This year I received a text message from a man asking me how to navigate a parking lot; he said he needed my “suggestions” about how to find it. I had agreed to meet him at a public park after he asked me to help him with marketing pictures for his coaching business. I thought it a little odd, given he claimed to be a wealth coach, that he needed me, an amateur photographer, to take marketing pictures of him with his own phone … was he secretly wanting to date me? Was he just using me to get cheap photos? And why on earth couldn’t he find a parking lot on his own?
Recently a woman in my local community bravely shared her thoughts on social media about aging and how the culture worships youth, and what that looks and feels like for women. She suggested that we reflect on it. I was shocked to see the responses from men and how angry and offended they were. One of them was a much older male who I had peacefully chanted “Ram ram ram” with in India … yet his comment had such an angry tone. What on earth was causing these guys to blow up?
At any rate, this got me thinking of a strange new phenomenon of the beta male.
The Beta Male
There is a new type of man on the market. His behavior is characterized by a group or follower mentality, unquestioning obedience of authority and a lack of sexual vitality. This is the opposite of the cowboy archetype—the wild man who trusts himself and fights the good fight. Whereas the cowboy is alpha and aligned with his masculine in a healthy way, the beta male is overly feminine and only tapping into the “boy” side of his masculinity. Whereas an alpha male shows leadership, conviction of inner truth and courage, a beta male shows passivity, a lack of self-trust and an inability to take risks. This is why beta males are often seen in packs, as they are in constant need of approval. Beta males are often insecure, controlling and easily offended.
Some people cringe when they hear the words “alpha male” as it conjures up ideas of “toxic masculinity” in their mind—bullies, racists, power tripping cops and abusive husbands. It’s true, the whole “alpha” thing definitely has a shadow side if the alpha behavior is unconscious.
For example, when Will Smith punched Chris Rock at the Oscars, you could say it was strong alpha behavior (wanting to protect his wife) but unconscious. He was in the shadow side of the masculine, which is controlling and reactive. Conscious masculinity isn’t reactive in the face of emotions; it’s present with them. If Will Smith would have breathed through the embarrassment or shame of his wife being made fun of and just held space for it, it may have revealed more emotional maturity, and thereby more evolved masculinity.
Women find the unconscious alpha or “shadow masculine” repelling in the world of dating, almost as much as the beta male behavior. For example, last week a man sent me a direct message out of the blue that said, “Wanna ride on my motorcycle?” This was a person I hadn’t talked to in five years. There’s nothing wrong with his direct, penetrative message; it’s just that trying to attract a woman from that excited, sexual place usually doesn’t work. Most women need to be aroused mentally and in the heart space first before their body can open. Yet the unconscious alpha male is so penetrative that he operates from the only arousal map he knows: sex first>>heart second>>mind last. Again, this is natural and is fine once a woman opens up to him and they’ve built trust. But right off the bat or out of the blue, he may get ghosted or blocked if he approaches a woman this way.
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