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Beta Male

Is he a beta male? Are you a beta male? I get asked more often than I would like, “Would I be considered a beta male or am I more of an alpha?” Okay, we’re all conditioned to think that women or partners really want that alpha male. The reality is that they may not.

But the subject is quite confusing and can be challenging to navigate. Let’s take a look at some of what the data suggests and try to see if we can clarify a few common questions.

First, my experience as a male (beta or not)…

As a guy myself, there’s a lot that go into trying to be the “perfect male.” Let’s be honest, and women are looking for men to be very masculine…

If you ask any woman what their ideal man looks like, typically, they will describe a “bearded and burly” gentlemen who can fix things around the house. Go ahead, ask them! That’s what they’re going to say.

Sometimes, even an alpha male isn’t going to feel like the strongest alpha. Research studies have shown there are typically three types of males: alpha, beta, and gamma males. More recent studies have also shown that there’s a “rise” of the beta male.

Attributions of why this is happening can be multi-faceted and not easy to pinpoint. In fact, Lamar University Literary Press hosted a nice tear sheet on the “plight of the beta male.” In this study, it really aims to look at “what makes a man a … well, man!”

Masculinity is a tough subject

Beta, alpha, and gamma: here’s what is important to recognize before we continue—men can shift in and out of these personalities. They are NOT tied down to a particular type of personality based on their upbringing or DNA.

You, the man—have the power to alter the way that you present yourself on a regular basis. That’s the good news!

Related: Alpha male vs beta male

By definition, what is the “beta?”

If you think about the hierarchy, the alpha would be the leader—and the beta would be the follower. They would typically “adhere” to their alpha counterparts. In modern society, this would be the person who is willing to do a little “too much” for others (this could be their male/female partners, coworkers, family members, or friends).

Key characteristics and traits of the beta male type

While there are many characteristics that would describe an alpha male, they are typically bucketed into some of the following traits:

1. Decision-making “by committee”

A beta will make decisions based on the feelings of too many people around them. If we bucket decision-making skills into qualitative and quantitative decision-making… Then the beta male is a person who is only using the qualitative.

Meaning they will make decisions based on how it makes others feel and not what’s best for them or “a business” per se. Think about this, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” This would be an “alpha” statement.

The beta struggles with decision making
The beta struggles with decision making

2. Inability to influence or lead others

A typical misconception about the “alpha” is that they are looking to control others. Leadership is never about control. In fact, a study by the University of Florida found that most of what leadership is can be classified as trying to influence others.

When a “beta male” decides they want to be an alpha, this would be the wrong way to try and curb those habits—for example, simply trying to exude control.

3. A difficult time holding true to themselves

The “alpha” counterpart is typically more true to themselves. To a degree, there may be a small amount of narcissistic traits that coexist with that. The truth is that some degree of it is okay. Too much is not okay. And too little is also not okay.

It’s a challenging balancing act. In fact, the lines have gotten so blurred that there have been more studies suggesting that women find “narcissistic behaviors irresistible.”

4. Overly loyal to the wrong people

Being loyal is a great trait. The beta, although, will make more decisions based on being loyal to the wrong people. They will accept small amounts of abuse over long periods of time. Making it more difficult for them to stay “true to themselves.”

The “alpha” counterpart, in contrast, would never allow that to occur. Because they value themselves more. Instead, the beta should learn to turn away from those who are hurting them and call it unacceptable.

Rethinking your behavior
Are you part of this club?

5. Not feeling the desire to compete

The “beta” personality will have trouble competing. Mostly for all the reasons listed above. They will find very little desire to want to try and “be the best.” Making them lose their aesthetic and most of what drives or fuels them.

Masculinity is about competing. Unfortunately, if you believe that we all came from cavemen and women, then the role of the man was to HUNT. That is competition.

6. Altered ego

A beta will make themselves feel better by altering the way that they see themselves. This will come from an unhealthy idea that they are okay in their current form. And that while things are crashing down around them, they believe they are not at fault.

The reality is that we all make our own futures. And the beta male needs to start to consider how to change their daily habits to get better results.

See also: Beta male provider

7. Overly friendly to the wrong people

Much like being overly committed to the wrong person, they will be friendly to the wrong people as well. If you’re the type of person who accepts people treating you poorly, maybe it’s time to stop. Draw boundaries with the people who aren’t serving you well.

8. Typically become “followers”

This is what we know from social media and other influential outlets. We classify the “beta” as the gentlemen who doesn’t lead. This isn’t exactly true. There are multiple leadership styles (especially in the workplace). And a beta could find themselves learning how to lead by providing support to other people. 

Jill Channing from East Tennessee State University uncovers that leadership is a skill that can be taught and learned. With more than 86% of her study showing signs that they felt their new leadership skills could be retaught.

This will bring in all the ladies!
This will bring in all the ladies!

9. A little “too” open with their emotions

A beta male has trouble protecting themselves. And when we think about emotions, those are one of the key ways that we can protect ourselves. We can prohibit what we say to others and not disclose our vulnerability. 

The beta personality may accidentally show too much of their vulnerability to others. The alpha counterpart will naturally think of the relationship as a chess game. And may withhold their weaknesses until they are ready.

Related: Metrosexual beta male

10. Too “trustworthy” to the wrong people

Here’s a simple reality—we should wait to trust others until they earn it. If a beta has a poor perception of their own value (for all of the reasons mentioned above), then they might have a difficult time asking others to have to earn their trust.

Your value as a human being is evident. More than you may initially think. Make others earn your trust!

So you agree with everyone all the time?
So you agree with everyone all the time?

How to stop being beta and start owning your strength

Here’s the good news again—you have the control to change your behaviors. And the ability to stop doing these daily habits that don’t serve you.

To stop being a beta, the steps are going to look like the following:

1. Recognize your habits

Probably the largest and most important task—recognizing these habits in your daily actions. The first step to being able to change your habits is to first recognize them.

To do that, simply find queues in your regular activities. Are you friends with someone who isn’t serving you well? Maybe it’s time to rethink your relationship with them. And that’s okay to do!

2. Find an agreement with yourself

Once you recognize the habit, it’s time to agree with yourself on your action steps. For example, you found a friend who doesn’t serve you, what’s your agreement with that scenario? Are you going to limit your interactions with them? Or cut them out of your life entirely?

Take penance of each habit and decide on your “action steps,” which are another form of goal setting. If you want to more effectively plan your actions and make changes—I recommend writing them down. Studies have shown that writing down your goals has a very strong positive impact on your completion rate.

3. Don’t stop when it’s not working right away

Changing behavior is not easy. If you’ve read the ten signs that make up a beta personality above, then you’ll know that there’s a lot to work on. In short, you’ll need to completely stop or reverse all ten of those daily or weekly actions.

This could take time for you to make it feel “natural.” At first, it will feel like work. After a period of time, it should become part of your subconscious behavior.

A major tip: don’t just start to fake it

The best tip that I have for you when it comes to changing behavior is not to fake it. The true “value” of the alpha mindset is going to come to you when these behaviors become second nature.

I can’t exactly describe it, and there’s something magical about life when it comes to this phenomenon… But when you’re believing in yourself, other people will see that. And they respond.

If you “fake it,” though, it won’t work… Believe it, act on it, and others will follow.

Key differences between the beta male and a metrosexual

The metrosexual personality type came into existence in the early 2000s. This came with many men shifting away from looking “bad” to caring about their appearance. For some time, society struggled with this person.

And the name was coined: metrosexual. Although, in today’s form, the metro is simply a gentleman who cares about their appearance. These are people like David Beckham, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and more.

The beta male does not need to be a metrosexual. Nor does it have to happen in reverse. Typically, a metrosexual will be more defined as an alpha—oddly enough because they don’t “have a care” about how other people see them, only how they feel about themselves.

Sexuality and the confusion around the metro…

Many women would interpret the metro male as a gay male. This isn’t true, actually. And in today’s modern man form, nearly all men care about how they look. They trim their nose hairs, cut their hair to look good, and buy nice clothes.

It is now normal and commonplace.

The new “sigma male” and “beta male” differences…

A sigma male and a beta male can get confused… Are they alike? Or different?

The beta is going to be considered the “weaker” of the two in this case. The new “sigma” personality type is someone who has some of the following characteristics and traits that align with the alpha:

  1. They don’t conform to things or the people around them.
  2. These types consider themselves to be self-sufficient.
  3. They’re okay with being the “loner.”
  4. Would be classified as very adaptable and stubborn.
  5. A great degree of self-awareness.
  6. Capable of being a “silent” leader and doesn’t need the spotlight.

As you can see, they have a strong overlap to the alpha. And less of an overlap to the beta. A great goal of the beta could be to become more like the sigma rather than try to be an “all alpha” if they are struggling to achieve that.

Which personality test should I take to see if I’m a beta male? Here’s my advice for this question…

There are a few personality quizzes and tests that you can take. One here and here

But here’s the thing—if you landed on this article or are looking for information on this subject, there’s a great chance that you need to take a look at your daily actions and activities. It sounds like they are most likely not serving you well.

I would argue that it’s time to get retrospective about your own personal activities and determine which bucket they fall into—beta activities or alpha activities.

It’s not going to be a shocker when I say this—the alpha personality will surely have more coming to them, both in terms of wealth and general interest from others. It certainly helps to create a “better life” when displayed in a sustainable way.

Common FAQs

Questions and answers!

What is an omega male?

The omega male is a male who does not feel like they need to hold an important role in society. The omega would fall into the bucket of the beta more frequently than falling into the bucket of an alpha or sigma.

What is the meaning of a beta male in a relationship?

Typically, in a relationship, it means that you are willing to take a “back seat” in the relationship. Rather, you don’t make any decisions. There is “less than” what would get described as “equality.” This could be drastically offset by the fact that you’re with an alpha female.

There are drawbacks to the alpha female, too.

What are the beta male traits in bed?

They will ask for permission to do certain things. They won’t feel confident about their own abilities to perform in the bedroom. And may suffer from some masculinity issues (if you know what I’m suggesting).

Beta males typically have low testosterone, which causes issues. Alpha males typically have larger quantities of testosterone.

Who would be considered a beta male (examples)?

Some of the best examples of beta males would be Joseph Gordon-Levitt. At least in his acting career, he portrays the “beta” personality the most. This is a more-often “sad” or “depressed” person who struggles to find a connection with society and women.

Are there any benefits to being a beta male?

Yes, there are! This study refers to the many benefits of the beta personality.

Fact checked:
Board reviewed by Marianne Tomlinson, LCSW (Couples and Family Therapy). Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Learn more.

About the author

Ryan Sanderson (LCSW) Ryan is a game and relationship enthusiast who enjoys all things quizzes, games, fun, love, relationships, and family. He's a licensed social worker and helps families, couples, and children in need. He's spoken about love and relationships on Salon.com, Forbes, and Mirror, to name a few.

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