2013-10-13

Alpha, beta

I recently stumbled over a Reddit community called The Red Pill. The central tenets of this community appear to be as follows:
  • There is such a thing as an alpha male. The main trait of the alpha male is that he's confident, and doesn't fall for women. He doesn't let women use him. Instead, he uses them. In modern times, an alpha man would likely not be married.
  • According to The Red Pill, marriage is exploitation of men, and implies submission to the female. Laws are written such that (a) females have no repercussions if even after marriage, they still have sex with other men; (b) divorce benefits females through division of property that favors females, child custody that favors females, and alimony that favors females.
  • There is such a thing as a beta male. This is a guy who doesn't control women, but lets a woman control him. He puts a woman on a pedestal, buys her an expensive engagement ring, and marries her. The woman then proceeds to cheat on him, and he might get stuck raising children that aren't his. Eventually, she divorces him, gets custody of the children, and takes half of his property and half his future income, reducing him to the role of a slave, while she finds another guy to screw (over).
  • The beta male might have an ideal of romantic love, which The Red Pill argues women are unable to provide. According to The Red Pill, a woman's love is conditional, and dependent on circumstance. The beta male might yearn to commit to a female he can trust; someone he can open up to; someone who will support him when he is vulnerable. According to The Red Pill, women are physically incapable of this type of relationship. When the male shows vulnerability, instead of understanding him and supporting him, they will lose their attraction to him, and seek out an alpha male who is tough.
  • The alpha male knows to never seek emotional refuge with a woman. If he needs emotional support, that's what his male friends are for. To women, he knows he must always project toughness, and never let a woman think that she has influence over him. The minute he opens up and becomes vulnerable, he has become beta - a loser that the woman will manipulate, consume, lose respect for, and eventually discard.
Let's consider an example:
  • If a woman asks you for a favor, and your reaction is to be slightly miffed, and you ask her for something in exchange for you to provide that favor - you are in an alpha disposition towards her.
  • If a woman asks you a favor, and you jump at the opportunity to help her, as if the mere fact that she asked you is sufficient compensation - you are in a beta disposition towards her.
I find it sad to talk about all this, because for the most part, it is true. Yet, there are exceptions, and there are different ways of looking at it which I think do not support the cynical Red Pill conclusion - that a man should forever find satisfaction with a variety of casual partners, and never become attached.

Many of the Red Pill views are true in an obvious way. The person who cares less about a relationship has the power in it, and suffers less if the relationship suffers. It's attractive to argue that, if you can always be the person who cares less about a relationship, this will be the most advantageous to you. But is there really an emotional benefit to always being in relationships about which you don't really care? Where is the richness of experience? Isn't it boring to never care?

I would argue that a healthy balance of alpha and beta traits is crucial to a successful relationship. If I think of the relationship I have with my wife, my behavior towards her is mostly alpha. I usually decide about most things, and my opinion usually prevails. It's not uncommon that I go too far; I sometimes dominate so much that she feels put down. This makes me feel uncomfortable and regret my behavior. Yet, she is also my best friend. I can be vulnerable to her, and expect to find support and understanding. I can open up and talk to her, truly, about anything. And ultimately, I provide for her desires; even if the order, and the method, is up to me.

Beyond my primary relationship, I can probably say I've had a fair amount of experience with women, in a variety of ways - from hopeless infatuations, romantic relationships, friends with benefits, to encounters that were purely sexual. My experience, sadly, supports the Red Pill view: regardless of what I bring to the relationship, in no circumstance do I ever recall succeeding with a female that I put on a pedestal.

But if you can't put what you want on a pedestal... what good is getting it? The sad conclusion of the Red Pill is that if you want it, you can't have it; and when you know how to have it, you don't want it. This might be the rule - but if you don't work to find an exception, it seems to me you might as well not live.

Finally, there's another reason I feel the Red Pill views are distorted: the misguided emphasis they put on sexual fidelity. I very much do not believe in strict monogamy - I've previously written about that.

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