The concept of the Alpha is pretty elusive, if you ask me. So, for the purposes of the essay, here is my outline of what an Alpha makes:
- Social dominance. No matter how rich, muscular, charismatic, witty, skilled or intelligent a man is, if he can’t handle a social situation and remain on top by the end, he is, by the very animal definition, not an Alpha. Humans are social animals and Alphas are leaders of humans.
- Attractive. Again, the Alpha will be attractive to women. We want a guy who is safe and, on a primal level, we all feel that the most socially dominant man is the safest. Under his protection, we are also under the protection of the tribe.
- Respected. It should go without saying that an Alpha’s social dominance comes from respect primarily. I wouldn’t say his dominance can’t come from fear as well, after all, nobody is universally liked and fear goes a long way to cultivating respect in dissenters. But fear should not be the main, let alone the only, source of power.
What about everything else? What about good looks, money, wit, intellect, socially approved traits, muscles, sexual reach, skills, charisma…? Well, these are all Alpha Indicators, ie, signs that a man is socially dominant, attractive and respected. They are the outward signs that he has the three key traits. And, to be Alpha, he must prove he has the three main traits. Otherwise he isn’t an Alpha, he is just a fake-it-til-you-make-it, or a simple fake with no aspiration to more. Neither is necessarily bad, but neither is dominant, desired or respected.
Then we have the Sigmas. I believe the concept emerged from Alpha Game Plan’s expansion of the Alpha-Beta false dichotomy and is the term for an introverted Alpha. The best way I’ve heard Sigmas summed up is from a natural Sigma, my husband:
“The Sigma is the Alpha who does not.”
A Sigma has the three required traits of an Alpha:
- He has social dominance, as he can easily lead, control and support a community.
- He is attractive, as he is clearly dominant.
- He is respected, as he is dominant.
The little niggle with the Sigma is that he lacks the false flags: he has few to no Alpha Indicators. This is because, whilst the Sigma has the ability to lead, he has no desire to. And, depending on what indicators they have, Sigmas can be loosely grouped into two categories.
Sigma A: The situational Alpha.
This Sigma lacks the desire to lead because he is a rational man who understands it is beyond his abilities to handle this tribe.
Maybe he is a warlord at a time of peace. Maybe he is a wise but gentle man at a time of war.
Maybe he values his life too highly to rule over fickle barbarians. Maybe he has seen to many Alphas lose their necks to tribal disputes.
Maybe he is already the Alpha of another tribe and in this one he is simply an observer.
Maybe he is backup to keep the Alpha in his position of power, a kingmaker who reaps the rewards of royalty without sacrifice.
This Sigma enjoys wealth and enjoys helping others. He is naturally more drawn to Alpha behaviours. But he is reluctant to take on a job he can’t do well. So he will accept resources (money, land, food, women) and do his best at whatever he does, he will stand his ground against the Alpha where necessary, he will try and keep the tribe in order from the sidelines, but he will never sit on the throne.
He is socially dominant as he cannot sit by and let the tribe run itself. He is attractive because he oozes confidence and leadership skills. He is respected because he is a good leader who knows when to step up and when to back down.
He will likely have the following Alpha Indicators: wealth, charisma, socially approved traits, sexual reach.
He may lack the following Alpha Indicators: wit, intellect, looks, skills.
Sigma B: The outlier.
This Sigma lacks the desire to lead because he fails to identify or empathize with the tribes available to him.
Maybe he is a skilled specialist whose abilities lie outside the rest of the tribe.
Maybe he does not enjoy conversing with people and keeping the peace. Maybe he enjoys seeing their little failures and is entertained by their social mores.
Maybe he knows he can survive on his own and feels no motivation to pull the tribe together.
Maybe he knows that nobody will force him to join their society fully, that he can indulge in the luxury of being outside it.
This Sigma enjoys freedom and doesn’t care if he has to make himself actively unlikeable to gain it. That’s not to say he is not respected or attractive. He is both, only respect comes grudgingly and attraction comes passionately and irrationally. He prizes self-sufficiency and views himself as a contractor to his society, rather than as a bonded leader. He has a close and relaxed relationship with the Alpha and generally they respect each other enough to assist in keeping each other’s position.
He is socially dominant as others constantly turn to him for advice, settling scores and other tasks of leadership that demand impartiality. He is attractive because he is mysterious yet dominant, he is outside, yet safe. He is respected because he is dominant and provides value.
He will likely have the following Alpha Indicators: wit, skills, intellect, charisma.
He may lack the following Alpha Indicators: looks, wealth, socially approved traits, sexual reach.
So, now we progress onto girls. All women like men who possess the three Alpha traits. They are safe, they are reproductively viable and they are useful. But not all women want the true Alpha. The true Alpha comes with many conditions. He is sexually gregarious and the prime target of other women’s fantasies, he is loud and domineering, he is a target for violence. The true Alpha is not an easy man to live with if a woman wants a quiet, drama-free home life.
So introverted women will naturally gravitate towards the less obvious men when given an option.
Imagine a tribe with an Alpha who has every Alpha Indicator, a Sigma who is a warlord at a time of peace and a Sigma who is the local sage.
A woman who wants an active social life, who doesn’t mind sharing her husband if that’s what it comes to, who understands danger and enjoys the risks, who wants all the money, all the fame and all the power, such a woman will aim for the Alpha.
A woman who wants a quiet life, who doesn’t mind sharing her husband, who understands that some day he may be called to action, who wants money, a little fame and less risk, such a woman will aim for the warlord Sigma.
A woman who wants a quiet life, who wants to keep her husband as exclusive as possible, who wants her husband to be safe from all danger, who has no care for money or fame as long as her husband can keep her provided for, such a woman will aim for the sage Sigma.
So, whether you’re a man or a woman, if you look at the penniless ugly man with the hot wife, at the small-time uneducated musician with his own teen harem or at the resource-poor loner with the devoted housewife and wonder why none of these girls are chasing an Alpha… well, perhaps they are more the Sigma kind of girl.
TTFN and Happy Hunting.