Have you met a confident, masculine man, and are finding yourself falling for his charms? Many women are attracted to alpha males, but you may have concerns about whether this guy is worth pursuing. You may know friends with horror stories of so-called “alpha males” who have led them on, played with their emotions, and mistreated them. They may have advised you to steer clear of alpha males and instead opt for a “nice guy.” However, this may be due to a misunderstanding of what alpha male traits actually are.

Many characteristics that you may think of as alpha male traits are anything but. Men are often encouraged to become alpha males, so you will probably encounter many trying to live up to this expectation by showing actually harmful behaviors. With so many men trying to project this image to the world, how can you tell a real alpha male from a pretender? Here I have listed the most characteristic traits of a true alpha male.

What is an alpha man?

We all know the stereotype of an alpha male. You can probably picture this man in your mind: six foot tall, with huge muscles, loud, confident, overbearing, and displaying no sign of vulnerability. He probably has many female admirers and has slept with many women. He may even be wealthy and successful. While these traits do not exclude a man from being an alpha male, they are not necessary. Many men (and some women) will believe that these things are needed to be alpha, so you may see plenty of men trying to embody this stereotype.

The categories of alpha and beta males come from humans’ comparison to wolves, where packs are believed to have strict social hierarchies. However, recent studies suggest that these definitions are not as simple and straightforward as once thought. Alpha male characteristics are now believed to be more about self-determination than about forcing dominance on others.

How do alpha males behave?

While you may think of alpha male behavior as active, reckless, or even violent, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Alpha males are not a defined group that all think and act the same as each other (in fact, individuality is one of the critical alpha traits). Every man is different. While some alpha males may be quiet, others are loud. Some may be sociable and others more solitary. Some may be artistic and others more scientifically-minded.

There is also a stereotype that alpha males are promiscuous and cannot be faithful to one woman. This may come from the idea of lions in a pride, where a single male mates with every female. Humans are not the same as lions. While an alpha’s attractive traits often lead to many women being interested in him, he may well be intrigued in finding the right queen.

Negative behaviors of alpha males usually aren’t just because they are alphas. All types of men can engage in harmful behaviors like violence, disrespect, and infidelity. Plenty of beta males find more subtle ways to engage in destructive behavior. Many alpha males also engage in conduct that may not traditionally be seen as “alpha” because a genuine alpha does what is best, not what is expected.

The most characteristic traits of alpha males

Despite the wide variety of behavior differences, some traits are shared by all alpha males. These are the characteristic traits that make a man alpha, whatever the other aspects of his personality are. If you notice these traits in the man you have your eye on, he is likely to be a genuine alpha male rather than a pretender.

1. He has self-respect

Contrary to the beta male, who often lacks self-respect, the alpha knows his worth. This means that he is less likely to neglect his own needs (unless he is required to make sacrifices for others, of course).

Self-respect can often be confused with ego or arrogance. However, respecting yourself does not mean putting other people down in an attempt to raise yourself up. If a man has to degrade others to feel confident, or sees everything as a competition, he is probably just masquerading as an alpha male and is in fact deeply insecure.

2. He is courageous

This is a trait that matches the stereotype. What do Hercules, James Bond, and Indiana Jones all have in common (apart from being fictional and male, of course)? All of these heroes showed bravery and courage despite threats to their safety.

While the modern guy is less likely to have to slay a hydra, infiltrate a villain’s secret base, or rescue a damsel in distress, there are many ways that he may display courage. Sometimes, simply having the guts to be true to yourself despite social pressure is a great manifestation of courage.

3. He can stand up for himself and others

There is a misconception that to become an alpha male, a guy must seek out conflict or even start fights to prove his worth. However, a real alpha male personality does not crave battle but won’t shy away from it if it happens. If a guy is willing to stand up for himself and others if needed, he may be an alpha.

This doesn’t just mean extreme examples like defending you from muggers—it can mean simply speaking up for you when no one else will. A guy who is not afraid to do this for you is always good to have on your side!

4. He is driven

While a beta male may be happy (or at least willing) to settle for what is comfortable and familiar rather than taking risks, an alpha will always be motivated and driven to build the life he wants. He won’t settle for unfulfilling relationships, dead-end jobs, or anything that does not inspire him and enrich his life.

If he feels underappreciated at work, he won’t be afraid to ask his boss for a pay raise or move on to a new career. Alpha males are also likely to start their own businesses and become their own bosses, as they love to get things done their way.

5. He is honest

A real alpha male does not need to hide his beliefs or intentions. While many players are prone to having secret affairs and lying about it, a real alpha does not keep secrets. He lives his life openly, regardless of what anyone else thinks or whether they “get” him.

Lying and keeping secrets is a cowardly act, and alpha males are all about courage. Honesty is undoubtedly one of the good points about dating a guy like this.

6. He is direct

Honesty is not the only trait to look out for. It is possible, to be honest, but also to avoid being straightforward. If a guy doesn’t lie but instead dodges questions, tells “white lies,” or keeps things to himself for fear of judgment, he is more likely to be a beta male than an alpha.

Look out for men who are not only honest but direct and speak their minds without fear of consequences. Playing mind games is not part of the alpha’s playbook.

7. He stands tall

When I say that he “stands tall,” I don’t mean that a guy has to be above average height to be an alpha male. Shorter guys can also be alpha males! Standing tall is about walking with physical confidence rather than shrinking away into a corner.

A man whose posture suggests that he is relaxed, happy with himself, and comfortable in his own skin is more likely to be an alpha male.

8. He acknowledges his weaknesses

Contrary to popular belief, being an alpha male doesn’t mean being free of any weaknesses. Everyone in the world has at least some flaws or weak points, even the super-confident guy who lights up the room, inspires others, and seems to have everything.

A genuine alpha does not deny his weaknesses to himself or anyone else. He accepts that everyone is flawed but uses this knowledge to better himself rather than use it as an excuse. This is one of the most useful alpha male traits in relationships.

9. He is not scared of failure

Alpha does not see the failure to achieve a task as something to be ashamed of; he would only be ashamed of refusing to try in the first place. He may fail at tasks every day of his life, but he keeps trying and learning from his mistakes.

Understanding that nothing great can be achieved without battling the odds and risking failure is a sign of true heroism.

10. He has no need for validation from others

Picture the scene: there is a group of people, and one man is always talking. This guy just won’t shut up and even interrupts and talks over other people. What’s more, everything he says is either an apparent attempt to make people laugh, brag about himself, or provoke an argument. Basically, as long as it draws attention to him, he’ll say it. There is another quieter guy, but he is interesting when he speaks, and his words draw you in.

You’ve probably seen this happen plenty of times in bars. Which of these two guys do you think is the alpha male? Chances are, the one who is going out of his way to dominate the conversation actually comes across as insecure and desperate for validation. A true alpha has no need for validation from others because he knows his own worth.

11. He is humble

Although an alpha knows his worth and respects himself, he does not use it to degrade other people. Instead of bragging, he simply carries on with his life and achieves his personal goals. Some beta males may have been told that being arrogant and flaunting their achievements as a display of worth is the way to become alpha males, but this is not the case.

Humility is among the most endearing qualities of this guy and will make you like being in his company.

12. He does not give up on his goals

Persistence is one of the key alpha male personality traits. When times get tough (as they do for everyone), the alpha does not give up. He endures struggles and setbacks. When he gets knocked down, he gets back on his feet (sometimes literally as well as figuratively).

The thing about alpha males is that often we identify them because of their success. We see a muscle-bound bodybuilder or a successful businessman and think “alpha.” But how did they get that way? Chances are they succeeded because of alpha male characteristics like resilience and persistence. That businessman may have started out broke, and the bodybuilder may have been seriously overweight or underweight starting out. An alpha is not born successful; he keeps going until he achieves his goals.

13. He is open-minded

Traditional ideas of masculinity often emphasize being stubborn and uncompromising. There are certainly times when these traits are useful, and sticking to your principles is usually a good thing. However, there are also times when being too stubborn and set in your ways can be a drawback.

Open-mindedness does not mean being gullible or unprincipled. Being able to genuinely consider other perspectives, even if he doesn’t blindly follow them, is a sign of confidence and adventurousness and something good to have in a partner.

14. He is not scared to try new experiences

Being open-minded usually leads to being presented with opportunities to experience new things. Beta males are more likely to be overly cautious and hesitant to step outside of their comfort zone. In contrast, alphas are open to new experiences and can even thrive on discovery.

New experiences can range from traditionally masculine pursuits like extreme sports or wilderness survival to stereotypically feminine experiences like knitting. This openness to new experiences can make dates with this guy a lot of fun.

15. He is a natural leader

The most common “beta male vs. alpha male” distinction is “follower vs. leader.” There is a certain amount of truth in this stereotype—alphas are more likely to take the initiative and control of a situation as they are more proactive than passive. While there are some similarities between an alpha and a sigma male, this is where differences can become apparent. Sigmas usually show little interest in leadership, as they are less inclined to be part of a group.

This trait can have advantages and drawbacks. A guy in control can be good for stability and organization, but when taken too far can lead to controlling behavior. A good guy won’t try to control you, alpha or otherwise.

16. He can stay calm in a crisis

Staying calm under pressure is a sign of a confident and capable guy. If he keeps his head in situations where other people panic, he may be an alpha.

This trait is not only attractive but also makes for a good life partner. Whether it is a minor crisis like a plumbing leak in the house or something more serious, he will be able to get through it.

17. He will protect those close to him

As well as standing up for themselves, true alphas often want to use their strength to keep their friends and loved ones safe. Someone who wants to be seen as an alpha purely to validate their own ego is likely to neglect this aspect. After all, this is the most selfless and noble trait of the alpha male, as it often means putting others’ safety before his own.

If you let him into your life, he is likely to keep you safe. This may be physically, emotionally, or through merely providing for you materially.

18. He knows you want him

A true alpha male does not have to chase you too much because he knows you want him. While he certainly isn’t scared of rejection or afraid to make his interest in you clear, he won’t need to beg for your affection or validation.

Alpha will be perfectly comfortable asking you out on a date, but his sense of self-worth won’t be dependent on your answer. He doesn’t need a woman to make his life complete, but if the right woman wants to share his life with him, he won’t run scared.

Alpha male traits in bed

Let’s be honest; a large part of why so many women are attracted to alphas is their perceived sexual prowess. But is there truth in the “stud” stereotype? Not every guy who shows alpha characteristics is a stallion in the sheets, but getting a genuine alpha into bed can have many benefits.

1. He is confident in himself

Of course, the stereotypical Adonis is likely to be well aware of how attractive he is. However, it is not just traditionally handsome guys that can be alphas. Genuine alphas are confident in their attractiveness and sexual capabilities regardless of how they look.

It’s an old cliche, but confidence is indeed sexy. It doesn’t always mean he has the skills to back it up, but there’s only one way to find out!

2. He is adventurous

Alpha males are naturally curious and open to new experiences in all areas, including in the bedroom. Even if he seems reserved in public, get him alone behind closed doors, and you may see a whole new side of him.

If you are up for something other than standard missionary, he will probably be down for trying new things in bed (or in the kitchen, in the car, or outdoors). He may even have a lot of experience under his belt and be able to introduce you to some new tricks.

3. He is patient

Many guys are very desperate for sex. You have probably dated or flirted with men who want to get into your pants so much that they seem impatient and unable to enjoy the tension leading up to it. This often leads to rushed encounters or even turns you off the idea of sleeping with them altogether.

A genuine alpha male has no issues waiting for gratification. He enjoys every aspect of seduction and revels in everything, from the first flirtatious glance to the explosive finale.

4. He understands the role of your mind

Sexual attraction and enjoyment of sex are about more than the physical aspect, and alpha males understand this intuitively.

He is not just an expert at charming you into bed; he also knows how to use your psychology to make the experience unforgettable. He knows that stimulating your mind and body is the key to better sex and will want to know exactly how your body and brain work.

5. He makes sure to satisfy you

An alpha male is confident that he can satisfy your sexual needs. He does not need to brag about his skills, and he does not need validation. He uses his skills and put in the effort to make sure you have a mind-blowing experience. This is not for the sake of his own ego but because he enjoys sharing the experience of pleasure with you.

Women’s bodies and sexuality are often more complex and unique than men’s, and most guys won’t give you multiple O’s the first time you sleep with them. An alpha male won’t be deterred by a challenge, and neither will he sulk or give in if he doesn’t succeed on the first attempt.

6. He knows when to take charge

You may think that an alpha male will always want to be in charge and in control of the bedroom. After all, that is the role he usually plays in other aspects of life. There is usually some truth in this—he is likely to often want to be dominant during sex (and you’re likely to want to let him).

Even if you aren’t a submissive person in the other areas of your life, you may like to take this role and indulge this fantasy behind closed doors.

7. He knows when to take it slow

Many people may think that sex with an alpha male is always rough and never tender. However, this is not always the case. A guy who is genuinely confident and adventurous in bed knows precisely when to do this and when it is better to take it slow and gentle.

After all, most of us have varied turn-ons and don’t want the same experience every time.

There are advantages and disadvantages of dating any kind of guy, and an alpha male is no exception. Some stereotypes about alpha males may be red flags to you—for example, they all like to sleep around and are not in touch with their feelings. These may be true for some alphas but entirely wrong for others. Ultimately, there are good and bad men of any type. Whoever you get together with, you should make sure that they respect you.