Career to Commitment

Finding Fulfillment in Work and Love

Not Just Another Nice Guy

Wide misinterpretations of what we define as the “Beta” male, the “nice guy” man

“I am an alpha female who married a nice guy. It is really an ideal match for us both. He calms me… down, and I push him out of his comfort zone. I tried relationships with other men who were more like me, and it always ended epically terrible. Then I found this sweet soul who really doesn't have a nasty cell in his body. I'm super-lucky, because not just anyone would put up with my brashness.”

This quote was pulled from the comments section of Jezebel a couple of weeks ago, when a columnist ran a story about our book and sent her readers to take our Alpha/Beta Quiz. Soon, Refinery29 picked up the piece and sent more readers stampeding to the site. Before we knew it, the website crashed.

We took plenty of criticism from all these quiz-takers about the Alpha/Beta terminology we used in the book—ouch. But we’re tough, and we took it on the chin. However, something that Dr. Rhodes and I noticed were the wide misinterpretations of what we define as the “Beta” male, the “nice guy” many of us love to hate. Many women define a “nice guy” as a boring, wimpy, whiny, needy, loser-ish type without a shred of self-esteem who postures and puts women down because he needs to prove himself as a man. As one commenter put it: “Jealous of my success, bitter about his life, he needed constant coddling and fawning to feel good about himself, and was always seething underneath that he had to put forth ANY effort to be perceived as the good guy. Oh, and he never showed up emotionally.”

There are plenty of guys like this. (For the record, we describe those loserish types as Omegas, not as Betas). We’re not talking about them; what we are talking about are the kinds of solid guys who are not old-style Alphas—or Omegas—but who are emotionally available and aren’t threatened by strong women. That’s what we mean by Beta.

In our culture men historically have been trained and expected to be aggressive, competitive, and hierarchical. Male self-worth has been based on embodying those qualities and on being a successful breadwinner. But consider this: we’re living in a transitional moment in which huge cultural changes in gender dynamics are affecting women and men alike. For ages, the Alpha male/Beta female was the standard model for marriage. Today, as more and more women surge ahead in the professions and in income, the old model has become antique. Obsolete. Women have come into their own. They value their singular abilities and they have goals. They don’t need to be with a man who dominates them and calls the shots.

For a lifelong partnership, today’s Alpha woman (yes, for clarity, that’s the nomenclature we chose) does not need a competitor but a team player: a good, solid Beta male! And yes, there are plenty of them out there. We believe that if you keep your head on straight and generally apply yourself to finding a reliable, smart, collaborative, relationship-oriented kind of guy, you will greatly increase your chances of creating a fulfilling relationship.

The good Beta guy is NOT just another nice guy. And we’re not advocating that you settle for Mr. Just OK—that’s not good enough. We think it’s possible to find really, really good people out there. As one woman put it on the Jezebel thread, “I date a Beta male…he is incredibly sweet, thoughtful, sexy and great in the sack!”

Seriously, what more could you wish for?

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