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Hypergamy: Definition, History, Hypergamy vs. Hypogamy, and Everything else

Hypergamy: Definition, History, Hypergamy vs. Hypogamy, and Everything else

Updated on Sep 15, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Hypergamy - Definition, History, Hypergamy vs. Hypogamy, and More

Did you come across the term hypergamy somewhere? Do you want to indulge in it? Or, are you absolutely clueless about it?

Well, hypergamy is one of the oldest mating behaviors… but I bet most of you don’t know about it. In fact, you probably think it’s something for opportunist women.

Well, I won’t say all women are saints or rally against such thoughts, but in this think-piece, you’ll know hypergamy is rather an innocent way women strive to secure themselves. 

You’ll know all the reasons why even women have a love-hate relationship with it.

So, without wasting your time, let’s dig right in!

Hypergamy Meaning

Hypergamy is when a person marries someone of higher economical status than their own. Since it’s more common among women, female hypergamy is more popular.

The term hypergamy defines the act of marrying someone from a higher caste or social class, with better economic status, and with higher education levels than you. In short, you seek someone more successful than you to date, court, or marry in one or more aspects.

Hypergamy is generally a tendency for a woman to marry a superior man for security and to produce genetically superior babies. It’s an upward social movement popular among women and is practiced for ages. So, many also call it “female hypergamy”.

Nowadays, though women don’t need superior men, it’s still an ingrained biological desire to have better financial security and social status.

If you think marrying up is only a thing for women, let me tell you more here…

Hypergamy vs Hypogamy vs Homogamy

When you marry someone weaker socially, economically, or in any other aspects, you practice hypogamy. When spouses have equal status, it’s homogamy.

If all women married superior men, i.e., practice hypergamy, what will happen to the men on the lower social ladder? These men don’t have anyone to marry and it threatens their lineage.

This is when “female hypogamy” or “male hypergamy” enters the scene. This is the act of men marrying women of higher status.

Some men even marry women of equal social and financial standings and it’s called homogamy.

You’re probably confused with “hypo/hyper” and “male/female” terminologies, so let’s first clear up things:

Socioeconomically, weak man + strong woman = female hypogamy or male hypergamy.

Similarly, strong man + weak woman = female hypergamy or male hypogamy.

Different people use the terminologies differently. However, female hypergamy is common and throughout the piece, when we say hypergamy, it’s about female hypergamy and hypogamy will refer to male hypergamy.

Now, if you want to know when it all started, let’s take a dip here…

History of Hypergamy and Hypogamy

In a Sanskrit scripture from back in 1250 BCE, they mentioned how hypergamy aka Anuloma was the norm but hypogamy was condemned. It was also noted in the 1881 Panjab Castes census report.

It’s not exactly known when the practice of hypergamy began.

However, in 1250 BCE Sanskrit texts “Manusmriti”, the term hypergamy was mentioned as “Anuloma” (= going with the grain) and hypogamy was mentioned as “Pratiloma” (= going against the grain).

Further, Pratiloma was even condemned as per law in the scripts.

The latest recorded proof is found in “Panjab Castes” an 1881 census report book the British compiled based on Punjab Province.

As per the book, they assumed “men are superior to women” and while the family wants women to marry men of higher standing… the entire family also posed themselves as inferior to the groom.

When it comes to dating, hypergamy has some unsaid rules, so let’s know them here…

Hypergamy and Dating

In dating, hypergamy affects women’s perceptions of a man’s attraction level. Women’s mating behavior depends on certain theories and ideas like these…

1. Parental Investment Theory

As per the theory, women who are also responsible for a child’s physiological investment are picky about partners.

She wants a wealthier man mainly to secure their and her child’s financial safety. If she chooses a poorer partner, he won’t be able to satisfy her basic needs which will be an added burden on her.

2. Mate Switching Hypothesis

As per this theory, hypergamous women track their partner’s “mate value” which mostly depends on socio economic powers. If there’s a decline in any, women become alert as it threatens their security.

Financial issues were always a good reason behind most divorces. Contrarily, if a man is financially stable, a woman wants to bind him to herself more.

For the same reason, women hang out with mostly richer male friends who can later be their backup if their current partner’s wealth suffers.

3. It doesn’t stop at money

Though hypergamous women do eye the bank balance, modern women want many more qualities. An intelligent, driven, ambitious, hardworking, optimistic, and innovative man is what every woman desires.

But, unless they find an all-in-one pack, they settle for less. These traits attract women even without money because of the potential of making cash someday.

Women also look for young men when they overlook money because the man still has time to earn more later. But they won’t consider a resource-less mature man because he doesn’t have enough time to grow.

4. Women fiercely compete for better men

Most hypergamous women desire their men to have at least higher power and finances than them. They don’t allow lower-caliber men any chance and fight for the high-caliber ones. So, if a man has a lot of power, they have many options… unless they get married and follow monogamy.

5. Men must compete too

Since hypergamy is here to stay for the long run, men must strive hard to improve their socioeconomic status to attract better women. Otherwise, they must follow hypogamy and accept their partner’s supremacy.

If a man wants to be called the breadwinner and get an ego boost, he must give women the reasons to chase him.

In the current world, whether it’s dating or marriage, monogamy is the norm. It impacts hypergamy vastly, so let’s know about it here…

Hypergamy and Monogamy

There’ll always be a scarcity of high-value men. So, monogamy will only become the privilege of high-value women. Mid-value men will also get more chances but low-value men won’t.

Though men aren’t monogamous, if society strictly follows monogamy, the number of available superior men will drop at some point and women won’t have the option to practice hypergamy.

This will also increase the power of quality women because all men will want it as they can only have one partner. Monogamy also supports average men because women of average caliber won’t waste time seeking high-quality men.

Why? The high-quality men will be busy chasing other high-quality women.

However, the low-caliber men won’t benefit from monogamy at all.

Curious if hypergamy is only for hetero couples? Let’s clear it up here…

Non-hetero Hypergamy

The majority of the world is heterosexual, so non-hetero couples explore a lot before they settle for a partner. Somehow, they find partners from such diverse backgrounds, and even if unintentionally, you’ll notice non-hetero hypergamy more often.

Hypergamy and hypogamy might seem a thing, particularly for heterosexual men and women. However, as per research hypergamy is more pronounced in non-hetero couples.

They don’t actively seek partners of higher quality but it’s because they seek partners from way out of their culture which introduces them to different types of people.

Since someone is always superior to others in education levels, social class, economic class, or anything else, that’s non-hetero hypergamy.

However, women are still more into hypergamy than men, let me show you why here…

Reasons why women still seek Hypergamy

All over the world, women still follow hypergamy and they have nothing to feel ashamed of. They believe this is a survival instinct and something that’s coded in their brain for ages and you can’t reverse this out of the blue.

So, let’s know their reasons here…

1. The patriarchal society is to be blamed

People believe women don’t need hypergamy any longer as they’re allowed to earn and have a place in society. However, society still doesn’t treat men and women equally.

In the United States, the average woman gets paid 82 cents whereas a man earns a dollar for the same occupation. This is far worse for black and indigenous women.

So, marrying a financially weaker man will significantly put her at a disadvantage. A man that earns more will at least cover up for her low wages and they can nurture their family better.

2. Society values women’s appearances

In dating, men judge women based on their looks… which is insulting to women but that’s how women are wired. Such actions encourage women to practice hypergamy.

If you think it’s revenge to be on equal footing with men, you’re wrong. All beauty products to sustain youthful looks are expensive.

So, when a woman invests so much in her appearance, of course, she’ll only go for the richer man. He can spend enough on her to keep her youthful.

However, if she marries a financially weaker man, he can’t spend as much. She’ll lose her youth due to the lack of investments… and of course, he might leave her.

3. It makes happier relationships

Men love being the breadwinner of the family. So, when a financially or socially inferior woman seeks a man, he feels more at ease.

He fulfills his emotional and physical needs from her while he takes care of finances. He also feels confident that his woman won’t cheat on him because he’s enough.

So, when a woman marries a superior man, she naturally makes him more emotionally secure and stable which helps in building happy relationships.

But all women don’t swear by hypergamy, and here’s why…

Reasons why some women don’t seek Hypergamy

Feminist women believe hypergamy works against gender equality and encourages gender pay gap and violence and loss of women’s rights.

Ambitious women that fight for gender equality and against the gender pay gap don’t support hypergamy. Because hypergamy allows society to reason “You have a rich husband, he can provide for you… you don’t need to work/equal wages/rights”.

If women actively follow hypergamy, they’ll become no less than a commodity that powerful men can possess. They might bring back the times when women were sold based on their beauty… which is no more than being treated like slaves.

If women lose power, a lot of crimes against women will be pushed under the rug.

However, very few women fight against it which puts men at a disadvantage. So, let’s know how men can survive through hypergamy…

How to take advantage of hypergamy? (as a man)

Being a man in a hypergamous community is a hard task… just as women face regular scrutiny from men with high standards, it’s the same for men. In fact, many men give up on seeking partnerships because of hypergamous mindsets. To become a high-value man, follow these…

1. Be responsible for your life

To be a high-caliber man in the current era, you first need money and power. So, chase your dream job and for that study as much as you need. Focus on saving and investing alongside a stable job.

Pay your bills responsibly and take care of your chores and yourself. Your physical attributes also matter so work out to stay fit.

2. Raise your market value

To increase your value in the dating market, you must be intellectual, so invest in good books. Learn vast topics so that you’re able to strike conversations on almost anything.

Nourish your mind and body. “Men just don’t care about their looks”… and women are tired of such men because “if he doesn’t take care of himself, he’ll certainly neglect me”.

So, get rid of bad habits like any form of addiction or self-neglect. Don’t forget to cultivate spirituality in your life because who wants a rowdy man?

3. Prioritize yourself

Men have a scarcity mentality and are usually desperate for feminine attention. However, even if you try, you won’t get women right now… and probably you also noticed that.

So, give it a rest and focus on yourself and your growth. If you let the scarcity mentality overpower you, you’ll lose lots of time and motivation.

4. Tap into your protector-provider side

Hypergamous women will judge you based on what you possess. You’re a good provider or protector if you have classy items. She isn’t materialistic to think like this… she just wants to make sure you’re a good catch.

So, revamp your place for a luxurious look or upgrade to better housing. Invest in a good car and accessories. This will attract more women, but some exceptions won’t judge you… but then it won’t be hypergamy.

5. Look around other men’s possessions

At a party, women will feel more comfortable being approached by a classy, stylish, and wealthy-looking man. Of course, if you shove your bank balance at her face to pick her up, that’s a total turn-off.

So, check what other men own the best around you. Aim to possess equal or more from the best in all aspects. If you have more than other men, you’ll get more hypergamous women.

6. Give away to right signals

When you talk with women, never show what you possess. If you talk about your sports car or imported perfume, she’ll assume you’re arrogant, boastful, and hungry for attention. Any woman will step away from such signals.

So, talk to her about your dreams, passions, and purpose. Show her you’re ambitious and she’ll believe you’re reliable. This will also encourage her to talk about her dreams… and you’ll know she isn’t a gold digger.

7. Don’t be a Simp

Stop craving female attention and don’t slide in random women’s DMs, react to their posts, or comment how beautiful a stranger (woman) is… all of this robs you of your value.

Instead, take this time for yourself and follow what you need. You have tons of work to do before you become the high-caliber man every woman wants. However, if you waste your time on random women, you can’t make it through.

8. Become a rare gem

Diamonds are so expensive because everyone can’t have them. Even if a woman goes to a shop and gets a chance to see or even try it out, unless she buys it, she can’t own it.

Make yourself unattainable to women. Don’t settle for any women and maintain your standards. If you go on a date with a woman, don’t spend too much on her. Otherwise, your value will drastically fall.

9. Set boundaries to show confidence

Don’t let a woman disrespect you and never direct disrespect back at her when she does. Instead, know that you deserve better and walk away. She’ll understand your boundaries and you’ll seem more attractive to her.

During fights, you mustn’t use your physical strength as that makes you an abuser. Instead, if you’re powerful enough to leave her, she’ll know how much she needs you and where she went wrong.

10. Learn to enhance her mood

Society and its expectations are the core reason behind women’s misery. A woman will always prefer a man that’ll cheer her up, so a good sense of humor is a must.

When she speaks of her dreams, be enthusiastic and inquisitive about her story… she’ll feel heard and cherished. Most men lack this and make women feel undervalued.

Further, when she’s mad, she wants to vent out. She might not need any advice, so lend her your ear. Be compassionate and kind to her when the world beats her down.

If you wanna read up more on hypergamy, let’s check these…

Books on Hypergamy

Hypergamy is frowned upon but people still practice it unknowingly. You won’t see a father giving away his daughter to a poor man.

Whether you’re a man or woman, if you know how hypergamy works and what you need for the perfect date, it’ll only benefit you. So, let’s hit the paperbacks here…

1. Hypergamy (Lara Stevens)

This self-help book defines the term and the real reasons to consider hypergamy. It’s ready to convince you that hypergamy is a must in your dating game.

2. Dating Up (Bobby Cenoura)

The self-help book is ready to share all the concepts and theories behind hypergamy. This book is quirky and playful with its story-like structure of cavemen.

3. Dating Up: Dump the Schlump and Find a Man (J. Courtney Sullivan)

The book reminds you that there are plenty of rich men who will get married and you can be one of their wives.

4. Ruminations of a low-status male: Volume 2 (Andy Nowiki)

This book shows you the feelings of men who don’t have that much status but are otherwise perfect. How they feel nobody will marry them.

5. How to get a rich man: The Princess Formula (Donna Spangler)

This self-help book shows you how you can ethically find both love and practice hypergamy. It won’t make you blind to money.

But if you’re not ready to buy a book, find more information here…


Though hypergamy is a regular practice, many aren’t aware of it. Many think hypergamous women are gold diggers, while some believe it’s ethically wrong.

However, hypergamy isn’t an evil practice… it’s a choice and to choose wisely about your life, head on to know more…

1. Is hypergamy wrong?

It depends on your views.

For women, hypergamy is a way to survive in the tough world and acquire more resources and power. If you consider the pros and cons of hypergamy vs that of hypogamy or homogamy in a misogynistic and patriarchal world… it’s a wise decision.

So, it’s not wrong… but it’s also not right for everyone emotionally or ethically. If someone has ulterior motives to practice hypergamy, that’s definitely wrong.

2. Is hypergamy a healthy relationship style?

In hypergamy, there are uneven power dynamics which are unhealthy for any relationship. The male may think that since they’re the provider, a lack of understanding or intimacy mustn’t concern anyone… After all, they have the ultimate power.

To make a hypergamy healthy, respectful, and healthy dynamics like clear communication, boundary maintenance, and clear expectations are necessary.

3. Does hypergamy mean that all women are gold diggers?

Just because most women are hypergamous, it doesn’t make them gold diggers. You may think hypergamous women are like that, but that’s not always true.

Women value safety and security, so this is an inborn desire to seek a richer man… but high-value women won’t exchange money for their beauty. Such women want commitment, love, trust, and affection. They’ll be kind, responsible, hardworking, ambitious, and supportive.

But gold diggers exist and you can spot one with how they latch on to your money. If you find one, try to walk away ASAP.

4. Why should we care about hypergamy?

Some women believe hypergamy is a smart move, while others think it threatens women’s empowerment as this shows how women define their worth with their husband’s power.

Though hypergamy just for money is unethical, it still happens. So, whether you’re on team hypergamy or against it, be aware that it won’t go away from our money and power-centric world.

More awareness can help you protect yourself or a loved one from taking the wrong life decision.

5. Why is Hypergamy still a thing?

Marriage of convenience was always a thing of the past. People married to gain more power. Some common hypergamy examples are when kings married princesses from different nations to maintain peace or business conglomerates united with a union of their heirs.

These are pretty common in India, China, Iran, and Indonesia in the current era under the name “arranged marriage”. But it’s prevalent in the West too, like the marriage of Melania and Donald Trump.

Marriage for love is comparatively a new concept and it’s less than 3 decades old. Hypergamy still prevails due to the skyrocketing living expenses, financial worries, and capitalism. It’s a way to stay secure in our shaky economy.

6. Who can be in a hypergamous relationship?

Literally, anybody can be in a hypergamous relationship despite their gender, sexuality, race, community, ethnicity, and any other details… so long they have desirable strong traits.

So, both partners must satisfy one another’s needs for a truly hypergamous bond.

People that can’t be in a (female) hypergamous relationship might be a man in his 40s or 50s with low income or a woman in a similar age range with average appearances.

7. What should I consider before entering a hypergamous relationship?

A lot of people chase hypergamy or hypogamy, for money and social status and approach relationships like trade. However, you must also look for similar values to be happy.

Money and power are important but so is emotional stability. Further, make sure you both have similar views on practicing hypergamy/hyopgamy.

Communicating about your necessities, expectations, and desires is always important.

8. Do hypergamous relationships last?

Marriage and family studies (2018) based on the Belgian census show that out of 4,58,499 marriages between 1986-2001, hypogamy or homogamy didn’t have high divorce rates.

However, hypergamous marriages had comparatively high divorce rates. So, you may say hypergamy relationships have high risks of dissolution.

9. Does Hypergamy lead to cheating?

When some women sacrifice their ethics to chase men, they MAY sleep around until they find the perfect rich and social butterfly man.

However, in most books, they exaggerate the numbers by how frequently hypergamous women cheat. Rather, in a hypergamy, the man cheats more because of the more power over the woman.

And when women do cheat, it’s mostly because it was a hypogamy or they found a physically, financially, socially, or emotionally more powerful partner.

10. Does Hypergamy apply to wealth or genes?

If possible, a hypergamous woman will go for both good genes and wealth. But no man is as fantastic, so women decide based on certain factors.

If the woman is economically much weaker, she prioritizes wealth. If she earns enough, she’ll probably seek genes or looks.

Or, if she wants a long-term relationship, she’ll seek rich men. If she only wants a casual fling, she’ll seek hot men.

11. Why shouldn’t guys focus on Hypergamy?

Men mustn’t focus excessively on hypergamy because the world is wired this way.

Some men like slim women… it’s their choice, they don’t mean that the plus-size women aren’t attractive. Similarly, some women like hypergamy… you can’t judge them for that.

If you want a hypergamous woman, work hard to become an alpha or just choose from the rest.

Further, when men complain about hypergamy, it makes them sound insecure and lowers the attractiveness factor.

12. Why should you seek Hypergamist women?

A hypergamous woman knows exactly what she needs to survive in this cruel world. On the other hand, a woman, ready to forget about financial stability, doesn’t know what’s important for her child or herself.

If your partner isn’t hypergamous about any aspect, she can’t protect herself or her children.

But in the end, it’s all your choice and life.

13. Why shouldn’t guys worry about Hypergamy?

Many factors discourage hypergamy like…

– Under a socialist government that takes care of women’s basic needs, women won’t chase hypergamy for financial stability.
– Women from wealthy families or societies have everything they need, so they can focus on their emotional needs.
– Women prefer homogamy in long-term relationships for equality.
– Women are realistic and contrary to how everyone thinks they reject themselves before any rich man can. They know they don’t stand a chance.
– Only top-notch high-status women seek female hypergamy.
– Women fall in love harder and put the hypergamous ideas on the back burner.
– Women desire to respect and affection from their partner and they don’t hope for it from someone that thinks he’s “superior”.
– Women aren’t as conscious of status, appearances, or outside attraction as the world thinks.

14. Aren’t both genders hypergamous?

It totally depends on the grounds of comparison.

Women marry financially stable men… which is the regular definition of hypergamy: a powerful man and a less powerful woman.

In a hypergamous society, men don’t marry up for finances, but they seek attractive traits for better procreation and a charming beauty they can show off. Men are financially hypergamous and appearance-wise hypergamous.

15. Did the gender wage gap really lead to Hypergamy?

Many people deny the gender wage gap. As per Yue Qian’s study, if women really weren’t victims of unequal wages, then women with top-notch incomes won’t seek economically superior men.

In fact, in the age of feminism, women want to have more power, so they’ll seek men out of love or follow hypogamy to be the powerful one in the marriage.

However, they don’t because the gender wage gap really affects their financial condition, so they seek richer men.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Both men and women have their respective standards for a good date, relationship, and spouse. So, don’t make it a fight about genders or women’s rights. 

Further, if anyone tries to use hypergamy to suppress women’s empowerment or refuse their rights, that’s unforgivable misogyny.

Understand that hypergamy is a choice and nobody can change another’s standards while seeking a good partner. Just how you can’t change what you find attractive in a person.

If you’re an “average-value or low-value” man, a girl may not marry you for money… but you can be attractive as a compassionate and funny man.

If you lack something, ace in other ways and never stop trying.