The Hypergamous Male
You can feel the question brimming, you see their mind working behind their eyes and you know within minutes the inevitable will be asked of you. Will you pass the test? What exactly are they going to do with this information? Here it comes and you brace yourself… “What do you do for living?" If men are not hypergamous by nature, then why is that one of the first questions asked of women upon meeting? Many men will say they ask these questions to start a conversation. Those questions tend to give the distinct impression that your worth is being calculated.
Let’s call them Michael and Michaela, and they really are a couple with the same name in female and male versions. LOL. Michaela is not Michael’s type, he confessed that he also never really had any passion for her, but she came from a “good” family. Michaela’s father died suddenly in a plane crash. The subsequent lawsuits and insurance policy pay outs left her family with $35 million or $17 million. I am not sure of the exact amount as it changed over several, separate, ad nauseum conversations about his subsequent divorce. One of the most chaotic marriages is one of dueling hypergamous interests. Michael and Michaela have a stunning $250,000 wedding at one of the Ritz-Carlton beach properties. A nice investment by Michaela’s mother in her daughter’s future might I add. LOL. Michaela gets pregnant on the honeymoon, “she timed it just right,” his words. Michael starts moonlighting as a tv news anchor in addition to being a prominent prosecutor in a major city. He gets an offer from CNN; it is entry level journalism and a significant pay cut, but it is his passion, and he has the face and credentials to be a real contender in mainstream media. Michaela refuses the move or to support him in this venture as they have a new baby and just bought a home. He gives it up, buckles down and embarks on a very successful career as a lawyer. Michela never works a day in her life again. He pays for everything, every single bill, every single lesson, every vacation, no contribution or support from Michaela or her family and their magical and supposed “millions” of dollars. The marriage ends and she takes him to the cleaners, the divorce costs him millions and he is left also with $10,000 a month in alimony for 10 years. She currently resides in a pool house at her mother’s rather modest home in a cozy beach town. Weird that someone that supposedly comes from millions and is collecting $10,000 a month lives in the back 40 of her mother’s home. He married with a purpose, for the proximity to a fortune that, in my opinion may or may not actually exist.
There is a definition of hypergamy by Giles Saint-Paul that asserts, “hypergamy occurs because women have greater lost mating opportunity costs from monogamous mating given their slower reproductive rate and limited window of fertility, and thus must be compensated for this cost of marriage. Marriage reduces the overall genetic quality of her offspring by precluding the possibility of impregnation by a genetically higher quality male, albeit without his parental investment. However, this reduction may be compensated by greater levels of parental investment by her genetically lower quality husband”. I would argue that many men also feel they must be compensated for lost mating opportunity as their fertility is also limited similarly by monogamous marriage. Why wouldn’t they opt for financial advantage in a match if they are going to be tied into a union? Why would a man’s financial interest for his children’s future not involve hypergamous intent?
Hypergamy is primarily a man’s game which is why they campaign so heavily against it. They are aware of the stakes, and they do not want to be held to the same standards. In her article "Cruising to Familyland: Gay Hypergamy and Rainbow Kinship," sociologist Judith Stacey said that hypergamous relationships happen more frequently among "those who breach sexual norms" than among heterosexuals and "gay men can cruise their way to creative, multicultural permutations of hypergamous kinship. It also serves as a cultural resource for constructing creative ‘families of choice’. In the unfettered pursuit of masculine sexuality, gay men reconfigure eros, domesticity, parenthood and kinship in ways that simultaneously reinforce and challenge conventional gender and family practices and values. I think hypergamy is natural to men which is why it is so prevalent in gay couples and as more men shirk the demands of hegemonic masculinity they are “reconfiguring eros, domesticity and parenthood” in their heterosexual relationships.
What men’s issue with female hypergamy is, is that they don’t want to be beaten at their own game. Both men and women like to play coy about their intent when it comes to the financial fitness of their prospective mates. In our recent past women desired men with more resources, land, or his own watering hole. LOL. A man with resources was and is viewed as better suited to help you raise your children. Men now also desire women with more resources as a path to financial freedom and a release from the demands of hegemonic masculinity. Men often use hypergamy now to have more leisure and lifestyle freedom. Their reasons are not associated with a biological imperative that often guides women’s hypergamous intent.
The dynamics of social structures of the current dating market have also made men more hypergamous. As sex is more readily accessible along with various forms of birth control this lowered female capital associated with sex and reproduction. In the past sexual repression improved human capital and more specifically female capital. Casual sex informs an imbalance and makes men more hypergamous. While studies on internet dating often remark that women select for income at a higher rate, 2.5x higher rate in one recent study, that does not imply that men are not motivated by income when selecting women on dating apps as well. As economic resources are at a premium this makes men more hypergamous in their selection of a mate. Marriage partners are likely to be associated in traits that are complementary in producing household goods. People with similar attributes tend to enter marriage if these attributes reinforce each other in improving family welfare but when family has been devalued the next best thing is improvement of economic welfare
Social structures can induce or bridle mate choice because they define the social spaces in which those interactions take place. Many people meet their partners on social media/dating apps versus the way people dated or made introductions prior, you needed to be a part of certain social circles or have the proper pedigree to be hypergamous. I think now hypergamous intent is the way most men, unless they are extremely wealthy inform their mate choice. Are there 100% non-hypergamous men? I think so, in my experience they have made full consideration and a financial plan that enables them to marry as they please without expectation of financial contribution from their wife or her family. Social structures that used to be in place that informed mate choice ensuring even when someone did not prefer to marry someone with similar attributes, because they did not have a chance to meet, or were not exposed to, people with dissimilar attributes. Hypergamy used to sort of mean even if you were choosing someone based on their economic resources or the proximity to their families that you most likely had similar upbringings. But, now as men are more hypergamous they are not selecting for shared values primarily and due to the change in social structures and the way people meet and mate. There was a time when marrying someone “like” you meant having similar upbringing and values. That seems to have been replaced by similar income and education.
There is a finite population of high earning men. This is one of the things the infamous relationship guru Kevin Samuels constantly reiterated. I don’t think many men are looking for a sugar mama situation so much as they are looking for a woman that is fairly high earning thusly affording them to ascend to a different tax bracket and afford more economic freedom and perhaps more personal freedom as more of their personal income is free to pursue hobbies or personal interests. The utilities of getting married have changed for men.
Evolutionary psychologists have proposed for decades that the compelling force for mating and marriage have been men seeking young, fertile, faithful women, and women seeking high-status, resourceful, committed men, and that both sexes negotiate for the traits they desire in the other sex by offering the desirable traits that they themselves possess. This is archaic and perhaps this thinking and not looking at new frameworks to describe the motivations in mate choice that seem to have changed in the wake of online dating, and women becoming more educated and in pace economically with men. Perhaps, not constructing a new framework and relying on the old framework with its deficits is part of the issue concerning the decline in marriage and relationships and the declining birth rate. The reality is very few to zero men are asking how many kids your mother had; did she have fertility issues on first or even second dates. They are asking where you went to school and what you do for a living? The available opportunities in the world may not match what people want. People also may be forced to make tradeoffs between preferences on different dimensions or to lower their overall standards in some areas. In a time when hegemonic masculinity is no longer a requirement and financial resources are at a premium, I doubt many men are foregoing their financial standards for a mate. LOL. Mismatches between preferences and choices in many domains may also emerge, as many people may not have stable stored preferences but manufacture them on the spot when asked or when faced with choosing. Manufactured preferences are prevalent now as most people are choosing mates in the wild or on apps based on loosely associated shared values like income and education. Most men don’t really know what a good wife is to inform their choice in a mate, as the world has become more feminine and hegemonic masculinity is being shirked by more men, economic stability and masculine attributes are being applied to women as an appraisal of their female capital.
Are women hypergamous, yes of course but the reasons have changed. It is no longer a means to get ahead, it is, is this person able to afford me the ability to leave the workplace. This expectation or necessity to be in the workplace while also being a wife and mother reinforces hypergamy in women as many are looking for a reprieve from the workplace. So, sure there are studies showing in online dating that women trend toward hypergamy. Women understand that economic resources are at a premium and want to safeguard against their capital being rooted in their economic resources. There was a reddit AITA post that went viral where a husband, very proud of the combined income of he and his wife and her illustrious academic achievements. He was lamenting that she had presented him with a financial plan for her pregnancy that included him reimbursing her $50,000 for lost income etc due to her pregnancy. At first glance it seemed ridiculous, but she isn’t wrong and is most likely aware her husband was at least partially hypergamous in his motivation for selecting her. I think it was her way of trying to establish some equilibrium or maybe I will go farther and say “natural law” within their relationship. There are very few women that are not going to be embittered by the thought or belief they are preferred for their financial capital and even fewer women that aren’t going to feel embittered and embattled by being an earner and a mother. There are many studies that highlight those women working while pregnant especially in unsupportive work environments experience greater work-family conflict, which highlights an imbalance in dual income marriages as the man will not have to deal with being pregnant at work. LOL. But perhaps there are a few true feminists amongst us and really are equal to men or perhaps they will outsource their pregnancy to a surrogate in some distant country? The standard has been that it is more adaptive for women to consider how likely potential mates are to be committed to them and aim for mates of similar quality, instead of simply aiming for the most attractive mates. As the dynamic has changed for males mating strategies, it hasn’t really for women, women still want the same things as in the past, whereas men do too with the added caveat of her also being in the workplace.
Self-perception and mate assessment are relativistic. Mate choice in Western society seems to be based on a preference for long-term partners who are like one's self-perception across several evolutionarily relevant categories of traits. Men’s self-perception has changed thus their mate assessment has as well. Men used to understand their human capital was based in hegemonic masculinity requirements. As more men eschew hegemonic masculinity, traditional gender roles and forego protecting and preserving the patriarchy there’s less pressure to compete with other males for dominance. In the absence of competition many men’s self-assessment is different than in the past and I would say probably significantly higher. With a higher self-assessment unrelated to masculine things like protecting and providing which all require outperforming other males, the focus changes from a woman that can be a help meet enabling them to remain high performing to a woman that is a partner or a financial resource to provide them the comfort of high performance without having to do it. LOL. Some studies have shown women's feelings about their current partner are affected adversely by exposure to profiles of socially dominant men, in a society that is lacking in socially dominant men there are fewer men for a hypergamous male to compete with. As stated prior the strategies haven’t really changed for women, they still want a protector, provider and fidelity/loyalty, which can lead to dissatisfaction as many men have forfeited hegemonic masculinity but still require hegemonic femininity along with also being a provider. It is almost too much…
The likes-attract rule should still apply, it should be the most frequent form of mate choice in a society, of strict homogamy i.e., marriages between partners who share many attributes. Marriages between individuals who have accurate self-perception and who pair on a trait-by-trait basis should be more successful on average (i.e., to have higher satisfaction ratings, greater stability) than pairings of otherwise comparable individuals who are less accurate in their self-perception or who use “alternative” mate choice systems. Homogamous marriages have been found to be more successful than marriages between more disparate individuals. Emphasis should be shifted toward understanding how matching on a trait-by-trait basis contributes to marital stability. Maybe those seeking stable long-term relationships should simply look for partners who are like themselves?
In recent decades women have increased their representation in education and employment, and accessed power and status positions traditionally reserved for men. This is especially pronounced in higher education where they now make up the majority in nearly all wealthier countries. In the past, highly educated women were more likely to remain single. In recent decades, highly educated women have become more likely have relationships and children. Women’s education, income, and employment have become positively associated with partnership formation in the recent decades as men have become increasingly interested in a woman’s earning capacity as a measure if their value and spousal fitness. As women increasingly access higher education, it becomes difficult or impossible for all women to find a partner with higher or equal education, men know this, and they capitalize on it. LOL. In the United States and most European countries, the prevalence of educational hypogamy (women ‘partnering down’) now exceeds that of educational hypergamy (men ‘partnering down’) both things correlate to earning ability as well. The shift away from female hypergamy is part of a broader reconfiguration of gender relationships taking place in the public and private spheres, as a type of gender revolution. The gender revolution is largely associated with women but is anyone analyzing how it is changing of effecting the sensibilities of men?
Markers of status are often linked to access to economic resources (income, social class) as well as social resources (education, occupational prestige). Status can be directly related to the strength of an individual’s bargaining position as well. Studies have shown that women with more resources have a stronger bargaining position in terms of housework. This bargaining position may also affect gender roles/gender revolution in that with greater financial leverage a woman can bargain for different resources in a relationship with a man, the tradeoff is an exchange for domestic resources or delegating domestic responsibilities to her husband. Domestic help then becomes a bargaining tool for men.
The power balance within unions where the female out earns the male shapes negotiation dynamics regarding matters of daily life, such as childcare, and larger life decisions such as further childbearing, staying in or leaving the workforce, choice of residential location, and even divorce. Childbearing creates a disequilibrium which generates implicit and explicit negotiation in relationships, which may or may not lead to greater inequality and less gender egalitarianism in couples after they have a child. Status or high income does not always translate into power for women. Men understand this and often still retain power in relationships without personal status dominance in the public sphere. If families where mothers have status dominance become prevalent, and especially if these unions are not disadvantaged in terms of economic resources and status compared to other union types, this trend could signal a decoupling of power from gender in family life. If men can’t have power or no longer feel they need to compete with other men for power the next best thing is to couple with a woman that can provide status dominance. Female status dominance could also be driven by a change in preferences. Women who ‘partner down’ in terms of education show their willingness to cross a status boundary (whether they choose to partner down or enter the relationship due to constraints in the dating market). These women may be more open to less traditional relationship power dynamics. If women with higher degrees have better employment prospects, they may be able to select partners based on non-economic characteristics, such as physical appearance or willingness to contribute with housework. Society is stratified by multiple imperfectly correlated dimensions of status. We now live in a time where prestigious occupations can be held by individuals outside the most prestigious social groups which provides men more access to high status women and propagates hypergamy in men.
In the traditional application of hypergamy (“marrying up”) social class is tied to several different forms of resources that individuals may access through their mate: social networks which create personal and career opportunities, access to financial support, values, and personal experiences, remember Jeremy Meeks? LOL. Within a marriage, a class advantage often translates into a resource advantage, based on the prestige connotations or resources available through families. The nontraditional or male hypergamy, which motivates men now as women are more educated and have more economic resources. Men have always been hypergamous for social class there are countless accounts in classical literature demonstrating this. Occupational prestige is another measure of status which captures the social standing of an individual based on the type of job they have. How many times has a man led out with what a woman does for a living and where she studied as an introduction to others? Occupational prestige informs social desirability there are social rewards for working in an occupation which may be like, but may also compensate for, income. Clout chasing is real and often hypergamous.
Hypergamy can be seen as a natural response to women's inability in early history to earn a living and "marriage was the only way a woman determined her status in life.” I would argue now that concern is the same for most men. The term hypergamy has its origins in the Hindu tradition of women wanting to marry men from higher castes. The term was first used in 1881 in the "Panjab Castes," a book based on the census report of the Panjab province of British India by Sir Denzil Ibbetson. It describes a situation in which a man sought to marry his daughter to a "member of a tribe" superior to his, anthropologist T. Mohanadoss explains in the article "Hypergamy and Its Inherent Contradictions." Mohanadoss writes that hypergamy is associated with "the assumption that man is superior to woman." Interestingly, while this type of marriage raises the status of the bride-giver — the father. Once again demonstrating that the institution of hypergamy is more natural to men. Men’s income has always mattered, and women’s income increasingly matters.
The ascent of female breadwinners is associated with levels of male unemployment as well. As more men check out of hegemonic masculine roles and as the cost of living continues to rise more women are being tasked with being the breadwinner. As an educated woman you run the very real risk that if you marry a man with less education you will end up being the breadwinner. Many educated women that are uncomfortable with the possibility of being the breadwinner will either opt out of marriage or apply rigorous criteria to their dating requirements which we have all seen men decrying the latter online. LOL. However, it is true that men are still out earning women, the gender wage gap may be one explanation. Nevertheless, many women are still being counted on for their resources or earning capabilities which may be less than the man they’re marrying but not enough to allow her to leave the workforce. So, for many women the choice is a hypogamous relationship that doesn’t allow her the option of possibly being able to forfeit her career and income and focus on homemaking. There seems to be a stalled gender revolution in that those women who partner down tend to be relatively disadvantaged in many ways.
Marriage is often more beneficial to both parties compared to being single, which for many is still the case emotionally and physically companionship needs are met as well as safe monogamous sex and financially you can at least share costs of a household. However, many women are expected to continue a career while also being expected to be a wife and mother. Considering that marriage does seem to benefit men a bit more? (LOL)
Men can be more hypergamous now as they aren’t necessarily marrying for the archaic reasoning of the guarantee of legitimate children. In a time when IVF, surrogacy and even marrying with the plan to not have children many men are not concerned with a woman’s fertility but perhaps more for her financial earning capacity. The over-abundance of casual sex also drives male hypergamy. Casual sex coupled with dating apps lowers the human capital of women. Now, men must be compensated for the trade-off of leaving a dating market where they can access free, casual sex with many partners with little effort also with little to no social shame attached. Not to mention due to birth control and abortion the anxiety of casual sex thrusting a man into sudden fatherhood and at one time marriage as well, has been significantly reduced. The utility of marriage has changed for many men. In the past it was a way to access sex and fertility now it’s a way for many to access a different lifestyle and income bracket. Sex and fertility used to be proportional to woman’s human capital. In a society that is becoming more and more expensive a woman’s human capital is being extended to her earning power as well.
Theoretically In a state of nature, where the best men mate a man with less human capital would need to use hypergamy to attract a woman as a condition for marriage, the trade-off being worth it over a woman remaining single. I think as the income of women increases there may be a return to the state of nature, as more women don’t need to marry primarily for financial security they may choose to only and preferentially date and reproduce with the “best men” or what is frequently referred to as an “alpha man”. It is strange that there is not a broader discussion of the hypergamous male, this benefits men as they don’t carry the stigma of being “gold diggers” but it also benefits other women and elevates their sexual market value by keeping up the ruse of the calculating gold digger which in my opinion is just shrewd female mating strategy. I know numerous successful women that are nervous to tell men what they do for a living or share the spoils of their success as they do not want their value tied to their economic resources.
Women are called whore and gold digger for wanting things that men are allowed to want, no questions asked. Think about why….