Stop Trying to Be an Alpha Male. Start Trying to Be a Grown Up.



As a man, you can never be Alpha enough.

Let’s just put that out there.

All the fantasies you harbor of being the gorgeous, aloof commander of women’s attention are bound to go up in smoke. That image you have of yourself as the guy who will succeed in everything, always be the center of attention and never want for company has got to go.

It’s making you miserable.

“Alpha male” is a squishy category. While its precise boundaries are difficult to draw, most people have a sense of what the term refers to. We all agree it means the best men, the ones who stand out among the oceans of interchangeable dudes in their non-descript T-shirts and jeans. We all know Alpha means those who excel.

We all want to be one of those guys. At least most of us do. We desire to stand out somehow from the vast landscape of mediocrity. If that’s you, you’re on the right track.


Carrying in our heads some James Bond image of Alpha is counterproductive. Too many men who are, at least, awake enough to think about these issues (a minority, I admit) spend their time seeking to live up to an image. The pictures in their heads typically derive from popular culture or from their own fantasies.

This conception of Alpha is inherently self-defeating because it is inherently comparative. Guys end up trying to seem Alpha, to appropriate whatever they believe to be its external markings. They look around to see how they’re doing, appraising every other dude’s level of Alpha. The end result is guys claiming to be self-possessed, independent Alpha males who are, in fact, obsessed with comparing themselves to others.

We run into these problems when Alphaness is conceived of as a series of external practices that signal our status. Real Alpha, whatever it is, must arise from the inside. Of course, men can self-consciously adopt new, more Alpha-ish attitudes and behaviors, but unless those can be integrated into some already present internal reality, they aren’t going to stick.

When these attempts fail, those failures roll back on men as self-recrimination and shame.

What’s the alternative? Just to stop trying to be Alpha and live a mediocre life of grinding frustration?


The alternative is to stop trying to be Alpha and start trying to be a mature man.

The real fulfillment of a man’s soul comes from maturing physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And, unlike Alpha-ness, mature masculinity is a little easier to define.

One reason it’s easier to define is that we’ve all had some first hand experience with it. Let me give you an example. I grew up at the end of American manufacturing. The men I grew up around were steady, solid blue-collar guys. If you were a kid, doing what you were supposed to, they could make you feel safe just by sitting in the same room drinking coffee. If you were doing what you weren’t supposed to, they could make you feel scared just by making eye contact.

I can only imagine their presence had a positive effect on women. All of them were married and the women I remember seemed happy, at least happier than many women today.

These men hunted, farmed, ran small businesses. They could fix anything. They were neither bullies nor pushovers. They weren’t eager to offend or to please. They were just men doing what men did. And not one of them ever talked about being Alpha.

Of course, what I am describing is just one expression of masculine maturity. There are other expressions, probably as many as there are kinds of men. My point is that the men I knew growing up exemplified the fulfillment of the masculine spirit without referring to some predetermined idea of what Alpha is.

That same approach will work for you. Instead of worrying about whether you’re Alpha enough, just start trying to be the most well-developed, fulfilled version of you possible. Unlike Alpha male status, the seeds of mature masculinity are inside us all. They need only be cultivated.

Here are some ways to encourage their growth:

Be independent. Mature men aren’t always looking around to check women’s responses to them. They aren’t keeping track to see if some other guy is getting more attention. Have some goals and meet them. Let other people play their own games.

Take responsibility for yourself and others. Stop saying there are no quality women out there. Stop blaming others for your loneliness, for your shortcomings. Look around for opportunities to create value for yourself and others. Just doing this will draw people, including attractive women, your way.

Focus. Have some goals and pursue them through adversity. That’s what mature men do. When you come out on the other side, act like it was easy, just for effect. Build you life. Build your family. Build your legacy.

Do these things, aim at simply being a mature, active, responsible man, and the Alpha thing will take care of itself.


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4 responses

  1. Great post and I couldn’t agree more. A lot of guys who think they are alpha are actually spoiled brats. Sadly much of this comes with age and experience but it’s so important to live life for you and focus on one thing at a time.

  2. Dean, thanks for sharing this, really enjoyed reading. Makes me nostalgic for values which I hope will always be aspired to but seem rarer now than they were.

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