Men: are you aware of who the resident alpha male is around your office, on your bowling team, in your circle of friends? Is this a shifting position?
I'm a curious, moderately well-read girl, and a reasonably perceptive one, but the state of being male is of course a foreign landscape to me for the most part. I have read previous AskMe's (the what happens when men pass each other on the sidewalk?
one is particularly interesting) but I still have questions.
The following includes sweeping statements that may well not apply to YOU PERSONALLY. I understand this in advance, so you don't have to point it out. I am also aware that men are not wolves, and that you have many interests and thoughts and feelings that do not involve social dominance and that many of you may well never think of it at all. STILL, I have questions.
One of the things I find interesting in men is that they seem to be aware of social hierarchy and dominance in a way that tends to pass women by entirely. I have the definite impression, from reading, interrogating men on this issue, and observing people in the wild, that men (youngish men, at least) are often engaged in a bout of King of the Hill: that there is a very real struggle for dominance going on a lot of the time. Or, if not a struggle, an awareness
of the pecking order. In either case, I'm mostly only aware of these things if I really pay attention.
Can you help me understand how this hierarchy is determined? Essentially, I want to know what it's like, as a hierarchy-conscious male, to walk into a situation where you have to interact with other (strange) males. A ridiculous number of questions follows:
Is your spot in the rankings something innate - that is, you walk into a new office already knowing that you tend to be a highly-ranked beta male, for instance - or something that must be determined in every new situation?
How do you know who's one up, and who's one down? Are there behavioral or body-language markers? When you first meet another man, is the relative firmness of your handshakes indicative of dominance? Does it have to do with posture, eye contact, physical size, perceived strength? All of the above?
Is a new relationship slightly awkward until one of you takes a step back and acknowledges the higher status of the other? How do you indicate that you've rolled over and showed your belly? Is this then a permanent state between the two of you, or something that shifts
Do you recognize alpha-male types in social environments, even without interacting with them?
In your social groups, are you conscious of a constant shifting of the pecking order, or does it remain fairly constant?
What happens if you "out-alpha" your male boss?
If you're the sort of male who doesn't particularly want to get involved in someone's dominance display, what's it like to interact with a dominance-obsessed male?
Is this something that fades with age, or do men in their sixties still establish relative rank?
Are issues of dominance and hierarchy something you discuss with other men? What about with women? Are you consciously aware of what's going on in an interaction, or is it more instinctual? Does it feel good to come out "one up" and bad to come out "one down", or is it not an emotional experience?
Thanks, everyone. Sorry for the gazillion questions. :)