Last week we had a variety of family members and friends over who had not previously met. The 20 year-old girls got talking about their favorite guy friends, referring to these boys using such affectionate nicknames as Precious Delight, Pure Sweetness and Totally Dorbs (for adorable). A 28 year-old guy overhearing this conversation declared that he would drop dead if he thought any woman was describing him as a Precious Delight. He insisted that women want the Alpha male, the superhero, the dominant, strong leader of the pack. In his view, these silly girls were describing sissies, weak and effeminate losers. But what he missed was the fact that the girls were giggling and sighing over Betas. Those affectionate, demonstrative, communicative, laid-back, gentle, nice guys.
When I was in college there was this one guy whose nickname was Trog, short for Trogladyte. One Halloween he dressed as a caveman, and it was the most suitable outfit I ever saw him wear. I thought he was gross, but I suppose he had a certain something, if you fantasize about being dragged around by your hair and ravished near the campfire. (Actually, that sounds hot.) But that was the late 70s and Alpha males were out of fashion. The counter-cultural 60s had glorified what I called Sensitive Ponytail Man, i.e., the Beta male. I dreamt of poets and singer songwriters, not jocks. Of course, the pendulum always swings back, and eventually those guys grew up, went to grad school, cut their hair and joined the Establishment. Their sons aspired to Alpha status.
When it comes to hooking up, Alpha, Beta and even Omega males are all trying to get a piece. They’re vying with each other to prove who is the biggest stud. But they should pay closer attention. The girls are getting restless, and something is stirring in the status quo. Beta males, those sweet, sincere boys who speak the female language are emerging as heroes in popular culture. Girls want boyfriends who’ve got a bit of femme in them emotionally. They want boyfriends who are best friends. And women have the power to raise the Beta’s station in life by making him the new romantic ideal.
Jim Halpert, played by the Perfectly Dorbs John Krasinski on The Office, is the best living example of the perfect Beta. Sigh. (He actually grew up in the next town over, and I’ve seen him attending Mass with his parents when he’s been home for a visit. So precious.) Jim Halpert isn’t breathtakingly handsome, but his hotness comes from the pure unadulterated love he feels (and demonstrates) for Pam. You just know he loves hours on end of pillow talk (which, of course, follows hours on end of putting Pam’s sexual satisfaction first).
Seth Rogan doesn’t do it for me personally, but he has proven he is capable of convincingly playing the leading man. Before seeing Knocked Up, you can’t imagine how Katherine Heigl’s character would ever go for him. And when you leave the theater, you’re not buying it. But during the movie you suspend disbelief. He doesn’t have his act together, but he has a good heart. The raw material is there. Ultimately, he is made a better man by his love for a woman. Now, that’s a boy that women can put their arms around.
My own personal crush at the moment is Free Credit Report guy. He is so good-natured, so self-effacing, so funny. OK, maybe I don’t want my daughter to marry him, with his lousy credit rating and all. But I bet he would make a really good boyfriend. And in the middle of all this hooking up and awkwardness and crappy treatment from the Alphas, doesn’t a visit to Beta territory sound refreshing? Perfectly Wonderful.