Essa tells it like it is in the online dating world and quite frankly it sounds like it ain’t so good. She also reminds us of the centuries of training that have gone into women wanting men to take the lead enough to make the first approach. Important stuff. You don’t change culture easily when these long held social norms tell us that we have to wait to be approached or be labelled as sluts. I think this is why this doesn’t disappear from the basic premise of most of our romance novels. Our heroines are often virginal or at the very least innocent but there is usually also inner strength. The age old question for romance authors is how do we make our heroines strong and experienced but not complete sluts? Tried and true romance heroines generally don’t make the first move or they boldly claim, either by action or words, that they don’t need a man to define themselves (but hot sex would be nice).
But the reason why I have chosen Essa’s blog this morning is that I have been thinking about lust for the alpha/beta male. Alpha’s by definition, care for others in their pack. That is the sense that we want from our fictional heroes. We need to know that at some time in our or their future there is that possibility that they will protect our fictional heroines. Sometimes this is a completely dominant character but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t even have to be a fully formed thought, merely a future possibility. Even our Beta males have to have that possibility in them. Beta’s are generally more supportive though and they have a better sense of how to stay out of the heroine’s way when she needs to protect. Nature tells us that the female of the species has that innate need to protect their cubs when they are threatened. What we don’t want in either our real life or our fictional romances is for our life partner/hero to consistently be one of our cubs.
The problem with fictional alphas is that they have to have a certain amount of damage. This is what creates the angst. What happens when we see a damaged alpha in real life? We either want to fix him (but he has to want to be fixed) with various degrees of success or sufference or we run – who wants their shit? In real life, I would rather have a Beta any day. Someone who can have alpha traits when they need to but who basically live in that space where it is all about me. Or at least, he knows how to make it seem like it is all about me.
So keeping true to the premise of this blog – Christian Grey is alpha – in business, in relationships. He dominates everything he can in almost every sense of the word. He is truly damaged and has control issues. As a fictional hero he works like magic, complemented beautifully by Ana’s virginal inexperience. Does she become strong and want to protect her cubs – you bet! At least a couple of time she either leaves him to wallow in his shit or tells him to get his shit together. When I look at my own story of Kate and Elliot – Elliot is Beta with some good alpha traits. He would kill for Kate but he won’t step on her or lock her up the way that Christian does. I fell in love with Christian, but I could spend the rest of my life with Elliot. In real life, SuperGeek is Beta – he is Elliot but without the finely tuned muscle. Ethan? Well, that remains to be seen.
So men, you don’t need to worry about not living up to the Alpha Male standard. Most hetero women need to have, as Essa puts it, someone who will ‘man up’ which isn’t always about dominance, although that can be nice, but it is about a level of confidence. Blokes, you don’t have to have it all together but as she says ‘viable employment’ and ‘not living in your mother’s basement’ would be good.