When I first sat down to write this particular post, I had planned to write out a comprehensive list of examples of what is alpha behavior versus what is just plain rude. Even with my extensive experience with men who mistake rude behavior for alpha male-ness, I found I couldn’t do it. A simple list still won’t explain it because context is so very important.
Sometimes we step into a snapshot of a person’s life (an overheard conversation or a facial expression or a random outburst) and we think we know the entirety of what is happening. In that instant we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the man chastising the pouting female sitting at his table is obviously an overbearing lover, possibly even abusive.
We silently judge, glaring at him. Some may even go so far as to mutter rude things in his general direction, or perhaps the waitress might find some reason to accidentally dump his own drink on him…
It might not occur to us that he has been the one abused and he finally had enough and took that moment to stand up for himself.
Or maybe he’s just having an off day.
The point is this: we don’t know, but we make these snap judgments based on what we’ve experienced before, or, more likely, what we’ve seen on television and movies.
I’m one of the worst offenders of such things.
It’s okay, I can admit I’m flawed. Often I’m right about my interpretations, and I’ve discussed before it comes from being so different from the people with whom I grew up. Combine that with my theater training, and you’ll see I’m uniquely suited to accurately recognize the subtext in most situations.
It’s a well-honed talent.
But I’m not always right, and the biggest difference between an alpha and an asshole is being able to admit when you’re wrong in your actions.
I somewhat recently had an experience with the Boy that helped me to really understand this. We’d been hanging out at his place and he had assumed I’d leave at such and such time, but we hadn’t really discussed it. I just assumed I’d be leaving about the same time he did, since we both had places to be later.
Assumptions are dangerous, especially between he and I.
So I sat down on the couch and he looked at me and asked me what I was doing. The conversation that followed went something like this:
“No. Get out.”
“I need alone boy time.”
(Me hurt and putting on my shoes)
“You don’t get to be all sad and dejected because I need alone time.”
“You look it…”
There’s no way of getting around that his behavior was rude. Completely assholic. And if it ended there, then I would be more than vindicated in saying that he was just a jerk and I would have every reason to quit speaking to him.
He has jokingly kicked me out before. There have been times when we talk to each other in that way, and it’s obviously not meant to be hurtful. Like I am fond of saying, “oh that must be a boy thing.” To which he responds that “making judgmental generalizations must be a girl thing…” It’s a joke and meant to be funny and not really hurtful.
It’s hard for me, this somewhat sarcastic way of speaking to one another, but it is how he speaks to his other friends, so I’m trying to slowly adapt… Of course, it is because this is how they speak to one another that I find it so hard to stomach some of his other friends, most notably the two who were so judgmental about me, and accused me of being “one of those girls,” you know, the snoopy, clingy type of girls.
While that is in the past, that attitude/behavior is still hard for me sometimes, and while I’m learning how to dish it (as they say), I sometimes still have a hard time taking it.
This was one of those times.
As he and I are still trying to determine how we interact with each other in this new evolution of our relationship, I am trying to discuss things without getting overly emotional while still expressing my feelings. I knew I was hurt, I knew why I was hurt, but I also knew that if I opened my mouth I was going to cry. It meant my facial expression and general demeanor changed while I tried to figure out how to express that kicking me out in that way was hurtful.
Here’s the kicker: he recognized the emotion behind the non-verbal cues I was giving him, but he misinterpreted their cause, which caused him to try and call me out on what he saw as inappropriate behavior, and did so in a way that immediately made me feel even worse.
So I called him out on his behavior.
I told him I wasn’t upset that he needed alone “boy time,” to which he directly pointed out the non-verbal cues I had not realized I was giving that showed I was upset. I nodded and told him, yes I was hurt, but not because he was kicking me out, but in how he did it.
He immediately apologized. Like lightning fast, in that way that means a person is apologizing because it is expected, but there may or may not be any truth behind it.
And then, a few moments later, while I was trying really hard not to cry (I really am an emotional creature), he said it again.
And meant it.
In his second apology he admitted that there were a lot of
different better ways he could have handled the situation, but that, as a male, sometimes when things get awkward he jumps to an asshole alpha place. And he looked away for a second and admitted that he did that a lot, probably more than he should.
That, ladies and gentleman, is the difference between an “alpha” and an “asshole!”
It wasn’t until I was relating the events to a friend of mine that I realized just what a powerful statement that was. For both of us. He and I have definitely grown in how we interact with one another and I’m kind of proud of us. Fingers crossed we can keep up this level of honest, open communication without it getting weird. I, for one, am really enjoying this new evolution of our relationship and would really like to see it continue.
Who knows? Maybe it will continue to grow and he’ll be my RomCom story…