As men, we have found ourselves, both in big and small ways, buying into the idea that a “real man” is meant to be a strong, capable “Lone Wolf” and alpha male- there’s nothing he can’t do or figure out on his own. The “Lone Wolf Man” doesn’t need help, takes what he wants, never loses, couldn’t care less, won’t get too attached to anyone, and never gets hurt.
Google Search for “Lone Wolf Man”
One of my favorite writers and speakers on the subject of what it really means to be a man explains both the origin, popularity, and misconceptions about the “Lone Wolf” and “Alpha Male”.
“The idea of there being alpha (and beta) wolves originated from Rudolph Schenkel of the University of Basel in Switzerland, who studied a pack of wolves living at a zoo in the 1940s…Then in 1970, American scientist L. David Mech wrote a book called The Wolf, which expanded on Schenkel’s research and popularized the idea of alpha and beta wolves….Popular culture soon took this conception of the alpha wolf, along with the whole alpha vs beta distinction, and applied it to humans — especially men. Hence, the idea that to be an alpha male, you’ve got to take no prisoners…take what’s yours, and never say sorry. There’s just one problem with this idea. The research it’s based on turned out to be hugely flawed.” -Brett McKay
McKay goes on to say that all this research had been performed on wolves that lived in captivity. When they later took the research to wolves in the wild, the results were very different.
Based on their studies on confined wolves, they thought they were going to see this:
But were instead surprised to see this:
Instead of forming packs of unrelated individuals, in which alphas compete to rise to the top, researchers discovered that wild wolf packs actually consist of little nuclear wolf families. Wolves are in fact a generally monogamous species, in which males and females pair off and mate for life. Together they form a pack that typically consists of 5-11 members — the mate pair plus their children, who stay with the pack until they’re about a year old and then go off to secure their own mates and form their own packs.
The male alpha wolves don’t gain their status through aggression and the dominance of other males, but because the other wolves in the pack are his mate and kiddos. He’s the pack patriarch…Dear Old Dad.
And like any good family man, a male alpha wolf protects his family and treats them with kindness, generosity, and love.
After observing gray wolves in Yellowstone for more than twenty years, wolf researcher Richard McIntyre has rarely seen an alpha male wolf act aggressively towards his own pack. Instead, an alpha dad sticks around until his pups are fully matured. He hunts alone or with his mate and children to provide food for the family (and sometimes waits for them to get their fill before he digs in himself), roughhouses with his pups (and gets a kick out of letting them win), and even goes out of his way to tend to the runts of his pack.
This isn’t to say male alpha wolves are all cuddles and kisses. They’re of course fierce predators and can take down large prey like moose and bison. And when his family is threatened by outside enemies and competitors, the alpha male will fiercely defend it — sometimes sacrificing his own life to save his mate and pups.
The gray wolf’s proclivity to roam and its prowess as a predator has for thousands of years made it a powerful symbol of the warrior, and of the freedom, wildness, and ferocity of masculinity. But that’s just one side of the wolf, and one side of what it means to be a man.
Yes, alpha male wolves are wild, aggressive, and savage. But they’re also protective, nurturing, and tender.
So if you want to truly become alpha like a wolf, you’ll need to do more than become a beast in the gym and strive to overcome your competitors. You’ll also need to become a committed and dedicated family man — a loving and protective father. The other side of what it means to be a man.
The wolf is a great example of a provider, a protector, and a partner.
Basically….he is a good dad!
If we look to the wolf as an example of a good dad, when need to ask…what is it that makes him that way. The wolf doesn’t try to do it alone. He is an involved and connected participant in his pack. The wolf has to have his pack to make him strong. Without his pack, he will not survive.
While the only way I can watch Game of Thrones is using the VidAngle filter. You GOT fans might remember this quote.
Arya recalls it in the fourth book, A Feast for Crows
“A long time ago, she remembered her father saying that when the cold winds blow the lone wolf dies and but the pack survives.”
Wait…we need to run in a pack?
Another way to put this, is that we can’t do this dad thing without community. We need to have a “Band of Brothers”. A group of men around us that have our backs. In the same way we need Men bound together…fighting and providing for their families together. We can’t do it alone. The Lone Wolf Dies.
That is why the guys at Clarity (Both E-town and Radcliff Campus) get together every Monday night at 6pm…we need each other not only to survive…but to thrive.
So, don’t be another Lone Wolf Dad. Come join us!