What’s behind the popularity of romance fiction that features alpha males succumbing to women’s charms? Does it reflect the reality, that whether they admit it or not, men want women?
That’s what women want to believe. To some extent, it’s true. Men want women. They want the satisfaction of feeling manly, desirable, in charge. They want the pleasure of sex. Their libido is pushed along by the fundamental biological imperative to reproduce. Being the object of a woman’s attention gives men those satisfactions.
But men also need to satisfy other drives, and these other instinctual objectives can at times equal or surpass their interest in a woman.
It all has to do with evolution. For ancient man, survival meant traveling in small groups of tribal companions to stalk game, sit quietly for hours, then attack and kill the unruly beast and haul it back to the cave to share. Success as a hunter meant physical prowess, the ability to run, leap, throw a spear, and carry heavy weight.
Survival meant staying alert to possible intruders who might steal the food and kill you in the process. Or worse, steal your woman. Sometimes, men’s survival strategy meant attacking other tribes they considered a threat or who had resources they needed for themselves. Men had to be strong, wary, and focused.
Men don’t have much use for words. Successful hunting or preparing to attack another group of men meant not talking. When men sit on the deck with a beer or hang with the guys, they’re reliving the hunt mentality.
Men have built in alarm systems for other men checking out their women. Successful evolution meant keeping your woman because she took care of your children. When your man gives the stink-eye to your best buddy from high school, he’s reliving the need to protect the future of his gene pool.
Men think of faraway places they might explore, places where they might find more abundant game. It’s their duty to seek greener pastures where fewer people might mean less competition for scarce resources.
Who is responsible for teaching young people about the primitive past of our kind? About the reasons men are so different from women? What high school class delves into the basic natures of men and women?
Who teaches young men about women’s instinctive need to create a nest, a safe comfortable home where she might raise children? About the urge to talk and share information with other women, to express feelings as processes so essential to primal females as they kept the home fires burning in close company with other women and children.
Modern culture has moved so far from our early ancestry that many of us simply don’t know why we feel what we feel. But it’s important to know because these urges can end up putting us in places we really don’t want to go. Gangs, for example. Teenage pregnancies.
For males, athletics serve as an important replacement for the urge to hunt and wage warfare. For females, gathering with women friends to talk about men, about clothes, grooming, and a thousand other topics is simply a re-creation of the primitive conditions of survival. Knowledge of our evolutionary past gives us power over urges that need to be controlled but it also gives us important tools to enhance our daily lives.
Males need to find constructive outlets for all that machismo that no longer is directed toward stalking wild animals. Females need to understand that one of the reasons you tend to gravitate toward romantic fiction that feature alpha males is that deep inside, you haven’t changed much from the woman in the cave waiting for that big hairy muscle man to drag home an antelope.
Great books to help explore underlying primal motivations include “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, “Survival of the Prettiest” by Nancy Etcoff, and most anything by Steven J. Gould.