In this installment of “Let Her Ask Her Husband”, I reveal what my husband shared when I asked him what it means to be an alpha.
The first thing I was reminded of when I started this inquiry was the line in “Princess Bride” where Inigo Montoya says:
“That word…I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
My husband is what I believe the manosphere refers to as a natural wolf-alpha. Or – that’s as close as I can get, because the manosphere’s definitions are a bit more selfish and ruthless than is my husband. I’ve known DH since we were children, and he has always been dominant. Always been confident. Always taken charge of his pack. And yes, women have always responded to that.
I asked my husband the other day if he was going to teach our son (12) to be an alpha. He looked at me, shrugged and said, “If he’s an alpha, I’ll teach him”.
This made me wander around and go “hmm” for days. *Obviously* the first thing you get from that statement is that my husband doesn’t read manosphere blogs. He’s not deifying the great state of “alpha” – even though it’s as natural to him as breathing. So I had to figure out, “what does my husband mean when he says ‘alpha'”?
I know that for my husband, “alpha” isn’t just being tall and confident, etc. He has a desire bordering on need to protect/provide for those around him. His idea of heaven on earth (aka what he’d do if he won the lottery) is a compound where all his best friends live and share resources, which he would be very happy to bankroll. He wants to see those he cares about taken care of. He will sacrifice in order to see that through. He’s a pack leader. He leads his pack, even if “his pack” is just himself. He widens his circle of responsibility with action, not with Machiavellian forethought. How does he do it? I’m not sure. He just does it. I’ve watched him with other Big Dogs – and there is definitely sniffing around and mutual authority sensing. It’s a guy thing – and it’s meant for the circle of men, not the circle of women. With smaller dogs? They line up and follow, and they’re usually happy to be part of his pack (he’s a good pack leader).
He can, and does, follow orders when they come from higher up in the hierarchy (his boss, older men in authority). He doesn’t get more authority from undermining them – he gets more authority by expanding horizontally until it’s obvious who the next-in-line is, and anything else is unthinkable. High levels of competence? Check.
So, when my husband says “alpha” – he means a natural leader who acquires responsibility without really thinking about it. This isn’t something that you can train into someone, you are either a leader or you are not. (You can learn leadership skills, but the need to lead is innate). The tools he uses to establish dominance are largely subconscious… I’ve seen him use various things from the skill set I read about on manosphere blogs, but I’d never noticed until I read them. It’s very much, “Oh yeah – DH does that!”
I started to ask him about this and he said, “You are either an alpha or you are not. If you are, another alpha can help you along the way with the headaches that go with being an alpha. If not, then not.” Note the word: “headaches”.
I asked him to elaborate a bit, and he said that one could learn alpha-characteristics, take leadership training, that sort of thing – but that it wasn’t the same thing as *being* alpha. DH doesn’t use leadership to get his way, it drives him bonkers when people aren’t doing whatever it is that they ought to be doing. He *needs* to take care of the people around him. Male, female… he needs to see to their welfare and encourage them to be sensible. (Thus his lottery winning scenario, where all his dearest friends are permanently in his care and given the resources to be their best selves). It’s not sexual, and he doesn’t use it to get additional bed mates.
So, his answer, “I’ll train him if he’s an alpha – and if not, then not” makes sense. Why would he train our son to take on a pain-in-the-rear task that he doesn’t have a need to take on? (Being alpha, his idea of basic manhood involves principles, courage, self-sufficiency and honor – about 50% of what the outside world thinks of as alpha characteristics).
*I* am still a little confused (and will be interested to watch our son grow up), but I thought that, the readership here being what it is, that you would be interested in the result of my inquiry. Anyway – we *are* supposed to ask our husbands about things! Ask an alpha….