Hypergamy is her tendency to date or marry ‘up’. She wants the best, richest, highest status guy she can get, they say. But science disagrees.
One of the memes of the manosphere is that the women of Western society are ardently in pursuit of the wealthiest, highest status man they can get. The qualities women are said to prize most of all include:
- Other forms of power
Manosphere pundits call this phenomenon ‘hypergamy’.
‘Hypergamy’ originally described the practice of marriage into a higher social or economic class by women. The manosphere has expanded that definition to describe women’s desire for and tendency to pursue men who are their ‘betters’ in some way or another for hook ups and relationships, as well as marriage.
I’m not a fan of the manosphere alpha-beta redefinition, but I have no qualms with its expanded definition of hypergamy. Seems like a natural fit for the term, especially in our present sexual/romantic environment.
So, let’s discuss.
Is hypergamy bad for you?
How big are its effects?
And, how must you adapt?
How Much Do Women Date/Marry for Money?
It’s pretty clear women like wealthy men.
Yet, how much impact does the preference actually have?
Well, we already know conspicuous consumption helps you get laid. If you throw a lot of cash around, women judge you more interested in a short-term fling. They also judge you more attractive for a short-term fling.
Is conspicuous consumption enough of a boon to your sex life that you should go out right now and spend all your money in a bid for sex? Not really. It moves the line on your odds a bit, but unless you have the money to burn and money is nothing to you, the sex you get (if you get any) isn’t worth the price. You’d do better to just move faster and be more aggressive.
Let’s look at the broader effect of wealth, however.
Does money make an impact?
Eastwick and Finkel (2008) discovered that women will tell you they want a rich man. Meanwhile, men claim they don’t much care about women’s wealth. But when it actually comes to who chooses whom to date in a live dating environment, there’s no difference between men and women in how important money is. Women are no more likely to go for the rich guy than men are to go for the rich gal in real life.
This is important. Women say that want rich guys. They think they want rich guys.
On social media, they fawn all over rich guys.
But in real life, there’s no difference between men and women in how often either sex goes for a wealthy partner.
Byrne, Clore Jr., and Worchel (1966) found that women by and large choose to date men of their own economic status. The more your economic status differs from hers, the less attracted to you she is.
The researchers did not investigate this aspect of it, but I’d guess if she’s much wealthier than you, she’s likely less attracted due to a value problem. If you’re much wealthier than her, you likely have an attainability problem.
This might seem odd at first that money doesn’t play a bigger role. But is it odd?
If you look at history’s famous love stories, they often have similar themes:
- Girl’s parents want girl to marry rich, well-off guy
- Girl falls in love with poor-but-charming boy, or boy who is ‘forbidden fruit’
- Drama (or tragedy) ensues
Think Aladdin or Romeo and Juliet.
It is the families that want her to marry a rich man. Not the girl herself.
I’ve seen a fair few young social ladder climbers over the years who hop from rich guy to rich guy. Invariably, you discover their mothers trained them to be this way. The mother, for whatever reason (perhaps she was poor, or perhaps she was a ladder climber herself), brought her daughter up to dig for gold. It’s the only thing that matters in life, the mother told her. Find a man who can treat you well, lift up your status, and buy you nice things. Again, it goes back to the girl’s upbringing.
Here’s the funny thing about money: it’s fleeting.
My great-grandfather was quite wealthy. Yet by the time my father was born, his branch of the family tree was broke. My father paid his way through university and dodged muggers in the ghetto on his way to and from class.
There’s an English proverb that says:
“Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.”
The proverb means it takes a mere three generations to build, then deplete, wealth. The fourth generation ends up right back where the first generation started out at (penniless).
There’s a similar Chinese proverb:
“The first generation builds the fortune. The second generation grows the fortune. The third generation squanders the fortune.”
There could well be a genetic component to wealth. Perhaps there’s a certain mix of ambition, intelligence, and grit that makes a certain lineage more likely to come into wealth more often. Were that the case, choosing a man who has wealth might be a woman’s way of trying to marry into that lineage and have descendants with a higher likelihood of success. But maybe that’s not the case and wealth is large part luck of the draw: you happen upon the right education, the right mentors, the right idea. And then you just slave blood and tears until the damn thing is built.
And even if there’s some biological influence on likelihood of getting rich, wealth is often a product of ‘right place, right time’. You don’t have to be a genius to make a killing on Wall St. In fact, all you really need is a little extra testosterone exposure in the womb (Coates, Gurnell, & Rustichini, 2009).
I’d be fascinated to see a 20- or 30-generation study examine how often wealth crops up (then disappears) in various family lineages. When wealth pops up multiple times in a single lineage, is that due to genetic factors? Is it a statistical artefact (flip a coin enough times and you’ll get heads 10 times in a row)? Are there some families that pass down the lessons of amassing and preserving wealth better than others? Sadly, that’d be a monstrously difficult study to put together. But it would enlighten like little else.
Nevertheless, I suspect it’s safe to say that if there’s a genetic component to wealth, it’s not a very big one. Perhaps an extra +10 or 15%, compared to the likelihood of the population at large striking it rich.
So I suppose it’d make sense that most of the social ladder climbers seem to come from poor backgrounds. These are women whose children are likely to have a tougher time than average, so it makes sense to gamble on their genetic heritage (maybe this guy just lucked into wealth and his genes are actually suboptimal) to get financial security. Even if she isn’t necessarily getting the guy with the best all-around DNA, at least her kids won’t go hungry.
Just call him Mr. Meal Ticket.
For every other woman though, she’s mostly going to stick to men in her income range. Why mate for something that’ll just be gone a generation hence?
There are better things to mate for.
So, hypergamy for the sake of money, at least in the Modern West, I think we can safely put to rest, with the exception of some women from poor backgrounds. Most of those models you see on Instagram who sell their bodies for cash don’t come from the middle or upper classes. They started out poor.
How Much Do Women Date/Marry for Status?
If most women don’t date or marry for money, how about status?
We’d suspect girls must go nuts for this one, right?
Well, believe it or not, the reverse is often true.
Regan and Dryer (1999) discovered that status plays a bigger role in hooking up for men than it does for women (i.e., when a guy gets laid, his status goes up), at least from a motivation standpoint. Various other bits of research have found that status doesn’t play that big of a role in whom women choose to have sex with or date.
Other research from Buston and Emlen (2003) found that both men and women select mates of similar status to themselves. Which I guess would explain why you don’t see too many hot-but-broke college-aged girls dating CEOs and movie stars.
Now, there’s some other research that shows women are attracted to status. However, I suspect it’s correlation and not causation. High status men:
- Have people around them
- Take up lots of physical space
- Behave in extraverted ways
- Are confident
And all of those actually are attractive things to women.
So is status attractive to women? Or does just lead men to adopt the traits of an attractive man? I suspect it’s the latter.
Back when I was a bigger believer in hypergamy, I used to wonder:
Why do movie stars always date other movie stars? Why do they marry other movie stars? Angelina Jolie’s pretty sexy, but she’s not that hot. Brad Pitt could have anyone, right? Why not pick a girl who’s cuter (and younger)?
Part of the reason is that Brad Pitt can’t have anyone. A girl may feel attracted to him at first, and she may feel connected to him, because she’s seen him in movie roles that she connects to personally. But as soon as she starts to get to know him, there’s a good chance she realizes the two of them are nothing alike.
And attraction goes away.
(another part of the reason is likely that Brad Pitt wants to have someone whom he feels is similar to him – he doesn’t want to date some cute young broke girl working a 9-to-5 he can’t relate to at all)
Sure, if she’s a social climber, she might bite the bullet and stay with a guy like Pitt even if she doesn’t mesh with him on a personal level. Maybe she wants fame, or she likes the spotlight.
But that’s not most girls. Most girls don’t want fame, and they don’t want the spotlight. Do women like attention? Sure, yeah. Almost all girls like it to some extent. But they want attention from people they like. Most don’t want to be famous.
Evidence for Hypergamy
In “Genes, Legitimacy and Hypergamy: Another Look at the Economics of Marriage”, published in the Journal of Demographic Economics in 2015, discovers a two-type model in marriage markets:
“In the “Victorian” type, all agents marry somebody of the same rank in the distribution of income. In the “Sex and the City” (SATC) type, women marry men who are better ranked than themselves. There is a mass of unmarried men at the bottom of the distribution of human capital, and a mass of single women at the top of that distribution. It is shown that the economy switches from a Victorian to an SATC equilibrium as inequality goes up.”
Thus, hypergamy is real... but it hasn’t been that big of a factor in the West recently because we haven’t had too much income inequality. We have followed the ‘Victorian type’ through to present... Where people date and wed others of the same rank.
However, the Western world is shifting, isn’t it? Income inequality has grown, and continues to grow. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean hypergamy may be more of a factor now than it has been in the past.
How big of a factor? We seem to still have a ‘Victorian type’ model in play for the most part. Some subcultures have arrived at a ‘Sex and the City’ type, however; I think it’s fairly evident that this is the case among American blacks, where the women are wealthier and more educated than the men, and both men and women are much less likely to marry than other American races.
All of America could be headed this way, as female enrollment at universities continues to increase, and male enrollment at them continues to fall.
However, we’re not at anything near ubiquitous hypergamy yet. Most people still pick partners who are more alike them – in both wealth and status – than not alike.
Unless you live in India (and perhaps not even there, I don’t know enough about the country), I don’t think hypergamy is something you need to seriously worry about any time in the next 100 years.
Why Then are Guys Fixated on Hypergamy?
If it’s not a big deal, why do some men focus on this stuff so much?
Well, because people don’t like things that seem unfair to them.
Girls object to men studying seduction. Men object to women studying The Rules. The poor object to the rich. People fear terrorists, even though the odds of dying in a terrorist attack are negligible. It just seems unfair for some random fanatic to blow you up, so you don’t like it. People don’t like shark attacks or cannibals. Never mind the fact that you’re infinitely more likely to die from a car accident, the flu, or slipping on the floor in your bathroom than you are from either of those things. If you slip on the floor, it’s more ‘fair’ than if someone else eats you.
So, even though people die of flu en masse (~30,000 flu deaths in the United States every year), no one worries about it because it’s ‘fair’. Everyone gets sick. And it’s mostly the old who die. Seems fair. But whenever some kid gets his arm bitten off by a shark, everybody freaks out. The U.S. has had 1613 unprovoked shark attacks since 1817. That’s 8 a year. Not even shark attack deaths, mind you, just shark attacks. Deaths are even rarer.
I’ve got to admit though, I’m still worried about sharks when I get in the water. I don’t care about the flu. Even though I know this stuff. I just can’t help it – my amygdala’s in control, not me.
People don’t like things that seem unfair. They don’t like to feel out of control. They focus on anything that seems to violate ‘fairness’ laws and amplify them into enormous problems in their minds.
Most of the men who write about hypergamy in the manosphere seem to be bar or club guys. If there’s one thing I can tell you (and have, over the years) about picking up girls in bars and clubs, it’s this: make darn sure you meet girls in other venues.
Bars/clubs are upside-down worlds where things don’t work the same way as elsewhere. They’re terrific training grounds for some aspects of the social arts, and when you’re good at them and find your niche they can be reliable places to pick up from.
But in the artificial environment of bars and (especially) nightclubs, status gets an importance boost and appearance plays an outsized role.
Probably more likely to want a rich/high status guy than the average girl does.
Sure, there are plenty of girls who go to clubs and don’t care about club status. But they’re never the ones decked out the most, are they? The most decked out ones – the ones with the best hair, the most alluring attire, the long fake eyelashes, the eye shadow that makes their eyes look HUGE, the sexy facial expressions – those are the ones you pay attention to. They’re the ones all the guys in the clubs want. And those girls have made themselves up like that specifically to get attention, often from the highest status guys.
Men see these women, who are at the top of the club hierarchy, and say, “See that? Girls just want the rich/high status guys!” Meanwhile, they ignore the hottest, coolest girls in the venue, who aren’t decked out as much and aren’t trying to social ladder climb (because they don’t value the same things).
The other place a lot of manosphere guys meet women, I’ve noticed, is online. Online dating forces women to screen on only a few qualities:
... and maybe your sense of humor, if you write a good first message.
Most guys bat below their averages both online and in clubs. Men who date hot girls in real life may only get okay girls in clubs and chubby/ugly girls online. The exceptions are the top tier guys: the super hot guys (or guys with dangerously good fundamentals), the guys with professional pictures, and the guys with crazy incomes. These guys often perform better than average in these environments.
Guys with spectacular game also do great in clubs, but it’s hard to get spectacular at club game, and because ‘how good you are’ is an ego thing on man-sites, a lot of guys will say, “My game is great, but I don’t get results, so it must be due to unfairness.” Which, sometimes it is – some venues are just really hard. But you also don’t get to claim great game in a certain kind of venue if you cannot pull there.
Make the super hot guys, the guys with great pictures, or the guys who are rich approach women on the street or in social circle, and they’ll do okay, but don’t have as wide a victory margin over Regular Joes as they do online and in clubs. These guys are optimized for places where their qualities are valued most.
I suspect this is where the focus on hypergamy comes from: guys hitting up bars and clubs, or trawling the trenches of online dating, and feeling frustrated over how good a small elite of successful men have it and how bad all the rest do.
But that’s how it’ll be in any venue where it’s purely about men competing for sex with women. Women become choosier, and attributes that wouldn’t matter much most of the time get inflated importance.
I had a buddy who frequented the clubs in Pattaya, Thailand, where all the girls are freelancers (prostitutes). So you go in, find a girl you like, pick her, go home, have sex, and pay her. But after a time he started to discover that the hottest girls only wanted to go with really hot guys. They already had enough money – these girls will have 4 or 5 guys from England, Australia, America, etc., who’ve fallen in love with them and send them money every month so they don’t have to hook anymore – so now they just want to have sex for fun. Rich guys and high status guys just could not get these girls. Only hot guys could. They stop caring about money and status because they don’t need any more – their foreign benefactors allow them to live like queens. So they only want to sleep with men they think are very attractive.
This drove my friend nuts, but different kinds of environments condition women attract women who want different kinds of things, and condition women to want different kinds of things.
Just one more reason why I recommend you use club game and online game as a supplement to your efforts with women... and not as your main course.
Don’t let these venues distort how you see the world, or womankind.
Must You Guard Against Hypergamy?
I’ve never been close to rich. Most of the girls I’ve been with have had better jobs and better incomes than me. My long-term girlfriends usually all have friends whose boyfriends and husbands make substantially more money than I do, and they see their peers getting rich while I struggle with my mission.
Just because you are not rich or high status doesn’t mean you’re out of the running.
Every now and then this leads to a test. But no more often than anything else in the relationship. And when you pass it – when you tell them hey, look, maybe I’ll be a success one day, but I don’t know. I’m trying to make it happen. But I’m not there yet. If you need to be with a guy who’s a success and you need to be with him now, all I can tell you is that isn’t me. I’m just not there. Maybe that’s a disappointment to you and you’d be happier with a guy like Anna’s husband. Maybe that’s the kind of guy you want.
When that happens, the test ends, the girl is satisfied that you are firmly in control of your life and not a weakling, the relationship goes back to normal, and she’s happy again.
Much of the hypergamy fear mongering seems to come from guys who take women’s tests too seriously. Or they want to date the decked out girl in the club and feel miffed to discover she’s a ladder climber. But of course, right? You don’t spend two hours on hair and makeup to hook up with some guy who’s only claim to fame is his ability to smooth talk the ladies. If she’s worked that hard, it’s because she’s got ladders to climb.
I’ve also noticed there’s a contingent of men who use ‘hypergamy’ to explain why girls rejected them. “XYZ girl rejected me, and she’s not even that cute! Hypergamy knows no bounds.” When in reality you just didn’t come in right for that girl for whatever reason. When the same guy meets a hotter girl and she clicks with him, he doesn’t then say, “Where did all the hypergamy go?” He just doesn’t even think about ‘hypergamy’.
So... if you want the super decked out flashy club girls, or you want to pull all the mega hotties off an Internet dating site, then you probably do need to worry about hypergamy, yes. All girls want The Best, of course (just like all guys do), but the ones who optimize their game solely for rich, high status guys are a minority, and unless your mission in life is to capture those girls who work so hard to set themselves up as status symbols, you don’t have to worry about this.
If you want a girl other than one optimizing herself for rich/high status men, you’re in luck... Because most girls don’t optimize for those things. And the ones who do usually don’t have terribly attractive personalities, and aren’t even the best-looking (with hair and makeup off).
Wealth is fleeting. Status is fleeting. Most girls are clever enough to know that. If hooking up is about chasing ‘good genes’, as most scientists seem to think it is these days, or if it’s about value-sorting and a tool for a girl to figure out what she can get in marriage marketplace, as I believe it is (or perhaps it’s some mix of both of these things), either way, I’d be surprised if much of either wealth or status is coded for in the DNA. These things might be markers of good underlying traits, but they don’t last beyond a handful of generations at most.
And from everything I’ve seen myself, and from what the research shows, most women on the whole are not too focused upon hypergamy.
So, if you are focused on hypergamy, you might want to take a step back.
You might need to stop focusing on club hotties who are busy focusing on rich dudes.
And if you insist on pursuing these chicks, might I suggest you amass some wealth first?
Then, you can have all the gold diggers money can buy.
For the rest of us, game on and look for the girls who aren’t obsessed with status or wealth. That’s most of ‘em, by the way.
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