are not authentic. If you aren’t, they can’t trust you with their feelings nor will they know how to make you happy.

    I think that’s what that man was talking about, he was sensing that you might have been putting it on a bit, and that it wasn’t really you.

  18. 18
    Sherell

    Answer:  date the Beta guy!  Works for me.  I can follow easily and I can lead as well.  Maybe I am a Beta girl.  Depends on my mood.

  19. 19
    Katarina Phang

    A great post, Evan.  Having been with guys of the opposite ends of the spectrum, I have learnt the best combo for me (and most independent, educated women) are 65-80% alpha and 20-35% beta.

    I’m dating one right now (70% alpha).  He leads and decides what we’re going to do (really love that and I feel feminine as a result), yet he’s also a sensitive and mushy guy inside.

  20. 20
    Katarina Phang

    In other words he’s a nice guy with balls!  Just what I need.

  21. 21
    AS

    Well said and agreed, as always Evan! If you want a leader, then you got to be a follower and not criticise his choices. The more critical women get of men, the less the men want or will do! Conversely, by displaying gratitude and being sincerely appreciative, the more men will and want to do for you!

  22. 22
    Dan S.

    Part of the problem is this notion that dominance and submission are general instead of domain specific. You need to decide where you want to rule and where you want your partner to rule. Attending to details – being domain-specific -is key! Don’t let the fact that someone was too submissive or too dominant in one domain lead you to believe that he or she is too submissive or too dominant overall! Be detailed, be accurate, be fair, even when temporary annoyance makes everything they do seem annoying. If you’re still not satisfied, get out or settle, it’s your choice. And when you fight, fight over details. Most of the time, it’s the details that are pissing you off, not the big picture. Feelings make it very hard to see the big picture. For example, when you’re angry, perfectly innocent behavior will look like intentional wrong doing. When you’re sad, perfectly innocent events can seem like losses. etc. Personally, I have no tolerance for people who let “feelings” rule their impression of a relationship.  Feelings are reward and punishment, sure, but they can only be data if you understand that they can also oversimplify and distort. That’s part of what makes them so powerful.

  23. 23
    Zaq

    I wish people would define terms. What is an “alpha”.
    Someone who possess confidence, leadership qualities, competitiveness ?
    Someone who is tall dark and handsome ?
    Someone who possesses all of these qualities as I think Lisa M seems to suggest ?
    In nature I believe alphas would be quite rare as there would only be one per community, yet we seem to have some here thinking that half of all males are alpha.

    So what is it ?

  24. 24
    nathan

    Yeah, the whole alpha/beta script is a little too rigid and unrealistic to me. Might be nice to make discussion flow easier, and to make generalized points about how people behave, but it falls apart if you move into speaking about any specific person.

  25. 25
    Karl R

    Happy said: (#8)
    “This is the guy who has the presence of mind to actually pay attention deeply enough to know how to make quite a few decisions that I’m going to agree with anyway,”
    Venus said: (#13)
    “A good leader is capable of making decisions that will cater to both parties.  Why suggest a movie that your partner will hate.  Why take her to a bar that is substandard.  A leader should know his following and cater accordingly.”

    So all the man has to do to make you happy is read your mind, then make the decision that you would have made.

    So you’ve just narrowed your dating pool down to the men who have verifiable ESP.

    I don’t have telepathy. I don’t have precognition. Until I see a movie, I’m not certain whether I’ll like it. I’m less certain whether you’ll like it.

    You’re expecting your date to “pay attention” and “know his following.” Even for someone who pays attention to details and even takes notes, that takes time to accomplish. It won’t happen during the first few dates. Are you willing to give each man several months so you can see whether he is capable of learning (and then doing) what you like?

    You will increase your odds of finding a good man if you set your expectations to a level that’s possible to achieve.

    On the other side of the equation:
    Men, if you take notes of what your date/girlfriend likes and dislikes, you can set yourself far ahead of the rest of the crowd. Store your notes in your smart phone. That way you only have to remember details until she uses the restroom, and you can review your notes right before each date.

    She’ll think you’re attentive. All you really have to be is moderately tech savvy.

  26. 26
    m

    I like that Karl took the time to offer some advice to men as well, in addition to his usual advice to women  (especially as I’ve read Evan here more than once say that Karl sometimes speaks as though he were his second head).

    Thank you, Karl.

    Now if only all the men who are lurking and reading (you don’t have to reveal your secret identities, LOL — just pat yourselves on the back for being smart enough to read and take notes and know it puts you at a “competitive advantage”; we know you like those) are smart enough to take your advice.

  27. 27
    Irina

    Evan, I’ve encountered a similar situation at Annalis. Could you say more about that? How do you reconcile the fact that men like independent women and don’t like pushovers?

  28. 28
    Sherell

    “A smart eagle does not show her claws”   Praise and ego stroking has many so call alpha men thinking they are in charge.

  29. 29
    Gem

    Melissa #14. Agreed!

  30. 30
    Lisa M.

    @Zaq

    You’re right. A true authentic alpha male is a rare breed of man. And the guy I described was the real deal, all alpha. I often referred to him as a caveman. LOL! I have never felt anything like that towards a man in my 36 years (I have admit that after writing about him here on Thursday, I went to look him up on Face book). I have to say, very few men have the confidence to approach me but this guy walked right up to me and look me straight in the eyes and said, “Hi, baby”. Of course, I was appalled at first but he was so sexy and so sure of himself that I quickly recovered.
     
    Still regretting not having sex with him. Oh, well.

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