While the terms are controversial for a variety of reasons, you can use “alpha,” “beta,” and “omega” to categorize males.
The alpha is the confident and charming leader, the omega the creepy social outcast, and the beta male is the passive guy who is often frustrated with his lack of success with his career and with women.
You might wonder if the alpha and beta male phenomenon even exists in humans (since it clearly does in many other animals). While it’s not fully verified by science, there are observable ways that human males can be separated in categories. However, we’re not here to argue from a pure scientific perspective. Rather, while we will link to studies and other observable facts, we consider the whole alpha, beta, and omega thing to be a popular culture phenomenon. We are approaching it from that angle.
In fact, as you read this article, you’ll likely see your friends and maybe yourself in the descriptions. You can check out my article on the existence of alpha and beta males among humans for more information on that debate.
This essay will examine beta male traits and beta male characteristics. It will also look at the beta male definition. I want to add that being beta isn’t necessarily bad. Many beta males are loyal, friendly, and make good friends, co-workers, husbands, fathers, etc.
Now is a good time to take our entertaining and totally and utterly non-scientific “How Beta Male Are You?” Quiz!
But, if you want to succeed in business, romance, and life, being “beta” puts you at a great disadvantage. And, many guys find that being passive, letting others dictate your life, and other behavior patterns lead to a lack of fulfillment.
If you’re wondering “what is a beta male?” or what beta means, or the beta male definition, this article is for you!
Beta Male Definition
On a basic level, beta males are more passive followers of the alphas, who are the leaders. While it’s not easy to scientifically define a beta male, look at the very term: beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. So, a simple beta male definition is this: betas are the secondary class of men in society. They receive second place in leadership roles, relationship successes, business achievements, and other endeavors.
Many beta men are OK with that. However, most aren’t and want to be first place. Or, at the very least they want to receive a piece of what first place has: relationships with hot women, financial success, and leadership roles. The whole alpha or beta discussion weighs heavily on them because they want more out of life.
Beta Male Traits
Here are a few beta male traits. Perhaps you’ve seen them in co-workers, family, and friends. Maybe you see them in yourself.
Lack of Assertiveness
When I was in graduate school I attended a smaller church and they asked me to do all kinds of things, like counting the collection money. Even though I was very busy with school, and had no money to spare for gas and no accounting experience, I said “yes” to every request.
Like me then, beta males aren’t assertive. They get taken advantage of and lack assertiveness. They have trouble standing up for themselves, especially saying “no.” They may even say “yes,” when they mean “no” to please people. A great book that describes this attitude (and helps passive guys start to develop assertiveness skills) is When I Say No I Feel Guilty.
Most beta males are passive or passive-aggressive. They take insults or criticism lying down. They will tell a woman everything is “fine” when it is not, or let their boss mistreat them at work, but when they get alone, things change. The passivity takes its toll. Emotions well up and create problems. This is the dark side of beta male passivity: passive-aggressiveness.
For example, I’ve known beta males who advertise how “nice” they are, and refuse to tackle issues directly for a variety of reasons. However, the anger is eventually released. It’s just released in more unhealthy ways like going from the “nice guy” a woman should date to then calling her (indirectly, of course) names on social media for rejecting him.
Beta males are, by definition, the followers of society. They’re not the top dogs in the social hierarchies. Positions of power aren’t typically filled by guys who don’t seek them. Beta males don’t seek power so they rarely find it.
In junior high I loved the band U2. I bought every U2 item possible. Even though never in a million years would I have ever gotten a second with Bono, he was loving the money, time, and energy I spent making him richer, more admired by women, and more popular, while I was a broke, dateless, and unpopular teen.
While alpha males typically forge their own paths and create trends, beta males follow in alpha footsteps. I know a guy who only uses his Facebook page to promote others: musical artists, sports teams, and politicians. They’re the alpha males; he’s the beta. If you use most of your spare time to support someone else, such as always promoting a sports team, religion, musical group, etc., then odds are good you’re a beta.
Beta Male Characteristics
Here are a few more beta male characteristics to help you better understand what betas are all about. These relate to their basic worldview and how they relate to women.
Prototypical Nice Guy
“Nice guys finish last” is an unfortunate, but many times accurate, phrase. Lacking the drive and aggression to “win” most nice guys end up out of the winner’s circle.
This was my view on mostly everything. I was too “nice” to promote myself, ask for a raise, or even talk to a girl randomly. That’s what jerks did! And then, when I didn’t get the things I wanted in life, I blamed others for not seeing how “nice” I was.
Beta males are the prototypical “nice guy”: passive, non-assertive, follower, etc. They might be content with this role in some ways. However, never being at the top at work, in sports, and with women, can be frustrating.
However, beta guys forget that pretty much everybody is “nice.” If nice is all you have going for you then, you are just boring and lacking confidence. Neither of those traits are attractive, and neither are qualities that great leaders have.
I would argue that many “nice guys” aren’t even that nice: constant passivity can turn into anger and passive-aggression very quickly. In fact, if you reject a beta male, sometimes he will suddenly go from being a “nice guy” to a total jerk in a matter of seconds.
Not that you can blame them. It’s frustrating to be passive all the time. If you have been a “nice” pushover all these years, and it (obviously) hasn’t worked out for you, I highly recommend the book No More Mister Nice Guy (available in print and Kindle) by Robert Glover. It will help you transform from being a passive, boring guy into one who is more attractive and assertive (without becoming a jerk).
Doesn’t Understand the Dating Game
Beta men usually struggle to get dates and stay single. Generally speaking, beta males act more like women, which is why women often treat them like other women: “friend-zoning” them, expecting them to listen to all their problems, etc., but never actually dating them. If you think of how women often behave with one another (non-sexually and as friends), that is how beta males behave.
One of the biggest beta male characteristics we see is complete frustration when it comes to getting into a relationship. And that describes my dating experiences as a beta male. I didn’t have trouble meeting women. But, I bored them to death, acted like a friend, and then when they actually became my friend and dated more charming, funny, and masculine guys, I would lament that women love jerks.
The very beta male definition means they don’t understand attraction, dating, or relationships. They overly compliment women, befriend them in the hopes of “more,” attempt to buy their love through gifts, etc.
In fact, the term “beta bucks” is often used of some guys who provide women with things like rent money and income while the women are secretly or openly desiring other men and waiting for the chance to dump their beta guy.
What betas don’t realize is that women like masculine men, i.e. assertive guys with an edge, particularly a charming edge. So, these boring, nice guy followers are the definition of unattractive, even if they are beta bucks for a woman.
Needy And Whiny
Anytime I was befriending a girl to try to get more from her, I would invariably start to whine and complain when she suddenly started dating a “douchebag” instead of me. However, oddly enough, the guys the women dated over me weren’t jerks or bad men. They were just attractive guys who weren’t me!
I would get so needy and whiny and complain that women always fell for assholes instead of guys like me.
Since beta males get in fewer fulfilling relationships, they can be desperate for attention. So, they become super needy and attached, either to a particular woman or to the idea of having a girlfriend. Paradoxically, this behavior is very unattractive and often leads guys to lose the very women they desire.
Weak And Goofy
As I mentioned, because they aren’t very masculine, a lot of beta males look feminine, weak, and even goofy. They lack masculine facial characteristics, and their body language projects weakness and insecurity. This is because they have lower levels of testosterone.
Women evolved to like guys who can provide and protect them. Most women I know say they wants to “feel safe” with a guy. A beta male often gives an “I need protected” vibe, versus an “I can protect you” vibe, indicated by their slouching and scared body language, passivity, and higher voices. Guys like this are sometimes called numales because they aren’t the traditionally masculine men women like.
A good example of a beta face is the guy in the photo with the heart a few paragraphs up, but also “pajama boy,” the poster child for Obamacare. Whatever your politics, that face is a “friend only” face. Click here to see the original ad with his face. He definitely comes across as very beta.
If you get down to it, the beta personality is really about being a boy, rather than a man. A boy can’t provide, can’t protect, looks weak and overly youthful, and isn’t desired by women. In essence, a beta male is seen as a beta boy. Like with a boy, a beta male lacks a lot of testosterone. So, while we use the term beta males or beta men, women view them more like beta boys.
There are many ways to increase your testosterone and masculinity. Before you get too defensive (visualizing yourself becoming a grunting dude at the gym), realize that outside of dangerous environments like prison, higher levels of testosterone won’t make you a grunting jerk.
Higher levels of testosterone are actually associated with being in leadership positions and being more relaxed and confident.
One way to increase your masculinity is to work out more, particularly sprinting, lifting, and interval training. A good program (which we use) is Beachbody’s Insanity, which combines bursts of aerobic activity with using the body to gain muscle (through push-ups, etc). We also suggest The Self-Defense Company’s online program (we also use this), which will give you basic and advanced self-defense skills, which will increase your physical confidence dramatically.
Our book for shorter guys, Size Doesn’t Matter, has a lot of information that is helpful for all beta males, regardless of height, but it is especially helpful for shorter guys who have the characteristics we describe here. This is because (whether fair or not), women tend to associate tallness with masculinity, strength, and attractiveness.
This article should give you a good idea of the most common beta male traits and characteristics, as well as the beta meaning and definition.
You might be thinking: Am I a beta male? If so, it’s not a huge problem. Maybe you’re happy. But, if you want to change and be more attractive and successful, then there is hope. Our products and blog are dedicated to helping you become a confident, attractive, and strong leader, versus an unattractive, beta follower.
Oh, and not being a follower, doesn’t turn you into a domineering, macho jerk. Our definition of alpha male is about being a strong, attractive leader who inspires others.