This case study is 100% hypothetical and does not refer to any real life individuals.
As a reminder (and this is greatly simplifying the roles), alphas lead, betas follow, sigmas get out of the way, and omegas get in the way. Healthy happy Alphas love to guide and protect the people they love, whether the tribe is a family or a team or a flock or a herd or a pack. Healthy happy Betas love to be parents, good employees, part of or on a team, take pride in tribe-contributing accomplishments, such as healthy happy children, long marriages, financial success (and the material indicators, such as new cars, home ownership, vacations, etc.) (most people are Betas). Healthy happy Sigmas live to serve or help the tribe: they are mission oriented and want to know that their life matters (or will matter, after they die) in terms of the overall tribe’s survival (very few people are Sigmas). Happy healthy Omegas want to know that they left tangible evidence of their existence behind upon death: they are amazingly gifted authors, artists, craftspeople, inventors, musicians, directors, playwrights, screenplaywrights, and more!
Sigmas and Omegas: as different as night and day, but both are fascinating. My very first viral youtube video was on the Elusive Sigma Male (click here to watch it) and I’ve been receiving requests to make more videos about Sigmas. In contrast, the “lowly” Omega male is one that most men do not want to think they could be. This is shortsighted, of course, because Omegas, when happy, are some of the most creative people on the planet. Now, Omega males can be very socially awkward if they haven’t been trained by a strong authority figure, preferably their father. And Sigmas, because they can see right through people’s personality facade so quickly, often find themselves preferring to avoid people altogether. Now, a wonderful subscriber of my youtube channel commented:
Is the main difference between Omegas & Sigmas that the former fall into complete introversion + autonomy because of low self-esteem or to be quirky and creative and unbeholden to success or expectations of success, whereas the latter are innately autonomous and driven and unbeholden to society because they are beholden to no one but their own passionate ambitions that propel them to esteem & success? Would love that video expository exploration!
I like this simplification, and I agree with it about 85%.
Now Omegas are a different story: it’s vital that they have strong authoritative parents. The irony is that because the Omega male’s mom often feels instinctively that there is something off (weak) about her son, that she unconsciously (or consciously) displays disgust or regret in her body language and facial expressions, and this imprints him with the sense of self statement, “I am not wanted.” Then when he goes out into the world, he behaves in ways that reflect that sense of self. People — teachers, classmates, siblings, cousins, and other relatives — pick up on it, and also behave/react accordingly. I have a very special place in my heart for omegas, but even in the healthy contributing ones, there’s always an aura of vulnerability around them. They were bullied (and/or coddled) as kids. And the people who leapt in front of them on the playground when they were being bullied as kids? Sigmas. Frankly, it’s better for the tribe if the Omega male was coddled as a mama’s boy growing up; he may never be able to fall in love with a woman his own age but at least he won’t grow up to rape and murder them. Yes, most serial killers are Omega males. How is this different from a Sigma male sharpshooter who also kills a lot of people, but at the behest of the Alpha? That person is motivated by a mission. Serial killers are motivated by rage. For some reason, the Sigma feels that the people he’s killing have to die for the greater good of the tribe. Omega stalkers, rapists, murderers, etc., were born “broken” as it were. It’s fair to say that death, murder, and crime permeate our modern society, and, that you can be sure the majority of these acts generally trace back to an Omega or a Sigma culprit. But let’s be very clear here: most Sigmas and Omegas will never kill a single solitary soul in their lives.
Sigmas literally feel power. This is what it’s like for a Sigma to be in a large group, for example, mingling at a party or at a get-to-know-you event: Imagine walking through a fabric store and running your fingertips along velvet, feeling how soft it is, then along silk, feeling how smooth it is. Then along velcro and feeling how rough it is. Where Alphas have an inner weakness detector and hone in on a person’s most easily exploited flaw (or their greatest strength), Sigmas have a more nuanced way of detecting power and its many expressions, including authority and influence. They’re each different and that’s a secret kept from the majority of people. In a room of a hundred people, a Sigma will feel authority like a smooth piece of silk, power of influence like a soft velvet pillow, and they’ll feel weakness, including obsequiousness, pretension, deception, poseurs, haters and wannabes like rough sandpaper chafing their skin. What’s actually happening is the power deficit acts as a vacuum; those omegas in the room who wish they were pleasant likable betas or powerful alphas or betas who are dissatisfied with being mid-totem pole betas with some degree of influence who want to “gear up” for that next level, emanate a weird energy that is as distracting as the sound an actual vacuum would make. Everyone in the tribe emits a different signal and the Sigma walks around the room absorbing this information about them. The guilt that clings to the aura of an adulterous beta emits a signal to a Sigma. Or how about the sexual fantasies of a fellow sigma? Or the secret vengeful plots of the Alpha? Yes, and yes. Anything having to do with power, control or authority will flag the Sigma male’s radar.
How Omegas Feel Weakness
When Omega males are unhappy and unhealthy, power is all they think about it. They are absolutely positively 100% sure that everyone is a beta cuck (or just “beta” which is commonly used as a synonym for weak and easily dominated) and they, the omegas, are ALPHA (insert the sound of chest-beating here). Until they accept power dynamics within the tribe as they are, they might see the world and everyone in it as falling into Category A: people who have more than they do (more money, more sex, more power/status, more love and more luck), and Category B: the little old Omega, by themselves, so unlucky in life and love. As we know, omega wolves are essential to the pack. The Omega wolf eats last — but always eats! Why do they eat last? Because they aren’t as skilled at hunting. So it’s only fair (I actually think it’s terrible but no one asked me). Now, did they vote as a pack on this ranking? LOL, you know they didn’t. And the Alpha wolf or wolves (usually a pair bond of an alpha male and alpha female) didn’t decree it — wolves don’t have benevolent monarchs. But the omega wolf instinctively knows his value, contributes accordingly and is protected accordingly. As humans, we need strong Alpha leadership to make sure omegas see their value, realistically, and are rewarded with praise and also with tangible objects/money. Omegas can 100% contribute to the tribe and leave the world better than they found it. It’s just that those two goals are not usually on their list (until they get strong mentorship, apprenticeship, and figure out how to get healthy and happy).
Omegas want to be famous
For Omega males, it’s not enough to be respected (and preferably feared), they want to be famous! And I do mean, famous. They want to be recognized while walking down the street. (The last thing Sigmas want is to be famous. In fact, that’s how you know you’re not a Sigma: if you want to be famous!*.) If you want to see a bunch of omegas trying to be famous, go to Instagram and you will see what many refer to as “instafamous.” Tips for Omega males on Insta offering coaching or selling through an MLM business: please no pics of you buttoning a jacket … half way. No looking into the distance wearing sunglasses with your chin tilted up. No short sleeves unless you have man arms (some omega males are of slight stature, and have neither broad shoulders nor the capacity for getting “built.” It would be worth every penny to hire a personal trainer who would coach you on the protein powder and strength training routine necessary to get rid of those “girl” arms.) Please no beard!! Freshly shaven and a big happy smile will sell every ware you’re trying to hock. Everything else looks insincere and has the opposite effect of the one you want: it repels rather than attracts.
A sigma male and an omega male walk into a bar
The following is 100% hypothetical and does not refer to any real life individuals. Both of these single men are smart, funny, can laugh at themselves, are ambitious, and have moms who love them and taught them to always believe in themselves and make the world a better place. Each of them became frustrated with the amount of mis- and dis-information out there in the vast interwebs regarding news and current events in their 20’s. Each of them started a website, replete with paid journalists, to cover the topics they believed were unethically and immorally being censored by the mainstream media. The Sigma male was able to focus 100% on the task at hand, ignoring emails, social media and phone calls (but not texts from sources on the burner phones) while writing and editing. The Omega male compulsively checked social media, devastated when he didn’t get likes, shares and retweets. Each of them was brave, compassionate and passionate. Each of them knew how to gain the trust of sources and prove over and over again that they were reliable and consistent. Each of them briefly covered on their news site what many in the mainstream media labeled a conspiracy theory, but each had a source from within the intelligence community giving them verifiable information that this horrific thing was more fact than fiction. One day, the Sigma’s source reached out and said, it’s time to stop reporting on this. We’re working on it behind the scenes. Stop for now. The same day, the Omega’s source reached out and said, it’s time to stop reporting on this. We’re working on it behind the scenes. Stop for now. The Sigma said, Why, this is huge??? We need to break this. The source said, we don’t, and drawing more attention to it now could endanger you and your ability to keep your website up, running and funded. It’ll all come out in the end. Don’t worry. The Omega said, Why, this is huge??? We need to break this. The source said, we don’t, and drawing more attention to it now could endanger you and your ability to keep your website up, running and funded. It’ll all come out in the end. Don’t worry. The Sigma, being mission oriented and motivated by the greater good was pissed off but reflected that this source had never not come through before and he certainly didn’t want to risk being unable to report on all the other great stories he had coming down the pipeline from a variety of sources. The Omega, being motivated by getting even with all the people who told him he’d never be anything and equally motivated to be part of the retribution process of exposing the alleged criminals he’d been investigating, was devastated. This was literally the only story he’d been working on. He couldn’t give it up. He started to feel paranoid. Even though he’d received years of helpful leads from this IC source, he now started to wonder if the person was really who they said they were. Maybe he’d been duped all this time? So he doubled down. He livestreamed, blogged and obsessively reported only on this one topic.
Compare & Contrast: the Sigma was motivated by the desire to FIGHT corruption whereas the Omega was motivated to EXPOSE the corruption. Sigmas are warriors. They don’t care who gets credit for the winning as long the fight is won. Omegas have this icky vengeance-based tendency toward self-sabotage. They want the credit. They want to prove to everyone who ever doubted them or bullied them that ARE strong, that they ARE powerful.
Once upon a time there was a Sigma male, so smart that he was often accused of having a photographic memory. He would chuckle and say, “I don’t think so” (wink wink). As a brilliant shrew person and a lawyer, he had every opportunity to make serious bank working for a private firm and yet he chose public service because he believed he could perform substantive work for the greater good of society. As he got closer to middle age, he realized that the system was inefficient and indeed broken on more levels than he cared to count, and, if he admitted it to himself, he had known this for several — ok, many — years. (The Sigma male will stay until the last moment of making a difference, however small. Once that time expires though, he’s out.) Finally, his Alpha, the one who had been keeping him in public service, retired and our Sigma male found himself afloat in a sea of a whole new kind of gray area. He could stay in public service but it would mean a lack of mission. If he was going to give that up, he might as well go into business for himself and make boatloads of money. That was the quandary he faced, as a confident, savvy, attractive, financially secure man who had never married or had children. Remember, Sigmas always know if you have an ulterior motive, so it’s very hard for Sigma males to ever fall deeply in love; if the person who is displaying amorous intent is either under a delusion and is in love with the idea of the Sigma and does not see him for who he really is OR desires marriage to him for any reason other than love, he will end the relationship eventually and may remain single forever! Sigmas are not afraid to be alone. Compare this to Betas who prefer to be in a relationship rather than out of one, and usually will not leave one unless there’s another one ready and waiting on the back burner. Yes, Betas are the members of the tribe who are most likely to cheat!
Once upon a time there was an Omega male who, simply put, gave his coworkers the creeps. He had BO and there was a reason. On his lunch break, he would go to the gym, work out, not shower, and then put on an old windbreaker over his clothes. In other words, he did shower, he did wear deodorant, he did wear Axe body spray (unfortunately for everyone in his periphery) but only in the morning. So for the first half of his workday, he only smelled like an 8th grade boy just now learning about how to make sure he didn’t smell by buying whatever was most flashily packaged at CVS. But for the second half, there was a whole different kind of scent. He wanted to feel needed to the point of being indispensable and so he would create elaborate exel documents to “help” his coworkers. Some of them were quite amazing and time-saving! He was very smart. And he kept a journal. With him. At work. He took it every where. And documented his day, throughout the day in teeny tiny handwriting on unlined pages with no margins and almost no space between the lines. He would glance up from his writing, his face blank as he focused on one team member or another, and then stare back down at his book, scribbling diligently away. What happened? He had experienced a profound loss, the loss of a high pressure public service job where he had been helping people from the dominant position in the power dynamic. He had loved the feeling of being in control and having the upper hand in a literal life or death situation. He loved that he could hesitate for just a few second before taking action, and it gave him the most incredible feeling of being alive. His supervisors observed this and let him go. He was absolutely devastated, and cried as they escorted him out of the building. He went home to his parents (because he still lived at home in his late 20’s) and his father berated him, screaming at him for having no job and still living at home. Later his mom hugged him and told him she would always love him, and everything would be ok, gently rocking him and assuring him that he never had to move out if he didn’t want to. Once he found the new job, he wore the jacket that came from the old job (with the emblem that meant status and a sense of pride and accomplishment emblazoned on the front) every day over his wrinkled dress pants and button down shirt after he finished working out, positive that it kept other people from smelling his post-workout sweatiness.
Bottom Line: Omegas and Sigmas both do well with mentorship. A Sigma will fight and scratch and claw their way to making a difference in the world, no matter what. Even if they have to work a day job for the rest of their lives and personally bankroll the meetup for whatever world-improving cause they’re waving a flag for. That is not the case with Omegas. They want the recognition. They need it. Ideally, they would be mentored or else be placed under the auspices of an Alpha who can manage some of their expectations and impulsiveness. (Note that healthy happy Omegas, especially those in a committed long term relationship, experience feeling much more patience and a stronger desire to engage in long term planning.) A Sigma who is taking huge risks without a long term plan is either untethered from the tribe but still wants to make a difference by going “all in” OR is punishing the tribe for its betrayal by withholding their warrior gifts. Sigmas do well with a Sigma mentor but they sure do love having an Alpha boss!
4 thoughts on “The Sigma Male and the Omega Male: two case studies”
Kudos on your astute analysis. Your insights are a significant refinement of the Alpha-Beta dichotomy that has been popularised by social psychology. Your Sigma-Omega comparison is new to me and will leave a lasting impression as I come to understand the role of humility in a Sigma’s lone wolf development.
Your contributions will become required reading in academe. Thank you for your wisdom.
Thank you, Golden Talon!! That means so much to me coming from a fellow Sigma. I hope there is much more to come on the topic!
Thanks for sharing your understanding on such a fascinating subject, I hope there’s much more to come too.
nice one hypothesis. I think the big difference about sigma and omega is sigma is person accept reality as it is and omega is still can’t accept reality. When I can take an analogy he is like batman in christpher nolan trilogy and omega like a superman. Which i like the last quote of the batman the dark knight “he is a silent guardian and watchfull protector “