Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Are Women Looking For the Wrong Kind of Man?

Should women be marrying down instead of up?

Do you want to "marry up"? Writer Eric S. Raymond defined hypergamy as women wanting "to marry men who are bigger, stronger, higher-status, a bit older, and a bit brighter than they are." This controversial psychological phenomemon has recently been featured on the Today Show and O'Reilly Factor and has been recently shown to be true in a  social science experiment published in 2012 by Gueguen and Lamy, that found that women were much more likely to accept passes from men seen driving higher status cars than lower status cars. 

The problem with marrying up in America is that it clashes with another trend in 2014 America. Among Millennials, more young women are attending and graduating from college than young men.  The research firm Reach Advisors  has found that in most American cities, women under 30 are making more money than men in their age group. If they are to "marry up", they must compete for a limited pool of high status men their age or expand their pool by marrying older men that are of higher status and income.

Author and futurist George Gilder predicted this would occur 40 years ago in his brilliant book "Naked Nomads." Back then the advent of no fault divorce led to the trend of older high status men (median age 40) abandoning their older wives once they were past their peak child bearing years and remarrying younger second wives. This relationship phenomenon, made popular in the Hollywood movie "The First Wives Club" starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton, caused a major rupture of the social system, as older women and younger men ended up single. George Gilder observed that communist countries are puritanical on marriage because they could see the inequality of the sexual revolution, where the rich, powerful and charismatic bourgeois older men hoard the young desireable young women to the detriment of the proletariat young men.

Fast forwarding four decades, we now have women's income and status equaling or surpassing men their age. Marrying up (hypergamy) will lead many younger women to continue the trend of marrying older high status men. Author Kate Bolick reports that there is a second choice many women of achievement are making, like  NBC anchor Tom Brokaw's daughter  and family therapist Sarah Brokaw, of not marrying at all, unless  the right man of higher status comes along. Sarah says in a Today Show interview,"I have not been married, and I don't have any kids, and I sit back and think: 'Well, what have I really accomplished if I haven't reached those traditional milestones?' And the way that I look at being accomplished is to have a real sense of curiousity about life."  Screenwriter Maria Maggenti concurs with Sarah, exclaiming,"I'm single. I'm happy. My life is filled with love, and friends, and- and family, and- good work that I love." 

Dr. Sonya Rhodes, in her new book "The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match", says there is a third choice  for today's women dealing with these two clashing societal trends of hypergamy and the increased high status of women. Dr. Rhodes says  young women must abandon the antiquainted 1960s era concept of marrying up and select partners that are less status conscious, more supportive and collaborative Beta males than the "Mad Men" type dominant alpha males that bring home the bacon but may make for poor life partners.  CEO Sheryl Sandberg is an advocate of women chosing of this Beta male type of husband. It remains to be seen if women will move away from the trend of marrying up and give up the Alpha Male or the older guys for the  Beta Male.

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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