The Alpha male = asshole

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Jan74

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This thread is incredibly interesting to me, because I tend to think of my men as betas, with typically more assertive women. But based on this discussion, I've think I've been conflating alpha and alpha-hole. So maybe my men are just nice alphas. Yay!
I'll have to google this "beta" I keep reading about.
 

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This thread has been a delight to read. In fact, I know I glossed over a few comments here and there, so I'm going to go back over it.

What jumped out at me was the difference between the fictional world and the real world. I can tell you that a number of websites that cater to teenagers and pre-teens, like 4chan, are constantly talking about this very subject only through the lens of very young males. Most of them know they are betas and want to be alphas because alphas get the girl. Always. Every single time. The internet is full of betas telling other betas to be more alpha. There are even lists of behaviors for betas to follow so they can be "alpha as fuck" and get the girl because everybody knows women only want alphas.

I can tell you I've lost count at how many times a woman I had an interest in rode off with some guy on the back of his Harley or in his lifted pick-up truck. Often times, that guy would later make a comment to me about what happened (in detail) and sometimes offer to show me the pictures on his phone. When a beta sees that they can only assume the alphas are assholes and that's what women want. If you ask the average beta what an alpha male is like and why women like them, you will get a series of incredibly negative comments that seem almost bitter and misogynistic. Men who aren't aggressive and forward can't fake it for very long and their only frame of reference is what they've seen the assholes do and get away with.

Nobody knows the private conversations or what's said just between the men and woman, only that the loud asshole with the Harley just got the hot chick to go for a ride with him and the day after, he had a big smile on a face and new pictures on his phone. What's left are betas trying to figure how how they got from Point A to Point B.

I guess what I'm saying is betas don't have a clue and to them, it's all incredibly complicated. Plus, as they try to sort it out, their opinions of women decline in the process.

I have this erotica story I peck at from time to time and it just hasn't been coming together for me. Now I realize why--the guy is Alpha without being sexually aggressive and he's too respectful of the woman. She, on the other hand, has no reason to crave the Alpha because all he's done is be tall, handsome, and aloof. Duh!

I guess what I'm saying is there are gaps in understanding. I've seen alphas complain about not being alpha. I've seen betas try as hard as they can to be an alpha and comically fail. I'm fascinated by the categorization of people and putting men into alpha, beta, and (since I'm a horror writer) Omega roles can be seriously limiting. The most alpha man I ever knew (male stripper, slept with over 500 women, showed me about half my coworkers naked on his phone, etc, etc, etc,) cried non-stop when the older woman he was cheating on broke up with him and found herself a new boytoy. Putting a character into a category is too limiting.

I love what many of you had to say and like I said, I'm going to go back and re-read this thread because there's some great ideas and perspectives here.
 

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I think the whole alpha and beta dichotomy is pretty artificial anyway. Dominance hierarchies are complicated, dynamic, and are often situational, even in the species of animals that have them. This is even more true with humans. "Dominant" isn't a unitary personality trait: it's a status within a given relationship. The individual who gets preferential access to resources desired by both individuals is socially dominant. There are countless strategies that men (and women) use to successfully gain access the things they need and want.

I used to have a dog that was (in pop culture terms) the classic "omega" personality. She was soft, submissive, and very, very sweet. Never bit (or even growled at) a human or another dog in her entire long life. If another dog lunged at her, she veered away and sent all the calming signals in the canine lexicon. Guess which dog ended up with all the toys and chewies and in the best sleeping spots?

Another thing to consider is that people in a social dyad won't always be in direct competition either. Cooperation often results in more goodies for both individuals than competition will. With a couple, one needn't dominate the other. They can work together to the betterment of both partners.

Consider that the pushiest, most arrogant guys (or gals) aren't always the most successful in life. Often such behavior masks insecurity or social incompetence. There are many styles of successful leadership. Also consider that a person can be a leader in one situation and a follower in another (outside their area of competence or expertise).

I guess I prefer literary figures to reflect these complexities. Even if they have many of the personality traits that are popularly (if very simplistically) referred to as "alpha" traits these days, there will be more to them than this (hopefully).

I think the reflection of this complexity is really more important to me than whether or not the male protagonist in a romance (or other genre for that matter) is or isn't a fairly confident, take-charge kind of person (or even kind of a jerk).
 
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Alessandra Kelley

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This thread has been a delight to read. In fact, I know I glossed over a few comments here and there, so I'm going to go back over it.

What jumped out at me was the difference between the fictional world and the real world. I can tell you that a number of websites that cater to teenagers and pre-teens, like 4chan, are constantly talking about this very subject only through the lens of very young males. Most of them know they are betas and want to be alphas because alphas get the girl. Always. Every single time. The internet is full of betas telling other betas to be more alpha. There are even lists of behaviors for betas to follow so they can be "alpha as fuck" and get the girl because everybody knows women only want alphas.

I have to apologize. Up to this point in your post I thought you were being ironic.

How anyone who has lived through being a teenager could ever believe that teenagers, let alone pre-teens (even in very large numbers reinforcing each other), have a remotely accurate idea of how human nature works is beyond me.

Knowing who or what one is is extremely difficult and takes decades of practice and awareness. No one I have ever known who was still in the throes of growing up really understood themself.

These children may think they know about their self-defined boxes, and about the universal nature of all women everywhere.

But from the perspective of a little experience of human nature their view looks cramped and self-limiting.
 

BenPanced

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Teenagers on 4chan? Sounds more like guys who still aspire to be pick-up artists and can't afford to pay the $1500 for a weekend seminar listening to a douchenozzle spew so much bullshit.
 

kikazaru

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I've enjoyed this thread.

When I was a teen in the 70's I'd read my mother's Harlequin Romances and while I wasn't so discriminating and had zero life experience, I do recall one where I couldn't believe that the heroine married the guy in the end because he was such an incredible asshole - oh he had a good reason it was because he loved her and he couldn't admit it to himself so he tried to drive her away (violence, lawyers etc). Yeah that's what you do to someone you love. Even then as a young teen, it was eye roll inducing to me.

In the 80's I moved on to bodice rippers, and while I enjoyed many of them (I do love a good swashbuckle) eventually I just couldn't read them any more because the heroes were almost always jerks - handsome and sexually inventive yes, but jerks just the same. When I started being interested in writing I took numerous romance writing workshops but I have never completed any of my romances because I could not bring myself to put my heroine in a situation that I wouldn't be in - even for the sake of moving the plot along. I realize now it was because I was so annoyed with the "alpha male" character I felt needed to be there in order to be a true romance, that I couldn't write it. I will still read Amanda Quick but I rarely pick a romance anymore and this is probably the reason.

As an aside my 19 year old daughter doesn't read (no, I can't believe this either) but she is a huge movie, tv serial, and music fan and I will always comment on characters and relationships (he's acting like an asshole, don't ever accept that from your boyfriends) and when Drake's "Hotline Bling" or Bruno Mars "I'd Catch a Grenade for You" ever comes on the radio, she knows I will give her a lecture on "needy" men ("move on boys, guilt trips and whining is so unattractive") - don't ever accept that either.
 

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I have to apologize. Up to this point in your post I thought you were being ironic.

How anyone who has lived through being a teenager could ever believe that teenagers, let alone pre-teens (even in very large numbers reinforcing each other), have a remotely accurate idea of how human nature works is beyond me.

Knowing who or what one is is extremely difficult and takes decades of practice and awareness. No one I have ever known who was still in the throes of growing up really understood themself.

These children may think they know about their self-defined boxes, and about the universal nature of all women everywhere.

But from the perspective of a little experience of human nature their view looks cramped and self-limiting.

I meant that in terms of the crap fed to younger generations and the nonsense they grow up with. It's a social thing on both sides. Females grow up with one set of bad information, males grow up with another set of bad information. Together, it makes for dysfunction. Sorry, I didn't make that clearer.
 

Jan74

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Well in real life many assholes do get ahead and end up in high positions.

This documentary, The Psychopath Next Door is excellent, and reminds me of the alpha-hole.

"Ironically, the ruthless winner-take-all ethos of North American culture nurtures and rewards psychopathy. Charming, manipulative and ruthless, these are the “snakes in suits” who don’t rob the bank, but instead become a director of it. These “successful psychopaths” — those who attain prominent positions in society — may be overrepresented in certain occupations, such as politics, entertainment and business. "
http://www.cbc.ca/doczone/episodes/the-psychopath-next-door
 

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I meant that in terms of the crap fed to younger generations and the nonsense they grow up with. It's a social thing on both sides. Females grow up with one set of bad information, males grow up with another set of bad information. Together, it makes for dysfunction. Sorry, I didn't make that clearer.

I just want to gently interrogate this.

I hear a lot of men wax nostalgic over all the women who wouldn't have anything to do with them because they were too busy chasing nasty pretty boys. My own story is a lifetime of men who wouldn't have anything to do with me because they were chasing pretty girls who were mean to them.

There's this accepted narrative that women can always "get" a man, and men are constantly rejected. And it's BS on its face. Most of us are going to get rejected most of the time. And feeling unattractive and unloveable is not a gendered experience.

As for the appeal of alphas...self-confidence is always attractive. Self-knowledge and self-acceptance moreso, but self-confidence tends to manifest more obviously in superficial social situations. This is true for people of all genders. "Alpha" strikes me as kind of an outdated term, but that may be because it's loaded in kind of a peculiar way.
 

Jan74

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I just want to gently interrogate this.

I hear a lot of men wax nostalgic over all the women who wouldn't have anything to do with them because they were too busy chasing nasty pretty boys. My own story is a lifetime of men who wouldn't have anything to do with me because they were chasing pretty girls who were mean to them.

There's this accepted narrative that women can always "get" a man, and men are constantly rejected. And it's BS on its face. Most of us are going to get rejected most of the time. And feeling unattractive and unloveable is not a gendered experience.

As for the appeal of alphas...self-confidence is always attractive. Self-knowledge and self-acceptance moreso, but self-confidence tends to manifest more obviously in superficial social situations. This is true for people of all genders. "Alpha" strikes me as kind of an outdated term, but that may be because it's loaded in kind of a peculiar way.

^^^agreed.
 

Will Collins

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I'm wondering, are there many books where it's the alpha female being paired with the less assertive male? In YA fantasy it's almost always the alpha male.
 

Jan74

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I'm wondering, are there many books where it's the alpha female being paired with the less assertive male? In YA fantasy it's almost always the alpha male.

less assertive or less aggressive?
 

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My own story is a lifetime of men who wouldn't have anything to do with me because they were chasing pretty girls who were mean to them.

Yup. The dichotomy exists on both sides, and there are plenty of nerdy nice girls who have trouble getting a date.

It might be a little more pronounced on the male side because there's still a cultural assumption that men are supposed to take the initiative in asking someone out, so they might spend more time getting turned down for that reason. But there are also plenty of girls who ask guys out and get turned down. Spent a lot of time doing that myself before I found someone.
 

The Otter

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I'm wondering, are there many books where it's the alpha female being paired with the less assertive male? In YA fantasy it's almost always the alpha male.

REBOOT by Amy Tintera was...kinda that? Tough, hardass, trained-killer heroine paired up with a warmer and gentler male lead. But then halfway through the novel it seemed like the dynamic got flipped around. I mean, love can soften someone, but the way it was done left a lot to be desired. The novel made her out as this really emotionless killing machine who was struggling to rediscover her humanity, and then as soon as she fell in love she started smiling and giggling all the time. Kinda ridiculous.
 

Will Collins

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Hey Jan, I guess both.

You know the often used template where teen girl meets mysterious boy who turns out to be a supernatural of some kind and shows her this new secret world. He's not always an alpha male, but commonly is. I was wondering what books there are where the situation is flipped?

Thanks Otter, I'll check that book out.
 

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Yup. The dichotomy exists on both sides, and there are plenty of nerdy nice girls who have trouble getting a date.

I agree that people who are nice and shy can have trouble getting dates, although I think that's the shyness more than anything, but I think that people passing over nice guys/girls to chase arseholes is an overstated problem. I'm sorry for singling you out but I don't think it is a dichotomy. Some posts on this thread skirt dangerously close to the whole Nice Guy Syndrome. If someone passes up a sweet nerdy girl for a (from her perspective) meaner pretty girl that someone is more attracted to them and that's really their prerogative. You (general you) can't force people to be more attracted to you.
 
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lizmonster

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I think that people passing over nice guys/girls to chase arseholes is an overstated problem.

I think you're right. The reality of humanity seems to be that there's a percentage of people - 5 to 10%, I'd guess - who are attractive to a large percentage of the population, and are always fielding offers. The rest of us (regardless of objective good looks, which isn't the same as attractiveness) have to search harder to find someone we're interested in who's interested back.

What I was intending to point out was that a lot of the time when someone (and in my experience, it's usually been a man) concludes that girls don't like him and they always ignore him for Mean Guys, he's usually talking about a handful of women who've rejected him, and nothing like a representative sample. All the Nice Guys[tm] I knew in high school mooned over the same 4-5 girls (most of whom were already in relationships).

And of course they did. But this has somehow been normalized into "Girls don't like )nice guys," when a) it's a false way to cast the experience, and b) something people of all genders tend to go through.

(And I don't want to minimize the pain of it, but I do want to smack every man who tells me his mournful story as if I could have no idea what it was like for him.)
 

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I agree that people who are nice and shy can have trouble getting dates, although I think that's the shyness more than anything, but I think that people passing over nice guys/girls to chase arseholes is an overstated problem. I'm sorry for singling you out but I don't think it is a dochotomy. Some posts on this thread skirt dangerously close to the whole Nice Guy Syndrome. If someone passes up a sweet nerdy girl for a (from her perspective) meaner pretty girl that someone is more attracted to them and that's really their prerogative. You (general you) can't force people to be more attracted to you.

Of course not; no one should feel obligated to date someone they're not interested in, for any reason. (And in any case I've been off the dating scene for a very long time now.) And dichotomy is probably the wrong word, since there are no neat categories when it comes to human experience. Just pointing out that, as liz said, that particular kind of experience is not confined to one gender. As in any area of life, there are always going to be some people who struggle more than others.
 

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Clearly I need to check in more often. There are posts I want to respond to, but to include them all would make this entirely too long for me to write and too long for y'all to read.

TedTheewen - Your first post really hit me. The way you describe betas perceiving alphas - what you describe is the alpha-holes mentioned in the earlier posts. I wish I could explain to those boys "alpha" doesn't translate to bad boy. Yes, there are girls who tend to fall for bad boys, but as lizmonster said, it's more about confidence when we're in our younger years. I got mixed up with a couple alpha-holes when I was younger because like most, I find confidence attractive. It wasn't until I'd gotten a little life experience under my belt that I learned the difference between confidence and arrogance, between who leads with respect and someone who leads with fear, between courage and false bravado, and between strength and posturing. Those are some of the things that distinguish the alpha from the alpha-hole, but it takes kissing a few frogs before many women learn enough about the human male to distinguish the differences. The same holds true in reverse, I'd guess, though having never been male I can't speak with authority. ;)
And it sucks, both for the women who get burned and for the nice guys who feel bypassed for jackasses.
But as lizmonster also said, it happens to us a lot, too.

The Otter - the book you mentioned and the emotionless female lead. That reminds me of a writing blog post I read recently. I can't find it now to link, but the woman who wrote it was basically saying that the trend in writing female leads in today's world seems to be to make them emotionless, driven, stoics. She traced it back to Sarah Connor in the Terminator movies and gave multiple other references of female leads since then. Her point was that most women don't think like that and we should bring being womanly back to our female leads (my words, since I can't find hers to quote directly). Most women have faced tragedy, challenges, hardships, and some even abuse. And although these things make us stronger, maybe more wary, more weary, even a little harder, we still manage to cry at sad movies, cuddle babies, giggle with our friends, care for others, have relationships, etc. I don't know anyone IRL who takes it to the Sarah Connor extreme that seems to be so popular in modern fiction (movies and books), but she was right, it's completely unrealistic.

Apologies for the complete thread veer, but I've been thinking about that lately and Otter's description of that book reminded me.
 
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Anna_Hedley

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I think you're right. The reality of humanity seems to be that there's a percentage of people - 5 to 10%, I'd guess - who are attractive to a large percentage of the population, and are always fielding offers. The rest of us (regardless of objective good looks, which isn't the same as attractiveness) have to search harder to find someone we're interested in who's interested back.

(snip)

(And I don't want to minimize the pain of it, but I do want to smack every man who tells me his mournful story as if I could have no idea what it was like for him.)

The Otter said:
Of course not; no one should feel obligated to date someone they're not interested in, for any reason. (And in any case I've been off the dating scene for a very long time now.) And dichotomy is probably the wrong word, since there are no neat categories when it comes to human experience. Just pointing out that, as liz said, that particular kind of experience is not confined to one gender. As in any area of life, there are always going to be some people who struggle more than others.


I see. I'm sorry for misinterpreting you both. This topic has been on my mind since I had a read of the r/NiceGuys subreddit the other day. I've also noticed an uptick in young girls and women doing the same thing. Bemoaning that the men they're interested in aren't interested in them even though they're "not like those other girls" and complaining about being friendzoned or some such nonsense.
 

Marian Perera

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Bemoaning that the men they're interested in aren't interested in them even though they're "not like those other girls"

I really hate the "she's not like other girls" comparison when it comes up in romance. This usually translates to the hero thinking that all women are lying sluts, except for this one. And if the heroine feels she has nothing in common with her female peers, then I'm sorry for her, because she's much more in need of friendship than romance.
 

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You know the often used template where teen girl meets mysterious boy who turns out to be a supernatural of some kind and shows her this new secret world. He's not always an alpha male, but commonly is. I was wondering what books there are where the situation is flipped?

Shari Tepper's ​The Gate to Women's Country is one that comes to mind that ends up standing the stereotype on its head.
 

Jan74

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I agree that people who are nice and shy can have trouble getting dates, although I think that's the shyness more than anything, but I think that people passing over nice guys/girls to chase arseholes is an overstated problem. I'm sorry for singling you out but I don't think it is a dichotomy. Some posts on this thread skirt dangerously close to the whole Nice Guy Syndrome. If someone passes up a sweet nerdy girl for a (from her perspective) meaner pretty girl that someone is more attracted to them and that's really their prerogative. You (general you) can't force people to be more attracted to you.

My husband would've been classified as the classic "shy" guy. For years I dated the assertive-agressive-domineering type and if I didn't have an instant animal attraction to the man then noway would I even look twice. My hubby being the shy wallflower type def wasn't on my radar till a mutual friend introduced us and even then I maintained a friendly relationship with him for at least 7months. Then literally one day I thought....why not give this guy a chance, maybe I need to seriously change "who" I'm attracted to and stop going out with these "alpha-aholes" :) so I called him one night and we went to a friends to have supper and a movie and the rest is history....20yrs later and what started off as a slow little flicker is def a raging fire....he still gives me butterlies and I'm more attracted to him now than I ever have anyone else I've ever been with. He's come out of his shell too....I'm a social butterfly...but leaving his fathers company and getting on with another corporation was really great for him. I fell in love fast....3months together and then after 9months we were engaged. I knew after a handful of dates that he was it.

So he wasn't love at first sight since I knew him for awhile...but once we dated and gave the "nice" guy a chance it was def love super fast. He was kind and smart(so smart) athletic and the most beautiful blue eyes with dark black eyelashes and jet black hair and during hunting season he would grow a super black thick beard and over time my attraction grew and grew and grew.

So ladies....those nice guys....let me tell you.....they can be incredible alpha males underneath :) :) :) Ditch the alpha-ahole!
 

Will Collins

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Shari Tepper's ​The Gate to Women's Country is one that comes to mind that ends up standing the stereotype on its head.

That book sounds really interesting. Thank you.
 

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