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How to Be More Dominant in a Relationship as a Man (The Right Way)

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Joshua Sigafus

Dating, Relationships

Joshua has 15 years of writing experience within the complex territories of dating, masculinity, and relationships. His own personal life journey was kick-started by a pivotal marital breakdown of his own and led him down a path of self-discovery and masculine transformation, culminating in him developing a career as a men's dating coach. Read full bio.

Last Updated: Feb 22, 2024
17 min read
How to be more dominant in a relationship man in business shirt holding girlfriend from behind
Key Takeaways

To be more ‘positively dominant’ in your relationship as a man, make sure that you prioritize the mission of leading the family (your tribe) to victory as an empathetic, kind, and compassionate leader. But also balance these ‘agreeable’ traits by being equally strong, effective, competent, determined, goal-oriented, and formidable.

When I was a younger man, I used to really struggle with the concept of dominance.

On one hand, I would observe some of the men in my social circles who basically acted weak and pathetic—and obviously, their dating and relationship experiences tended to be a disaster.

But there were also some men in my friend group back then who exhibited what could be described as ‘aggressively dominant’ and/or even ‘territorial/domineering’ behavior.

My observations were that these types of men tended to be relatively good at attracting women and starting relationships—but that those relationships would quickly spiral out of control, descend into angry/bitter chaos, and ‘flicker out’ as quickly as they had started.

“There has to be a better way than this” I always thought to myself.

After experiencing a painful divorce at the end of a 10-year marriage back in 2017, I had to restart my life and perform a total reset at the age of 30.

At this point, I realized that if I wanted to have a chance at a quality relationship in the future, I’d need to learn a few things about intergender dynamics and how to actually succeed with women.

And on the list of things I wanted to figure out for myself, there were a few questions about dominance. 

  • What role does dominance play in our attraction levels as men?
  • How could it best be utilized to create deep, meaningful, and positive relationships with women, as opposed to breeding resentment, distrust, and bitterness (as I’d seen it do among some of my more ‘knuckle-dragging, tyrannical’ peers).
  • And perhaps most importantly—do women actually desire dominant men, or was this mostly a male-centric ‘wives’ tale?’ 

Well, after several years of trial and error, testing, lessons, studying, fact-finding, and observation—I finally figured out the answer. 

Full disclaimer:

The information and techniques you’re about to learn are the exact same principles I discovered in my own post-divorce life journey—and they’ve empowered me to have much better, more productive, positive, loving, deep relationships with women than I ever had before.

I worked hard to figure this stuff out. 

I sacrificed days, evenings, and weekends reading books, sifting through the scientific literature, talking to women about their own dating and relationship experiences, and testing my theories in the field.

I was just basically trying to get to the bottom of this question of dominance, and the specific role it plays (or has the potential to play) in successful male-female dating relationships.

And I’m pleased to report that once I came up with a working hypothesis and started testing it in my own life—the results were wildly successful.

So what you’re about to learn is a compilation of all of this data and the experiences that led me to my own conclusions—which have thus far proven to be extremely beneficial to my goal of understanding how to have happier, more meaningful, more fulfilling, sexier, healthier relationships with the women I engage with as sexual partners.

With all that being said, this is a relatively complicated topic. So let’s dive into it.

What Do We Mean When We Use the Term ‘Dominant?’ 

positive dominance

The first thing that’s important to understand about the word ‘dominant’ is that it can mean different things to different people.

In fact, this specific problem was actually addressed in a study that was conducted on the subject of ‘dominance’ and whether or not it’s actually attractive to women.

The study was titled The Dominance Dilemma. Here’s an excerpt that helps to describe the ‘semantic issue’ that tends to cause some confusion with the word:

“It is important to distinguish between dominance as a behavioral outcome—a man winning a competition with another man—and the various dispositional traits associated with dominance, such as aggressiveness and other domineering qualities. 

Dominance is closely related to other concepts related to hierarchical position and differential access to resources such as leadership, status, and prestige. From one perspective, dominance may refer to a position within a hierarchy or the ability to supplant competitor, particularly in ethological studies of nonhuman animals. 

From another perspective, the disciplines of sociology and anthropology most often use the term dominance following the ordinary definition of dominance as authority or control over another or others.”

This is actually really crucial because when people walk into this discussion with different preconceived ideas about what the term ‘dominant’ actually means, you can end up with some pretty varied conclusions (and disagreements) that might have more to do with semantics than actual human mating behavior observations.

Let me explain why this is a problem.

Defining What ‘Dominant’ Actually Means

lead the family

First of all, you have the literal dictionary definition for the word ‘dominant.’

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as follows:

“Commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others. Very important, powerful, or successful. Overlooking and commanding from a superior position. Of, relating to, or exerting ecological or genetic dominance.” 

From this definition, it’s easy to extrapolate a set of behavioral traits that seem to describe the intent or goal of being controlling—to defeat and prevail over others and to basically seize power over others as a means of achieving success from a hierarchical perspective. 

When you paint the term in this light, it sounds very much like it would describe the type of man who would probably be best described as a tyrant, a bully, and/or a dictator—or, at the very least, a conceited jerk with a superiority complex.

This is what we would call being ‘negatively dominant.’ 

But here’s where things get really confusing. 

Many Women Claim to Desire Dominant Men

There are a lot of voices in the world (stories, media, movies, memes, songs, first-hand accounts, etc.) that basically tell us that women tend to be attracted to dominant men.

In fact, these soundbites tend to be perpetuated in the ‘bad boy’ stereotype—the idea that women are hopelessly attracted to men who are actually mean jerks, and that they just friend zone the nice guys.

This leads us to the common soundbite of ‘nice guys finish last,’ at least insofar as it pertains to romantic/sexual relationships between men and women. 

So, is that the truth? 

Is that where the conversation ends?

Are women actually just naturally (perhaps even self-destructively) only interested in dating the archetypal ‘domineering, oppressive jerk,’ and would rather live with the negatives of that stereotype than lower their ‘standard attraction threshold’ to date men who are perhaps a bit less ‘dominant’ but who treat them better?

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The Truth about the ‘Bad Boy’ Stereotype

bad boy myth

You don’t have to do much research (or talk to many women) to realize that the vast majority of them will vehemently disagree with this outlook. 

When asked to describe why they’ve had a track record of dating jerks (at least, the ones who do), women will often divulge some version of the following explanation:

“Well, yes, maybe I’ve dated bad boys in the past—but it wasn’t because I liked their negative qualities. It was because they were the only men around me in my life who exhibited any kind of masculine traits. 

And thus, I fell for them because I wanted a man who exhibited those traits, though I would obviously prefer to have the best of both worlds—a man who exhibits masculine traits, but who also knows how to be kind, empathetic, and loving as a partner at the same time.

It’s just impossible to find that type of man these days. That’s the problem.” 

And this is really where the ‘truth’ of the matter begins to take shape.

This is where we realize that the question of whether or not men should be dominant might actually be the wrong question to ask. 

Instead, we should probably be asking:

What do women actually desire in the men they date, and how does dominance factor into that equation?

So in this guide, that’s exactly the question we’re going to answer. 

How Does ‘Dominance’ Factor into Attraction Levels for Men?

To answer this question, we really need to get to the baseline standard of defining what women are looking for in male partners. 

We can summarize not only the purpose of men, but also the baseline characteristics of what women are looking for in men, by taking a closer look at what I call the masculine core evolutionary mandate.

The purpose of man, evolutionarily speaking, is to generate resources and solve problems, to provide safety and security for the tribe, to help the tribe survive and thrive.

The better a man gets at achieving this mandate, the higher his value is going to be—and as a direct result of that higher value, he’s also going to be regarded as more attractive by women. 

And so, when it comes to dominance, we can see that there are some positive qualities that, according to this standard, would be attractive to women.

We would call this ‘positive dominance.’  

For example, positively dominant men would tend to:

  • Exhibit bravery
  • Deploy an optimistic and hopeful worldview
  • Be mission focused
  • Draw healthy boundaries
  • Invest in themselves (so that they can continue to push the limits and excel at their mission)
  • Lead from the front (and by example)
  • Take ownership of their responsibilities
  • Engage in direct and honest communication
  • Embrace direct and healthy conflict as a means of resolving interpersonal challenges and problems
  • Compete in the world marketplace to earn more money, achieve more success, build hierarchical status, and create more value—thus leaving a greater mark upon the world and affecting greater change for the tribe and community

In fact, you could almost characterize this as saying that women are actually most interested in the types of positive masculine traits that’ll lead to men taking on the role that’ll lead to them achieving higher status (and thus, higher value) in life, and then using the advantages of that status to confer benefits to the rest of the tribe.

Do Women Actually Desire Dominant Male Partners? Here’s What the Science Says

Woman stepping on a man with a red high heel

When we look at the positive side of dominance, we can pretty safely conclude that women want effective, competent, formidable men who also prioritize the overall safety, security, and well-being of the tribe as an extension of their own personal responsibility. 

This type of man will effectively (and competently) generate resources and solve problems in the world—but he’ll also be agreeable, empathetic, kind, and respectful to the members of his tribe and family (especially his intimate partner) because these would be the most effective behaviors to solve the mandate of helping the tribe to survive and thrive. 

Interestingly, these sentiments are scientifically challenged and examined at depth in a study called Dominance, Prosocial Orientation, and Female Preferences: Do Nice Guys Really Finish Last

And I’m happy to say that the science actually supports this viewpoint. 

In fact, this quote from the text of the study does a remarkable job of underlining this often misunderstood principle of what women value in dominance when it comes to male attraction:

“For women, male dominance was related to dating desirability. Even in this study, however, a man’s prosocial, agreeable tendencies were potent in affecting female attraction to him. 

In the case of dating desirability, for example, female attraction was an interactive function of male dominance and agreeableness. Dominance seems to matter when a man is high in agreeableness. When a man is low in agreeableness, however, dominance seems to have no effect.” 

How to Be a More Dominant Male in a Relationship: 11 Proven Ways

Alright. With all of that being said, here’s the list of proven ‘positively dominant’ traits that I’ve used in my life to really bolster my own masculine attraction—without becoming a tyrant, bully, or domineering jerk in the process. 

1. Embrace Radical Self Responsibility

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This is really the focal point. 

Become the type of man who takes his responsibilities and priorities seriously in life, and the woman in your life will admire (and desire) you more for it. 

2. Become An Effective Leader

In our modern world, many men are facing a literal leadership crisis. 

Learn how to become a more effective and empathetic leader. High-value women will respond very positively to this. 

3. Commit to Leading by Example

Women respect and admire men who roll up their sleeves and go to work along with the rest of the family. 

They highly desire a man who leads from the front—who isn’t afraid to set a powerful example through his own actions. 

4. Set High-Status Goals, and Lead Your Family toward Them

Women respond very positively to men who take charge of the family’s goals and lead the tribe effectively toward a bright, hopeful future. 

5. Always Treat Your Partner with Kindness and Respect

Here’s the truth. 

Truly strong men are strong enough to engage their partners with kindness and respect—even in the midst of conflict. 

As a man, you must cultivate this kind of positively dominant emotional strength.

And as a result, your partner will respect, admire, and desire you that much more.  

6. Maintain Reasonable, Common-Sense, Ironclad Boundaries

As a dominant alpha mentality man, you need to have a zero-tolerance policy for allowing others to cross your boundaries and disrespect you. 

When you maintain your boundaries (and enforce them with kindness and respect), you’ll earn the respect and admiration of the high-value women in your circle. 

I was recently facing some concerns with boundaries when considering moving in with my girlfriend. So I linked up with a dating coach online at a site called Relationship Hero.

One of my friends told me about them so I thought I’d give it a try. Even though I’m a dating coach, I love to bounce ideas off of other professionals.

I found it to be a really valuable experience—my coach had read through my pre-session notes and took them very seriously. I walked away with an action plan that gave me a lot of confidence about how to approach this issue.

I’m glad I took the session as otherwise my own misguided thoughts may have taken me in the completely wrong direction.

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7. Always Speak Your Mind

Truly strong and dominant men will always speak their mind. 

But they won’t do so in a way that tears others down or causes damage. 

Rather, they speak the truth empathetically—with the goal of leading their family and tribe to a better future and ensuring success for everyone within their circle. 

8. Always Be Honest

Truly powerful and positively dominant men are always honest. 

They understand that lies, manipulations, and avoidances are simply manifestations of inner weakness–and they seek to extinguish such tendencies for the betterment of their journey toward greater purpose. 

9. Address Conflict Directly and Right Away

Strong, dominant men always address conflict right away. 

This serves to ensure that the tribe continues to function in a healthy and successful manner. 

This step isn’t always easy—but the woman in your life will admire, respect, and appreciate it. 

10. Make ‘Tribal Success’ Your First Priority

A true leadership-mentality man will always make tribal success his first priority. 

This doesn’t mean that he should ‘simp’ and let other people walk all over him. 

It means that he wakes up every day with a deeper purpose—to guide and nurture his tribe so that it’ll survive, thrive, and win. 

11. Show up Every Day Prepared to Be Your Best Self

dominant man

A truly dominant man, first and foremost, is a man who’s learned to exercise control over his own mind, soul, and body. 

They’ve learned to continue chasing excellence, and are ceaselessly invested in their own self-betterment—so that they can perform at their best as they lift their loved ones toward success, and also so that they can continue to lead from the front and set a glorious, victorious example for everyone in their circle. 


At the end of the day, being a positively dominant man is all about leading the tribe (and your relationship) effectively. 

This will not only make you more successful in life, but will also make you more attractive to women. 

And that’s the ‘secret sauce’ that a lot of these ‘negatively dominant’ men are missing out on. 

For more tips and advice on how to crush it as a man in this world, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel

Go with grace my friends, and never give up your power. 


What makes a person dominant in a relationship?

What makes a person truly (and positively) dominant is really their ability to be effective and competent at their mission to lead their tribe/family/team to victory, paired with a deep sense of responsibility to lead effectively, empathetically, and by example (being a servant leader, as opposed to being a bully or a tyrant).

Is being dominant a good thing in a relationship?

Being positively dominant (an empathetic leader who leads from the front and by example) is a good thing because it facilitates the crucial, core evolutionary masculine mandate to generate resources, solve problems, and provide safety and security to help the tribe survive and thrive. 

But being negatively dominant (being a bully, a tyrant, etc.) is a bad thing because it beats people down instead of lifting them up. 

How can you be more dominant in conversation in a relationship?

To be more positively dominant conversationally within your relationship, make sure that you follow these general guidelines:
-Speak bravely
-Only speak the truth
-Never avoid conflict
-Think through your points and be sure of yourself before you speak
-Make an effort to be as articulate as possible
-Always engage in conflict in a kind and respectful manner
-Be willing to listen to the other person, but never tolerate disrespect
-Avoid conversing or engaging with people who aren’t going to show you the same kindness and respect in return (walk away from low-value people and don’t look back)

Are physically attractive men naturally more dominant?

The science regarding attraction and dominance in men is complex, but this is basically what researchers have discovered:

Women do tend to prefer dominant men, but only if those men are positively dominant. In other words, women want men to be strong, brave, and masculine—but they also want those men to be kind, respectful, empathetic, and willing to share their resources with the tribe. 

If a man is dominant, but doesn’t bring benefits to the tribe (and especially if he inflicts negative costs upon her and/or the family), then the relationship is likely doomed to disaster—because eventually she’ll realize that investing in a tyrant/bully is simply a bad investment for her life and future.