Is There Any Point in Dating an Alpha Male?

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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 HuffingtonPost.com 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 types who are quite likely to ultimately let them down. So my question is, what happens to all these alpha guys? Do they marry? Will they remain single forever? If the conventional wisdom is for women to avoid relationships with them, is it in their (the alpha guys) best interest 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 an alpha guy to create a meaningful long-term relationship? And if so, what type of woman would be able to create a happy life with a 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 guys. —Sara

Sara,

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

Pat is probably 75 years old and delightfully curmudgeonly. She lives in a very black and white world and has a bunch of catchy aphorisms that she trots out when she sees 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 experience and wisdom.

I told her that I wasn’t sure that I felt what I was supposed to feel for the woman who I was considering proposing to. 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!”

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

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, I would probably cheat on my wife a few times.

And that was our session.

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’m not a pure alpha male.

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

So, to bring this back to you, Sara, my thoughts on alpha males 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 schedule comes 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 he’s such an intoxicating catch. Make no mistake, he RELIES on his charms to allow you put up with all his bullshit.

As always, when we’re talking about alpha males, we’re talking about a sliding scale. I may have the drive and temperament and ego of an alpha, 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.

If you’re going to go for such a guy, the thing to look out for is what his long-term values are. 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 win? There ARE alpha males who do that, but there are more who do not.

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.

So it’s not that it’s impossible to find one of these guys 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.

As for what type of woman you have to be to get this guy, in general, I’d say someone who is supportive of him. Someone who is cool with his hours. Someone who doesn’t nag him all the time about his job. Someone who can listen to him 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 energy — 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 that she is not always happy with what she gets.

Caveat emptor.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Joe

    @ Sharon  #13:

    Unfortunately, you can’t paint everyone in those professions with such a broad brush.   Think about it: if everyone in those professions was an alpha, nobody would get anything done.

    Your army can’t be  full of leaders; you  need to have followers too.

  2. 22
    Sharon

    @ Joe I didn’t say they all were. I said proceed with caution.  

  3. 23
    Margo

    @Jennifer-21, She wasn’t his fiance for 10 years. They were in a 10-year serious live-in relationship for 10 years. She had recently agreed to become his fiance. He said that’s what he wanted. Then against her wishes, he left her for 2 years while he went  overseas. That doesn’t make him a jerk to you??

  4. 24
    Ruby

    I’m beginning to feel that this “alpha” term is starting to lose all meaning. I used to think it meant a high-rolling executive/CEO-type pulling down mega-bucks (a tiny minority of the men out there, I might add), now we’re being told that it includes even ambitious starving artists?

    I work in one of the professions that Sharon mentioned (#13), and the men I’ve known there are, on the whole, so far from being Alpha types that I had to laugh at its inclusion in her list. And construction workers? Really?

    There are narcissists in any profession. Are “alpha males” just self-absorbed workaholics? While we might find confidence and drive attractive, what’s so desirable about the extreme version of that?  

    1. 24.1
      Buck25

      Question is, what does the term “Alpha Male” really mean? What traits make a man “Alpha” or “not Alpha”?   Is there even any real consensus on that? The meaning, the way the term is used here (and elsewhere) is so elastic, that I have to ask. Does the term mean different things to woman, than it does to men?

  5. 25
    Sharon

    To me alpha is more about a macho attitude than bank account. That typical sexist might is right sort of swagger.  

  6. 26
    Ruby

    Sharon #26

    Sounds like you are talking about “bad boys.”  

    I do think most of us are a mix of alpha and beta traits.  

  7. 27
    Sharon

    Not exactly. I’m thinking more of that John Wayne Clint Eastwood sort of alpha.  

  8. 28
    lawyerette

    For everyone asking if it matters if he “wants” to be a good father and husband – yes, absolutely! You are are confusing the “necessary” and the “sufficient”. Wanting to be a good husband and father is NECESSARY to a man actually being so. That’s different from it being SUFFICIENT to be so. Wanting isn’t enough. But if a guy doesn’t even WANT to be a good husband and dad, then there’s NO way he will be.

  9. 29
    Katarina Phang

    Alpha to me is about degree of masculinity or manliness.   Striving artists can be alpha if he matches all the things that show that he’s driven to achieve his goals and are not what beta guys are all about (being okay in a passenger seat while their women take the driver seat).

  10. 30
    Trouble

    My ex-husband, in every capacity would probably be classified as a beta, and yet he was a chronic cheater.   On the flip side, I’ve spent my entire career in a male-dominated field with “testosterone overload” (law enforcement), and some of the gentlest, kindest people I’ve ever known are cops (the guys from my unit visited me daily in the hospital maternity ward when I had medical issues during a pregnancy, for instance).   I’m marrying a military guy.   While he is definitely aggressive about work, he knows how to put the job aside and come home.   I don’t think we can generalize so widely about people’s propensity for infidelity.   I have noticed with the men that I’ve known who are cheaters (and I’ve known a few, both personally and prfessionally) that these are mostly men who are deeply insecure and need some sort of approbation to pump them up.     If you look at someone like Gene Simmons, a chronic philanderer who slept with hundreds or thousands of women, he had major abandonment issues with his father.   I think cheating is more complex than the “i am alpha, give me pussy” paradigm.  

    The average alpha male doesn’t appear to have the deep seated insecurity issues that many chronic cheaters seem to have.

  11. 31
    Emily

    I read an article recently that women are all over Alpha males as of late. That is has to do a lot with TV, and the whole macho guy image. But i like the angle of this. Because at the end of the day, it really is “to each HER own.”

  12. 32
    Heather

    @ Trouble #31,

    Not always.   Again, my ex boyfriend was very much an alpha male and he had TONS of very deep-seated insecurity issues, constant need to be right, maintaining very close contact with an ex-girlfriend when I made it clear how uncomfortable I was with this, most likely was cheating on me, etc.
    It really depends. I am sure there are some beta males who can be real jerks and I have certainly met a few.   But my overwhelming experience has been that the alpha males I have been involved with, have been extremely insecure and even abusive, and I’d just rather avoid the issue entirely.

  13. 33
    adk

    To Teri #6:
    What you are “attracted” to has little to do with how good a partner they will be. It often has to do with who your parents were and how screwed up you might be. I was always “attracted” to very silent, mysterious and, in the end, unavailable guys. Guess what? My father has never given me his approval.
    Once I realized that they type of guy I was always initially attracted to was never going to be there for me or give me what I wanted, I tried to retrain my attraction and be open to people who would give me what I wanted in the end.
    And it worked! Married at the ripe old age of 41 to a wonderful guy.

  14. 34
    Steve

    you give good advice. i think it’s more on really being lucky on who you get married to. also, an alpha male for you can be not an alpha male to another. depends on what you like  

  15. 35
    ashley

    i personally dont like alpha male . I have a strong personality and everytime i dated a so called ” alpha male ”   , we clashed! sex was great , but anything outta bedroom was a disaster! I hated their gut and they hated me even more! to me, they are self -oriented individuals ; that doesnt mean they are bad people, but as Evan said , they certainly dont put YOUR needs first. your education, your job, your nice house , or fancy car,,,, they could care less about it. the ONLY thing they care about is how pretty you are and if you gonna make them and their life your priority. IMO,   the only women who can make it happen with alpha male are the ones who dont have any alpha trait in their chromosome.

    1. 35.1
      Dina Strange

      Ashley, what are the traits of alpha female. I was raised in a traditional society, where men were alphas in Russia, so instinctively i look for alpha males, yet it seems i clash with them. But i also don’t respect Betas or men who have no ambitions…

      So, that dilemma is getting on my nerves.  

  16. 36
    Laura

    We want alpha men because we want alpha children.     We have to work smarter at relationships with alpha men, they certainly keep us on our toes!   We don’t always come first with them, but we’re expected to be available to them when they want us.     As long as you’re not a stick-in-the-mud and are up for it, you can have the love and adventure of a lifetime!     It ends when you  don’t want to climb over the next mountain with him.

    The true alpha males I know are far   from abusive and controlling.   Those are the traits of weak men.   Alphas like   to hide their sensitivities and vulnerabilities, but they do not need to overcompensate for their lack of character with power trips.       If an alpha male chooses YOU to be his mate, it’s because he trusts you and has confidence in you.

  17. 37
    Mike

    I think every seems to forget is that the only version of ‘alpha’ that the manosphere adheres to is not what you personally think personifies an ‘alpha’.. but is only based on the sexual choices of women. ie. those men who have women tripping over themselves to sleep with him are alpha whether you like him or not.
    you can wax poetic over what traits you find desirable in a man, but the proof is in the pudding more often than not that women continue to seek sexual relationships with men who display ‘game’ attributes and keep beta men on the side as last resorts when nature timeclock goes boom.
    a true alpha knows he’s an alpha. a pua behaves like one, yet yields similar results. everyone else on the sidelines is beta to zeta.

  18. 38
    Ladybug

    That’s an interesting point of view, Mike.   As a dedicated people watcher and wildlife observer, I see it differently.

    The majority of women go after the Flash, the Players, the Decoys totally missing the true Alpha Males.    They may be testosterone driven, but they are not alphas.     These men lead all the lesser women away from the true alpha males, who will be sitting back watching it all with big grins on their faces.

    You can  spot the true Alpha Males by observing how other men behave, respond and interact with them.  

    1. 38.1
      BiologicalOne

      This man sees it. Haha.

  19. 39
    Mike

    @Ladybug

    Not discounting your hypothesis, but then you are saying that at the end of the night the true alpha’s after having witnessed the PUA’s take the ‘dregs’ of society they simply finish their conversations with the women that are left and go home to self service themselves?

    Again, definition of alpha is a man who is at the top of the sexual social pecking order of women. The manosphere definition still stands unchallenged because the women have still chosen either the ‘true’ alpha to go home with, or the Roosh’s, Tucker Max’s, and other game players/pua’s.

    Again so we are clear, ALPHA = sexually active/dominant. Beta to Zeta = going home to Palmina. You can say someone like Tucker Max is hideous, vile, has no alpha features or characteristics, but he has certainly created a very high female body count on his bedpost. Since he has zero problems getting laid and has women beating each other with sticks to try and bed him… he in the eyes of the manosphere and Game theory is an alpha only due in how women sexually choose to interact with him, not what men or women think of him personally. Real alpha’s also have no issue getting sex whenever they choose, they just probably have a better class and selection of women to go home with.

  20. 40
    Ladybug

    The real alpha males did not arrive with the pack.   They arrived later.      They was busy with payroll so Tucker Max and the Boys have money to blow on the girls with no self control.    They were  securing the business for the weekend.     Business before pleasure for the true alphas, and they aren’t going to miss out on quality women.       To the untrained eye, they may appear to be a completely separate pack of males, but careful observation will show the subtle interaction and deference.

    Yeah, in manosphere and gaming, he who gets laid the most is alpha.   He who gets laid the most is the player with the biggest bag of tricks.   That’s coyote, not alpha.

    Alpha traits are intelligence, power, and control.     There are physiological components to alpha status, too. I’ll not get into that here.

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