Alpha Males in Relationships: What to Expect When Dating an Alpha Guy

Hi Evan, 

This is a curiosity more than a dating advice question. I’ve read several of your posts that suggest that charismatic alpha males do not make good partners. I also read on a hilariously titled article (in response to the Anthony Weiner scandal), “Should Women Go Ugly?” Again, suggesting that women should steer clear of handsome alpha partners who are quite likely to ultimately let them down. So my question is, what happens to all these true alpha men? Do they marry? Will they remain single forever? If the conventional wisdom is for women to avoid relationships with an alpha male, is it in the alpha male personality to skip the so-called American dream, avoid marriage and children and just bounce from one short-term relationship to another? Or is it possible for such a confident alpha male to create a meaningful long-term relationship? And if so, what type of woman would be able to create a happy life with a dominant man like this? Based on your advice and that of others I’ve read, it seems that no woman should attempt to deal with these men.

— Sara


Right before I got married, I turned for relationship advice to Dr. Pat Allen, therapist, Los Angeles legend, and author of “Getting to I Do”.

Back then, Pat was probably 75 years old and delightfully curmudgeonly. She lived in a very black and white world and had a bunch of catchy aphorisms that she trotted out when she saw common dating dynamics — especially for women with an excess of masculine energy. I turned to her because we’d met on a panel once before and because I respected her confidence, experience, and wisdom.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

I told her that I wasn’t sure that I felt what I was supposed to feel for the woman to whom I was considering proposing. I didn’t have that obsessive, breathless, “I must have you” sentiment. I didn’t miss her madly when she went on a business trip. I was just plain happy — in a healthy, fun, nurturing, supportive relationship that had no obvious flaws apart from what was buzzing through my head: “I don’t have the FEELING I think I should have!”

Pat asked me: “Are you a career man or a man with a career?” (This is one of those aphorisms.) I told her that my career was not just a job, but kind of a calling. Thus, she determined that I was a career man. She told me that, as a career man, since my job would come first, I could get married and be perfectly content, but I’d always be longing for more. She finally concluded that, based on my profile and personality, I would probably cheat on my wife a few times.

And that was our session. 

Is Dating an Alpha Male a Hopeless Case?

Yes, Dr. Allen’s contention, essentially, was that if you’re an alpha male, your natural tendency is to put your needs first, to conquer, to dominate, to spread your seed, and to hope to not break too many hearts along the way. In this regard, she’s somewhat correct. 

And in this regard, I realized I am not a pure alpha male.

It’s more important to me to be a good partner and father than to pursue my selfish interests at all costs. If anything, I have a fierce ethical streak (which surfaces here from time to time) that is stronger than my need for money or new women. I would not suppose that every person is similarly driven by doing the right thing. After all, having character involves trade offs, and guys with alpha male characteristics  most certainly don’t want limits put on their freedoms and power.

So, to bring this back to you, Sara, my thoughts on alpha males in relationships is that while they may remain the most attractive and successful candidates out there, as a rule, they tend to be bad long-term relationship bets.

My thoughts on alpha males in relationships is that while they may remain the most attractive candidates out there, as a rule, they tend to be bad long-term relationship bets.

I would guess that most women who’ve gone for them would concur with this observation. Alphas’ needs come first. Their schedules come first. They may try to spend money on you, but it doesn’t compensate for their lack of attention, affection, and understanding. They rarely make you feel safe and secure. But you hold on because a true alpha male is such an intoxicating catch. Make no mistake; an Alpha guy RELIES on his charms to allow you to put up with all his bullshit.

As always, when we’re talking about dating an alpha male, we’re talking about a sliding scale. I may have the drive and temperament and ego of an alpha male, but I don’t indulge it at all costs. I stop work at 6. I don’t work on weekends or take clients on Fridays. I apologize frequently. If my wife ever needs me to sacrifice for the family, the answer is yes. That’s where my value system lies.


What to Look for When you Date an Alpha Male

If you’re going to go for such a guy, the thing to look out for is his long-term values. Does he WANT to be a good husband and father? Does he SACRIFICE his needs for yours? Does he put YOU first, or does he always have to control and win? There ARE alpha males who do that, but there are more who do not.

So it’s not that it’s impossible to find an alpha male partner who wants to settle down with you — it’s that alpha males are inherently high risk/high reward.

And, from what I’ve seen as a dating coach, most women are willing to take the risk — but very few actually get the long-term reward. 

From what I’ve seen as a dating coach, most women are willing to take the risk — but very few actually get the long-term reward.

What Kind of Woman Gets to Date an Alpha Man?

As for what type of woman you have to be to date an alpha guy, in general, I’d say many alpha males fall in love with someone who is supportive of them. Someone who is cool with his hours. Someone who doesn’t nag him all the time about his job. Alpha males in relationships seek partners who can love and listen to them and provide a fun change of pace when he finally clears space to be 100% present. This is really what my book Why He Disappeared is all about — being in your feminine self — open, positive, receptive, nurturing.

Still, being the ideal woman for an alpha male isn’t always enough — not if the alpha male doesn’t have a strong moral code and doesn’t fundamentally value monogamy as much as he values conquering new women and new businesses.

SOMEONE gets the alpha male to marry her, all right, but I can assure you that she is not always happy with what she gets.

Caveat emptor.