When doing my research for this piece I was looking up the definition of both the Alpha and the Beta. I found the Alpha definition so fitting and surprising.
There were many parts to the definition of the Alpha. Most commonly they were “denoting the dominant animal or human in a particular group,” and denoting a person who has a dominant role or position within a particular sphere.” I expected this to be definition. What surprised me is that an Alpha is also the “first and typically brightest star in a constellation.” I found it interesting that the Alpha is not only the first star in a constellation but it is the brightest. It is the one that stands out the most. I think the inclusion of the brightest is particularly important to understand the Alpha. When looking for the true definition of the Beta, I used the same search as I did for the Alpha. Interestingly, the word Beta as an adjective was not defined but it was when in relation to constellations. The Beta is the “second brightest star in a constellation.” This definition makes absolute sense. The Beta is the one you are going to notice second. The Beta does not necessarily stand out especially in proximity to the Alpha.
The above mentioned definitions came from a normal dictionary. However, these next definitions come from UrbanDictionary. According to this site, an Alpha is “the head animal in a pack, and by extension, an unofficial leader. Often used sarcastically of someone who wants to lead a group.” The Beta is defined as “someone who is completely unable to take charge and bends to the commands of alpha without questioning.”
I found the distinction between the two definitions remarkable. How negative the Beta is perceived to be. Urban Dictionary is a place where anyone can go on and upload a definition. The commonality of the negative definitions regarding a Beta give a fairly good idea on how the rest of the world views the Beta.
I want to go back to the image above. It says, “a strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It is a husband and wife who take turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.” Now maybe it’s just me but I cannot see how being the Beta for your significant other can be negative. The key is taking turns. If one is always the Beta, expect some pushback, resentment, etc. However, when you take turns being the leader and the support, things have an easier time of working out. No one is monopolizing the decision making in this model. I think being the one in the supportive role shows a lot of strength, respect, admiration and love for your partner.
I’ve seen too many friends, family members, etc. try to always be one or the other. It almost never ends well. Despite the negative connotations with being a Beta, try it sometime. Take turns in your relationships being the leader and the follower.