I Want to be an Alpha Male

Reading Keith’s article on being a “beta male” stirred up all sorts of negative feelings with me. He of course touched upon something critical for many men who find themselves raising children.

Upon reading this (quite brilliant) post my mind turned towards an evening from late summer. I had taken Priya and Anya to our local beach. Armed with two body boards, 12 Richmond sausages, some hot dog rolls, a bottle of Doombar, a litre of coke, and a disposable BBQ we went about setting up “camp”.  

As we were taking our spot (same place every time we go), a family were walking up the beach behind us. Mum, Dad, two children. Dressed head to toe in Fat Face and Boden clothes this family oozed wealth. The Dad might as well have worn a sweat shirt with “senior partner” written all over it. Their beach “kit” was cumbersome but very much in keeping with the overall package.

On the face of it – we were talking a model family. I noticed Dad playing with his children in the water – he was full of energy and his children were clearly loving it. Meanwhile Mum was laying out their picnic – that too had all the look of a Fortnum and Mason extravaganza. They seemed to have (probably did have) everything.

The comparison with my own worn-out demeanour and cheap sausages and daughters playing on their own was crunching! Such moments can be alarming in their clarity. Single parenting and a constant lack of decent disposable income has been deflating.  In every sense of the word.

Such deflation takes any feeling of being an “alpha male” sailing off into the sunset.  Let me put this simply. There are times when I feel completely useless as a man.

I have lost count of the times I am asked “what’s it like being a single dad – it must be especially difficult with daughters”.

My answers vary – but by and large I feel like those mathematicians who throughout the ages have tried to square the circle. Many have given it their best shot and dedicated a life-time’s work to solve the conundrum. Little knowing it can’t be done.

Like the mathematicians – I give of my best and sometimes feel I am getting close; but at the end of the day, I always feel that something is missing. 

Good effort, but no cigar!

It’s a strange feeling.  Seeing that “model” dad on the beach did not make me jealous. It was, in truth, lovely to see a family so in-tune with each other and relaxed and happy. But I sort of know that this particular scene of near perfection has always escaped me. Or have I escaped it?

I asked a close mate the other day why it is that I am not settled down with someone I can love and who can love me back.  “I’ve got no idea” was not the most helpful answer.

But there again, I don’t know the answer either.  What I do know is that embarking upon a new relationship with “Beta Male” tattooed on your forehead is never going to be that appealing to others.

Cheers Keith – thank you for prompting this post!


About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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7 Responses to I Want to be an Alpha Male

  1. David says:

    The real truth is that the scene of that perfect family as you saw it, is only probably a glimpse at a perfect moment in time. The chances are that that family like so many others has all the failings and pitfalls that come with life and its challenges. That moment in time, on the face of it may look like a blissful happiness, but chances are, it’s just a moment that may not last. I am sure in your life you’ve had expereince of perfect moments you’d wish would last, but life being the git it always is, decides otherwise. The secret is to just enjoy the good times, for the bad times are the inevitable price we all have to endure.

    I would suggest that the childhood experiences of the the perfect family are just as mixed and diverse as those of your own children. The outcomes for all involved will be a life of mistakes, opportunities, good & bad times, ups and downs, joy, happiness and tears, all of varying degrees. IMHO.

  2. Brilliant post, Bob. But read David’s reply time and again. He is absolutely spot on. I have thought a lot about this issue, and had many conversations with others – both men and women – since I wrote that Beta Male post. What I’ve come to realise is that ‘Beta Male’ is a tag that is applied by others. I took it too personally. I felt very low for a few days – felt I needed to re-assert my Alpha manliness. But then I realised, as I looked around me, that ALL of my close friends are ‘Beta Males’ by some people’s blinkered standards. Some are working full-time in stressful jobs, some part-time, others are full-time dads. What makes us friends is the ability to have conversations like this. I know many Alpha Males. They tend to be remote as fathers, distant as lovers, in love with themselves, not empathetic to others. But that might just be the face they present to the world. Inside, they may have all the Beta traits, but just hide them from the wider world. In short, I think most of us have some Alpha (that would be me in the kitchen and bedroom 🙂 and some Beta (that would be me ironing my wife’s pants). So enough of labels, enough of comparison envy. Revel in what you’ve got. We’re not Alpha or Beta…we’re ALPHABET Males.

  3. L D says:

    Your lone parent resourcefulness in sourcing suitable low cost entertainment options, whilst juggling a million other balls in the air, made the perfect day with your girls, that’s what they will remember, not the cheap sausages or lack of designer beach clothes compared.

    I agree with David too, the perfect family image may have been portrayed, however the father could have been working all the hours gods sends for months previously, rarely seeing his kids before bedtime, perhaps this was the exceptional annual day out?

    I know who I think is the richer man, the one with the closer relationship to his offspring, not the one with the designer clothes, flash house and car.

    I’m in a similar situation as a lone father bringing up a teenage girl alone, I recognised the same questions you get, but don’t get asked them often these days, my answer is usually ‘same as a single mum, except I have different equipment’

    And there’s a lot to be said for staying single, who needs the complications and compromises?

  4. Suzymiller says:

    I love they way you say it like it is. I have often felt a failure as a mother unable to attract a permanent male father figure into the family, which is an aborted mission I am sure would not be felt as a such a failure if I had been widowed. And I can imagine how much more challenging your situation has been. It was only when I finally noticed that my kids already have a dad, even if he doesn’t live in our house, and I also noticed the kids were happier and our family closer knit when I was not out dating on the prowl for a life partner, that I finally found some peace. My theory is that families come in all shapes and sizes, and happy ones attract new people into that family. Whether new partners are met through friends or dating sites, they are more likely to want to be part of the gang if the family is already doing very nicely on it’s own thank you. And what’s wrong with Richmond sausages anyway? Everything tastes good when it’s BBQ’d surrounded by laughter and joy at the simple pleasures of life.

    Suzy Miller
    Divorce in a Box. Ribbon’s optional.
    Break up right – please don’t fight

  5. Bill McCardle says:

    Kids spell love T.I.M.E and no amount of money or “things” can recreate those moments. I too am a single, separated Father who has the Allotted time with my children. I too am struggling under the weight of child support, costs ordered by the court, maintaining a suitable residence for my children and I. I also have an Ex who has significantly more access to financial means than I do, and takes the opportunity to let me know it every time she can, BUT there is nothing more satisfying that laying on the floor with my two girls, playing with “Strawberry Shortcake” figurines at a beach party, or baking cookies in the kitchen together. That time and the attention paid to the children is irreplaceable. I am finally happy in my life, my friends, family and my two Daughters make me happy. I have found someone through that happiness that accepts me for who I am. Happiness is a magnet, it attracts those who are happy, so be happy, enjoy your time with your family and friends and don’t stop to think about what you could have….if you want it bad enough, any sacrifices you need to make will be worth it.

    “If You Want To Be Happy, Be.” Leo Tolstoy

  6. Diana Jordan says:

    Dear Bob

    Do you really want to be an alpha male? A quick google search re-assured me that I definitely don’t want to have one! I love my multi-talented man who knows how to clean the house, (and occasionally does), is a better cook than I am, wonderful with children, a real gentleman (but I know I’m old fashioned that way) and equally at home (or should that be work?) on a building site. Why would any woman settle for an alpha or a beta male when they can have an alphabet man?

    So why is it that you are not settled down with someone? You do know the answer to this, somewhere deep inside you, and I doubt it’s anything to do with being a beta male. On a scale of 1 – 10 how much do you really want to be with someone right now? I’m not aware of the circumstances of your break-up but I suspect it wasn’t easy and that your girls were also badly affected by it. On a scale of 1 – 10 how much do you want to protect yourself/them from further hurt? Which is the highest score?

    Let’s look at the bigger picture: say you live till you’re 80, spend 20 years bringing up your children and spent 20 growing up yourself. That leaves 40 years, half a life-time, to earn some decent money. Is that enough? (Be honest with yourself.)

    Parenting these days is a challenging job. It’s also the most important one you will ever do … and the worst paid. Single parenting is really hard and requires many hard choices. Bill is right – children spell love t – i – m- e. And time flies, children grow up in the blink of an eye. Relationships take time to build, time away from your children. On the other hand, the right woman in your life right now could be perfect for the girls. What do they most need right now? What do you really want right now?

    Clarity, and acceptance of choices and decisions made, can bring peace of mind…. as well as the right person into your life. Never mind what they want, and who they are looking for, your job is to work out who you are, and whether they are the right person for you and your children. My Google search did reveal 4 steps which could help with this:

    It’s not so hard to square that circle Bob: just a few changes to your thoughts and beliefs about yourself and less trying to push your round self (I think that’s what you said in a post about gaining weight!!) into a square hole would put you in a more comfortable place. With apologies to Judy Garland, be a first rate version of an alphabet man, not a second rate version of someone else.

  7. Spyder says:

    I like this post Bob! I am a single Dad raising a little girl half the time who is now 8. I was married when she was born and divorced when she was four. While being married, I fell into the Beta Male behaviors. Those behaviors never felt right to me, and took away that spirit that drove me as a single man. That scene could have easily been my family. However, what you would have not seen was that my wife did not love me, and was having an affair. You can have no idea the real dynamic in that family. Changing diapers, buying little girl clothes, feeding the baby, I never considered beta behaviors. Alpha’s do what is necessary. My wife was not incredibly maternal, so I did what was necessary.

    My beta behaviors showed up in my role as husband. I believed it was my job to make my wife happy. To keep peace in the home. Our method of compromise was that I got to lose every battle.
    IMO you are on the right track. Rediscover, or discover the alpha in you. If you want to bring someone into your life, you must make yourself an attractive option for this new love. Date lots of women. The right one will distinguish herself from the others. If you date one, you will focus too much energy toward her, perhaps before she deserves it. An alpha has options when it comes to his mate. Don’t make enough money? You know in your heart of hearts, that if you want to increase your income you just have to make it a priority. It is your job to bring home the bacon, to defend your girls, and to lead by example. Feelings of uselessness are self indulgent, and can be read by others a mile away (women especially). As a single father of girls, you may want to be a great role model the kind of man you want them to end up with.

    Please remember this, and I am sure I will have disagreement among some of the ladies here, but what women say they want, and what they find attractive are two different things. Please read last statement twice. If you will take a lesson from the movies that women love, there is almost always a boring, overbearing, or ineffectual husband in their life, but they are swept into a passionate affair with an alpha male (man on his own mission). ie (The Bridges of Madison County).

    Are you in shape? Can you fight? Can you handle a firearm? Can you do what is necessary to provide for your family? Anyone can learn these skills. If you are single, then realize you are a timber wolf and no longer a labradoodle. You live outside the confines of a marriage. Remember how many of the decisions you made while you were married were scrutinized? Now every decision you make is right, and comes from the right place. Longing for a companion is not an alpha trait. To me that is a recipe for more failure in relationships. The new year is upon us. I hope you have a great year, and discover the fun of developing and nurturing your alpha traits.

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