Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dr Pam Spurr - Why It's Time for the Alpha Male to Make a Comeback

There seems to be more and more of a consensus that the 21st century male has become too feminized for his own good (and the good of the women who want him to be more manly), and this after three decades of effort by feminists to make men more like women. It's enough to make a man spin his circles chasing his invisible tail.

Dr Pam Spurr, a "sex & relationships expert," offers up this article in defense of the the "alpha male." It's a look at the issue as it occurs in England, but I think the same issues are true on this side of the pond as well.

Why it's time for the alpha male to make a comeback

Just how manly a man do you want? Our sex and relationships expert Dr Pam Spurr asks: is it time to bring back the alpha male?

Men running through a field in the Tough Guy challenge (image©Rex Features)
We women desperately need to rethink the type of man we want. Not only are we a bit confused about whether we want a sensitive 'New Man' or an old-fashioned 'Alpha Male, Man's Man' (or, to be honest, any point in between because we're so fussy!) that the poor chaps are getting confused themselves!

Many women have come to think that their ideal man is a Hugh Grant type - a bit sensitive, endearing and kind of irresistible. But why is he so irresistible? Because we think he needs his personality dragged out of him. And in our fantasy worlds we flatter ourselves that we're the one to do it.

He can be sensitive as long as he's a success

New research has shown that this Hugh Grant type (that's a bit self-deprecating) is indeed a success with us women. But (and here's the rub) he can only be a success with us if he's actually already successful when we meet him. Confused? You will be.
It's like this: if he's already achieved many things in his life, we don't mind him being all sensitive and taking the p*** out of himself because underneath, we already know he has the qualities many of us still want in our men - success, confidence, and (dare we say it) the 'alpha' factor.

The trouble is, many of the men we now meet no longer have these qualities.

This leaves me thinking that the 'New Man' type we associate with Hugh isn't what we really want at all, because deep down us women want to drag the tiger out of him. We believe Mr New Man is hiding a Real Man behind his sweet, but bumbling, facade.
I know from experience that many women don't want a guy who is completely sensitive and emotional through-and-through. Lately, I've heard so many complaints along the lines of: Can't he be a man and ask me out? Why do I have to do the chasing? Why am I always organising our dates? What happened to old-fashioned men? And so on.

So who's to blame for the state of our feelings towards men?

Let's be honest, I think we've only got ourselves to blame for running good men into the ground. For making men feel over the last 10 or 20 years that they need to be as soft as we are, shed tears whenever they want to and ask us for emotional support.

We've done this in so many ways including (rightly) learning how to assert ourselves in every area of our lives but unfortunately forgetting that this shouldn't mean taking control of every aspect of our relationships.

We've demanded so many rights in the workplace (again as we obviously should) but we have forgotten that this will simultaneously crush the chance of a little bit of a good old-fashioned flirting. Now many men are frightened of overstepping the mark in the office, which means we may find ourselves having to do the asking out if we're interested in someone. Many women are also now having babies on their own, claiming that they don't need men because they've given up on finding Mr Perfect.

No wonder men are becoming wary about how they should act around us and in particular, being 'manly'. Yet we secretly miss the times gone by. For example, when we were upset and simply wanted a strong shoulder to lean on - we got one. Now we have a situation where they get emotional with us about something too - because they think we want them to be as sensitive as we are.

When it comes to things like romance - where we once slyly coaxed a little bit out of them - we are now more likely to be the ones booking the candlelit restaurant, the sexy weekends away and planning the little surprises. Also, because women are so good at juggling so many balls, we tend to ignore our partners' and boyfriends' suggestions and advice. Instead we've simply taken over!

Our fantasy men

No wonder we all fantasise about the Freddie Flintoffs and Brad Pitts of this world - the men who look like good old-fashioned Alpha Males that are strong and manly, who know their own minds and can be counted on to tell us so. Who knows though, behind closed doors such men might also have become sensitive little souls bossed around by their women!

An alpha male (image©Rex Features)

Are we asking too much of our men?

In my opinion, yes we are, because we want them to be all things when we want them to be. We might want a strong and solid type of man, but then we also want them to be sensitive when we think they should be. They have to have a backbone of steel when we want to lean on them, but at other times we want them to share a girly-style chat with us. Or go shopping with us and make us feel good about every choice we make (just think how jumpy they must get in that situation - they say anything that might be misconstrued as criticism about our choices and we bite their heads off).

We also want them to do things like be utterly polite around our mums (of course they should be!) but then behave like a sex god in the bedroom. Only after they've given us a tender and sensual massage, mind you!

Because of these high expectations, many women have given up on looking for their Mr Perfect. They're always disappointed because no man can be all things to you. Women think they deserve all the above but if they were honest could they deliver all the above to the men they meet? Are they really Ms Perfect? Of course not! It's time we stopped expecting so much from men and let a bit of their manliness shine through.

How to let him be a man again

If you think you've gone too far in your demands with your boyfriend or partner - and want him to be a bit of an old-fashioned bloke - then why not try these few simple tips:

Ask yourself this question - have you taken over your relationship? Take a step back, be patient and let him make some moves.

Simple hints can help get a little romance out of him. He'll pick up on them and actually book that candlelit restaurant given a chance. Don't get annoyed about hinting - after a while he should catch on to the fact that you want him to be proactive. Then you wont have to do it so much!

When it comes to you making other sorts of decisions you can get him back on track to take action and make decisions with the simplest technique in the world - try asking him! Ask for his advice or his thoughts on a matter or predicament. Then listen to what he has to say - resist jumping in.

If things have gotten seriously out of kilter, then have a heart-to-heart with him spelling out how you feel you might have undermined him. Tell him you'd like to get off to a fresh start where things are more balanced between you two. Let him know you're going to do things like asking, listening, and even hinting when necessary rather than using your usual "sledgehammer" technique to bring home a point to him.

The new, softer and (dare-I-say-it) more feminine you might bring out a stronger and more manly him!
True, but partial.

I tend to doubt that the problem is so much any individual woman, although that can sometimes be the case. The issue is more about how men have been socialized over the past 20 years, and the ever-mounting cultural norm of the metrosexual.

Nothing wrong with a little grooming and concern for appearance, but the corresponding emotional "feminizing" is not very conducive to men being manly. Men can have a better relationship with their emotions, but they should not be expected to be like women.

Again, as I often write here, men can be masculine and sensitive, powerful and tender, assertive and compassionate. It doesn't have to be an either/or, it can be a both/and.

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