The word hypergamy is being used more frequently, so much so that my spell checker now recognises it as a word. Hypergamy is a term borrowed from biology that refers to one sex’s preference for a mate who is smarter, stronger, taller, more mature, and wealthier than they are. It has been appropriated from biology by some groups in the manosphere and is now frequently used to describe human females and their preferential mating strategy for a man smarter, taller, stronger, wiser, and especially wealthier than she is. However, the opposite mating preference, hypogamy, is still not recognised by my spellcheck and I haven’t read it outside of academic essays relating to biology. Hypogamy is a preference for a mate dimmer, weaker, shorter, less mature, and poorer than oneself. While I have read and heard a lot of discussion about women and hypergamy, I don’t think that there’s nearly enough attention to men and their tendency for pursuing a lower quality mate. Indeed, it is a common complaint from women that they have to play dumb with men, play down their virtues, or even hide their wealth, so as to avoiding intimidating men who shy away from women they don’t feel they are good enough for. Men who date women taller or smarter than them usually get some mockery for this from other men, implying the ideal is to have a weaker dumber girlfriend. An obvious exception is physical beauty. This is possibly the only aspect of hypergamy that men display, except even with this most men are still more willing to sleep with a low quality woman than a woman is to sleep with a low quality man. It often surprises men when they find out that fat women report more sexual attention than thinner women.
Hypogamy is a reproductive strategy just like hypergamy, however, it moves in the opposite direction to hypergamy. Hypergamy selects for the best available genetics that a woman can mate with (seeking quality), while hypogamy is focused on seizing any available opportunity for sex (seeking quantity). If sperm is cheap and easy to produce, why risk being fussy with who you sleep with? Also, if women are hypergamous, why waste your time trying to impregnate a single high quality woman when you could impregnate a dozen low quality women? Hence why men are deterred by smart women – genetic experience that it is unproductive for a poor quality man to spend too much effort trying to score the higher quality woman.
Hypogamy has its benefits; after all, it is far easier to please a man than it is to please a woman, men tend to just not be nearly as picky. However, I will focus mostly on the challenges it presents to men in relationships in this essay, after first addressing in more detail of the question of whether or not men are hypogamous, because this is often a sore point in the comment sections. I am aware that generally when these sorts of discussions about differences in the sexual preferences of men and women occur on the Internet, they degenerate into the schoolyard rivalry of boys versus girls: my sex’s way of doing things is better and so forth. However, at the core of philosophical therapy is self-knowledge. If we want virtue, we need to examine ourselves bravely and look at the ugly as well as the beautiful parts of our nature. Men can learn from the hypergamous nature of women, and women can learn something from the hypogamous nature of men. There is wisdom from both approaches and there is no reason why a self-disciplined person with self-knowledge can’t have the best of both worlds.
Are men actually hypogamous?
In the past when I have talked about men being prepared to settle for a mate lower in quality than themselves, I have been immediately hit with the argument that men are hypergamous in the sense that they want the most beautiful women available to sleep with; the more beautiful she is physically, the stronger the motivation to impress her. Yes, this is true and I would call it an example of male hypergamy, however, most men are still willing to sleep with a far less than model-esque woman when given the opportunity. They might prefer to sleep with a supermodel, but they are still prepared to sleep with a woman far lower down that spectrum too. In contrast to this, women of even average looks tend to prefer to be celibate if sleeping with a hobo is her only option. Hypergamy, so far as physical attraction goes, is a preference for men, whereas for women if a man is deemed sufficiently low quality then sex can be completely out of the question. It is important to point out that for men this preference for more attractive women is often the only criteria that matters to men. All other factors (e.g. personality, interests, career, wealth, political views, religion, values, manners, fitness, etc…) have a comparably negligible impact on his decision making.
While it is indeed true that a man prefers to look at the pretty girl, if he is still prepared to have sex with the ugly girl too, then is it indeed true to call him hypergamous? Certainly not all women are consistent in this regard, however, more women are consistent in this regard than men are: no, they wouldn’t have sex with the very ugly penniless man. In fact one famous study found that while there is no shortage of men willing to have sex with a stranger, no women in the study found this tempting at all. A study by OkCupid that found that men of all ages prefer women around twenty years of age to date, whereas women prefer men the same age as they are. When a forty year old man dates a twenty year old woman he can feel confident he is superior to her in knowledge, experience, wealth, size, strength, etc… However, do men only have sex with twenty year old women? Clearly only the ones who can do. In most cases the female preference wins out because she is better able to resist sexual temptations. Men on the other hand are just not that fussy. Ironically, if men were collectively fussy about who they slept with then women would feel frightened of being fussy themselves. Men’s desire for sex puts them at a huge disadvantage when negotiating in the sexual market place.
It is precisely because men have such low standards for who they are prepared to sleep with that there are far more female prostitutes than male prostitutes. Male prostitutes do exist, but the market for them is far smaller than the huge amounts of cash women can receive for the same activity.
In what sense are men hypogamous?
On a date, if a man is unemployed, that’s pretty much a death sentence for his genetics. The woman is not likely going to find him interesting at all. However, if a woman is unemployed, it actually increases the man’s interest in her. In fact, the more money she earns, the less attractive and motivated he feels to pursue her. Possibly because he intuitively knows women don’t like dating men who earn less than she does, but also because he wants to be better than her because he knows that’s what will attract her. This means that being too successful with a career can actually make a woman undateable, yet the opposite is the case for men.
Likewise, if a man is a dull conversationalist, that man probably isn’t going to last too many dates with this woman, yet by contrast women who are poor conversationalists can often increase their sexual market value instantly by simply staying quiet! Women appreciate a good conversationalist, there are actually lots of websites out there to help men become better conversationalists just so they can get along better with women. I know of one woman who used to brag about how good a conversationalist her boyfriend was, yet I can’t say the same about any men. Where are the sites created by men to teach women how to be better conversationalists? Their numbers are much less, corresponding to the limited value men place on having a creative and challenging conversation with a woman.
These examples can keep on coming, the taller woman, the stronger woman, the more confident woman, every time a particular woman presents a trait superior to the particular man’s, the male interest in her is usually diminished. Consider how common it is for men to engage in playful mocking of their girlfriend’s inferior strength, height, mechanical, or navigational skill. In a sense, this mocking of her inferior abilities is him reassuring himself that he does have a mate who is inferior to him and not the sexually frustrating phenomenon of the woman who is a polymath model of athletic perfection. It raises the question of why some men complain about how inept their partner is; should they perhaps be careful of what they wish for? It might take a secure man indeed to feel comfortable admitting that his wife may well be better than him in many ways.
What about female hypogamy?
There are, without doubt, plenty of examples of women who are hypogamous. Women who choose men who are less capable, less intelligent, and less attractive than they are. There are two key things to consider about this: the first is that hypergamy is a tendency, not a characteristic of all women. Just as some men are naturally hypergamous, some women are naturally hypogamous, but both of these sub-types are typically a small minority in each sex. The second is that a woman’s self-perception influences the decisions she makes. If a woman undervalues herself, she might have the perception that choosing a lower quality man is better as he is less likely to leave her. This is not true, of course, as she is merely projecting her feminine sexuality onto a man and failing to appreciate male sexuality works differently. While a woman will want to stay with a man better than her, a man is less likely to be inclined to stay with a woman better than him. Another factor is that women with self-knowledge might choose to compromise on a trait like looks or income in exchange for other qualities she prefers, like a capacity for intimacy, intelligence, or creativity. She’s merely accepting her limitations instead of relentlessly seeking a perfection that does not exist. Rule of thumb: a woman with a robust sense of self-respect will be far more pickier than an woman with a fragile sense of self-respect. Hence the cynical line used by some pick up artists: “She has the perfect blend of physical attractiveness and low self-esteem” – meaning that she is an excellent target for pick up artists to exploit.
What are the dangers of hypogamy?
The most obvious danger for a man is that his hypogamous nature will lead him to select poor partners. It is common for a man, when assessing a woman, to think: “oh good, she’s not bright” and feel more comfortable dating a woman less intelligent than himself. In the short term, this might seem like a good strategy, and some men actively attempt to demoralise women so as to lower her self-respect, thereby making her an easier woman to date without feeling too self-conscious about any superior traits she might possess.
The first danger here is to do what is often colloquially referred to as “sticking your dick in crazy” and, as a therapist, I hear this complaint all the time from men about how she was so wonderful at first but then she changed and started acting crazy. Yet when questioned about her, it quickly becomes clear she had warning signs and red flags all over to tell him she was mentally unstable and untrustworthy. When I think about the kinds of things men are willing to put up with from a woman they are dating and try to imagine a woman putting up with a man doing those same things, it can be quite a shamefully humorous thought experiment,
Here are some examples of crazy things women have said to men and still gotten a date out of him (some details have been altered to hide the identities):
“I know we haven’t spoken to each other in years, and that I have treated you abusively (and that she’s never taken responsibility for), but I have decided that I would like to get pregnant with you.” (She got a child from him)
“I have stolen your wallet, and unless you fuck me you aren’t getting it back,” (she got laid).
“I know that you’re a married man, but I just want a baby, I won’t ask for child support or tell your wife about this,” (she got a baby, child support, and his wife found out).
“I need you to tell your boss that you have to leave work immediately because I am feeling miserable and I want your company.” (She called his boss and demanded he get the day off, he almost lost his job but kept dating her)
“If you don’t answer my messages within five minutes of me sending them, then I will kill myself.” (He stayed with her)
The men who have these experiences are ordinary men in every other respect, so now imagine a man saying each of these statements to a woman and ask yourself which is more likely: she would stay with him or he might well get charged with a crime? Men complain about the double standards in how women are treated, especially by the legal system, but men’s hypogamous nature predisposes them to put up with a level of crazy that fewer women would ever put up with. Men are loathe to put their foot down and demand women “woman up” before dating her.
The lesson to be learned here is that having standards when choosing who you are prepared to date is important. If men refused to sleep with sluts, crazy women, and single mothers, they would quickly notice a remarkable change in the quality of women in the dating pool. This would create an expectation for women to rise to the challenge and meet the new standards the men require for them to be worth dating. Just like how some men will be motivated to kick an addiction or get a full time job just so they can get a date; women will learn not to be crazy and will reign in their vices if that’s what is expected of them to get a date, but so long as most men are prepared to date crazy and slutty women, there’s no incentive for women to raise their standards of behaviour.
The counter argument I typically hear in response to this is that “but if I don’t lower my standards I won’t get a date.” This argument has some truth to it in the sense that you will get fewer dates if you raise your standards, and certainly less sex; however, you will also be avoiding STDs, illegitimate children, being ground up by the family court, and decades of emotional trauma. If you value yourself, aim for more than what you currently would call dateable.
The second danger is to find a man preferring to have an abusive relationship with a woman, where it is desirable for him to discourage any attempts by her to improve herself. Men having lower standards can be fearful when their female partner starts improving her fitness, health, skills, and knowledge because it puts pressure on him to keep up with her self-improvement. On some level, a man knows that there is a threat to the stability of the relationship if his partner realises more of her full potential. The temptation might be to ridicule her in an effort to discourage her from doing this instead of the healthier response of joining her in such self-improvement ventures. Hypogamy brings with it a liking for the mediocre as a safe and stable place to be, accepting a woman’s hypergamy in trying to improve everything in her life to be more comfortable and agreeable can seem demanding to men who take comfort in having low expectations. Granted, many women can benefit from learning how to relax a bit more like men are typically better at doing, while the same can be said about men; instead of fighting hypergamy, it can be beneficial for men to aspire to better themselves too. Instead of seeing a woman as trying to guilt and control you, try seeing her as trying to encourage you to reach your full potential and not to be satisfied with mediocrity.
Another possible danger of hypogamy is a perception of women as being more interchangeable. When you are easy to please, then the particular characteristics of a woman become less important. Many women feel anxious that a man could be just as happy with another woman, perhaps this insecurity arises from a female intuition about hypogamy? Perhaps women like romance in a man because it is about cherishing unique and special moments with a partner that can never be substituted. Thus a man capable of romance is less easy to please and less likely to stray? I am interested to hear more feedback on this.
It is logically inconsistent to have one sex hypergamous and for the other sex to be anything but hypogamous. These two traits complement and coexist with each other in nature. Being aware of hypergamy alone does not adequately prepare you for dating. One needs to be aware of the complementary nature and the hazards, as well as the strengths, that opposing nature can bring to a relationship. Men can learn from women, just as women can learn from men. Hypogamy endangers men when it encourages them to put up with extremely poor behaviour from women and it is men’s responsibility to be more self-caring when making choices about whom they should date. Slavishly adhering to what your feelings tell you to do in a relationship is as unhelpful for men as it is for women. Just because you might feel threatened by your wife’s superior trait in one area does not mean it is a problem for the relationship, especially if it is accepted and even embraced as another treasure that person can bring to your union.