Having one versus Being In one.


Puppies, human or otherwise, are naturally social creatures. This is a primal instinct that reaches back to the dark ages of our species’ formation, where there was safety in numbers. As humans, as puppies, as pack-mates, we crave the interaction between one another as a fundamental aspect of puppy play. With that stated, there is a fundamental difference between Having a relationship, and Being In a relationship.

Relationships between people happen every day. I have relationships between my co-workers, there’s a relationship I have with my barista in the mornings at Starbucks. We have a relationship with everyone he interact with throughout the day, but I am not in a relationship with any of them. As a community we ought to celebrate each others successes and commiserate with each others failures; that does not mean that in order to do so we have to enter into a formal relationship with any of these people. It seems to me that recently puppies have become obsessed with where they fall on the Alpha-Beta spectrum, and are ignoring the fact that you can have relationships with people and other puppies outside of this structure. Just because one puppy identifies themselves as an Alpha pup, outside of a negotiated relationship, I am by no means obligated to treat them any differently.

Getting to know new people is always a fun process. Learning how to interact smoothly with someone is building upon the relationship with that person you have from the first time you greet each other. In order to get to know that person however, you do not have to be in a relationship. That new puppy at the bar does not actually have to be your alpha/beta if your goal is just to get better acquainted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being friends with someone in lieu of jumping into a structured relationship like that. On the other hand, if your goal is simply a hookup, you still don’t need to be in a relationship with person, as is proven time and again by grindr, scruff, growlr, tindr, recon, adam4adam, the list goes on.

The alpha/beta relationship is complex and negotiated when you enter into a formal relationship. It does not always necessarily involve sex, and it is not something to be substituted for top/bottom. I see more and more that those terms are being used interchangeably when there is a noted difference between the two dynamics. There is a much stronger responsibility attached to the role of Alpha, one of caring and protecting, teaching and mentoring those under your care, whereas top is just a preferred position in bed. Those among us that accept the role of beta are charged with learning and behaving appropriately within the limits their own alpha has set. This relationship is one that is entered into, negotiated and formalized. I would not enter into such a relationship lightly or quickly; without having grown to know my counterpart before hand.

Often times I witness an alpha/beta relationship that was hastily entered into crumble or quickly become an unhealthy relationship for one or both parties involved. Because of this, I want to ask that you have a relationship before you decide to be in  a relationship. I promise you that there is a difference.