‘Are you a Turtle or a Tiger?’
I was recently talking to someone in the US who had been to ‘group pre-wedding counselling’ (who even knew those existed?), where they were each asked if they were a ‘Turtle’ or a ‘Tiger’ to determine their compatibility score. I told her that this question would never be asked in London, since everyone here is a Tiger. The Alphas are everywhere. To survive in the urban jungle that is London, men don’t really have a choice than to be Alpha; driven, ambitious, focused, dominant and powerful. A recent survey showed that 79% of single women want a dominant man, especially in the shape and form of Christian Grey, which is apparently why ’50 Shades of Grey’ has been such a success.
So what exactly is an Alpha Man? Kate Ludeman described him as ‘powerful, authoritative personality types’ who ‘tend to be aggressive, results driven achievers who insist on top performance from themselves and others’ in her book ‘The Alpha Male Syndrome’. http://www.worthethic.com/the-alpha-male-syndrome.html
‘Are you Alpha-Alpha or Alpha-Beta?’
But I think that there are subtypes of Alpha Men: There are the Alpha Alpha (AA), the prototypical Aggressive & Arrogant types, who want to win as the end goal, and tend to put their needs in front of everyone else’s. Then there are the Alpha Beta (AB): Alphas but with a softer side. Those can also be called the ‘Blenders’ and tend to be driven when needed but can put your needs in front of theirs (Alpha Betas are a rare breed, so if you have one don’t let him out of your sight). Alpha traits all make for very successful men in the work place, and 79% women are attracted to these kinds of men, but what is it really like being with an Alpha Man? And how can you spot an Alpha Man?
Ten Ways to Spot an Alpha Man…
1. ‘Transition Time’:
When they come home from work, they need a half an hour to an hour of ‘transitioning time’ from their ‘work selves’ to their ‘normal selves’ and only then can they have a normal conversation. For those 30 minutes/hour, keep clear from a) nagging b) asking them anything too important c) whining about how hard your day was. If you don’t listen to this rule, he may mistake you for his assistant or a colleague. Which is not a good thing.
2. Crackberry Addiction
At dinner, you will need to fight with the Blackberry, his other mistress, for attention. Despite house rules of ‘not using technology at dinner’ he will always find a way to get on his BB and get distracted by yet another ‘very important email that needs to be answered right away.’ At fancy restaurants, you can always spot an Alpha Blackberrying emails while you wait for your starters, or you can see him pacing back and forth in front of the restaurant on a ‘work call.’
3. Last Minute Cancellations
You will always need a Plan B. When planning a holiday, you need to prepare a backup plan like a girlfriend or your mother to go on holiday if his work makes him cancel the holiday at the last minute. Or at least always book changeable, refundable tickets.
I once went to a work dinner as an Alpha’s date, and as soon as we sat down, he had to leave to go back to the office to ‘finish up a deal’, while I was left entertaining his two 65 year old clients at George. My revenge? Choosing the most expensive thing on the menu: white truffles. Sold by the gram. Let’s just say that I made sure no one else in the restaurant, apart from me, was going to have any of the divine Italian ‘Trifola d’Alba Madonna.’
5. 45 Minute childcare attention span
Alpha men really do love their children (they are after all as close as a replica of themselves as they can have), but ideally at 45 minute time periods. All week they tell you that they can’t wait to see them and play with them and how jealous they are that you spend so much time with them. But after 45 minutes of play time come Saturday, they are more than happy to pass them right back to you.
5. Time consuming and expensive hobbies
Alpha men love expensive hobbies: Polo (including four polo ponies and a requisite 3 week trip to Argentina with the gauchos), car racing (at least one or two Porsche racing cars and a trip to Le Mans each year), heli-skiing (one or two yearly trips to Canada and Sweden), shooting (trips to Scotland or Spain to shoot thousands of poor partridges), and football watching (the poor man’s version, with a season ticket and trips to ‘big games’ in Spain/Italy/Germany/France).
Alpha men need their ‘me’ time (since women have so much free time managing a household +/- a job). Their perfect weekend looks like this: Saturday morning work out, 45 minutes playing with their children, Saturday afternoon hobby football/tennis/golf/polo, Saturday night social event organised by wife, Sunday morning sleep in time followed by ‘me time’, 45 minutes with children, Sunday afternoon activity with the children, like the cinema or watching TV at home.
6. Domestic Duty Allergy
Despite handling £100 million deals, managing mergers, and using fancy terms like EBITDA, P&L, Hedging, Leveraging, Alpha men seem to be at loss with some of the most basic domestic duties; for example, cooking anything will require 15 questions for one basic task. ‘How do I cook the green beans? What pot should I use? Do I add olive oil to the water? Or just salt? Where is the salt? For how long?’ which in the end forces you to make the meal yourself.
One Alpha Man apparently had a rule when he got married: he told his wife that he would handle the ‘job,’ but she would be in charge of the baby wiping, changing, cooking, cleaning, and hiring and firing of the staff. He therefore boasts to his colleagues that he has not changed a nappy once in his life.
7. Selective Memory
No matter how many weekends you have spent as a family in your house, Alpha men don’t seem to have enough memory to remember their children’s schedule or where anything is in the house. Most weekends have a basic, similar structure: the children wake up, they have breakfast, lunch, a snack and then dinner. It’s not that complicated. Yet, Alpha men will ask what their children eat, when they eat, where the spoons are, where the plates are… Every. Single. Weekend. It’s like groundhog day. No matter how many times you tell them, they just seem to have forgotten it by the next weekend.
8. Ego Stroking Necessary
Alpha Men feel extreme pride when they have managed a) 2 whole hours on their own with their children b) dressed and fed their children breakfast all on their own 3) put their children to bed all by themselves, as if they had just discovered the theory of relativity. This is then your cue to ego stroke, praise and tell them what an amazing father they are. Of course, never expect the same praise for yourself despite having spent the entire week non-stop with the kids.
One Alpha man I heard of married someone who everyone considered wasn’t quite in his league: he was charming, handsome, intelligent, successful, and she was just not quite his match in any of these categories. Everyone wondered why he chose her. I asked his best friend who replied. ‘Oh, they have a lot in common. They are both completely, madly in love with him.’
The Alpha-Alphas are the only kind of men, apart from gay men, that need to have input in every house-hold decision taken. From the type of bathroom tiles, the shade of eggshell cream for the walls, to choosing the fridge. These are detail oriented men who like control after all, and they have an opinion on absolutely everything.
Alpha Men are competitive about everything, not only about winning that deal, getting that promotion, or having the biggest house/plane/yacht in the neighbourhood, but also when it comes to their children. You will overhear them at the Christmas Play saying ‘Why didn’t Poppy get the main solo singing part?’ in utter disbelief. But to see Alpha Men in their most primal, competitive glory, go to a Sports Day to see them competing with all the other Alpha Dads, when their inner Tigers are completely unleashed, and men run over each other like lions in a hunt. That’s all they are after all, just animals wanting to win that prize.