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Hypergamy: What It Is, the Good, Bad & 24 Truths About Women Marrying Up

Have you ever heard of hypergamy? If not, it’s when women “marry up” or get into relationships with men who are rich and have a higher social status. 

female hypergamy

In the age of social and sexual equality, a curious term emerges from the old, dusty pages of history to make a reappearance in many a conversation—and some heated debate: hypergamy.

Many feminists, pickup artists, red-pill guys, male feminists, and everyone else are abuzz. Talking about its merits and flaws, how it spells doom, or how it just fits in the fabric of nature. 

They’re saying it’s bad for civilization, it makes dating harder, women are superficial, men should strive harder—it’s all about evolution, and so many more.

One famous piece by Rollo Tomasi, “Hypergamy Doesn’t Care,” even sparked a battle of wits and of the sexes revolving around this thing called hypergamy. 

But what, really, is hypergamy? Is it just a new buzzword for today’s times?

Hypergamy 101

Hypergamy is a marriage system wherein women marry men of a higher social class. [Read: How to be a good sugar baby – 16 secrets to the luxe life]

To put it simply, hypergamy is “marrying up.” In this system, a man shouldn’t marry a woman of higher status while a woman shouldn’t marry a man below her status.

Contrary to what many may believe, hypergamy has been practiced by countless cultures throughout history, such as in India, imperial China, ancient Greece, medieval Europe, and modern China. 

It finds its function in hierarchical societies. Marrying up is done in the hopes that the woman’s family improves her rank, class, or social status. It’s also done to create politically advantageous connections. [Read: 25 real things that make a man attractive to women]

Today, much of the modern world sees men and women as social equals, so you would expect that hypergamy is almost non-existent.


A new, contemporary interpretation and application of hypergamy are in the works.

Modern hypergamy

In sexual selection, hypergamy makes sense as it is in the nature of men to seek women who are youthful and have the attributes that make them seem likely to give birth to healthy babies *wide hips and big boobs*. [Read: A girl’s guide to snagging a rich boyfriend or sugar daddy!].

Meanwhile, women seek men capable of providing at least the essential resources for the survival of the family.

However, beyond reproductive qualities, political and social connections, and wealth, modern women seem to be looking for other qualities in men that make the latter seem superior. 

These now dictate what is attractive and suitable for women, thereby shifting the standard by which status is measured in contemporary times. [Read: Male privilege – what it is and what it looks like in real life]

This shouldn’t be mistaken for mere gold-digging though, as women aren’t only looking for mates to give them material things. 

They are after those with a “higher status,” which means a plethora of different characteristics more perceived than actual. These include:

1. Success – having a title, running and owning a business, being up the career ladder

2. Wealth – big paycheck, fancy cars, big house, sharp suit, designer clothes, latest gadgets

3. Maturity – being older than the woman, often several years her senior

4. Assertive personality – makes him the dominant alpha male in a group of males

5. Seeming to be tough or strong – a protective quality

6. Ambitious – having plans in life, working hard

7. Surrounded by a lot of other adoring women

8. Confidence

9. Good looks

[Read: 65 perks and problems of dating an older man and secrets to attract and date him]

The role of technology

Another shift in the standard can also be due to technology, wherein social media and online dating play major roles. 

Because women have access to numerous men online, a so-called “Candy Store Effect” comes into play. Thanks to technology, women can enjoy—and take for granted—a buffet of men to sift through any time they want.

Previously, the playground for attraction could be found in bars and nightclubs, where their choices were only as big as what the four walls of the watering holes and nightspots allowed. [Read: 30 effective tips to help you win at online dating]

But now, the playing field is online through sites such as Facebook and OkCupid, as well as dating apps such as Tinder.

As a result, women became choosier. While in earlier times they had to be reasonable and even compromise with their choices for mates, now they tap into an unlimited supply of men that they can discard or keep as though shopping for shoes.

And with such a wide array of men to choose from, women developed a way to sift through all that testosterone. [Read: The pros and cons of using dating apps to snag a date]

They screen through potential mates based on superficial criteria, such as pictures *or even just one profile picture or avatar*, job, income, and maybe every now and then, a sense of humor as reflected through his profile description, tweets, or posts.

And with this, hypergamy comes to dictate social and sexual attraction more than it had been in the recent past.

Why is hypergamy still a thing? 

Hypergamy has been a practice for ages. We usually think that people get married because they love each other. [Read: What is true love? 58 signs and ways to tell if what you’re feeling is real]

But this is a relatively new phenomenon that has only been around for about 250 years. That’s why it’s not surprising that it’s still a thing sometimes.

There are some cultures where marriages are still arranged so a woman marries into a wealthy family. For example, many people in India, China, Iran, and Indonesia still have arranged marriages.

So, just because hypergamy is less common in western cultures doesn’t mean that it’s not very much alive and well in some areas of the world. [Read: Sugar baby – what it is, 69 tips to be a good one, and get a rich sugar daddy]

In fact, there are many celebrity couples and fictional characters that are hypergamous such as in the Disney fairytales.

These days, with inflation at an all-time high and the cost of living going up, women might strive even more to marry up. Then you add in the images of rich people on TV, movies, and social media, and it just keeps fueling the hypergamy fire.

So, if women aren’t self-made and have their own money, then the easiest way to get rich is to marry someone who is. [Read: 40 secrets and easy hacks to look rich and dress like you’re rolling in cash]

Who can be in a hypergamous relationship? 

You might think that hypergamous relationships only happen between men and women, but they don’t. They are prevalent in almost every community. Anyone can practice hypergamy. 

Is hypergamy wrong? 

Since feminism emerged, many people think that all women can and should be able to take care of themselves. But other people think that women are inherent “gold diggers.” 

So, is hypergamy “wrong?” Well, it just depends on how you look at it. [Read: Trophy wife – what it is, 22 ways to be one and why all men desire one]

Many scientists say that people – especially women – seek a powerful and secure partner because it’s instinctual and part of our genetic makeup. So, these people would argue that hypergamy is not a choice, but rather part of evolution.

The reason they argue that is because it’s part of the survival instinct. Think about the caveman days. The man had to be strong and brave to hunt animals to bring back to his family to eat. And the women and children depended on them to survive.

And even when people started to form tribes, the strongest and most powerful man was looked up to and admired. He had a higher social status which made him more desirable than the less powerful men. [Read: How to attract an alpha male – 20 secrets to date him and keep him hooked]

So, while many thousands of years have gone by since the caveman days, our brains haven’t really evolved that much in terms of our survival instinct. Sure, what it looks like has changed because of modern society. But it’s still there.

Back then, hypergamy wasn’t really a choice but a necessity for survival. However, today, it is a choice. So, whether that choice is “wrong” or “right” is very subjective. Everyone looks at it differently, and neither perspective is wrong.

Why should we care about hypergamy?

Hypergamy is important because it is part of the structure of society. As we discussed earlier, it was needed for survival in the ancient past. But it still plays a role in society even today. [Read: Damsel in distress – why men find women who ask for help irresistible]

Relationships are always an exchange of some sort. For example, a rich older man might prefer a younger woman who is not as successful as him. In this instance, she is trading her youth and good looks for his money, status, and power – and vice versa.

So, while some people think that this type of hypergamous relationship is a wise – or even necessary – practice for women to be taken care of, others think it’s insulting to women because it implies that their worth is only tied to their husband’s money and social status – not her own.

From a feminist point of view, hypergamy is detrimental to a woman because it makes her dependent on a man. [Read: Feminism – what it is, different types, and how they differ from each other]

And for so long, women have fought for equal rights. So, a lot of people think hypergamy sets women back in time.

With that said, if a woman was raised in a poor family, hypergamy might be encouraged so that she can reach a higher economic status and have an easier life. This could be encouraged by her family or just within herself. 

Whether or not you think hypergamy is wrong or right, it’s not going to go away. [Read: Sex positive feminism – what it is and why we must embrace the movement]

Sure, there might be fewer hypergamous relationships now than in the past because of women in the workplace. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still exist.

Is hypergamy a healthy relationship style? 

Hypergamy isn’t inherently healthy or unhealthy. It really just depends on the people who are in a hypergamous relationship. 

So, on one hand, it can be unhealthy because of the power dynamic it creates. [Read: Internalized misogyny – how to recognize it, fight it, and win over it]

Some men like this situation because it gives them power and control in the relationship. They make all or most of the money, so they have the choice to control it.

And what can follow with controlling the money is controlling the woman. So, there can be a very unhealthy and potentially toxic dynamic that could develop from this situation.

However, just because the man has most of the money and power doesn’t mean that he is going to abuse this position. He could very well be generous and kind and want the best for his wife or girlfriend. [Read: Healthy relationship – 27 signs, qualities, and what it looks like in real life]

He might even put her in charge of managing the money. So, as you can see, whether it’s healthy or unhealthy really depends on the people involved in the relationship.

With that said, for a hypergamous relationship to be healthy, there has to be respect, communication, boundaries, and trust between the partners. All relationships should have that, but hypergamous ones need it even more.

What should I consider before entering a hypergamous relationship?

If you’re a woman who is considering getting into a hypergamous relationship, you need to understand why you want it. And the same is true for man. [Read: 25 honest, self-reflection questions to recognize the real YOU inside]

In other words, you really need to examine your values. What do you want most in a relationship? What are your must-haves and deal breakers?

For example, if you value friendship, love, and the feeling of being soul mates more than you value money, then you shouldn’t compromise on that. Sure, you can find all of that in one relationship, but many times you don’t.

And if you value money and status more than friendship, love, and companionship, then you would probably not be a good candidate for a hypergamous relationship. [Read: Imposter syndrome – 36 causes, signs, types, and ways to stop feeling fake]

As for men, if you value youth and beauty more than you do intelligence, connection, and ambition in a woman, then hypergamy would work for you.

So, as you can see, you really need to do some self-reflection before you enter into a hypergamous relationship. Who are you? What do you value? What kind of person do you want to be in a relationship with?

As we mentioned earlier, hypergamy in and of itself isn’t healthy or unhealthy. It really depends on the two people in the relationship. [Read: 33 emotional needs in a relationship, signs they’re unmet and how to meet them]

So, if two people are in it for the right reasons and they are happy, then that’s the only thing that matters.

What are the most common hypergamous factors?

You’re probably reading this and thinking that it’s nothing more than a huge generalization. Hey, we’re just giving you the science behind the idea!

Female hypergamy basically comes down to what a woman finds attractive about a prospective partner. It leads her to feel safe, secure, and perhaps in the end, driven to marry and have children, [Read: Hypergamy and the backup boyfriend – are you her main man or one of her extras?]

A note here, that’s not what every woman wants, of course. We’re simply explaining the theory!

It’s interesting to look at some of the most common hypergamous factors that scientists believe a woman feels safe enough to want to make a life with this particular person. How many of these do you agree with? [Read: The rules to being a good partner in your relationship]

1. Leadership

A woman looks for a partner who has a strong character and is able to lead people around them with ease. This doesn’t mean they’re arrogant. It can mean that they lead in a quiet way too. 

Leadership means strength. It shows her that if she finds herself in times of trouble, her partner will help her through it naturally. That is an instinctual thing that most women want.

2. Ambition or passion for his job

Someone who loves what they do and has a real passion for it is attractive to women. [Read: Dating a workaholic – 20 signs and tips to maintain a happy relationship]

This can be a high-flying business type, an artist, a musician, it can be anything, but they have to love what they do, dedicate their all to it, and really feel it in their soul. 

This is instantly attractive to many women, and probably explains why musicians seem to be like catnip to many!

3. A wicked sense of humor

Come on, someone who makes you laugh is great and shows that when times are tough, they will pull you through with humor and gentleness. This is something that many women look for. [Read: 17 good and bad types of humor and how it affects your relationship with others]

4. Well-turned-out and well dressed

The way someone presents themselves to the world is certainly on the female hypergamy list. This doesn’t mean they must wear designer names. 

But they should have their own original style which suits them and is worn with confidence. Confidence is sexy, and almost everyone is attracted to it. [Read: What makes a guy physically attractive and appealing?]

5. Confidence

A partner who oozes their own quiet confidence is irresistible. It shows individual strength and character. Again, this trait shows a woman that if hard times come their way, they’ll be able to overcome them. Her partner will help guide her through.

6. Empathy

Nobody wants a partner who doesn’t have empathy and doesn’t show kindness to those around them. This doesn’t mean a woman wants a walkover in a partner. 

But they want someone who understands what it is like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes and shows kindness as a result. [Read: Lack of empathy in a relationship – why it matters and how to fix it]

7. The ability to listen

Many women look for a partner who is able to really listen to them. By listening, we mean actually hearing the words and taking them in, not just letting them float in and out of their brain!

From that list of traits, you can see that female hypergamy isn’t really about finding the wealthiest partner or someone high up on social status. 

Instead, it’s about finding someone with the right personality traits and promises a safe and loving future. [Read: What women really want men to know and understand]

So, why do many women fall for the wrong partner?

That’s a good question that doesn’t have a good answer. This is where the theory of female hypergamy falls down a little. It doesn’t work all the time, so you can only assume that it has its off days occasionally!

We’ve all fallen for the wrong person in the past. Perhaps you could argue that it’s to teach us what we really want and what we should be looking for. 

You can’t learn anything without having experienced it properly for yourself. Falling for the wrong person certainly teaches you what you don’t want to repeat in the future. [Read: How to come of a relationship stronger than ever]

So, what do you think about female hypergamy? Do you think it’s a theory that has something truthful behind it, or do you think it’s basically nothing more than an excuse for what women want? 

The list of traits tends to be exactly what most women look for in a partner. Of course, you want someone who is kind, confident, and someone who makes you laugh. 

However, maybe that’s the mystic idea of female hypergamy going on in the background, rather than what we assume to be just good old common sense? [Read: What to do if your partner makes more money than you]

The idea to move past is that anyone who is moving along with female hypergamy does it to grab a partner who earns money and has a high social standing. Sure, some women do. 

Most women simply want someone who will ride with them until the end, support them through everything, and be their best friend. At the end of the day, surely that’s what we all want, isn’t it?

Is hypergamy good or bad?

There’s a war being waged among men, women, and the different ideologies they believe in when it comes to hypergamy. Let’s take a look at the two sides of the coin here. [Read: Trophy husband – your golden guide to be a rich girl’s bitch]

Those who say that marrying up is good because:

1. Natural selection

Since hypergamy allows women to intuitively or intrinsically choose their mates based on superior qualities, this ensures reproduction and natural selection run their natural course. 

It makes sure each new generation is stronger and better than the one preceding it. [Read: How to get a guy’s attention in any circumstance]

2. Thank you, hypergamy

Looking at our evolution, hypergamy allowed early women to choose mates that were smarter, stronger, faster, better hunters, better gatherers, better protectors, just better. 

If it weren’t for female hypergamy, evolution would have become stunted, and the human species would still be living in trees today.

3. Child support and more

While marrying up is really more than just money, the fact women go for stronger, more successful, and more established men can be traced to how the female mind works. [Read: 15 strange and unknown facts about divorce]

Women who are looking for long-term mates are naturally drawn to guys who will be good providers. 

But they also want them to be equipped with capabilities for emotional support, warmth, being responsible parents, being responsible, and other similar qualities.

4. Motivation for perfection

Because women have long been nature’s selectors when it comes to mating and reproduction, it is now up to men to strive to become better versions of themselves. And that’s not too bad. [Read: Types of feminism – can’t we all just agree to disagree?]

From remembering proper daily hygiene and grooming to going to night class to improve their skills, and getting that second job to save more money, the concept of hypergamy helps men to strive for ideals that make them suitable mates.

Meanwhile, many say that hypergamy is bad because:

1. On the hook

Hypergamy allows women to choose any guy she wants. [Read: Sigma male – who they are and 56 traits to split them from the alpha and beta]

Finding one guy may be fine at first, but there’s always that hunt for someone who will be better, and this leaves the “inferior” guy being kept on the hook just in case the girl gets dumped.

2. It doesn’t care

From the words of Tomasi himself, hypergamy doesn’t care if a man is a good person, a devoted father, or a loving husband because women just go after someone who is richer, more powerful, more popular, and more good-looking.

3. Oh, the pressure

Marrying up puts pressure on men to be the best that they can possibly be in order to attract the women they want. [Read: Types of girls you should avoid falling for at all costs]

From the way they carry themselves, to the way they talk, to how financially stable they are, the pressure can be too much and still be inadequate.

4. Divorce

Many even go as far as saying a lot of divorces are due to women cheating on their husbands over “better” guys.

Final thoughts

The conversation surrounding hypergamy these days is, unfortunately, a gross generalization and at most, sexist. [Read: Dating a younger woman – 28 truths, attraction secrets, and signs for older men]

The idea that a desirable woman is only after rich, successful, and good-looking guys is a mere caricature because reality is different. Women aren’t just after status, money, or fame from their male mates.

In fact, there are women that have successfully made a name for themselves or simply manage to live the life they want without needing a guy as the provider. 

Case in point: the rise of the alpha female who doesn’t mind “marrying down” if the guy treats her right by the very least. [Read: Reasons why a female-led relationship is just awesome]

There are also women who would be happy with a guy with an average job and an average salary, and stick by him for the rest of their lives because he is a kind-hearted man who is devoted to his family.

Now if you’re someone who believes you are doomed because of hypergamy, then consider this: get a job, put a roof over her head, carry a good and sensible conversation, and make her happy. 

And if that’s not enough, then you have to convince her that you are the greatest guy to ever walk the face of the earth every day for the rest of your lives together. If you can’t do that, then maybe it’s best that you stay single or, at best, unmarried.

[Read: What traits are the ones that really attract women to men?]

Hypergamy may be naturally and intrinsically ingrained in the female psyche *thanks, evolution*, but it’s up to every man to be the best they can be or not—and accept the hand that they’re dealt.

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Carol Morgan LP
Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...