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Dr. Sonya Rhodes Headshot

Beta -- or Omega?

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MAN DOING YOGA
Matthew Wakem via Getty Images

By Sonya Rhodes, PhD, and Susan Schneider, authors of The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Today's Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling

Recently, a group of women I interviewed claimed that they eliminated any prospective dating candidate who said he took yoga classes. They'd suspect him of falsely advertising himself as "sensitive" and "spiritual."

"Not the ones who come to my yoga class," I replied. "In fact, they're hot."

At some point, these women had obviously picked up the wrong messages about what's manly and what's not. Men can be sensitive and spiritual and still be masculine and sexy (and if they're doing yoga, they're going to be just as fit as macho basketball players -- maybe even more!) I was concerned that they were ruling out very promising candidates based on some outdated notion of masculinity. Sometimes in my practice as a therapist -- and in life -- I find that even women who aren't into uber-macho Alpha men can still have a hard time distinguishing between the highly desirable Beta guy and the Omega loser. And doing yoga should not be the litmus test!

The Omega guy has been around forever, not just since the economic downturn. He is the ultimate narcissist, feeling entitled to live off anyone who will support him and make little, if any, contribution to the household. He may play video games all day, drink an excessive amount of beer, surf the Internet and generally enshrine his adolescence. He has no job to give him a sense of identity and purpose, but he looks down on working stiffs. Do not -- ever -- confuse the Beta darling with the Omega leech.

Here is how to distinguish them:

Omega
A dreamer. Still in a band that's going to make it big; a talented writer who will, one day, when he gets over his block, write the Great American Novel -- on Twitter; gifted but unappreciated by the world; spends most of his day "networking" on social media.

Beta
A dreamer and a doer. Has a great work ethic and a strong sense of self. Refuses to give excuses for not trying; can accept and learn from criticism. Realistic enough to move on if something doesn't pan out.

Omega
Allergic to work. Defines himself in opposition to the work world, which he feels is too cut-throat for his sensibilities. Won't compromise his standards in his quest to "find" himself. Won't pitch in. Lets dishes pile up and dust bunnies take over. Turns over with a groan as you rush out to work.

Beta
Finds the work world tough, but gamely faces adversity. May not be wildly ambitious, but has a strong work ethic. If unemployed, picks up the chores at home. If creative, makes a structure for himself. Has a strong enough ego to maintain a sense of self in the real world.

Omega
He's "special": either too "fragile" or too high and mighty to accommodate to external demands. Prides himself on his artistic soul and high "standards."

Beta
Thinks things through; resilient; dependable. Knows what has to get done -- and does it! If knocked down, gets back up.

Omega
Identifies as a victim. Defiant. Won't take orders from anyone. May have substance abuse issues.

Beta
Understands that bosses will tell him what to do. Knows it may be grinding and difficult, but accepts that as a middle manager he will report to someone higher up.

Note to Alpha women: It is really important to separate the Omegas from the Betas. I've found that many of you become enmeshed with very needy guys, creating a complex, mutually dependent relationship. Please don't kid yourself into believing that you can change or organize the life of an Omega. You can't. It is a hopeless endeavor. You might believe that because you are so competent, you can manage many things and support many people. But watch out -- before you know it, you will not only be carrying your load, but his, too. Remember: Enabling is just another form of extreme caretaking. And none of you should have to be your boyfriend's caretaker.