Dennis Hackethal’s Blog

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What’s the Issue with Hypergamy?

Hypergamy is generally viewed as the practice of dating or marrying someone of higher social status than yourself. This is typically a female mating strategy, whereas men don’t care about a woman’s social status. I’ve written more about male and female preferences here.

Women are sometimes criticized for pursuing this mating strategy as I have described it. I don’t fully understand why – if you want to be with someone who increases your status, okay, that’s superficial, but so is when men focus on beauty. Merely wanting to date/marry ‘up’ isn’t an issue if the woman looks the part.

What do I mean by that? I think the real hypergamy – though it’s not important what we call it – is when a low to mid-value woman thinks she deserves a high-value man. By ‘mid-value’ I mean ‘average’, based on a few factors inspired by the late Kevin Samuels.1 Her looks – she’d be a five out of ten – and how feminine, graceful, cooperative, and submissive she is (moderately), how pleasant she is to be around (fairly), and how ‘pure’ she is (she has no extensive sexual past). In other words, maybe she’s a bit chubby, a bit disagreeable or bossy at times, but not awful-looking and usually fun to be around; she’s dated a few men but nobody has run a train on her. She has no kids, which is a big plus.

Here’s what OpenAI’s DALL·E generated for the prompt “A photo of a 30-year-old woman of average body and average beauty”:

Average-looking woman

Most men will see this woman and instantly classify her as average, maybe slightly below.

Now, what would be an average man? Looks are not as important here so we don’t need to consult DALL·E. Samuels has suggested criteria such as: how much money does he make? How tall is he? What degree does he have? Do other men of high value recognize him as a peer? What’s his penis size? How physically fit is he?

So let’s say he’s 30 years old and makes $50,000 a year – maybe a middle-management position in construction. He is 5'9 and has an associate’s degree. He surrounds himself with a few men of equal or higher value. He has an average penis and is fairly physically fit – some love handles but not overly chubby. He’s only in a moderate position to provide, so if he and his wife wanted kids, she would probably have to keep working. When he gets home from work, he likes to watch the game and have a beer.

Ignoring personality, these two would be a good fit because they’re both average. They can afford each other on the sexual marketplace. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t date Heidi Klum (or whoever is considered hot nowadays) if he could, or that she wouldn’t date Jeff Bezos if she could. But they both can’t. Yet they also shouldn’t feel like they’re settling for each other: after all, they can each reasonably expect someone of average caliber.

Men typically have at least somewhat realistic expectations. Even if they don’t understand explicitly what women value, they constantly get reality checks. It’s mostly on them to approach women and they’ll get rejections left and right, so their ego usually isn’t completely out of whack. As much as they’d like to date top models, they know they can’t, and so they don’t expect to. But with women’s expectations, it’s often a different story.

Real hypergamy, as I have explained, is when this average woman as we have imagined her doesn’t just desire a man of higher value than her but thinks she deserves him; that she shouldn’t ‘settle’ for anything less. That’s a 40-year-old man who makes, say, $200,000 or more, has a master’s degree, is 6'3 with a big dick and abs, and has a good amount of influence in his social circles, where he’s admired. Granted, he’s not Jeff Bezos, but he’s much higher value than just average. If she wanted kids, she’d have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom.

Such expectations on her part are a recipe for disaster. No such high-value man will commit to her. Maybe he’ll sleep with her, but he definitely won’t marry her. So she will either be terminally lonely, which is too hard for most people, or she’ll ‘settle’ for a man of commensurate value and never be fully happy with him. Worse, in a masculine move, and because she doesn’t know that men don’t value all of the things women value, she might divorce her average husband after she gets a promotion or a degree, and is then doomed to eternal loneliness. She could instead learn about men’s preferences and increase her value in their eyes, for example by losing weight and getting prettier, but the woman we have imagined usually isn’t willing to do that because she thinks she’s already perfect and the world owes her the kind of man she wants.2

If you think that’s rare, think again. Girls are told from a young age that they deserve nothing but the best and that they should never ‘settle’. There are so many videos of Samuels trying to explain to women who are average at best that they don’t deserve what they expect (and they vehemently deny it). That’s not to mention that, as he would say, they don’t control access to committed relationships and marriage anyway (men do), so it makes no sense for women to speak of ‘settling’. It’s no surprise that the absolute number of married couples in the United States has remained roughly stagnant in the past 15 years even though the population has grown by 10%, and that women initiate divorce proceedings twice as often as men. The linked article blames men, as usual. But most women, just like most men, are average or below – how could it be otherwise?

In short, the ‘real’ or problematic kind of hypergamy does not just refer to dating/marrying ‘up’ in terms of social status; it instead refers to the expectation of deserving someone with a general sexual market value significantly greater than one’s own. A five simply should not expect an eight, say.

This unrealistic expectation, typically held by women, hurts both men and women and can even destroy families. That’s the problem with hypergamy as I see it. Solving it will require, among other things, honesty and accountability on the part of women.

  1. I don’t fully endorse Samuels as he has spoken in favor of corporal punishment of children. Exercise discretion when you watch his videos. 

  2. Samuels seems to think that this problem is exacerbated in the black community. But I wouldn’t let white women off the hook too easily. 


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