I stumbled upon this post (below) over at a forum I used to comment at frequently back in 2008 (a year into my marriage when I thought I could magically fix everyone’s marriage problems), called enotalone. Back then it was a smallish community of regular commenters and we would try to help any new people who came there with friend issues, family issues, sex issues, or marriage problems. I loved reading everyone’s personal situations, maybe its the nosy yenta in me, however, I loved being able to analyze a difficult situation and try to find (or listen to) the best advice for that person’s particular situation.
Not everyone seeking answers were ready to hear what we had to say about their predicament. Much like in therapy, you cannot just disclose everything you see wrong immediately to a person or they’ll shut it out in self defense, and nothing good will come of their experience with you, or from your advice. You have to slowly help them to see the real problem; you really have to help them come to terms with it themselves first.
What I found striking about this particular post (from May 2014) is how honest this self-proclaimed (and proud?) beta-male is about his desire to be a partner, not a leader, in a relationship with a wife.
I emphasized the phrases that are particularly important to his particular situation, and want to go through each one to dissect exactly what is going on here in his life at that moment in time. But first, his plea for help:
I’m trying for some introspection here – before I start just let me say that I’m not looking for this thread for nice guys to complain about how they finish last.
So hey there….I’m a nice guy and I finish last 😛
I’m on the heels of another breakup (long time coming) and just trying to…. get some perspective on my place in the dating world
For any of you who have taken any interest in the Mayer/Briggs personality test, I’m an ISFJ – for the uninitiated, that’s a uber-responsible softie with some other annoying attributes – I was fascinated when I took the test, as it nailed me to probably 90% (I’m an ISFJ that will actually communicate with you and a few other discrepancies)
So my ex and I made the call to separate a few weeks back. There were numerous reasons for this, many boiling down to simple incompatibility:
She’s very high energy and an extremely outspoken and self proclaimed Alpha female whereas I’m a softer spoken artsy type
We didn’t have anything in common that we enjoyed doing together and conversation was really really hard. I found her overwhelming and she found me reeeaaally boring ( I’ve never had that with anyone before)- this one was the main factor as we just didn’t have fun together
Her opinions are hard and fast whereas I’m more….tender I guess towards other peoples opinions and perspectives
We recognized these and our other differences early on and thought we’d be able to make it based on the other attributes we liked about one another. Over time I found her very critical and overwhelming and I would more and more often become anxious and stressed – in all honesty I should have had better boundaries and left ages ago
Fort the last two years we were embroiled in a crazy roller coaster ride with her teenage daughter, when the fog lifted and we had some time to really re-examine us as a couple we wondered what there really was when you take the family (she has 5 kids) responsibilities out of it. In typical ISFJ fashion I threw myself into family responsibilities for the last 3.5 years of our partnership.
Over time, while she appreciated my gentle, giving nature she really found that she wanted more of an Alpha male, more of a challenge, more of a ballbuster (I don’t know how to be a challenge with the huge demands of the family). I understand her wants, but feel they would make more sense were it to just be the two of us, or with a few less kids – it was exhausting.
So much of the literature around this sort of thing will say, be a challenge to your girlfriend, to your wife, always leave her wanting, give her two signs of affection for her every three….that sort of thing.
I’m just like my dad…I’m not a alpha male,
I’m the typical ISFJ guy who will make sure everything runs smoothly, show my love, support you and give you my last quarter cup of Starbucks if you finish yours, you an trust me with your life and your heart.
So….I think I’m just trying to process, my ex has said before to me “you get so lost in us” (meaning the family) and I definitely did, for a long time I was leaving work 2-3 times a day to check on her daughter, we’ve done eating disorder, self harm, suicide ideation, tons of police visits…. I could go on, it’s been a rocky ride, stressful ride. I always say my dedication and support for all her kids and her to be where my strength lay as a “strong male”, while not aggressive and outspoken I was there for all the stuff her and the kids needed, many hospital visits and drunken teen escapades. It felt like a bit of a catch-22 as she’d tell me not to get lost in everything, but she was very demanding (also self proclaimed) and the needs of the family were very high so I didn’t really know how to NOT get lost in everything.
I’m rambling, I guess where I’m at is I’m not sure how to take this (there’s a ton more details, maybe some of you remember some of my posts back in January) but I’m not sure if I went wrong picking someone extremely incompatible with me? Maybe I should have held out for a sweet gentle librarian or am I too “Beta” and gentle which is a turn-off?
If I am too beta and gentle, I don’t really know how to up my game in that regard without compromising who I am (which is a gentle beta-artist by the looks of it)
I was forward with my needs and frustrations with her, but they always got shut down fairly quickly, so as time went on, I voiced my needs less and less. This was a point of frustration for her, but when I explained that it seemed pointless to do so because she’d just shut me down….she would shut that down too……
Is there a place for Beta guys? (as we are called), some people would say “nice guy” but I find that that moniker also includes, possessiveness, passive-aggressiveness and shut off emotions (none of which are me)
I get why women would go for the confidence of the Alpha male, but dang….I’m just not at this point in my life and never have been, I was a quiet baby, quiet kid, etc, I’m just a more peaceful kind of person who would rather be a partner than a leader in a relationship.
Or maybe I was just with the wrong person way too long, trying too hard to fit a square peg in a round hole, I don’t know.
Any thoughts on my rambling mess?
First, there is nothing wrong with being a quiet, introverted, or “gentle” male, these qualities do not necessarily have to mean that a guy is feminine (emasculated) as well. Alpha and beta are much more complicated that what most people seem to try to confine their definitions into. The best and most simplistic manner I can possibly attribute to what is “beta” is an attitude of deference or subservience to a woman’s opinions, her needs, or her desires. A kind of lack of confident authority or capable masculinity in a man. Being too dependent on her happiness for his own happiness… allowing her to run and rule the family while he takes a back seat as a pseudo-equal partner, or because she
leads better “makes better decisions.”
I give this guy a lot of credit for being honest and self-aware enough to admit that he actually doesn’t want to be a leader… most men who have been groomed into this kind of equality-type marriage adamantly assert that there shouldn’t be a leader (that somehow they both manage to lead and no one follows – yea, right) because they are both equal partners in the marriage. Society has purposefully created these “beta” males, destining them for unhappiness as they strive for niceness and peacefulness, to be partners instead of leaders in their marriages. However, no one endures the pain and frustration throughout life like the beta male does. Let’s take a look at the emphasized sentences a little closer:
1) “as a couple we wondered what there really was when you take the family (she has 5 kids) responsibilities out of it. In typical ISFJ fashion I threw myself into family responsibilities for the last 3.5 years of our partnership.
Over time, while she appreciated my gentle, giving nature she really found that she wanted more of an Alpha male”
He doesn’t give their ages, but a single man who has taken on a woman with 5 children is only a plight a beta male would put himself through… the self-sacrificing, self-effacing giver who prefers to “do the right thing” for someone else, but never for himself (or always puts himself and his needs last). Forever seeking to be the hero in order to mask their lack of real authority or tangible masculinity in their relationships, in classic white knight or beta fashion, he “threw” himself into family responsibilities for the last 3.5 years of his “partnership.” Men who have been brainwashed by society to be “beta” believe that the crucible of true masculinity is in how much he can give, how much he can bleed for his partner and children, how many of his needs he can sacrifice, no matter how unappreciative or nonreciprocal his wife (ironically and supposedly his “equal” partner) is. The problem is that women typically do not appreciate all that the self-sacrificing beta male does, she becomes accustomed to taking advantage of all the “sacrifice” he gives without having to pay anything herself for it, women will use this kind of man (for his goods and services) for a long time, but he will never win her respect and thus will never capture her raw desire.
2) I’m just like my dad…I’m not a alpha male,
This makes me so sad. I think very few men had a good example of a father-figure in their life who exhibited what God truly intended for a man to be while growing up. Most fathers are likely too passive, allowing the wife to be the true leader, while he is simply a figure head, pseudo-leader of the family to outsiders… behind closed doors, she is the one who leads. When children (especially boys) grow up in this kind of family environment, they hear all these mixed messages (in church) about men being the spiritual head or leader of the family, and yet they watch day to day reactions where their father submits, defers, and is subservient to their mother who essentially runs their Matriarchal family.
This thus creates men who grew up with beta fathers, who in turn will produce more beta boys.
Boys desperately DESPERATELY need fathers who are strong, masculine, capable and confident in their God-given position to LEAD their family.
3) I always say my dedication and support for all her kids and her to be where my strength lay as a “strong male”, while not aggressive and outspoken I was there for all the stuff her and the kids needed, many hospital visits and drunken teen escapades.
This again, depicts what is the crucible to a beta male of what represents true strength or masculinity – his ability to support her and her kids, to be there for her and for them. He sacrificed his own time and energy in this relationship (that was not even a marriage, and to kids who are not even his own), thinking it was the epitome of being the “strong male” that she’d eventually desire. He rationalizes that (based upon all his love and dedication and sacrifice), he is her hero and should be (at the very least) appreciated as such. But do beta males ever get appreciated for all that they are willing to do for a woman (and her 5 children)? No…. Their reward (this is harsh but so true) is a very unfulfilled or nonexistent sex life, or her cheating on him with an alpha-type male (more common than you’d think), or her using him for years for resources, money, housing, or emotional support, or parenting her fatherless children (as in this case) only to leave him after the fact because she’s finally realized she desires someone more alpha.
Women like this know they desire someone more alpha, but they are not against using a beta male for as long as he allows himself to be used.
4) If I am too beta and gentle, I don’t really know how to up my game in that regard without compromising who I am (which is a gentle beta-artist by the looks of it)
This is a common problem with men who have a skewed view of alpha vs. beta. There is no one cookie cutter creation for what makes an alpha. Every man is different, and it is a journey a man has to travel on his own, with God, to find his own identity. It is probably the most difficult life journey any man has to undertake in order to realize his full potential to be what & who God intended him to be.
But believing that becoming “alpha” will somehow compromise his true “beta” self, he is undermining any advancement in personal growth, healthy boundaries, or even spiritual growth as he forgoes learning to acquire real strength and develop authentic masculinity. A healthy, strong, masculine man does not allow a woman to use him in such a manner. Such a parasitic relationship is not what God intended for him to “endure” in order to achieve a kind of “holy” sainthood for his sacrifice and dedication. Having strong boundaries, a strong sense of self-respect and healthy pride in himself, a confident assertiveness, and a clear mind that can see a situation for what it is and be able to avoid a woman’s petty manipulations – these are all qualities of a healthy “alpha” male. He does not need to change his innate gentleness or kindness, he just has to make sure he isn’t ruled by these qualities. He doesn’t have to become some kind of “ball-busting” asshole like he says she would prefer. While many criminals, sociopaths, and yes, assholes would be classified in the alpha category (and have the women to prove it), they are only alphas because they exhibit these traits (or take them to unhealthy extremes), not solely because of their anti-social behaviors.
5) I was forward with my needs and frustrations with her, but they always got shut down fairly quickly
Another failure of the beta male, is to be “forward” with a woman on what he needs or wants from her, to try to explain or break-down logically how a reciprocal relationship should work.
Women (like any human with a conscience) understand how reciprocity works, it is simply that they feel they don’t have to abide by those particular rules when it comes to nice beta men. A woman who picks a beta man is not picking him in order to fulfill his deepest desires and fantasies, she is picking him for what HE can do for HER. It is Emma Watson’s HE FOR SHE in real life played out day-to-day. HE has to cater to HER, HE has to be there for HER, HE has to put up (or shut up) for HER… and so-on and so-on it goes. When or if he starts to feel like it is a little one-sided and tries to explain to her about reciprocity, she plays dumb, doesn’t “get it,” and as in his own example he gets “shut down fairly quickly.”
She just doesn’t want to hear that he has needs, too. It’s HE for SHE remember?
6) Is there a place for Beta guys?
There is “a place,” however it is not a place he wants to be, because being beta is never going to be fulfilling for a man, he will always feel a tug that something isn’t right, that his true self is somehow being repressed or even oppressed by everything and everyone in society. He will always feel (unless it is extremely repressed) that he is somehow falling short, failing to be a true man.
There are many men who have found their place and lived the life as a beta man, husband, and father… and they often also find themselves waking up to a woman who doesn’t desire them in that raw sexual way, or who tells them she has never loved them to begin with, or who constantly disrespects him or undermines him in their marriage. Again, it is simply not a place he wants to be in.
7) I’m just a more peaceful kind of person who would rather be a partner than a leader in a relationship.
Possibly the most wonderful example of true masculinity depicted in literature is that of Jesus Christ. His unswerving strength, His confidence and capability, His boldness and courage, His assertiveness and toughness – all these masculine qualities were matched with calculated compassion, gentleness, love for children, joy, peacefulness, understanding. He was not an asshole, nor was he a blubbering emo. He was not merely a dutiful, quiet beta – He had much too much gumption and gall in fighting with the Pharisees than to be a compliant “peace at all costs” beta.
He stood up for what was Truth, always exhibiting what was the opposite of cowardice.
Which, when you really look at it, a beta male is afraid… afraid of his own masculinity. Society tells him its too dangerous, undesirable, or even wrong.
But men, nothing could be further from the Truth.