When guys first jump into the self-improvement game, they have a concept in their heads of a perfect guy they want to eventually become – a guy who’s confident, masculine, great with women, never weighed down by emotions, fears or insecurities. A true go-getter who does what he wants and doesn’t even stop to consider what others might think of him. They call this majestic man, “an Alpha”.
Truth is though, there is no such thing as an “alpha”; it’s a made-up fantasy, the male equivalent of a Disney fairytale.
I understand what guys mean when they say, “I want to be an alpha.” Hell, I spent the first few years of my self-improvement journey trying to become “an alpha”. Most guys do. When you’re starting out with self-improvement/getting laid, you feel like you’re so far from where you want to be – you know you have 10,000 steps you need to take before you’ll be anywhere near happy with yourself. You build up this idealised notion of who you have to become in order to considered a true man.
This idealised, alpha man is everything you’re not. He is the embodiment of perfection, because that’s exactly who you’ve built him up to be in your head. You’ve mashed together a bunch of idealised traits your perfect “alpha” has, pulling some traits from movies you’ve seen, some traits from celebrities you idolise, some traits you’ve invented that are so impossibly unrealistic nobody in the real world could ever live up to. You know what I’m talking about; an alpha has to have:
- Rugged looks, a steely jaw.
- A strong, muscular body, but lean too – ready to fight.
- A deep voice that commands the room.
- The ability to sleep with any woman he chooses, with minimal effort; women swoon over him and he has his pick of the litter.
- Rich and well-off; money means nothing to him.
- Charming, funny, able to spin a tale and captivate his audience.
- Knows when to stay quiet and mysterious – the strong, silent type.
- Most importantly of all, stoic and never ruffled by anything life throws at him. He seems almost emotionless; he’s the epitomy of stability.
- Twenty other characteristics you sit around fantasising about possessing some day.
The problem is, nobody in the real world embodies all of those characteristics. A lot of those characteristics on their own will take years for any one man to achieve; let alone all of them added together. No one man could possibly have his shit together in all those areas. Your “alpha” doesn’t exist.
And putting the label of “alpha” on those traits doesn’t help you in the slightest, because it makes your success binary – you’re saying, “I’m either an alpha winner, or a beta loser.” You haven’t left any room for anything in-between; you’re saying during your entire self-improvement journey you won’t be good enough, until the magical moment you cross the finish line and can officially call yourself A True Alpha™.
As you progress through this self-development journey, you’re going to find life is a lot more grey – it’s rarely so black or white.
I wish I’d known this sooner. I wish somebody had woken me up; I wish somebody had slapped some sense into me and told me I would never be perfect, and that I didn’t need to be an alpha. The impetus behind me writing this article is I wasted so much time trying to be Mr Alpha. I spent months – hell, years – trying to be a perfect man, convinced I had to be 100% stoic and cold and emotionless all the damn time. I yelled at myself any time I showed emotion, or felt love/empathy towards the women I dated. I beat myself up for my shortcomings, didn’t allow any room for failures or missteps, and made myself generally pretty miserable. I was a tyrant to myself.
I succeeded in some ways – I definitely embodied most of the “alpha” characteristics I revered. I became stoic, able to handle life’s difficulties, more quiet and mysterious… but in doing so I also turned myself into a cold-hearted sociopath, a man who hid away any semblance of empathy for others, kept everything to himself and didn’t open up to anybody. I was terrified of being vulnerable, of showing any emotion whatsoever.
I told myself I was “courageous” and “strong” and “brave” to bottle up my emotions & “get rid of them”; that I was making myself a stronger, more well-rounded person by shutting off the “human” part of me. In hindsight, the truth is I was shit-scared the mask would fall, people would see I didn’t have all the answers all the time, and the tower of “alphaness” I’d spent years building would come crumbling down.
And you know what the worst side effect of trying so desperately hard to be Mr Alpha is? When you’re masculine and stoic all the time – without ever letting your guard down with anybody – you get fucking lonely. Lonely like you wouldn’t believe – because you’re convinced you can never let anybody in, or talk about your problems, or show vulnerability, or confess to a moment – just a millisecond – of weakness. You’re never allowed to have doubts, and you have to be strong all the time.
As for the women I attracted, I ended up with quite a few cold, emotionally-messed-up women; women who were just as emotionally-unavailable and weird as I was. The few emotionally-healthy ones were smart enough to see how much of a fake actor I was being, and they rightly ran away. I was so terrified of acting “beta” around them or showing them any sort of affection/emotion that I over-analysed my every move and conversation, and just came across as really fucking weird.
Just like a pickup-artist, I was always in my own head – a complete neurotic mess. I would analyse and go over my every move, my every word, even my own thoughts – “Am I thinking like an alpha?” That pickup-artist/”manosphere” philosophy that there’s a “right” way to be or do something is so shallow and 2 dimensional – not to mention immature. It took me a very long time to break free.
I had trapped myself in a prison of “I must be alpha all the time/I can never be a beta”, and was totally stuck there. Over time I started to feel like I was caged for life, with no way to reach out to anybody and tell them, “Hey, I’m not so sure I want to be alpha 100% of the time”… because that would be beta as hell. And I wasn’t allowed to be beta for even a second, remember?
Obsessing about being alpha makes you drive yourself insane with neurosis, constantly second-guessing your every move. It’s inevitable when you’re trying so hard to be Mr Alpha, you’ll constantly ask yourself:
- Am I standing like an alpha?
- Is my voice deep enough, like an alpha voice should be?
- Am I dressed like an alpha?
- This girl Ive been dating for a year just said she loves me, and she’s looking into my eyes, waiting for a response, but it’d be beta of me to tell her I love her too, right?
- Is it beta to tell your best mate of 10 years that you appreciate all he’s ever done for you?
- Is the way I’m leaning against this wall alpha or beta?
- Am I spending too much time with my friends – wouldn’t an alpha spend more time by himself? Am I too needy?
- Is it beta to call my parents too often to chat?
- Would an alpha give a girl a compliment?
- Am I talking too much – aren’t alphas usually quiet and more measured?
- Is it beta to tell my mother I love her?
- Would an alpha see this girl more than once a week, even if he really likes her? Would an alpha even like a girl in the first place?
- Am I busy enough – shouldn’t an alpha have an ultra busy schedule and life an awesome, exciting life?
- Does an alpha cross his arms when he’s standing still, or put his hands in his pockets?
- Is it beta to snuggle up to a girl in bed after sex?
- (ad infinitum)
I Had to Drop the Mask.
Eventually I got sick of always having to hold up this mask and fake being something I wasn’t. I felt like I was living somebody else’s life – none of my achievements felt like my own. If I slept with a new girl, it was because she liked the “Alpha Andy”, not the “real” Andy. I started feeling more and more like the real Andy wasn’t good enough. I developed a complex and eventually started hating the real Andy… while simultaneously hating the fake “alpha” Andy as well.
It took a hell of a lot of courage (and a lot of deep breaths), but eventually I decided to try dropping the mask & cutting out the bullshit to see what would happen. I tried being real & vulnerable with girls, and put in a lot of self-development work to learn to be ok with being a complete fuckup sometimes. I accepted (with the help of psychedelics and counselling) that is was ok to not be an alpha male all the god damn time – that that was an unrealistic endpoint; one I’d never actually reach. And if I’d never reach it (because nobody ever reaches perfection; nobody’s perfect 100% of the time), then I had to be ok with who I was right now, even if I still had things to improve and goals to work on. You don’t have to be Mr Alpha in order to be successful.
Since dropping this notion of being a perfect “alpha”, life has become a billion times easier. It’s like a massive burden has fallen from my shoulders; like I finally let out a sigh I’ve been holding in for years.
For one, I don’t hate myself – I don’t feel like I’m miles short of being the “perfect” man; I’m cool with the fact it’ll take me a couple more years to be where I want to be.
I’ve been more honest with my mates, and I’m now unafraid to tell them when I’m having a shitty day, or let them see my bad sides. I’ve let girls in, been open and honest and real with them. They no longer run away and instead regularly say, “Wow, you are brutally honest about everything. I like that.”
I’m in a happy relationship – and my girl has learned to mirror my openness and share absolutely everything with me/her friends, without this immature notion of trying to be perfect all the damn time.
Best of all, I started this site, and have poured my heart and soul out onto the keyboard, being as real and vulnerable and fucking honest as I possibly can be. When I was obsessed with being an alpha, I could not in a billion years have even tried to offer advice to others – I was too caught up in my own neurotic thoughts of “I’m not alpha enough” to be able to relate to anybody, let alone empathise and offer useful help.
“100% Alpha, 100% of the Time”
If you’re anything like the stubborn jackass I was a few years ago, you’re sitting there resisting everything I’ve just said, thinking to yourself, “Look at this beta cuck, giving up completely. I’ll be an alpha, no matter what he says. I’ll be masculine in every way possible. I’ll do what he couldn’t do.
Truth is, nobody is 100% alpha in every area of their life, with every person they interact with, and at all times.
The biggest, meanest badass guy you see in the gym might cry any time his girlfriend is mad at him.
A guy who has his shit together with women may be a complete little bitch when it comes to his office workplace, and be completely unable to stand up for himself when his boss tells him off.
The doctor with the kickass job and kickass salary who exudes “alphaness” at work may act like a “mummy’s boy” any time he goes home to visit his family for the holidays.
Elon Musk, one of the leading thinkers and innovators of our time and a guy who does seemingly whatever the hell he wants (he strapped a car to a rocket, is pioneering AI research, wants to build an empire on Mars, even sold fucking flamethrowers and jetpacks) – is not an alpha all the time. He has been divorced 3 times… Twice by the same woman. He’s also cried on stage/in interviews multiple times. Is that “alpha”?
Even the guys who write about being alphas aren’t 100% alpha, 100% of the time – they can’t possibly be. Mike Cernovich has a lisp and a soft voice. Rollo Tomassi, a man who’s built an empire on talking about “alpha” vs “beta“, took nearly a decade of writing before he was finally brave enough to do a face reveal and stop hiding behind his computer screen – and even still, he uses a fake name. Would an “alpha” be scared to reveal himself?
No disrespect to any of these men – they’re solid rolemodels who took me a hell of a long way with my own self-improvement. And that’s my point – even my own idols (Musk, Cernovich & Rollo Tomassi) are fallible – they’re not alphas all the time. The definition of “alpha” changes depending on who you ask; one man’s alpha is another man’s beta.
Alpha archetypes like James Bond don’t exist in real life. People are human, with human emotions and stresses and insecurities and fears. Nobody is strong and stoic all the time. Even Marcus Aurelius, king of stoicism and toughness, had moments of self-doubt and despair. You are going to be a mess sometimes – and that’s totally ok. You have to give yourself permission to suck sometimes, because sucking is part of being a fucking human.
I’ve never been alpha, I don’t pretend to be – I’m just Andy. The fact I’m open about my failures and shortcomings is the reason you’re here. I’m not some bullshit caracature – I’m exactly like you. You read my articles because you know if a non-alpha “loser” like me can be successful, there’s nothing stopping YOU from doing the same thing.
I don’t even like using the word “loser” – part of me wishes I’d chosen a different username/website name all those years ago when I first came up with “KillYourInnerLoser”. I wasn’t a loser, and even if you’re a total newbie to self-improvement, neither are you. You’re just a guy who’s at the start of his self-improvement journey. And when you get further down the track, you won’t magically turn from a beta into an alpha. You’ll simply be “the guy who’s now further along with his self-improvement journey”.
And if there’s still a part of you clinging on to the notion of “becoming an alpha”, I’ll throw this at you: do you think the masculine, confident, successful “alpha” you’re trying to emulate sits around constantly worrying about whether or not he’s an “alpha”? Fuck no – he’s too busy living his life and working on his goals. You need to do the same; just get on with working towards your goals and stop worrying about being “alpha” or “beta”.
“Becoming alpha” also implies there’s a state of “alphaness” you can obtain where you’ll be successful; a certain threshold you’ll cross and then suddenly be considered an alpha.
Alpha isn’t an end-point – there’s no such thing as an endpoint to self-improvement. There’s no point you get to where you’re finally happy and you can take a rest and coast for the rest of your life. You’ll never be completely satisfied, and when you achieve your goals you’ll immediately want to set off on the next big mission.
“Alpha” isn’t some arbitrary list of traits. If you really want to be masculine, just do what you want, work towards the goals you’d like to achieve, and stop worrying about what other people might think of you. Especially stop worrying about whether other people will think you’re “alpha” or not.
Don’t focus on trying to live up to some ideal notion of an alpha man; you’ll end up spending your life chasing a ghost. Show a little realness. Don’t be afraid to say how you fucking feel – even if it’s the “wrong” thing to say.
As for being “perfect” – fuck that. Just focus on making small, gradual improvements; make each day a little better than your previous days.
Please, please, please don’t get caught up in all the alpha bullshit like I did – I don’t want you to waste months or years trying to perform perfectly like some fake actor, never removing the mask, constantly second-guessing your every move for fear of not being alpha enough. You’re already fucking good enough.
Now go out there and kick some ass.