Men who act tough on the surface but are actually beta males underneath usually display these 8 subtle behaviors

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

There’s a stark contrast between appearing tough and actually being dominant.

Often, men who act tough are simply masking their true personalities. Underneath the surface, they might actually be beta males – more passive, sensitive and cooperative.

The distinction comes down to certain subtle behaviors. These behaviors reveal the beta male hidden behind the apparent alpha.

Now, it’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with being a beta male. But it’s crucial for us to learn how to identify these subtle signs. This can help us better understand the people around us.

Let’s get started. 

1) They often avoid conflict

When we think of tough guys, we often imagine someone who’s not afraid to face conflict. Someone who stands his ground no matter what.

But you’d be surprised at how many of these “tough guys” actually avoid conflict as much as possible. It’s one of those subtle signs that often goes unnoticed.

Conflict avoidance is a classic beta male behavior. While it’s not wrong to avoid unnecessary confrontations, the way they navigate disagreements can be telling.

Beta males, masquerading as alphas, often sidestep arguments or disagreements. Instead of facing them head-on, they might resort to passive-aggressive behavior or simply change the subject.

Observe how these men react in stressful situations or when faced with an opposing viewpoint. If they shy away from it more often than not, they might just be a beta male hiding behind a tough exterior.

This isn’t a bad thing, mind you, but it’s certainly something to keep in mind when trying to understand them better.

2) They’re eager to please

I remember this one guy I used to work with – let’s call him John. John was a big, burly guy who had this tough exterior that he liked to display. He was always the first one to volunteer for the toughest tasks, and he would often take charge during team projects.

But over time, I started noticing something peculiar about John. Despite his tough demeanor, he was incredibly eager to please everyone around him. He’d go above and beyond to make sure everyone was happy, often at the expense of his own needs.

It was like he was constantly seeking validation from others. If someone wasn’t happy, it seemed to affect him deeply. This kind of behavior is typical of beta males – they are often more focused on maintaining harmony and making sure everyone is content, rather than asserting their own desires.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with being considerate of others’ feelings. It’s just that in John’s case, it seemed like a stark contrast to his tough-guy image. It made me realize that beneath the surface, he was more of a beta male than he let on.

3) They struggle with setting boundaries

Setting boundaries is a fundamental aspect of maintaining healthy relationships. It’s about understanding what we can tolerate and what we can’t.

However, men who act tough but are beta males beneath often struggle with this. They find it hard to say ‘no’ to others, even if it means compromising their own needs or values.

Did you know that according to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, individuals who struggle with setting boundaries often experience higher levels of stress and burnout? This is because they often suppress their own needs to accommodate others, which can lead to increased anxiety and dissatisfaction.

Now, look at the men who project a tough image around you. If they struggle with setting boundaries and often find themselves overwhelmed due to their inability to say ‘no’, they’re likely beta males beneath that tough exterior.

4) They rely heavily on approval

There’s a certain level of confidence that comes with being an alpha male, a sort of self-assurance that isn’t easily shaken. This confidence often comes from within and isn’t reliant on external validation.

However, men who project toughness but are actually beta males underneath, often rely heavily on the approval of others. Their self-esteem is tied to how others perceive them. They crave praise and compliments and can be easily disheartened by criticism.

This need for approval may manifest in different ways – constantly seeking feedback, hesitating to make decisions without consulting others, or getting visibly distressed when they feel unappreciated or criticized.

While we all like a bit of validation now and then, an excessive need for approval could indicate a beta male hiding behind a tough facade.

5) They’re deeply empathetic

Beneath that tough exterior, many beta males carry a heart full of empathy. They have the innate ability to understand and share the feelings of others, often to a depth that few can fathom.

Empathy is a wonderful trait. It allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, to share in their joys and sorrows, and to offer comfort in times of need.

However, this deep empathy can sometimes be hidden behind a veil of toughness. It’s almost as if these men feel they need to shield this sensitive side of themselves from the world.

If you see a man who seems tough on the outside but consistently shows deep understanding and compassion for others, chances are you’re looking at a beta male beneath the rough exterior. And let me tell you, that’s nothing short of beautiful. It’s a sign of strength and maturity to be able to feel so deeply and care so genuinely for others.

6) They’re not always assertive

I remember this one time when I was supposed to lead a project at work. I wanted to come across as the assertive, confident leader – the “tough guy” who had everything under control.

But you know what? I found it hard to maintain that image. When it came to making important decisions or delegating tasks, I hesitated. I was worried about stepping on toes or coming off as too demanding.

And that’s when I realized – despite wanting to project toughness, my natural tendency was towards cooperation and collaboration. I was more comfortable in a supportive role, encouraging others and working together towards a common goal.

This is a common trait among beta males. Despite their tough exterior, they might lack assertiveness. They are often more comfortable working as part of a team rather than taking the lead. And let me tell you, in today’s world where collaboration is key, this trait is definitely an asset.

7) They’re great listeners

Ever noticed how some men, despite their tough demeanor, are exceptionally good listeners? They’ll give you their undivided attention, showing genuine interest in your thoughts and feelings.

This is another subtle sign of a beta male. While they may project an image of toughness, they often possess excellent listening skills. They understand the importance of active listening and make a conscious effort to apply it in their interactions.

Being a good listener isn’t just about staying quiet while the other person talks. It’s about showing empathy, understanding, and providing feedback when appropriate.

So if there’s a man in your life who seems tough but always takes the time to listen to you, chances are he’s a beta male underneath that hard exterior. And that’s a wonderful thing – being heard and understood is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world.

8) They value relationships over ego

The most telling sign of a beta male beneath a tough exterior is the value they place on relationships over ego. These men understand that maintaining healthy, respectful relationships is more important than feeding their ego or proving their toughness.

Despite the tough facade, they are often willing to make compromises, apologize when they’re wrong, and put the needs of others before their own. They are not afraid to express their feelings and show vulnerability when it counts.

In a world that often glorifies toughness and dominance, it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate these men who are confident enough to prioritize empathy, respect, and understanding. It’s this balance of toughness and sensitivity that truly defines their strength.

Final thoughts: Embrace the blend

Navigating the complexities of human behavior is no easy task. It can be a labyrinth of contradictions and surprises, especially when it comes to the dichotomy of alpha and beta males.

But here’s an interesting fact: according to renowned psychologist Carl Jung, each person carries both masculine and feminine traits within them. This applies regardless of gender or outwardly projected persona.

For men who portray toughness but are beta males underneath, this could mean that they’re simply exhibiting a more balanced blend of these traits. They’re able to project strength and assertiveness, while also embracing empathy, cooperation, and sensitivity.

This goes to show that being a ‘tough guy’ doesn’t necessarily mean being an alpha male. It’s about finding a balance between your outward persona and your true self.

So next time you encounter a man who seems tough on the outside, remember these subtle behaviors. Look past the exterior and appreciate the blend of traits that make him who he is. And if you happen to be one of these men, take pride in your unique blend. Your strength lies not just in your toughness but in your empathy, your ability to listen, your respect for others, and your willingness to value relationships over ego. That’s what truly defines you.