Co-authored with Susan Schneider
A young woman in a therapy session is fed up with her boyfriend. She tells me that he is "too gentle," "too passive," and "too nice." Sexually, she is bored. As she speaks, she laughs at herself, because she knows full well that this man is the best thing that has ever happened to her. He's smart, successful, and supportive: He's a true Beta, meaning he has the capacity and desire for a relationship. "I'm going to dump him if he doesn't get better in bed," she announces.
What is going on here? I've seen this time and again: women dividing men into two categories: great guy, bad sex and bad guy, great sex. The latter are the sexy, aggressive, competitive men -- Alphas -- who represent the masculine ideal. They pursue us until they bed us. They aim to be masterful lovers but rarely make eye contact. They are spontaneous, sexually aggressive, and they expect to have things their way, in bed and out. They tend to be dominant and controlling, often unreliable and not as respectful as we deserve. Am I right, ladies? And I must also ask: is this the guy who will make a good life partner? God, no! (But you knew that already.)
Now let's look at the Beta guy. He may be tamer sexually because he is sensitive and doesn't want his sexual needs to dominate. Betas may be gentle, not rough lovers. They try to intuit your needs and seek to put yours ahead of theirs, which Alphas definitely don't.
Can you have great sex with this guy? Absolutely! But first, women need to stop splitting guys into two camps. It's a change in an old mind set: In the early stages of life, when we are too young to integrate the whole person, we split people into "good" and "bad." (Think: the "bad witch" the "fairy godmother.") It's a way to deal with internal conflict -- at that age, we can't see that people are complex and are made up of many different qualities.
In the adult version of splitting, a man may view a woman as either the Madonna or the whore while a woman may view a man as either the bad boy or the nice guy. The bad boy is hot but doesn't treat you well. The nice guy is caring but uncool. Many women are torn between their sexual appetites and their emotional needs, which may feel irreconcilable. Women value emotional connection and want relationships that are real, while at the same time they are tormented by sexual fantasies, that are hot, dirty, and definitely "unladylike." Instead of believing that one man can fulfill both needs, we censor ourselves by compartmentalizing. We split our "unacceptable" sexual fantasies into something we can only share with bad boys.
If we can acknowledge both sides of ourselves, we will have no need to split. I advised my client that she could feel sexy and more (not less) feminine if she took charge in bed as she does in other areas of her life.
Let the good guys be privy to your sexual fantasies and lusty passions. When you trust a guy, you can role play with him. It's all completely between the two of you. Get your fantasies out in the open. Trust me, he will respond. You deserve to be sexual in any way you want. And you deserve to be loved the way you want, too. The truth is, you don't have to split the difference.
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Dr. Sonya Rhodes and Susan Schneider are the authors of The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match,: How Today's Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness without Settling, April, 2014
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