Alpha Male: The leader of the pack: the strongest, most virile.
The one who makes all the ladies swoon and wish that he would turn his attentions her way. At least that’s how he’s portrayed in fiction. So often, especially in the romance genre – but not exclusively – alpha males are romanticized. They are held up as the ideal that all men should aspire to if they want to “get the girl.” Even I will admit to enjoying a good story with an alpha male.
In real life I don’t have much time for them. They are the kind of guys who build up lots of wealth and then end up in jail. They f-k up a perfectly good sports career when they get caught publicly cheating. They think they know what I want without actually asking me about it.
What gives? Why the difference?
Being in power has certain effects on guys (and girls too, but that’s another post). It makes them confident, to the point of boldness. It encourages them to take risks, to think that they are immune to the consequences. This is part of what it means to be an Alpha male. The difference comes from the Author.
In the case of the fictional Alpha Male, there is the option to eliminate the negative consequences of that power. The Alpha Male in fiction can be confident in his approach to the heroine without ignoring her needs. In real life, he’s going to be so confident in his own position that if hers doesn’t match it won’t matter. In fiction, the author will lead him to take the kinds of risks that will endear him to the reader and heroine. In real life it’s a lot harder to tell which risks will pay off – it’s also harder to tell who is supposed to be the heroine.
There is also the attitude of women in fiction with Alpha Males. Stories with Alpha Males tend to have women who appreciate them. Again the author’s hand is visible here. If you want a good relationship you don’t pick characters who are going to drive each other to shoot each other in the head. Real life is a bit more random. I would never feature as the heroine to an Alpha Male in fiction, but I run into any number of them in my life. Mostly I get annoyed and walk away.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that Alpha Males are more fun inside the neatly contained box that is fiction. So Authors… Keep writing Alpha Males. Guys… Don’t try this at home.
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