What to Know about ‘Hypergamy,’ the Act of ‘Marrying Up’

We all have a list of qualities that we look for in a potential partner. Most of us want someone who’s smart, funny, and attractive, just to name a few. But some folks actively seek out partners of a higher socioeconomic or social class (i.e., partners who are rich and powerful). This practice is known as hypergamy, and we’re here to tell you what it means.

The word, which in essence means “marrying up,” actually stems from Hindu tradition, according to The Structure of Indian Society: Then and Now. The term along, with its inverse, hypogamy—which means marrying someone of a lower social class or status (a.k.a. marrying down)—was coined in the 19th century when translating classical Hindu law books from Sanskrit to English. That’s also why when you look at the definition of hypergamy on Dictionary.com, it defines the word as “the practice among Hindu women of marrying into a caste at least as high as their own.”

Today, the term is used in anthropological discourse and pertains to all societies and cultures, says Dr. Helen Fisher, chief science advisor at Match.

Marrying someone just because they’re rich might seem shallow or unethical, but Fisher says it’s evolutionarily adaptive to engage in hypergamy, because it increases the likelihood that you’ll have children who live long enough to reproduce. At the dawn of human history, it was clear why women engaged in hypergamy: “Hundreds of thousands of years ago, you wanted a man who had more resources, land, or his own watering hole. A man with resources is better suited to help you raise your children,” Fisher explains.

Anthropological research indicates hypergamy still happens today—even if watering holes are largely out of the equation. A widely-cited 2016 paper explored the income difference between couples in 1980 and 2012. Even though women are now as educated as men, especially younger generations, researcher Yue Qian noted “the tendency for women to marry men with higher incomes than themselves persisted.” Even women who married a man of a lower education level still married a man who made a higher income.

Fisher says women may gravitate toward men with money so they can provide better food, healthcare, protection, and education for their children. Money, however, isn’t the only way to achieve these things. Having social clout can be enough to provide these resources too, which is why hypergamy includes class and status.

She says men marry up, too, although researchers tend to observe it in different ways. “Men want a woman who they find attractive, and there’s an evolutionary underpinning (in part) to what men deem attractive,” says Fisher. “Attractiveness, in this context, means that these women show signs of health, youth, and fertility.” That’s why many men will marry down in social class for someone with superior looks. This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Of course, hypergamy isn’t just some harmless byproduct of evolutionary biology. It also has to do with the way that society is specifically structured to keep women from achieving financial equality. Think of it like this: Historically, women haven’t had the same access to education and career opportunities—still, there’s a glass ceiling in many male-dominated professions like engineering, tech, and others. Because of this, women have been forced to rely financially on men.

While many Western societies have progressed to promote gender equality in the past century—attempting to creating equal career, educational, and financial opportunities for women—there’s still a large gender pay gap. For example, in the United States, women are paid roughly 82 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job, and the disparity is even greater for women of color, according to the American Association of University Women.

While hypergamy may be a factor in many long-term relationships, But wealth and status obviously aren’t the only things people look for in a spouse. According to Fisher, who also conducts the Match.com “Singles in America” study, “Ninety-five percent of people in the study say that they want someone who respects them, somebody who they can trust and confide in, and makes them laugh, and has time for them.”

While hypergamy may be a factor in many long-term relationships, “really, people today are looking for love,” Fisher says. “Money and status is secondary.”

Originally posted here by ZACHARY ZANE

About the author: TheFounder
As you can see I am the founder of Avantribe. I created this for others to help themselves grow and care for themselves on this journey we call life. I'm passionate about personal development mentally, physically, and emotionally. We typically have a hard enough time juggling one of those things. Luckily, we are in the information age and are so fortunate to have this kind of knowledge at our fingertips. 💜

Comment Below


No comments yet