Hypergamy is a fundamental, innate female drive, to seek men who are “better than they are”.
Yet, hypergamy is often misunderstood.
So this article explains what hypergamy truly is, what hypergamy means to you, and how you can use it.
Hypergamy and intersexual dynamics in a nutshell:
- Women seek higher values than men
- Women are lukewarm about same-status men
- Top men have the most options (and most dating power)
- Top women have the smallest market
That’s the preview.
Keep on reading for more.
- What’s Hypergamy: A Definition
- Hypergamy & (Dating) Power
- Hypergamy and Monogamy
- Does Hypergamy Apply to Wealth or Genes?
- Are Men Also Hypergamous?
- How to Pick a Safe Partner
- Why You Mustn’t Worry About Hypergamy
- High Status: The Hypergamy Slayer
What’s Hypergamy: A Definition
The dictionary of power dynamics defines female hypergamy as:
Female hypergamy refers to women only being deeply attracted and pursuing men who are “better than they are”, and not men who are at their same or lower level
In short, women are attracted to men who are “more than they are” -men they can look up to-.
What women include in that “more than they are” can vary depending on her personality or circumstances but, usually, income, power, social status, intelligence, and looks are some of the most important attributes she wants her man to be “better” at.
Some people deny hypergamy or try to frame it as a misogynistic construct.
Well, these commentators are wrong.
Hypergamy is real, it makes obvious sense from an evolutionary point of view, and it has been proven by countless studies and data points (just as an example, Buss, 2008)
Denying hypergamy means not understanding the very basics of human nature.
However, some manosphere communities only focus on female hypergamy, while hypergamy also exists in men.
Male Hypergamy Is Looks-Based
But this is a case of a study confirming what you can see in your everyday life. You just need to look around to see male hypergamy in effect: men want attractive women. Best of all, more attractive women than they are, and more than one of them.
That’s male hypergamy.
Hell, it’s male hypergamy that built our civilization (see forum entry)!
Just look at how hard many men work to climb dominance hierarchies and accumulate resources.
Men work harder than women to actualize their own hypergamy.
Indeed driven men, too, seek partners who are “better than they are”, albeit that “better” most often means “better looking” from a physical perspective.
In simple terms:
Male hypergamy trade status, power, and resources for looks. Female hypergamy trade looks for status, power, and resources.
Let’s dig deeper.
Hypergamy & (Dating) Power
Let’s imagine society as a big pyramid.
Actually, let’s draw a simplified version of two pyramids:
At the bottom sit the people with the least status, looks, and resources.
Hypergamy (and biology) dictates that at the lowest level of the pyramid, bottom women have far more power than bottom men because men are happy with same-status women. But women, well… They don’t get too excited with their fellow low-value man men :).
In the middle of the pyramid, women still have more power than middle layers men.
Overall women, being the demand in the sexual marketplace, have more power when it comes to dating and relationships.
However, at the top, the power relation inverts, and men become more powerful.
Top men become more powerful -by far more powerful-.
In terms of potential for attracting mates, for men, power and resources matter more than looks to get to the top of the pyramid.
Few if any models can out-fuck an average-looking tycoon -possibly even an ugly one-.
This all goes back to biology.
Since men don’t have to wait for almost a year to reproduce again, they can impregnate several women a day. In the case of ancient kings and some modern-day tycoons, that’s exactly what happens.
Women instead carry the full burden of procreation both in time and resources. Men can take care of their offspring, but women must. This means that women are far more concerned with securing help and resources than men.
And that, my friends, is the core of female hypergamy.
In environments where either help or resources are scarce, hypergamy gets a huge boost, and she will gladly queue for some top dog mate (however, as we will see later, we are not living in such an environment today).
Hypergamy and Monogamy
Evolutionary psychology is clear:
From a reproductive point of view and in society with vast differences in resources, it’s best for a woman to be the 10th wife of a king than the first wife of a king (Kanazawa and Miller, 2007).
It means that strict monogamy reduces the power of highly attractive and successful men.
Because that super top guy could otherwise freely and openly have his own harem.
Monogamy can increase the power of attractive women because there will be lots of pressure on their highly successful male counterparts to commit to her (plus the legal system helps them in case of separation).
Monogamy is also good for average men because average women will spend less time eyeing high-quality men who, on average, end up with high-quality women.
And for very poor-quality men?
Well, those fare poorly in almost any relationship system.
However, the institution per se does not have unlimited power. Institutions and laws follow culture more than the other way around. And it’s more the distribution of resources that influence hypergamy and monogamy.
And it functions like this: the more skewed the distribution of resources is, the higher hypergamy pays off and becomes the norm.
On the other hand, the more well-spread the resources are, the less hypergamy drives women’s behavior.
In that case, women prefer having a guy just for them, and similarity and “love” strengthen monogamy -albeit humans rarely are 100% monogamous anyway, and especially not men-.
Does Hypergamy Apply to Wealth or Genes?
Warning: some theory ahead.
Animals differ on “male parental investment“, such as how much males invest in their partners and in helping raise the children.
Human males are around the middle of the scale when it comes to male parental investment. They don’t invest as much as women, but they invest quite a bit.
This is crucial to understand dating and hypergamy.
In nature, the female of species who cannot expect any help from the male counterparts only mate based on genes (ie.: looks, physique, prowess, cunning, and any other attractive trait).
Meaning: when women cannot get any help to raise offspring, they mate based on genes and attraction.
But attention now, this is also crucial: attraction is not simply what she likes but, in big part, also what other women seem to like.
Because she wants offspring that can also easily find a mate to further procreate.
Thus, female attraction is highly social: what she likes is heavily influenced by what other women seem to like. This is why there is also a strong cultural element on what women (and men alike) find or don’t find attractive. Looks are a proxy for how likely it is that he -and in turn, his children- is able to impregnate other women.
But now the hyper gamic twist.
Some male species do help females raise children. When that’s the case, females who can expect help from males also screen men on their resources and the availability of those resources. Commitment is the measure of the availability of those resources.
This is true for human females, who seek proof of love and caring as a sign of commitment.
Women are not just attracted to resources per se, but also to behaviors that are likely to lead to power and resources such as drive, dominance, strength, intelligence, etc.
We can speculate that one of the reasons why women don’t like men whose lives revolve around them is because those men are less likely to climb dominance hierarchies and amass resources (ie.: too focused on them means less focused on other life endeavors).
6 Feet, 6 Pack, 6 Figure: She Wants it All (?)
What we explained above means that, in humans, women seek both good genes (in part represented by good looks) and abundant resources (money and the social status that helps get those resources).
Some authors speculate that women pursue two different and separate dating strategies in the sexual marketplace: good genes from sexy men and resources from rich men.
There is some evidence that indeed some women are more likely to copulate outside of their committed relationship when they’re at their peak of fertility, which might suggest a strategy to get resources from her stable partner and better -or simply diverse- genes.
However, the two strategies are not different and do not run in parallel. A woman seeks both, and she’ll be happiest with both good genes and plenty of resources.
That doesn’t mean she won’t cheat at all when she’s with a handsome, rich, and powerful man: there is always an advantage in genetic diversity. But it means that she is much less likely to cheat when he has lots of resources, great genes, or both -there is an overlap between the two anyway-.
6 Pack VS 6 Figure: Which Wins?
When she cannot have both, studies suggest that women give more weight to status than looks.
When the status is similar, or when the status is more difficult to glean -as it’s often the case in rich Western societies-, they prefer looks.
Of course, there are many influences at play, including her temporal frame -short-term VS long-term-, and the environment.
In dire environments with few resources, resources take center stage.
In environments with evenly distributed resources, as some developed countries are, looks will fare comparatively better.
This is (probably) one of the reasons you hear a lot of rich-country girls saying they don’t care about money -sometimes partially lying anyway- but you don’t hear it nearly as often from women in poorer countries.
Are Men Also Hypergamous?
Evolution shaped women to be hypergamous because it’s good for them.
And for the species.
And, in the meanwhile, do you think that men just stayed put, evolution not shaping men to seek what’s best for them?
Of course not.
Men also seek to maximize their sexual returns.
However, what maximizes male returns is different than what maximizes female sexual returns, so “make hypergamy” looks much different -at least in purely sexual terms-.
This is because:
- Men can still gain from sex with lower SMV women: this is because of a disparity in casual sex returns between the two genders. Most men are happy to have sex with lots of women, including some lower-value ones
- Men care less about women’s resources: since men don’t get “stuck” with the baby, feeding that baby can egoistically be “not their problem”
- Lower-value women are less likely to stray: even in relationships, men tend to be more comfortable with women who are “less” than they are, since these women are easier to control and are less likely to stray (read the science of cheating here).
And here is the video version of this passage:
So, obviously, it’s not like men care less about her money or status because they are “nicer” or “less manipulative”.
Men and women simply have different incentives, including different opportunities for cheating and manipulation.
Men have developed equally self-serving strategies as women have, so don’t uses hypergamy to hate women. Hate the game, if you want, but not the players.
Or, much better, simply learn to enjoy the game and the players.
Does Hypergamy Lead to Cheating?
I often had the feeling that Red Pill authors talking about hypergamy are driven by fear.
The fear of being cheated on.
And some people who write about dating and seduction actually stoke that fear with bad information.
Some blogs, and even some (slightly more) scholarly books such as Sperm Wars, use the often misquotes statistic that “30% of children are not fathered by their partners”.
It’s not a made-up number, it has some research behind it. See the 25% and 30% studies, for example.
However, the numbers are cherry-picked and misleading.
These publications quote statics such as the ones from fathers who tested their children because they doubted their paternity. Obviously, that’s either silly or in bad faith because it’s not a representative sample (also read How to Lie With Statistics).
Fear sells well after all, and it works to create communities. The gold old ingroup VS outgroup, with the outgroup being mean and untrustworthy and “us” being good, you know.
But back to us now: what about actual research?
Michael Gilding estimates the non-paternity rates at between 0.7% and 2%.
Other estimates, in the cases of fathers who are confident of being the actual fathers, it ranges from 1.9% to 2.9%.
Let’s say that, on the overall population, it’s from 1% to 3%. Can be lower if you feel secure with your spouse. And much higher, around 1 out of 3, if you’re not sure (but watch out you’re not being paranoid).
Now don’t get me wrong, these are still high numbers in my opinion, but they’re far from the scare-mongering, finger-pointing, and slut-shaming of some manosphere authors.
Non-paternity events are real.
But not nearly as bad as some authors suggest.
As a matter of fact, it’s more likely that it will be the man to cheat and not the woman. Especially if he is of high status.
Who Gets Cheated?
Studies show that it’s men from the lower classes who get cheated the most.
And that makes sense from a hypergamy perspective: women seek men from higher social classes. And men from lower classes simply have a lot more men who score higher than them.
So here is your first clue about not being cheated: to reduce your risk of cheating, be a high-status man.
Well-respected theories in evolutionary psychology also postulate that women who cheat are sometimes after better genes -the “sexy son” hypothesis-.
So being smart, handsome, athletic, healthy, etc., etc. also helps-.
Researchers point out that higher risks of non-paternity also happen in non-married couples, couples who are often physically distant, and couples with concurrent partners (no shit Sherlock, eh? :).
How to Pick a Safe Partner
Now women, helped by our current PC society, have a nice method to confuse their tracks. The new shield is this: we’re all the same, and if you hint at classifying women as lower or higher quality, you’re sexist, racist, or bigot.
Of course, bigotry has nothing to do with it.
And as much as there are high-quality women and lower-quality women, so there are women who are more likely to cheat and women who are less likely to cheat.
And yes, some women -and some personalities- cheat more than others. Party girls and women whose parents cheated, for example, are at higher risk.
I have written extensively on infidelity, and if you’re interested in finding a loyal partner, start from here:
Why You Mustn’t Worry About Hypergamy
Hypergamy will likely not go to zero.
But there are many factors that limit its influence.
In brief, they are:
- Wealthy societies decrease hypergamy: the comfortable life women enjoy in Western societies alleviates the “need” of marrying up. That’s why Western women often say -and indeed can– prioritize love over money/status (albeit while that means they need less money, it also means they want more alpha males and lovers)
- Socialist governments decrease hypergamy: since women’s basic needs are met by the state, she doesn’t need to rely on richer / more powerful men (Ghodsee, 2018)
- Homogamy offsets hypergamy: homogamy is the tendency to marry partners who, in some important ways, are similar to how we are. A litany of research (Byrne et al., 1966), shows that individuals prefer similar partners, which is especially true when women evaluate long-term partners (Regan et al., 2000).
- Female hypergamy is limited by her own SMV: when it comes to physical beauty, women know their realistic sexual market value. That means that they don’t really go for the top of the top (a common misunderstanding). An average girl often doesn’t go after the six-packed billionaire or a superstar because she knows that her chances are slim (“self-rejection”).
- The scope for switching is limited because only significantly higher mate-value men are worth a switch: for most women, a marginally better man doesn’t provide a strong-enough reason for mate-switching (Buss, 2021). So, no if your relationship is solid, she’s not likely going to leave you for your friend just because he’s 10cm taller, speaks one octave lower, or makes 5k more.
Of course, a much better man will most certainly be tempting, but for simple sexual market dynamics, those aren’t very easily available, because:
- Female hypergamy is limited by top men’s preference for top females: higher-status men prefer good-looking women first, and if they have a choice, they also prefer good-looking and high-status women. That’s especially true for relationship-minded men, and studies show that men are almost as picky as women when it comes to relationships (Swami, 2015). That also limits women’s upward mobility.
- Infatuation decreases hypergamy: contrary to what some authors seem to imply, the obvious truth is that women do fall in love. Researcher John Gottman says that women in love are like wearing blinkers when it comes to other men (Gottman, 2016). Something I’ve also personally experienced.
- Good relationships protect against hypergamy: spending time in a good relationship increases social capital, combating the drive for hypergamy (Gottman, 1999). As one woman said to couple therapist Shirley Glass: “how could I have an affair, I share all significant events with my husbands. I’d immediately have to run and tell him!”
- Her personality: some women are less status-conscious and less looks-conscious than others. Some women are simply less likely to cheat or stray than others. And some women tend to pair bond more strongly than others.
Finally, there is this thing called “life”, and serendipity.
A study by Eastwick and Finkel shows that in a speed dating environment, there was little overlap between what women said they wanted and who they ended up with -and the same for men-.
I suspect this is not much because of attractiveness, but simply because, you know, people have preferences… But then life gets in the way. And they meet a nice gal or boy, or they want to settle down, or the options are not as good as they hoped.
And cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) kicks in and does the rest: they convince themselves it’s a great option, and they are happy.
Thank God for Hypergamy
The above mitigating factors do not completely cancel out women’s hypergamy.
Yes, in the end, she wants a great man.
And she’ll be happier with a somewhat higher-value man.
And thanks, God!
What kind of a woman, and what kind of a future mother would she be if she didn’t try to maximize her returns?
If you’re not OK with that, you can find a few women with little hyper gamic drive in the world.
I can even tell you where to find them.
They’re often at McDonald’s and KFC. And stay away from universities if you wanna meet them: they dropped out of high school. They also love watching TV and got 2 kids from the local crackhead.
Be my guest.
High Status: The Hypergamy Slayer
Guys shouldn’t focus too much on hypergamy.
To begin with, because you can’t control it.
Second, it does not matter as much in most Western countries.
And third, because it makes you come across as insecure.
Case in point:
Learn what it is, know how it works, and then go on doing your thing: working on yourself, and being the best man you can be.
Because here is the clincher: high-value men like hypergamy.
They can get laid a ton thanks to hypergamy.
And even if they decide to be relationship guys, hypergamy keeps women (more) loyal.
Female hypergamy is a popular topic that grew from Red Pill circles.
But I find that it’s sometimes discussed with a little too much misogyny and too little science.
Plenty of data and research suggest that women do like men who are “better” than them: hypergamy is real.
And it’s also real in men.
But since both are constrained by their own sexual market value, boys and girls often date each other around the same value. And since nature developed pair bonding to make us stick together for a while, they often also end up falling in love and sometimes even being happy together (for a while).
If you haven’t noticed, the majority of men do end up with a woman after all. And most of them father their own children.
Focus on becoming a high-status man who can profit from hypergamy instead of becoming a man who complains about it.