What You Should Know About Dating Alpha Males

Updated June 17, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

If you recently started dating an alpha male or are thinking about starting a relationship with a guy who sees himself as one, there are some things you may want to know about how he is likely to think and act. Read on to learn more about alpha male thought and behavior patterns and how they can affect your relationship. 

Are you dating an alpha male and don't understand him?

What is an alpha male?

The American Psychological Association defines an alpha male as the most powerful or dominant male in a group, with preferred access to resources such as food and available mating partners. While this perception may have originated from studies of animal behavior where one stood out as a clear leader, it may not always translate perfectly to human behavior patterns. In fact, the accuracy of “alpha wolf” studies is debated because the behavior is only seen among captive wolves. 

It can be essential to note that while this article focuses on alpha males and the challenges of dating one, these behavior patterns and personality characteristics are not confined to one gender and can apply to anyone. 

“Not only does it greatly simplify the multi-dimensionality of masculinity, and grossly underestimate what a man is capable of becoming, but it also doesn’t even get at the heart of what is really attractive to women.” — The Myth of the Alpha Male

The myth of alpha vs. beta males

Researchers at the University of Berkley shared insight into the perception of “Alpha” and “Beta” males and the associated misconceptions in The Myth of the Alpha Male. The study states that people may often perceive alpha males as more potent, confident, masculine, and the epitome of "real men." By contrast, the study suggests that people may view beta males as weaker and submissive or subordinate, who can only find a partner when women are looking for a "nice guy."

Understanding the alpha male archetype

An alpha male may be different from other men you know. They are often confident, intelligent, and charismatic, with a high opinion of themselves and higher standards for the people they allow into their lives. In addition to the personality characteristics discussed throughout the article, researchers suggest that many men who see themselves as alpha males often share some physical features. Height, a deep voice, and a handsome face are typical traits associated with social dominance. Studies show that men with higher testosterone levels may demonstrate more dominant behaviors

Alpha male personality traits

  • Territorial
  • Domineering
  • Aggressive
  • Often sexually active
  • Confident
  • Feeling superior to others
  • Controlling
  • Ambitious
  • Self-aware
  • Emotionally intelligent
  • Goal-oriented
  • Rigorous self-care
Getty/MoMo Productions

What to expect when you’re dating an alpha male

While each man and each relationship are different, researchers have compiled some common behaviors you can expect from an alpha male in a relationship. 

Possessiveness and territoriality

Many alpha males consider their romantic partners theirs and may express possessive and territorial sentiments. You can expect him to react badly to threats of competition or anyone pushing boundaries with you that he may view as encroachment into his “territory.”

Controlling behavior and unwillingness to compromise

He may not value anyone’s opinion as much as his own, and you may notice that an alpha male is unwilling to compromise when he feels strongly about something. He may exhibit controlling behavior if he thinks you’re doing something wrong or if he doesn’t like your behavior.

He may not get along well with others

Many alpha males may see themselves as superior to others and may not always expend the effort to show interest in their thoughts and opinions in social settings. Because he likely sees himself as the “king of the jungle,” an alpha male may be selective about whom he allows into his life. 

He attracts a lot of attention

One of the things you should consider before getting into a relationship with an alpha male is that he will often be the center of attention. With his personality and charisma, many people may be drawn to him, which can make trust and confidence in the strength of your relationship a crucial aspect of a successful connection. 

Appearing confident while needing support

He may always appear confident, but alpha males are human too, and they occasionally need to feel loved and supported by their partners, close friends, and family. He may feel comfortable taking charge of a situation and handling it efficiently but still struggles to express when he feels upset or vulnerable. 

What do alpha males want from a relationship?

If you feel drawn to an alpha male, examining what he might seek from a relationship could be helpful. 

Someone who understands his personality

Alpha males may have trouble expressing their emotions, which could make them seem aloof or uncaring about how they feel when the opposite is often true. He may seek a partner who understands his unique mindset and how he expresses love. 

A partner he can care for, protect, and provide for

Many alpha males like to feel in control of any situation and often show their love by protecting, caring for, and providing for their romantic partners. You may notice that he’s willing to help you make repairs around the house and take care of duties he sees as “man’s work.” However, he may also be a generous lover who goes out of his way to make you happy and meet your needs. 

Someone to match his loyalty

In addition to being protective and territorial, alpha males are often fiercely loyal to their partners and those they deem worthy of a place in their lives. Because they don't bestow this honor on many people, they may expect you to recognize the gravity of it and behave in the same way. 

A partner willing to let him take the lead

Research shows that many alpha males look for romantic partners willing to let them take the lead most of the time. However, the data indicates that partners who are too subservient to an alpha male's needs may cause irritation and resentment. He likely doesn’t want total control but does want to take a leading role in the relationship. 

Someone who will join his active lifestyle

Many alpha males take great pride in their appearance, including rigorous self-care in their daily routine. He may frequently visit the gym or work out elsewhere and seek a romantic partner to jump into his active lifestyle and hit the ground running. 

A partner who appreciates his honestly and blunt attitude

Alpha males rarely display fear over anything and may often be seen as too honest or with a blunt attitude that can be off-putting to some people. He is likely seeking a partner who knows and appreciates who he is, how he communicates, and the benefits of speaking plainly. 

Differences Between “Alpha” Behavior And Abuse

  • Ignoring or dismissing your boundaries, limits, thoughts, feelings, or ideas. 
  • Making decisions for you or asserting more control over you than you’re comfortable with
  • Consistently acting as if their desires, needs, or whims are more important.

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

Reach out for help

If dating an alpha male leads to emotional and relationship complications you’ve never encountered, you may benefit from speaking with a therapist for the support and guidance of a mental health professional as you adjust your expectations and learn how to love an alpha male and how he is most likely to show his love for you. 

Ilona Titova/EyeEm
Are you dating an alpha male and don't understand him?

How therapy can make dating an alpha male easier

Men who identify as alpha males can often behave differently from other men, which may leave you confused about their feelings and behaviors and unsure how to react. Consider working with a licensed therapist online through a virtual therapy platform centered around relationship issues like Regain. Therapy can help you learn the emotional intelligence, awareness, and literacy to help you recognize, understand, and express feelings and needs—in yourself and your partner. A therapist can help you explore your feelings about an alpha male’s behavior, develop practical coping skills to manage stressful situations, and communication strategies to ensure he knows what you need and how you feel. 

Recent research shows that individual and couples therapy provide similar outcomes in person and online. Virtual treatment is usually less expensive, and shorter wait times mean you can speak to someone sooner. Online therapy platforms offer access to a much wider variety of mental health professionals, so if you don’t find someone who fits well with your situation and personality on the first try, it’s easy to connect with another therapist. 


Dating someone who identifies as an alpha male can present some unique relationship challenges. The information in this article provides insight into the behaviors alpha males often demonstrate in relationships and how therapy can help improve communication and emotional understanding. 

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.