The terms are quite loaded in contemporary society, but there is a lot of merit to using the language of alpha, beta (and even omega) to describe human males, since these designations exist in most other animal communities.
Although every guy is unique and people fall within a spectrum of behaviors and traits, most fit generally into one of the above broad categories. The alpha is the confident and charming leader, the omega the creepy social outcast, and the beta is the shy guy who is often frustrated with his lack of success with his career and with women.
Every guy I know dreams of finding an attractive girl and getting ahead at work, but the sad fact is that no guy is going to accomplish these dreams if he doesn’t accurately assess where he stands on the social spectrum.
I’ve recently written an article discussing the existence of alpha and beta males among humans; if you want to know if there is such a thing as true human alphas and betas, check that out. This essay is to examine beta male traits and characteristics. I want to add that being beta isn’t necessarily bad. Many beta males are loyal, friendly, and make good friends, co-workers, etc. 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 beta male behavior patterns lead to a lack of fulfillment (which is why we argue, for example, that having a “mid life crisis” isn’t necessarily a bad thing).
Beta Male Traits
Lack of Assertiveness
When I was in graduate school I attended a smaller church and they asked me to do all kinds of things, from transporting the elderly to counting the collection money after services. 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. Instead of being assertive immediately, I agreed to do their request, and ended up miserable for the next year doing tasks I hated.
Like me then, beta males aren’t assertive. They get taken advantage of or don’t experience the benefits that come from assertiveness and even aggression (like in a business sense). 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) a stupid whore on social media for rejecting him.
Beta males are usually the followers of society. They’re definitely not the top dogs in the social hierarchies. It probably relates to the previous point. 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, including a calendar, rare interview CDs, and T-shirt. Everyone around me tired of my U2 obsession. 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 are those who 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. The persons you’re promoting (such as the pope or OSU football players) are the alphas.
Beta Male Characteristics
Prototypical Nice Guy
“Nice guys finish last” is an unfortunate, but many times accurate, phrase. It’s not that nice guys are a bad thing. It’s just that, 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. Why should I promote myself? 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, what many Beta Males forget is that pretty much everybody is “nice.” Being “nice” is great, but if nice is all you have going for you then, you pretty much come across as 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 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 males are usually not the guys getting a bunch of women. Generally speaking, beta males act like women, which is why women often treat beta males 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.
So, not surprisingly, by failing to convey charming masculinity, women treat beta males like they treat other women. This means that women don’t date betas (except as a complete last resort), and they don’t respect them either.
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 in college, but I always met them, 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 their “love of jerks.”
Beta males usually don’t understand the rules of the game. They overly compliment women, befriend them in the hopes of “more,” attempt to buy their love through gifts, etc. Then, they typically whine that women “only want jerks” or that women don’t like nice guys (meaning them of course).
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 don’t usually come across as attractive. Beta males are always in “the friend zone.”
Needy And Whiny
As I mentioned above, in college I was a complete beta male. 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. I would get so needy and whiny that the girl would get sick of hearing about how dumb women were for falling for assholes instead of me.
Since beta males receive less attention from women and other men, they can often 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. Higher levels of testosterone are associated with being in leadership positions, and being more relaxed and confident.
Women evolved to like guys who can provide and protect them. Every woman I know says she 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.
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.
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.
In fact, raising your testosterone levels is associated with many positive effects, including being more relaxed, logical, and attractive to women.
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 true 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. If these traits describe you, 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.