When I'm out and about talking to singles, I often meet a lot of women who I would consider to be "Alpha females": opinionated, successful, dominant, like to be in control, strong personality. When the topic of dating comes up, these women lament that they can't find strong, successful men to date, that they are tired of dating men they can walk all over, that they want men to stand up and take the reins. I listen to their dating stories about seemingly all-around decent men who just don't measure up to who and what they are searching for. I see these women fighting against their very nature, the core of who they are.
I get that women's ascendancy in the working world has perhaps made the fairer sex more aggressive and "masculine," but I also see plenty of women in high-level positions who demonstrate more "feminine" qualities in the workplace. So could it be that many of these strong-minded women just happen to naturally be more dominant types?
A lot of dating coaches will tell strong, successful women to tone down their dominant nature if they want to date and have a relationship with an Alpha male, and that can be an effective strategy, especially in the early stages of dating when you don't want to come off as an aggressive, control-freak. But for a lot of Alpha woman trying to find partners, the Alpha male may not be the best fit. And so I tell these women quite simply: "Embrace who you are!"
The best analogy that I've heard on the topic of self-acceptance and finding a compatible partner was from a man taking part in a dating panel. He said:
Men are like plants. There's a wide variety of us, no right or wrong. Some plants require shade, some have flowers, some don't, some take a long time to grow, and so on. As a woman, you have to decide what kind of farmer you want to be and be honest with what type of farmer you are. If, for example, you are a very strong woman/personality, find someone who will work well with you, and once you find out what you can and can't tolerate, and who you are and aren't, find someone who fits with you. Don't try to make an apple tree into an orange tree. You'll waste years of your life trying to change something that's not supposed to be. And you have to understand what and who you are and then go find your match. It's not a matter of who is perfect; it's a matter of in what environment does he thrive and what environment do I do well. If you give a plant exactly what it needs, it will do really well and it will take care of you, but you have to understand how that plant works. And if you are in front of a plant and say this isn't doing what I want, then go find another plant, and don't wait years of your life sticking around and waiting for it to change into something else.
On a personal note, I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent Alpha, but I certainly have some Alpha qualities. For years, I fought against the idea that perhaps I wasn't meant to be with an Alpha male, a la Don Draper. I thought I wanted that type of man, a man who led, a man who put me in my place, a man whose dominance I could be in awe of. Yet every time I dated these types of men, it was like two rams butting their heads against each other in a show of power. The men I dated more seriously tended to always be laid back and easy-going, sensitive to my feelings, patient, guys who were perfectly willing to go with my flow a lot of the time and let me be the more dominant one. The Alpha men didn't seem to want to date me for long periods of time either. I am opinionated (I hosted two radio shows and an Internet TV show and have spent years writing opinion pieces); I am competitive (on the tennis and squash courts, I am and have always been a fist-pumping, screaming maniac -- kind of like this woman); I can be hard-headed (I'm not one to back down easily).
At one point, I considered changing all of these things, because I thought men would find me intimidating. But Dave loves me for these parts of my strong personality, and I love him even more for it. Even when I look at my female friendships, the women who I have clicked with most throughout my life have been the easygoing, laid back types. The more dominant ones I have clashed with.
Eventually, I learned to love who I was at my core, and embrace the fact that a good fit for me partner-wise would be someone who cherished the dominant parts of me and didn't compete with them. When I finally accepted this, I met the love of my life. We got married on December 7, 2013!
Now, does all of this mean I'm encouraging strong, successful women to date doormats who never take initiative? Of course not. A self-respecting man should have his own life and have his own opinions and be able to stand up for himself. But a relationship with that Alpha male who many strong women have always fantasized would bring them happiness perhaps isn't always the best complement to their dominant nature. If an Alpha woman finds someone who happens to be easygoing, a bit on the passive side, isn't threatened by her strength and actually seems to adore her for it, I encourage her to give him a chance and open her heart to him. She may end up being grateful to him for allowing her to be her true self in his presence.
Neely Steinberg's first book Skin In the Game: Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur to Find Love will be out in January 2014.