I have a friend here in Barcelona. His name is Lacho. He’s originally from Mexico City but has been living in Spain for over six years. The way he speaks immediately reveals his background; he uses the familiar Mexican slang interspersed with the Spanish staccato. He’s short, only around 5’6 (167cm). He’s also skinny, not weighing more than 140-150 lbs. Like a typical Mexican, he’s always in an infectiously great mood and always knows how to have a great time.
The other thing he’s really good at is picking up women. Let me correct myself: he absolutely kills it with women. He’s a fucking master. And not just with foreign women on vacation—who come to Barcelona to find their Latin lover(s)—but all kinds of women; he has no problems picking up “difficult” Spanish women and the “unattainable” Catalan women. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes, but I still have no idea how he does it. He has this “Latin flair” that only Latin American guys seem to be born with. I don’t think it can be taught. Even the local Spanish guys are jealous of him.
On my first week in Barcelona, my roommate and I went out to a bar with an American guy from Washington DC. He was around 43 years old and has been living in Barcelona for about three years. He was the quintessential “all-American guy”; tall and good looking. He reminded me a bit of Don Draper from Mad Men, both in looks and manners. I immediately stereotyped him as someone who would absolutely kill at the bar. I expected him to smoothly approach very cute women—if they didn’t approach him first. Because that’s what Don Draper does. I felt like I was going to be on a set of Mad Men.
That didn’t exactly happen. Actually, nothing happened. At least nothing out of the ordinary. He didn’t approach anyone. He didn’t even try to approach anyone. There might have been a few looks in his direction, but no one outright approached him.
He didn’t mind. Approaching women was probably the last thing on his mind. He was having a good time just having a beer and talking. Part of me even thought that he was afraid of approaching, afraid of putting himself out there, and afraid of the subsequent rejection. He was… well, as it turns out, no Don Draper; he was closer to the actor who plays Don Draper (Jon Hamm), a regular guy just like you and me.
Several years ago, when I was living in Medellin, Colombia, one of my readers, a Canadian guy from Toronto, contacted me. He was a pretty well-known guy in one of the other communities, constantly sharing travel and pickup tips from all over the world. He seemed like someone who would be fun to hang out with. I was excited to meet him and conquer the streets.
We met at a bar and had a couple of beers. Right away, I could feel that something was off. First, he was edgy and had difficulty keeping straight eye contact. If I didn’t “know” him before, I’d assume that he wasn’t very comfortable around people. His behavior conflicted with the countless stories he told me where he was getting laid all over the world without ever experiencing a single rejection.
We hailed a taxi and headed to one of my favorite clubs. I was excited that I finally had a capable wingman instead of rolling solo dolo like countless times before. We approached the bar, grabbed a drink and I began to make small talk. But he had no interest in chatting. All he talked about is approaching “sets” and “negging” women. His eyes were hungry, darting around the room at breakneck speeds.
He began approaching. One by one, each “set” rejected him. Half an hour later, he came back to the bar, confused and dejected. “This club sucks,” he said. “Let’s go to another one.” I nodded and suggested we check out another club close by.
We paid the bar tab and headed to another club. Unlike the first club, the second club had a modest cover charge ($10). Refusing to pay, he pulled out his “Press ID” and paraded it in front of the bouncer’s eyes. The bouncer examined the poorly laminated card, smiled, announced that it’s a bad fake and refused to let him in without paying. He cursed the bouncer, turned around and left without saying good-bye. I never talked to him again.
Spot the Alpha Male
Let’s play a little game. It’s called “Spot The Alpha Male.” The first guy is a true seducer and gets laid constantly, but he’s short and skinny and doesn’t really look like a Greek God. The second guy is tall, looks like Don Draper, but is shy and reserved and maybe even has some self-esteem issues. The third guy has no problems approaching, but he’s arrogant and obnoxious, and someone you’d have a hard time being around. Maybe that’s why he was rejected by every single woman he approached.
I think you’re feeling that this is a trick question because in your mind none of these guys truly qualifies as an Alpha Male. None of these guys quite “makes the cut.” None of these guys is quite “it.” None of these guys is “perfect.” Each of these guys has positive and negative qualities.
My writings are mostly about the man’s struggle with Western culture, so I don’t usually use PUA or manosphere lingo when trying to explain various concepts. But merely talking about a man’s struggle with the West naturally leads to male self-development; when it comes to being a modern man in Western society, you really can get all the help you need. And when you start talking about male self-development, you invariably confront the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the ubiquitous concept of Alpha Male. It’s the model around which all male self-development is structured.
Here’s another question, but I can’t guarantee it’ll be easier than the first one. Quick—do you know what is an Alpha Male? Can you define it? Can you define it without providing an example? Don’t worry if it stumps you. Because even after being in the “community” for close to a decade, during which time I’ve read and re-read every single manosphere blog out there and have talked with and met a couple of very well-known writers, I still don’t know what it is. It’s puzzling. It’s mind-boggling. It’s also troubling.
Now, I understand that I’m not one of those big “manosphere philosophers.” I’m not famous with thousands and thousands of followers. I’m just a regular guy who travels and tries to get laid. I see and experience things and then write about them. And I’ve seen a lot. I’ve been to more than 70 countries and “sampled” the women in each one of them.
I can tell you plenty of things: when and how to meet Brazilian women; the best clubs in St. Petersburg, Russia; what not to do in Colombia; where to go out in Barcelona; what works with Ukrainian or Romanian women; why you should and shouldn’t visit Lithuania; the subtle differences between Russia and Ukraine; why Russian women initially seem tough and difficult; a great reggaeton club in Panama City; the best city to visit in Argentina; and which countries are rapidly becoming very Westernized. And I can even tailor each of these answers to your specific background, experience, style, and preferences.
But even if you put a gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you what or who is an Alpha Male.
Pinnacle of success
A man’s inherent biological drive is to survive and procreate. Even if you choose not to have children, you still want to stick your dick in anything that moves. That’s normal; it’s programmed into your DNA. Generally, there are two ways to measure a man’s success: economic or reproductive.
Using these yardsticks for success, I’ve met many successful guys. The first one who immediately comes to mind is an old Russian friend. I consider him as one of the most confident and self-assured guys I’ve ever met in my life. And as someone who’s always thinking about being a better man and even wrote a book about it, it says a lot. If you’re a frequent reader here, you probably feel that you might know this guy personally by now; I’ve talked about him so much and even dedicated a chapter to him in my second book. He’s a ruthless businessman who’s making lots of money these days. He doesn’t take shit from anyone. He’s the epitome of someone who’s not only fantastically confident, but also a strong go-getter.
He’s now married to a gorgeous wife and has a son that will take over the throne one day. But even in his bachelor years, I wouldn’t say that he “killed it” with women. Yes, he evaded the problems that plagued some of the other guys, but there was never a period in his life where his priority was racking up “notches.” One reason is because he was busy trying to make lots of money. He was never the guy who “owned the room,” but was a guy who always knew exactly what to do in any unexpected situation. He was always a natural leader. He was always very decisive. He always knew exactly what needs to be done in any situation.
Is my friend an Alpha Male? I have no idea. First, he doesn’t look like an Alpha Male. Second, he doesn’t get laid 5 times per week or 50-100 times per year or whatever that new “metric” for an Alpha Male is these days. Besides that, he’s also a pretty nice guy.
If your benchmark for a successful man is how often he gets laid, then an old acquaintance from Rio de Janeiro immediately comes to mind. He is the stereotypical Carioca (a native of Rio de Janeiro). He is tall, dark, good-looking and very confident. Like a typical Brazilian, he knows how to have a great time. He is fearless when it comes to approaching. And he gets rewarded for it. He gets laid a lot. And I mean a lot. He probably got laid almost every time he went out. Maybe he is the real Alpha Male.
Or maybe not. Because once you do get to know him, you’ll realize that he has all the same insecurities that you and I have. He has approach anxiety. He has self-esteem issues. He’s unsure what he wants to do in life. He can even be characterized as a “nice guy.” When it comes to getting laid, he only scores with foreign women who come to Brazil to find their “Brazilian lover” and has very little success with local Brazilian women. So, no, he’s certainly not infallible.
Home of the Alpha Male
Actually, I’m wrong, I’ve seen an alpha male. I really have. I swear. Lots and lots of alpha males. Where? On TV—American TV, to be exact. That also explains, why in over five years of running a blog about travel, women and how to travel and pickup women, I have exactly one (1) reference to Alpha Males: on a post that compares American and Russian television.
American movies or sitcoms always have the same plot. There’s a hero. He faces certain adversity (his wife is kidnaped, his family is killed, his house is burned down). He decides to rise up to the challenge and avenge the people responsible. Through sheer will and determination, the hero eventually overcomes the challenge by killing the enemy (a corrupt police cop, rogue government official, mafia don, drug kingpin, etc.). As a reward for his noble crusade, he ends up seducing a beautiful girl. The alternative ending is where things don’t go the hero’s way, and he gets maimed or killed by the enemy.
There’s also a slight variation of this theme. There’s a guy who’s good looking, naturally confident and—surprise—really good with women. He doesn’t need to overcome any monumental obstacles like avenge the murder of his loved ones or save the world from complete apocalypse or Armageddon. He’s just a regular guy who seems to always strike gold. He can go to a bar, sit by himself and random women will smile at him from across the room. He can be obnoxious and arrogant, but that will just amplify women’s attraction for him. He can act aloof and even ignore women who approach him by telling them that “he is not interested in shallow sex,” but before he can even finish that sentence, an amazingly gorgeous woman is already dragging him home to her bed.
Sometimes this guy is alone. But, usually, in order to compare and contrast this guy’s mastery of life and universe, there’s also another guy. The second guy isn’t as successful as the first one; he is actually clueless loser who looks and acts like he was born ten minutes ago. He takes the word “naive” to a completely new level. Everything is a great puzzle to him—like, meeting and talking to people of the opposite sex. To say that he idolizes and pedestalizes every woman that crosses his path would be a huge understatement. Therefore, it’s really not a huge surprise that he’s constantly rejected and ridiculed by every woman he wants to get to know.
In the famous American sitcom, Saved By The Bell, there were Zack and Slater who always got laid, while the nerdy-looking Screech didn’t. In How I Met Your Mother, Barney is a guy who’s smoother than silk with women while some of his other friends are more “tamed” and “domesticated.” In Two and a Half Men, Charlie is the ultimate Alpha Male who is tall, good looking, owns a nice house and gets laid every single night to model-looking women. His hapless brother is the epitome of the lost Western male; clueless and luckless when it comes to any kind of interaction with the opposite sex.
And, of course, how can we forget Californication? The protagonist, Hank Moody, is the quintessential Alpha Male; he gets laid simply by getting out of his house and showing up to places with the opposite sex. His bald and clueless agent isn’t so lucky; he’s left begging and validating to every single woman for any time and attention.
Besides American movies and sitcoms, there’s another place where this mythical Alpha Male lives: the Internet. People love writing about this mythical creature. They discuss his qualities, achievements and personality traits. They explain to you what makes an Alpha Male an Alpha Male. It’s almost like these Alpha Males are the modern Greek gods from Greek mythology. In order to drive their points home, they resort to various examples of Alpha Males from American mass media and entertainment such as movies and sitcoms.
Black and white world
There are at least two serious problems with the concept of Alpha Male that should immediately trip you off. The first is the sheer inability to define the term. Ask 50 people to define the term and you’ll get (at least) 50 different opinions.
When you press a “guru” for a definition, he’ll invariably give you a very abstract definition: “Alpha Male is someone who has sex with the hottest women.”
Okay, but what about guys who have other things on their mind than trying to get into women’s pants? What about a guy who started 10 successful businesses with a revenue of over $10M each? What about a powerful CEO of a Fortune 500 company who’s happily married and has no interest in sleeping with a new girl every day? Or, what about guys who have fought 20 professional MMA fights and won them all by a knockout or submission? Are these guys still Alpha?
But maybe I’m asking the wrong questions. After all, not everything in the world can be concretely defined. Not every question has or even needs to have an answer. That’s perfectly fine. But if something cannot be concretely defined and explained, then it should be treated differently from the things that are not only easily explained but are also actionable. The things that cannot be easily defined should be immediately relegated to the “philosophy” category. Let philosophers do what they do best: philosophize. And let aspiring guys who’re trying to improve—improve.
The second major problem with the whole concept of Alpha Male is that if you don’t make into the coveted Alpha Male Kingdom, then you’re automatically relegated to another category: Beta Male. If you thought that it was tough to be a man in the Western world, then this world just got several magnitudes more unbearable.
The biological argument
Because manosphere philosophers understand that not everyone will see the world through their lens—a black and white world made up of only two types of people—they try to fortify their arguments with biology. One of the most amazing things is to witness one of these philosophers suddenly turn into a zoologist or an anthropologist when he starts telling you about the rules and ways of an animal kingdom.
You’ve probably heard this story a million times. If not, allow me to repeat it. So, in the animal kingdom, there’s always this “leader of the pack” who gets the first dibs on any females while the lesser animals are resigned to jerk off all alone in the dark cave. The ratio of the former to latter conveniently follows the Pareto Principle : 20% of the Alpha Gorillas sleep with 80% of the females. Or something like that.
It doesn’t take a zoologist to understand that the argument has some merit. Males do fight with each other for mating rights. That’s the case with all animals, including humans. In a primitive world without laws, courts and the police, violence, and physical force is usually employed to resolve just about any argument. The stronger animal wins and gets the girl (and a harem). The female also wins because she gets to reproduce with stronger genes, and that means she’ll have capable offsprings that will do the same.
But there’s something else that no one ever talks about. While humans are animals, humans can do things that animals cannot. Specifically, a human can “separate” himself from his “self” and ponder about his existence . A man can be introspective. That means that we can also control our emotions and instincts. We can ascertain whether what we want to do is something that we really want to do or it’s because our emotions want us to do it. An animal can’t do that. That big mountain gorilla can’t ponder the meaning of life. That big mountain gorilla can’t start a blog and write posts about masculinity and Western culture. But we can.
It’s true that using biology strengthens the argument. After all, what can be more real and “true” than our DNA and genes? But an argument based on biological determinism is like dropping a nuclear weapon when you’ve exhausted all your other artillery. Nothing else has worked before, and as you feel that you’re about to lose, you decide to drop the nuclear bomb and see if that finishes the job.
If you are using the nuclear option, then you must be prepared for others to use it as well. A couple of years ago, there was a heated argument between a New York feminist and some of the other members on my forum. She was saying that women and men are equal—in every way, even biologically. To support her argument, she was even willing to show “scientific” papers from various “scientists” that “proved” that this was indeed the case.
I’m not saying that biological arguments are necessarily wrong. Biology is still biology. The problem is that these days, lots of things can be called “biology.” And nothing should ever substitute for common sense. I think we’re perilously approaching the edge of common sense when we attempt to explain all the intricacies of human behavior based on how animals behave in a jungle.
Symptom of American Culture
I think the whole concept of Alpha Male is really a symptom of the Western mass society rather than anything concrete that can be examined, defined and understood. American culture always seems to be dividing people into two (or more) camps: the “Hank Moody’s” and “Don Draper’s” of the world who are getting laid left and right just by getting out of the house and showing up at the bar, and the utterly naive, lame and clueless losers of the world who treat every single woman with the same worship that one would bestow on Queen Elizabeth, Queen of the Nile, or a Greek Goddess. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that what they get in return is nothing but criticism and belittlement.
American society naturally mimics what it sees on television. When I went out America, I noticed some guys who were acting like some of these men. These guys probably watched an episode of Mad Men or Californication and then tried to copy the mannerisms of the lead characters, while forgetting that they’re actors on the set and not real people. They come to the bars and clubs and act aloof and uninterested. That might work for Leonardo DiCaprio or David Duchovny (actor who plays Hank Moody in Californication) because they’re well-known and have massive value, but it’s probably not going to work for an average guy off the street.
Outside the West, things are different. There’s a “normalization” of behavior among the sexes. In Brazil, I’ve seen all kinds of guys be successful with women, regardless if they were 6’4” and built like a Greek god, or 5’5” and built like a matchstick. It didn’t matter if you were aloof and cocky (that doesn’t work anyway), or if you were naturally friendly and social. There didn’t seem to be hard and fast rules and no “system” that might predict who would be taking a gorgeous girl home and who would be spending a night in front of the computer. Part of that explains why there’s really no such thing as “game” in Brazil. Using scripted lines or openers with Brazilian women is beyond insanity.
In my native Eastern Europe things are slightly different. Russian guys are generally very tough and don’t take shit from anyone. Same for Ukrainians, Bulgarians, and Romanians. It’s not because that’s how they see “cool” people act in their favorite television sitcoms or movies: it’s because they have no other choice; if they weren’t tough and didn’t take what they needed, they wouldn’t get to eat. That’s just the Eastern European reality. The neediness that runs rampant among Western men is completely absent there. I really hope it stays that way, but with the rapid Westernization of the world I’m not keeping my hopes high.
I was curious if my suspicions were true and that the obsession with “Alpha Male” is actually a superficial construct that’s limited to the West, so I began digging around for more information. The other day, I stumbled on an interesting article from New York Times called “Western men are doomed.” (It’s a prophetic title; we’re living in interesting times when a liberal and pro-Western newspaper makes such an observation about its own constituency.)
The article talks about different thinking styles between Westerners and other nationalities.
Asians place emphasis on context while Westerners place more emphasis on individuals. This seems like a gross generalization, but it is robustly supported by hundreds and hundreds of studies.
If you show Americans a fish tank, they’ll talk about the biggest fish in the tank. If you show Asians a tank they will make, on average, 60 percent more references to the context and the features of the scene. Western parents tend to emphasize nouns and categories when teaching their kids, Korean parents tend to emphasize verbs and relationships.
I believe what the Americans are actually seeing is The Alpha Male Fish.
Now, I know this is just one article that compares the thinking of Americans with other nationalities. But it begins to make sense when you view it as a small jigsaw piece in the grand cultural jigsaw puzzle.
And when viewed as part of the big cultural picture, it becomes more than obvious that this whole “Man vs. Woman” and “Alpha vs. Beta” debates are symptoms of a culture supercharged with capitalism and competition. Outside America (and other English-speaking countries), there’s a greater emphasis on community and working together; whereas in America people are natural competitors. Men size up other men; women size up other women. Men size up women; women size up men. This has been my personal experience during my travels.
Reverence and Worship
Less successful people naturally gravitate towards more successful people for advice and guidance. If you have no clue what you’re doing and you don’t have a strong masculine role model who can show you the way (because you were raised by a single mother), then you start to look up to a man who’s very successful with women and life. You may even start to worship this man.
But there’s an important difference between reverence and worship. I revere guys who go out and get what they want. I revere guys who approach beautiful women and get laid. I revere guys who work a lot and make lots of money. I revere guys who don’t take shit from anyone. I revere guys who stand by their word. Most of these guys easily fit into the so-called Alpha Male category.
But I don’t worship them. I don’t elevate these guys to the position of God or Idol. I don’t go to a temple and pay homage to these men.
Because an Alpha male is such an abstract concept that cannot be easily defined, most guys end up worshipping such men instead of simply respecting them. That’s a mistake. Worshipping is dangerous. When you worship someone, you elevate a regular person to another level. They cease to be someone who you can learn from. They cease to be someone who you can emulate. They cease to be human. They cease to be a friend with whom you can grab a couple of beers. They become an unattainable symbol like that star in new a Hollywood movie who’s busy saving the Western world from snakes, aliens, monsters, and rogue criminals.
The Alpha Male is the epitome of everything that we’re not but want to become. He’s bigger than life; he saves children from drowning in the pool; he carries people away from burning buildings; he saves our venerable Western civilization from destruction; then he cures every cancer on his way home before meeting and seducing a gorgeous girl. And then the movie ends and you go home.
Killing your inner worshipper
One of the first things that rookies learn when dealing with women is to stop pedestalizing and idolizing them. This is excellent advice. You can’t establish human relations with anyone if you consider them to be more than a regular human—like you and me—but Holy Salvation Who Will Cure All Your Problems. I don’t care how “hot” the woman is or many other guys might be after her, but if you’re idolizing her, let’s just say that you won’t be sleeping with her anytime soon (or ever).
This idolization and pedestalization shouldn’t just stop with women. It must end with other men as well. Because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you view another man as an Alpha Male and not a regular guy with whom you go out for some beers after work.
The road to greatness is paved with lots of dead bodies. Not dead bodies of real people, but of irrational symbols. You must kill your inner philosopher. You must kill your inner female worshipper. And you must kill your inner male worshipper. You must stop worshipping the Alpha Male.
In the movie Fight Club, Tyler Durden says that “it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” I say that it’s only after we’ve stopped worshipping things that don’t need to be worshiped that that the journey to rational and realistic improvement can truly begin.
Become your own man and your embark on the road to greatness on your own terms—not on anyone else’s.
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