By Martin G. Groder, M.D. and Pat Webster, Ph.D.

Review by Scott Keith

If marriage is such a great institution, why do so many marriages, and relationships for that matter, fail? Statistics aren’t exactly encouraging.

A psychotherapist, and former assistant clinical associate at Duke University, has an idea. Dr. Pat Webster has co-written a book that describes two distinct personality types and how these traits can cause chaos in what would otherwise be a perfectly normal marriage. Winning At Love: The Alpha Male’s Guide To Relationship Success describes the alpha and beta personalities.

In an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Webster (an alpha) says she and psychiatrist Dr. Martin Groder (Groder passed away from cancer) shared a long-standing interest in couples. The product of their collaboration is an entertaining and instructive book that focuses on Powerland and Loveland and how an alpha male can drift from one destination to another.

Describing the alpha, Webster looks back to the animal kingdom. “In the animal pack, the alpha is there to do two things: to help provide food for the pack…also to protect the weaker; the nursing mothers, the young and the older members of the pack.” Webster says these traits are found in human alphas; alphas bring these survival instincts into a relationship. According to Webster, when something goes wrong in a relationship, the partner can become the enemy who’s threatening the alpha’s survival.

Webster says betas (she prefers to call them non-alphas) are usually more cooperative; they don’t mind being followers.

Throughout the book, Webster and Groder describe how the dynamics of Powerland and Loveland can affect the strength of a relationship. Webster says, “Alpha males are innately born with a citizenship in Powerland.” She says Powerland is about survival. “Powerland is a competitive place, it’s winner-take-all, it’s a ‘my way or the highway’ place.” Webster notes the competitive nature of corporations, banks, universities and country clubs, calling them outer Powerlands. By comparison, Loveland is “a place where there’s more cooperation, where our dreams and aspirations are supported by our community. We don’t have to climb on somebody’s shoulders or over the top of somebody to achieve our goals,” Webster says.

In the book, Webster warns that couples will face the inevitable “Whoosh” moment. “When an alpha is in an intimate relationship and a glitch comes along…all of a sudden he’s flying back to Powerland. His mate is the enemy that’s trying to do him in, or compete with him, or get one up on him, or trick him into something,” says Webster, adding that the alpha guy begins using all the Powerland tactics, including bullying and charming.

Chapter six explains that alphas have an Inner Power Committee, which includes warriors. Among them is the soldier who is “bred to protect us from danger.” Webster and Groder write, If we should need someone to drive backwards out of a village in Iraq with a steady hand on the wheel, the soldier is the one we want. This is because the world can unfortunately be a dangerous place and there is sometimes a need for him. Another warrior is The Secret Agent. They write: If you have one, you know it, because you can outfox the best of them. This is the team player who knows that if he can’t blind ‘em with brilliance, then he can always baffle ‘em with impenetrable stratagems. To balance out these committee members, according to Webster, we have an inner coach. “We’re all neurologically wired to have a coach, somebody who’s in charge. We have to learn how to strengthen that neurological wiring by having that coach be chair of our committee.” If the coach is not in the chairperson’s chair, says Webster, the warriors will jump in.

As you’re reading this review, you may be wondering if you’re an alpha or a beta. You might have a gut feeling. If not, chapter one provides a checklist you can fill out. The list is based on years of personal and clinical experience.

Winning at Love is a remarkable book that will remind you that a good relationship is worth preserving. Don’t think the book is designed just for long-time married couples. If you’re single, and contemplating a relationship, read the book so you can prepare yourself for those inevitable Whoosh moments that can take you on a jet ride from Loveland to Powerland.

Softcover, 189 pages, Bascom Hill Books, $19.95. Available at and at