The Beta Double Bind

Athol:  The back story is shortly after getting married plus two quick kids, the finances take a nosedive, and he works his ass off to turn that around. Things had very much cooled off for a while and then warmed up again once he found MMSL and bumped up the Alpha… and then she got pregnant again and suddenly everything flip-flopped back into cold. (As an aside, I should probably add pregnancy to my disclaimers… or is that an added extra I should charge more for? Hmmm…)
Reader:  She said she thought I had not treated her properly over the last few years.  She felt “ignored, abandoned and unloved.”  I will admit I spent a lot of time working and traveling, so maybe not enough Beta, I don’t really know.  Now I am not being Alpha enough, but before when I was working and traveling not enough Beta?  Can you explain that one to me?

Athol:  Alpha and Beta are two separate Traits. So you were likely being some combination of being “not enough Alpha with her” AND “not enough Beta with her” over the last few years.

The not enough Beta angle is going to seem very unfair to you, but here it is… If you (1) didn’t make enough money, the lack of money means not a very comfortable existence = not enough Beta. But… if you (2) had to be gone an awful lot working your ass off to make enough money, the lack of you being around and emotionally present means not a very comfortable existence = not enough Beta.

So either way, on the Beta front, you were going to come up as “not enough Beta.” This is called a Double Bind. Over the long term I personally think the making the money is a better strategy, but it can feel emotionally hollow to her. I get that you didn’t want to turn yourself into the family ATM, but if you’re essentially gone a lot and your major contribution to the family is your income… you’re the ATM.

Thus the response to combat that now is to bring your own emotions into play and express them to her. Express to her how much you didn’t want to be apart from her and the kids to go to work. Express to her how you thought you were doing the right thing keeping the family afloat. Express to her you thought that if you could push through the rough few years, that she would appreciate what you had put yourself through just so you could be with her. Tell her you thought she would love you more, not love you less.

Tell her you thought you were working to save your family, not lose your family.  It’s okay to lose it a little on this point. I’m not saying turn into the blubbering snot monster, I’m saying let her see that you’re actually invested in the relationship emotionally. Show some force of emotion.

She’s not going to sexually connect to you, unless she feels that you are emotionally connected to her.
The Alpha stuff I think you have a fairly decent handle on. Just keep doing what you’re doing as obviously you’ve seen the benefit of adding that into the mix. She’s starting to experience that as you distancing yourself from her though, so you do need to keep the Beta stuff together and balance it out.

Though once she got pregnant to you again, the payoff for the Alpha increase diminished greatly, and she’s right back at that feeling of needing far more relationship comfort from you. I’ll talk about how to handle her being pregnant tomorrow.

And for those reading who are outraged at the “ungrateful wife”… bear in mind it’s an extremely difficult situation being broke, pregnant twice, dealing with toddlers and with a husband that is away a lot. Logically yes, it makes perfect sense that he was working so hard, but she’s not a Vulcan. You have to expect her to have some sort of emotional response to it all. 


  1. Maybe SHE should read MMSL, to get a better understanding of her own emotions. (If she's mature enough to handle her own emotions…)

    I understand that a little leeway is in order for a pregnant gal who's feeling overwhelmed, but I think she might feel less overwhelmed if she has a rational understanding of what's going on. Your advice to tell her how he feels is excellent, but if she takes it as a guilt trip, it could backfire. I think it's wise to do it anyway.

    I'm sorry if this sounds mercenary, but 'give and take' is part of every relationship: right now, while she's vulnerable and dependent, is a good time to force her to consider how good she has it (even on the bad days.) She needs the security it will give her immediately, and it will probably reinforce her commitment in the future. Doing this gently but firmly will be a tightrope walk for him.

  2. I'm not sure "rational" and "pregnant" can belong in the same sentence. Ahem. But I say that as a pregnant woman right now myself…so who knows.

    I for one, can't wait for tomorrow's blog post dealing more with pregnant women.

  3. Athol,

    I really dislike your use of the terms "alpha" and "beta". They are not being used properly. Game is the outgrowth of evolutionary behavioral psychology. All of Game revolves around male psycho-sexual dominance. Stated another way: frame control. As Mystery said "who controls the frame controls the communication."

    "Alpha" traits are psychologically dominant traits. "Beta" traits are psychologically weak traits. A man should NEVER be Beta!! What you mean by "beta" is something else entirely. Having a dependable job and being affectionate are not "beta" traits. They are attributes which have value under the right circumstances.

    To have a high sex rank, a man needs to have high scores in the various value realms: wealth/toys, looks/health/physical presentation (think Neil Strauss for the latter), status (on whatever level you can reach), personality. It is that last where Game comes into play. A great personality for a man is a DOMINANT personality. There can be no beta for a man.

    What you are calling beta is not. Its just other forms of value displayed or brought into focus at the right time. For example, giving your wife affection is not beta. It is an alpha move if you plan it right, do it at the right time and frame it right (and execute it with a touch of playfulness).

    Just not liking your use of the term beta. It strikes deep cords of dissonance inside me. I was a beta and I have spent years of my life eradicating every shred of beta from my soul. NOTHING I do is beta. Ever.


  4. Jean-Luc LeGame says:

    I think the use of the terms alpha and beta you advocate is a good one, but I think Athol's use is very effective as well. Athol's use kind of makes Alpha traits into sexually attractive traits, and Beta traits are comfort building traits and actions. For sexy time in LTR you need to maintain attraction and comfort. So for pedagogical purposes, Athol's system is really great for explaining to men who are unfamiliar with game and the reality of human sexuality what they're likely doing wrong and how to correct it.

    At the same time, you're right that a man should always be striving to have a dominant personality and never to be psycho-socially submissive. So, I think what you say is true, Jack, but at the same time, for pedagogical purposes, Athol's use of the terms is helping tons of people, including myself.

  5. Ian Ironwood says:

    I agree with Athol and Jean-Luc on this one. Mystery and Roosh and Roissy did outstanding work in developing Game…SINGLE Game. Athol focuses on MARRIED Game. In Single Game you can buff your Alpha to get laid…once. Maybe twice. That's fine, but in Married Game the goal isn't the sprint, it's the marathon.

    While Alpha and Beta were first anthropological terms to describe social behavior in animals, the fact is that Game — and the concepts therein — have developed a nomenclature of their own. Any OMG (Old Married Guy) here will tell you that you can't live on Alpha and expect to be married.

    I'm not knocking the PUAs. But Athol's Game is different for a reason. Psycho-sexual dominance cannot be sustained indefinitely if a woman's underlying security issues are not satisfied in terms of a long-term relationship. And when you add hormone cycles and stuff like pregnancy, then the PUAs just don't know how to deal with it. They'd rather ditch and move on to greener pastures. OMGs can't do that.

    You have to understand that Married Game is not a betrayal of Game principals, it's a sophisticated refinement. Consider it Advanced Game. As much as the PUAs tend to dismiss OMGs and marriage in general, the fact is a lot of us chose to get married as an act of personal will, not as an act of personal capitulation. Married Game operates in an entirely different context as Single Game.

    For more on Athol's idea of Alpha and Beta, I wrote a post addressing why Beta isn't inherently chumpish, here:

    The Red Pill isn't pandering, it's power. But you need both wires to make it work.

  6. As Mystery said "who controls the frame controls the communication."

    It cracks me up that anyone lectures me on frame control. I've been taking over the Game conversation slowly but surely for the last two years. I've heard your exact same complaint dozens of times when I started in 2010 and my response was to ignore it, plow ahead and publish a book… and now two books on it.

    I am quite purposely doing what I'm doing. If you want to win the war I've started to control the terminology I've used to create the entire field of Married Game, you'll have to hurry up and start publishing yourself. Just be aware that I'm am a beast the way I endlessly post the blog and publish an entire book at least once a year. Ulitmately your attempts to correct me would simply result in being an advertisement for me, so please do fight me as I enjoy the support.

    I would apologize for all that, but I am obnoxious.


    Once you read the Primer you'll see I go well beyond other Game writers and why it's important to see Alpha and Beta Traits as two completely separate sets of Traits. The book is a Game changer. Truly.

  7. Jack,
    I'm a little uncomfortable with the terminology as well; I see the true alpha as the Wolf Alpha – the whole package. He's a warrior, a seducer, a provider and a teacher – a leader in every way. However, it's easy to forget that Beta isn't "less than" Alpha, "Beta" as an accurate label for many excellent traits.

    Think of the extremes: A man who is 100% Alpha, isn't the best candidate for overall "successful reproduction" which is arguably the goal of our existence; it's what we were designed to do. The Pure Alpha is a great warrior, a great acquirer-of-resources, fathers many children, and a great leader of non-thinkers. He also has a very good chance of dying young.

    A Pure Beta can't acquire nearly as many resources as a Pure Alpha, but he has the ability do with what he does acquire. He's innovative, responsive, and flexible, with an eye to the future. He's better able to adapt his behavior to his circumstances. Beta traits are not weaknesses – they're not Omega traits.

    The "Ideal Man," what I call the Wolf Alpha, is the the man who has Alpha and Beta traits, because he's the guy whose descendants are most likely to thrive. He even has a bit of Omega if he submits himself to a god.

    My objection to the common usage of "Alpha" and "Beta" is a knee-jerk reaction to the popular presumption that "Alpha" is strong and "Beta" is weak. This prejudice doesn't hold up under an accurate understanding of Alpha and Beta traits.

  8. "ability to do *more* with what he acquires."

  9. I see the current "project" here as potentially wading into all the stereotypical SAHM minefields.

    If he's working a lot and she is not, she's in need of something to do to keep busy and intellectually stimulated.

    With no one else to meet her adult social needs, he's going to be put in the uncomfortable position of being her World.


  10. I guess this comes down to definitions. I just don't like defining "beta" as comfort building attributes. Beta is male weakness. Period.

    But as I have no desire to write a game-for-married-men book, I guess Athol, as the leading Married-game blogger, will set the terms. But I don't think that single PUAs will ever use beta in Athol's way. Mystery set the terms for this and Roissy has added a whole philosophy to back it up.

    For the next generation, at least, their use of the terms will hold.


  11. The deeper issue is that Mystery offers essentially nothing for married man, and Roissy's stuff works really well for most guys with their wives for about six months and then it blows up on them. It's the Alpha = Good, Beta = Bad thinking that is the direct cause of that.

    Unless you see Alpha and Beta Traits separately, you'll always misread an early positive response to the addition of Alpha as also being positive to the removal of Beta. It's not. Then six months later BOOM!

    These are separate biological systems at work here, so you have to link the Traits to those separately.

  12. "Jack: Beta is male weakness. Period."
    This is only true for a PUA, who is living only half of the life he was designed for. "Omega" is weakness. Beta is necessary for long term survival – how is that weak?

    Sex is important to men (duh) because of the sex drive. However the sex drive itself wasn't designed purely for recreation; it's purpose is procreation, which is far more successfully accomplished with Beta traits.

    The sex drive is a tool. The PUA Alpha has the luxury of using it as a toy, for his pleasure. The Wolf Alpha uses it, along with other instincts, to create and maintain a dynasty – civilization. The Wolf Alpha, with his broader skill set, is NOT the lesser man; he is the greater man. (Unless you life's goal is to have fun.)

    The PUA Alpha is the seducer, the sales leader, the medal winning warrior or athlete. He is not the boss – not the patriarch, not the CEO, not the general, not the coach. The leader is the Wolf Alpha, to whom the PUA alpha answers (unless he chooses to GHOW.) PUA's are a highly specialized subculture, and specialization is a survival advantage ONLY within the greater culture.

    PUA Alpha is not the sole measure of male "strength."

  13. Athol, I have a question for you.

    A little background. My husband is very Alpha and does have Beta as well. When he is home he has about the perfect mixture and all is great. However, he has an Alpha job that takes him away for long periods of time. A good majority of our marriage we have been apart do to his job. He provides well for the family and I very much appreciate that. With that said, I have asked him many times over for certain things that I need to remain close emotionally. For whatever reason he does not do these things for me. I don't know if it is because he is too tired, doesn't believe me, thinks I am shit testing him, etc. What is so perplexing is the fact that if he were home he would be doing similar things without even thinking about it. I continue to do the things that he ask, albeit, it is becoming a bit resentfully. I should probably introduce him to your site but I am not sure that he would be receptive of some of the things. Like I said, he already demonstrates a great balance when he is home. I don't want him to think that I want him to change. Seriously, I don't want to lose what I have already but I need more when he is gone. It is hard going it alone so much of the time and with kids to boot. Any suggestions?

    Pam F.

  14. Pam. Be very clear with him what your needs are and why. Also determine the reasons he is not doing what you ask.

    He has a hierarchy of tasks that he is performing to achieve his end goals for his family and must prioritize those tasks. With no further information other than you expressing a "want", sometimes your desires will be further down the list than you might like. I went through this with my ex-wife (SAHM) with her requests for me to spend less time at work. Unfortunately, I was sole breadwinner and trying to set us up for the future in a new business, so I addressed that as priority over her need for attention. However, if she had indicated that she was going to leave if she didn't get that attention I definitely would have given more weight to that. After all, my end goal was to have a financially stable intact family, but I would have settled for an intact family.

    You may want to change his priorities by being clear how you are feeling and what the consequences may be. First be sure that it is actually something that he needs to address rather than an issue you need to work on within yourself. Second, be careful how you approach it as the outcome may not be what you intended. He may indeed see it as a shit test or ultimatum and respond accordingly. That said, in his position I would still rather have the ultimatum as that gives me choice, whereas a surprise divorce does not.

  15. Pam, sometimes when we say "please call me everyday at 6 and email me the details of your day," etc. it can come across as something your husband must do, like a chore. You can't really order someone to be affectionate.

    My suggestion? Let it go. He'll actually become curious as to why you're no longer nagging him about it. Pretty soon he'll voluntarily start calling and emailing you & the kids, which is what you want anyway, right?

    Just give him some room to miss you.


  16. I agree with this. But its just how "beta" is defined. Athol is defining beta as comfort and trust building attributes and he is linking it to a set of hormones (ie Oxytocin) largely responsible for pair bonding. I don't have a problem with that. But calling it "beta" is where I have the problem and for reasons of conceptual clarity. Beta was originally chosen because it accurately defined a personality type ("AFC") that capitulated to women psychologically. Beta served a purpose.

    If a PUA uses the term beta as a single man in means one thing but if he gets married and uses the term beta it now means something else. See, no conceptual clarity. What I am after is industry standardization. Perhaps Dominance and Comfort or D & C. Its just that when I read "beta" my mind is trained to see all things related to "average frustrated chump".

    But I agree with the whole premise of Marriage Game. Its basically psycho-sexual dominance applied to long term pair bonds. I still wonder if humans really are emotionally wired for relationships longer than 7 years but that's another question.


  17. "What I am after is industry standardization."

    Me too, but considering the goals of those who "wrote the dictionary," I'm not very optimistic. It takes a lot of mental re-training to get past the ingrained prejudice; I'm not sure very many people have the necessary confidence in their own reasoning abilities. ESPECIALLY men who are learning to navigate the minefield that is the female psyche. I hope writers like Athol keep chipping away at it.

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