Time to eschew the shame of reading a self-help book in public: chances are, you won’t be able to put this one down. The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Today’s Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling is Dr. Sonya Rhodes’ (with the help of Susan Schneider) honest, constructive, and engaging portrayal of the alpha woman that we all have inside of us, even if we don’t always use her. Capitalizing on the recent embrace of the strong independent woman (big ups to everyone from Betty Friedan to Beyoncé) in society, Dr. Rhodes wanted to write a guide to help women chart this newly open territory.
Using her more than 30 years as a psychotherapist in NYC as her basis, Rhodes’ new book outlines what exactly being an Alpha woman means and how to best embrace it. How does the playing field look for this altered gender norm (Alpha woman, Beta male)? Get your highlighter out — you’re gonna need it.
Are most women’s self-help books written for the stereotypical (and often incorrect) passive, “traditional” Beta woman? How is this book different?
Most self-help books are addressed to Beta women… All of the self-help books are based on old stereotypes of women: don’t be too strong or verbal or aggressive, because you’ll scare the guy away. That’s not our approach at all. The book speaks to the modern woman. Women don’t want those older lines about how you have to tone yourself down — they want real partners.
Why did you write the book?
A decade ago I began to see more gender-neutral behavior in male and female clients: men interested in being good parents and women who were strong and career oriented. I began to think about this and our new social world.
Young, single, college-educated women under 30 are making more money than men in 97 percent of cities in the U.S. It’s incredible! The trend from these women will catch up to men and then surpass them. Already more women graduate from college and graduate school then men. Forty-five percent of household income is provided by women and women are gaining more economic and social power. The whole social environment is changing slowly, and women are gaining more authority and power, and that impacts relationships.
The book opens with an assessment of the reader’s levels of Alpha and Beta, which, of course, guides the rest of the book. It’s so fun, and the results are eerily accurate. From where did the assessment questions come? How did you plot the graph?
We had to design the questionnaire. A lot came from my clinical experience: I was looking at all the relationships I had worked with. We plotted a graph along the Alpha and Beta, and then we asked for some help from my husband and Susan’s boyfriend, who happen to be math-oriented. We plotted people we already knew on the graph, and divided it up. I really wanted high, mid, and low results for both; I didn’t want it to be black and white, I wanted some definition, and then I asked my husband to help me figure out how to score it.
Is the level of Alpha/Beta that a person has a true marker of how compatible they’ll be with another person? What do you do if you find yourself in a relationship with someone is not necessarily a match?
Personalities are both rigid and flexible. People can change, but just so much; I believe in the plasticity of the personality, that people do adapt to challenges and expectations, but people only change within a certain range. If you are dating someone and you’re both high Alpha, for example, there may be a lot of chemistry and excitement and adventure, but it’s just not a good combination. I have seen it over and over again, and it doesn’t work out. There’s too much tension around power and locking horns and there’s a fight around authority and power. It’s fun but it may not last. That doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment with relationships in the dating world, but you have to be careful.
In a way, the target audience of the book is right in the name, but what would you say to Betas who pick it up?
All Beta women have some Alpha in them! We’re seeing less of the “traditional” female figure of former years. They may not have predominance to Alphaness, but they are certainly not void of Alpha traits. A Beta woman should think about what type of partner she needs; I want her to be more thoughtful about her own personality and how she’d like to grow. She should stand up for herself, be more confident – Betas can use some Alpha and vice versa. I developed the ratio to help people understand how much their traits are a combination.
What do you want women to come away with after they finish the book?
I want the reader to own her Alpha, and feel like there’s a community of Alphas out there. Women don’t have to apologize anymore for being Alpha. They can be strong and sensitive. I want both Alpha and Beta women to have a very strong sense of who they are. They should approach dating with the knowledge of what relationships are good for them. Young women might not be picking partners for a long time, but they should understand themselves and relationships better. I also thought about older people who read the book and know nothing about the dating world: older women will read this book because they want to know what’s going on with their children. My friends are astounded when they find out what’s going on in the dating world. They’re fascinated!
Finally, where do you fall on the Alpha/Beta scale?
I’m 65 percent Alpha, 35 percent Beta. My husband is actually the complete opposite. We balance each other out.
Dr. Sonya Rhodes’ The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match is available now! Get your copy today.