Career to Commitment

Finding Fulfillment in Work and Love

Should You Tone Yourself Down To Get A Man?

If you’re a woman with a strong, directive personality, you know how this feels: You’re out on a date with someone new or starting work on a project with a male colleague. Suddenly, you wonder: “Am I threatening to this guy? Am I ‘too much’? Should I dial it down down a little, just in case?” Read More

Rough opening, the rest is interesting

Please read this entire comment before deeming it appropriate.

"But there are plenty of men out there who are hugely insecure: it’s painfully obvious when I read the ugly, negative comments from men in response to some of my blogposts about Alpha women."

I've never read a single one of your other posts so I can say this as a blank slate- Your anecdotal experience means absolutely nothing, much less when that experience is online comments wherein people have the ability to maintain total anonymity, and that frankly has no place in an article such as this. It's unprofessional, it makes you yourself come across as the one who oversensitive (and overly judgmental. And yes I realize the irony) and it almost deterred me from reading onward.

But I did read onward, and you at least acknowledge that there are indeed women, just like some of us men, who are far too overbearing and could seriously use a reality check. Their authoritative behavior is a time bomb waiting to go off for any relationship, be it intimate, platonic or professional.

Just as much as it's an irritant to the less-controlling partner and everyone around them, it's also a threat to one's own happiness. When you expect everything to go your way, you'll find yourself frustrated more than you'll find yourself being content. It's a fool's game to be a strict leader in any capacity other than in a business setting and even then a little flexibility can lead to wondrous results.

I'll hold my own comments about some other aspects of this article as it's clear I'm not on the same side of the ideological aisle as you are, but I assume we both at least agree with the above assertions.

However, I will say I'm a little confused about the wording of the following-

" I do agree that a guy needs self-confidence and a sense of humor to be happily married to a woman who likes to take the lead—but aren’t those always the qualities that make a great partner?"

I'm a little unclear on what you're saying, and I could very well be alone in that. Are you saying that a partner must take the lead to be great, or that they must have self-confidence? Or is it both? In any case, I'd be curious then why any of the alpha women are with the betas, or rather, if they should stay with them. The insecure men who can't stand up for themselves; they clearly lack self-confidence, especially if they can't stand up to their partners when they are clearly crossing the line, such as in the examples you give.

For that matter, surely you see the tragic irony of this whole issue. You open up the article with the assumption that men are typically sensitive in their preferred alpha-egos, but you make no mention of the women who suffer from the same insecurity. That applies to the above, actually; in such a case, the "alpha" may actually be the one lacking self-confidence and is asserting him or herself in such a manner to present a facade of power when they are actually extremely insecure themselves. Think in terms of a cornered animal; they feel threatened, but they want to feel in control again, and thus they lash out. It's actually rather common in both sexes, so surely this is relevant to this topic?

I could even think of a particular addition to the observations you suggest; evaluate your behavior, but also try and understand why you behave the way you do. It may come to be that a lot of women who appear to be "alphas" are actually insecure betas who are simply covering up for their own egos, just as many men do.

A facade of control is more comforting than a reality of insecurity. It's unfortunately a never ending cycle; in such a case, one will never truly feel in control because they'll always act based on their defensive instinct rather than from genuine assertiveness.

In any of the above circumstances, for what reason should either partner stay in such a toxic relationship? Whether the man or the woman is the alpha doesn't matter; if one lacks confidence, they're not technically a "great partner," so why stick around? If it's about leadership, then one of the partners isn't doing their fair share. It goes into my personal opinions I'll admit, but I actually think neither half of a relationship should "lead." It should be a joint effort.

I hope this hasn't come across as antagonistic. My overly analytical side is genuinely curious.

You're both right; that's why I quit dating years ago.

I'm a woman who is equally disgusted with the bullshit both sexes dish out.

Maybe we should all give up on this whole relationship nonsense? It's too subjective for anything beyond guessing.

And it isn't making most of us happy.

My wife is definitely alpha!

The author is right on target. My wife is definitely an alpha woman and a sense of humor is indeed important! She's an unusual combination of beauty, confidence, outspokenness, determination and brains, which apparently rattled a lot of guys she dated before me. I get a kick out of when a guy mistakes her for being a cutie who couldn't know much about business or computer theory, only to discover that she has advanced degrees from a world-famous university in both of those areas, headed a department at a large enterprise, etc. Watching her in action is like watching fireworks go off! :)

As for Anonymous's complaint about the anecdotal statement:

"But there are plenty of men out there who are hugely insecure: it’s painfully obvious when I read the ugly, negative comments from men in response to some of my blogposts about Alpha women."

I'll just add the anecdotal confirmation that this is absolutely correct. In fact, what's sometimes actually worse is when some of those guys don't make direct negative comments and instead covertly undermine. But my wife could write a book on how to outmaneuver them.

Income is nothing but power (where've you been?)

"It is the rare Alpha woman who so blatantly equates power with income, but it does happen."

Oh Jesus H. Christ.

As a single, self-supporting woman, I'll start by calling this total bullocks.

Alpha or no—women equate income with power the same as men. Equally.
Income is independence, and freedom.
It is the ability to have a 'room of one's own', versus still living with your parents. Income is about having opportunity, and choices. Those are all forms of power, even though it isn't about lording over somebody else. It's about not being stuck in a pair of golden handcuffs. Income is POWER, and every man and woman knows it from birth.

Ideology and psychology

I'm not sure of having understood the use of the words in this article... Anyway, I would like to point out that I've never heard the use of "alpha" or "beta" epithets out of a dystopian fictional narrative or a neo darwinian pamphlet (just to opose a little bit of euphemistical language to the one used in the article).
I expected this article to be at least ironical... have you ever doubted about the adecuacy of using ideological classification in a so-called psychology article? I have to say that this way of thinking has only meaning in an ultra capitalist frame of mind, where the value of the people is related to their income and their ability to climb up in the social hierarchy. In my opinion this is a very poor way of thinking and I feel disgusted by sorting human behaviour in a ridiculous and darwinian classification.

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Dr. Rhodes is an individual and couples therapist and author in New York City.
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