Calling someone a beta male is a common insult, but is it misplaced? I explore where the beta male really belongs in the socio-sexual hierarchy, the beta male’s most common traits and qualities, and if they really deserve their second-class reputation. Want to understand beta males? Read on.
The Beta Male’s Place in the Socio-Sexual Hierarchy
The socio-sexual hierarchy consists of seven different personality types:
You may not have heard of some of them as they are later additions, such as the Zeta male. But most people know of the beta male.
Beta males, however, are often misunderstood as being at the bottom of the masculinity scale and, therefore, as losers. But as you can see, beta males are second in the dominance hierarchy, but does their second-place position put them above everyone else?
Beta males often hold management positions and climb higher than most men in all sorts of industries. This is because of the personality traits listed below.
While beta males don’t have the confidence and masculine energy of an alpha male, their ability to gain the trust of an alpha male (and other betas) is the key to their success. As a result, the beta male is second in the male dominance hierarchy, and this is because they usually play as a wingman or second in command to an alpha male.
Alpha males don’t exist independently (like Sigma males do). They need a team of people below them to support them. They need reliable and trustworthy people who won’t fight for control – that’s the beta male.
Don’t Misunderstand the Beta Male Personality
When you hear the words beta male, the most common thought is of a weakling, Fearful, and cowardly. Although this is often how the phrase beta male is used, it isn’t an accurate description of the beta male.
As many infer, the beta male isn’t bottom of the pile; he’s second in the pecking order. Alpha males who rise to the top pull their beta male brothers with them. In business, this means that beta males get promoted into middle management positions ahead of delta and omega males, who often remain in lower job positions their whole lives.
With a little effort in social relationships, deltas, gammas, zetas, and omegas could all become beta males and improve their positions in the pecking order. However, for beta males, a move out of the hierarchy to become a sigma male may be the best move.
7 Beta Male Personality Traits
It isn’t always easy to tell a beta male apart from his counterparts as so many men share similar qualities. But there are a few evolutionary characteristics that you’ll always see in beta males. Some are simply stereotypes, such as:
- Nice guy syndrome
- Lack of Aggression
- Fear of the dominant male
- Low social status
- Frustration with the opposite sex
- Low testosterone
While beta males could possess any of these qualities, they don’t make them betas. Beta males can still take the lead, be jerks, and get laid. Those are all other aspects of their individual personalities. The masculine traits below define him as a beta male.
Empathy is the personality trait of noticing other people’s feelings and emotional states. Beta males, as excellent team members and communicators, tend to have high levels of empathy. It’s how they gain favor with alpha males and get on with each other.
If someone always seems to get what you’re going through and is willing to listen to your problem and offer reasonable solutions, he might be a beta male.
Empathy is a valuable personality trait; it helps you to connect with the people around you on an emotional level, understand their point of view, and to respond in a helpful and appropriately sensitive way. So it’s not that beta males constantly walk on eggshells; they actually care about others.
Remember that understanding others’ feeling doesn’t mean you want what’s best for them. Empathy can be used for harm too, as the British Psychological Society notes:
“Empathy is a powerful force, capable of doing good and harm. Some psychologists believe that humanity would best thrive if we avoided it all together and relied instead on rational, reasoned thought.”British Psychological Society
They are kind, compassionate, and caring and are aware of the feelings of others.
It’s these traits that help them to rise into management positions and gain the respect of the alpha male.
Beta males are not natural leaders; they will take on managerial roles, but their natural position is as a second in command or a wingman. Usually ambiverts or omniverts, highly introverted beta males are rare.
Being highly cooperative is the quality they use daily to make the people around them happy and remain in the good graces of the alpha male above them.
They don’t have the will or desire to dominate the delta males below them, but with the support of a dominant alpha male, they can be effective leaders.
Beta males are especially powerful when they get together to achieve a joint goal. This is because they all want to please their ‘boss,’ so they are happy to work together for a common goal.
Carl Jung said that some people are characterized by “an innate sensitiveness.” Some more than others.
Beta males often exhibit more passive or nurturing personality characteristics than their more assertive and dominant alpha male brothers. One of these nurturing traits is sensitivity.
Sensitivity is different from empathy though both are interrelated. While empathy is the ability to sense the emotions of others, sensitivity is the desire to act so as not to upset others.
Sensitivity is closely connected to the Big Five Personality traits or neuroticism and Openness. So it isn’t only a benefit to betas. They feel more affected by their experiences and are more likely to develop mental problems brought on by negativity and stress.
Beta males stay modest to maintain their complex network of connections with other people. Being arrogant or acting self-important is a quick way to lose friends and upset people. That goes against everything the beta male stands for, so they stay modest.
Is modesty out of fear genuine modesty? I don’t think so, and perhaps they need to look at the Sigma male rulebook.
There are many reasons that beta males may be nonconfrontational; it often stems from fears of:
- Physical harm
- Social rejection
- Damage to their reputation
They prefer to keep harmonious relationships, even when those relationships don’t serve them. It’s their high levels of sensitivity that make them acutely aware of threats of both a physical and social nature. The high levels of neuroticism cause them to overthink situations and options to keep everyone happy.
6. Open Mindedness
Beta males must be open-minded to maintain relationships with so many different types of people. Rather than become opinionated about a subject, they are happy to leave things ambivalent as long as it makes everyone happy.
If you’ve ever taken a big five personality test and found you are high in openness, you might be a beta male.
Humor may not be something you’d associate with beta males, but it’s one of the tools they use to make and maintain friendships and social connections.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that every funny guy you meet is a beta male, but they probably are if they also show some of the other characteristics in this list.
Examples of Beta Males
- Hugh Grant – Hugh Grant defines “Mr. Nice Guy.” He uses his charms and never offends.
- Ed Sheeran – Ed is a people pleaser. He’s pleasant and friendly, a typical beta male.
- Chandler from Friends – Chandler used his jokes to get people to like him.
Relationships with Beta Males
Relationships with beta males tend to be pretty stable. They like to make people happy, so they usually don’t offend or get too aggressive. However, many women find that beta males never truly show themselves. They feel that they never completely relax and show who they really are.
Rather than force him to come out of his shell, you might need to accept that the middle-of-the-road guy that talks to you in a polite way is who he really is.
Why We Misunderstand Beta Males
It’s easy to see why beta males are often seen as submissive and weak. In reality, however, they aren’t the pathetic weaklings they’re made out to be.
Beta males are realists; they understand they’re not cut out to be alphas or sigmas, so they ally with someone with more charisma and success and get pulled up. They are more ambitious than delta males who resign themselves to their lot.
Beta males are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.