The influence of hypergamy on attractiveness and relationships

Understanding attraction has always been one of the more interesting things to learn about. In particular, there’s always been different articles about the differences in what “men” find attractive as opposed to “women.” One of these is ideal male physique.

One of Donal’s original posts is on LAMPS (or PSALM) and APE at categorizing female attraction into categories. These are:

  • Power
  • Status
  • Athleticism
  • Looks
  • Money

In Biblical terms all of these fall under the command of dominion that God gave to Adam in the garden. Another way to recognize how this applies is to the roles of protector and provider of a family. Protection through power, status, athleticism, and looks and provision through money.

Taking a look at looks

The article is intriguing on the surface, but I think it emphasizes the wrong points. From what I gather, the main point of the article is that women prefer looks that are less muscular and more body fat than men overall. However, the truth is that looks in particular seem to be the most “adapted” to the actual looks of the female in question. For example,

We’ve got Brad Pitt in first place with 72.5% of women finding his body the MOST attractive and 86.7% of women being attracted to his body. In second place we’ve got the musician Henry Rollins (at his smallest) with 11.8% of women finding him the most attractive, and 41.8% of women attracted to his torso. The MMA heavyweight comes next with 9.8% liking him the best and 37% finding him attractive. In last place with 1% we have three time Mr. Olympia winner Frank Zane — famous for shifting the bodybuilding world away from mass and towards aesthetics. Evidently there’s still some shifting to do before he lines up with what women find aesthetically pleasing!

No big surprise that the Fight Club sex icon took #1. What DID surprise me is that the healthy looking musician took #2 — outperforming the athletes and bodybuilders. And even the starving sex icon Ville Valo beat out Frank Zane, the king of bodybuilding aesthetics. Looks like a life devoted to achieving the “perfect” physique gives you the worst body according to women. Yikes.

To make matters worse, 50% of the men that completed the survey (keep in mind these men are interested in physiques, or they wouldn’t have taken the survey) want to look like Frank Zane (last place), vs the 40% that want to look like Brad Pitt. Woah.


If we filter the data by girls that self-identify as athletes, Brad Pitt drops to 53.8%, the heavyweight jumps to 31%, and Frank Zane the bodybuilder jumps to 15%.

If we filter the data by girls that self-identify as creatives, artists or musicians the opposite happens. Brad Pitt goes up to 73.3%, Henry Rollins goes up to 16.7% and the heavyweight build only gets 6.7%

If we filter by girls that self-identify as fashionable, Brad Pitt drops to 66.7%, the healthy looking Henry Rollins goes up to 22.2% and the emaciated Ville Valo goes up to 11%.

The notes actually provide the most intriguing data in that the variability of preference for women changes according to population type. This should make complete sense to us in that women absolutely despise marrying down in any capacity.

If a woman is athletic and has a decent amount of musculature she will absolutely not want a man who is less muscular than herself. It will make her feel less feminine and also feel that the man won’t be able to protect her as well as a more muscular man. Being a athlete and personal trainer myself I’ve never seen a woman date or marry a man that is less athletic, muscular, or ripped than her body is in appearance. It just doesn’t happen.

This lends credence to the theory that some aspects of hypergamy seem to be predicated on “good but not excessive” rather than “infinite is better.”

Money, where infinite is better

On the other hand, there seems to be no upper limit on the attractiveness of money. Money is one of the factors where more provision is always good provision. There is no woman that has ever said in this world that “you have too much money” so I don’t like you as much.

However, generally most women seem to compromise on this point where a man should make more than them, but it’s unrealistic for a man to make extreme amounts more than them unless they have the corresponding looks to compensate (e.g. trophy wife). The vast majority of women will lose attraction or start to despise you if they make more money than you.

Attractiveness (SMV) disparity influences trust

Overall, it seems that attractiveness disparity plays a role mainly in the protector traits as opposed to the provider trait. As we’ve already established, looks preferences seem to be variable depending on the actual looks and musculature of the woman herself. We tend to see the same with power, status, although not so much on the athleticism front.

For example, a woman that is of middling status and looks in her group is certainly attracted to the most attractive man in the same social group. However, if she does end up getting together with the man the relationship will almost always inevitably fail. Why is this? The reason for this is that typically a woman’s own self evaluation gets in the way. If she knows she is only of middling status and looks in her social group then it’s also likely that she fears that her man has the capacity to be stolen away by other better looking and/or higher status women in the same social group.

I’ve seen this exact scenario play out time and time again in many different social groups. Women tend to imprint their own fear onto men in these circumstances which leads to her being more “combative” or “nagging” when their man is in the presence or talking to other attractive women. They fear that he will just up and leave.

  • Trust = a man’s attractiveness – a woman’s self esteem

Trust is the faith that a woman has in a particular relationship she is in or a relationship that she wants or does not want to get in. We’ll get to self esteem in the next section.

In the context of the above, if a man is a “10” and a woman is a “6” it is likely that they will inevitably break up. Women in such disparate relationships will often let their insecurities become unmanageable such that the relationship with crumble. This is why “assortive mating” where 10s match up with 10s, 9s match up with 9s, and so on tends to be the norm while 1-2 disparity points are not a big deal. When we get into 3-4+ disparity points the relationship becomes unstable from the feminine perspective.

A woman’s self esteem

Although a woman’s self esteem should be grounded in Christ, it is often the case that a woman’s self esteem — or evaluation of her own attractiveness — tends to be variable upon external factors such as attention. Indeed, the attention of men is such a strong pull that you have women who whore themselves out for the validation. Look no farther than facebook, instagram, and twitter: the trifecta of attention whoredom.

Generally speaking, a woman’s self esteem is often inflated in the post-feminist world due to the excessive body and sex positivity messages. Additionally, the thirstiness of most men throwing out compliments and white knighting in hopes than women will like them better adds fuel to the fire. In this respect, many women often overestimate their own attractiveness.

On the other hand, there are few women who have the opposite evaluation. For example, women that were previously ugly or fat in their teens and “grew up” by losing weight, maturing physically, and the like often have a lower rating of their own self attractiveness than their actual.

This plays a significant role because it is not a woman’s actual attractiveness that is her criteria for evaluating whether she should enter or exit a relationship. Rather, it is her perceived attractiveness. For example, if a woman is a “6” in real life, but she evaluates herself as an “8” then she will only date men who are 8+. However, if a woman is a “8” in real life, but she evaluates herself as a “6” then she will date men who are 6+. Thus, we can update our equation to:

  • Trust = a man’s attractiveness – a woman’s perceived self esteem

Women will only establish a relationship with a man when Trust is a net positive. However, if there the disparity is greater than 3-4+ points the relationship is usually unstable because of insecurity. This is what drives assortive mating.

Likewise, we understand is that a man’s attractiveness is perceived by the woman as well. A man may have mediocre looks and a mediocre personally, but after a woman finds out he is a famous celebrity she becomes instantly attracted. This effect also happens with the other vectors of attractiveness. For example, if a woman finds out a man has high status in the social group then she will be more attracted. If she finds out he has an amazing talent such as guitar playing or leading worship she will be more attracted. Hence, the equation is:

  • Trust = a man’s perceived attractiveness – a woman’s perceived self esteem

A woman’s social group, friends and family

A woman’s social group is very important to her because women tend to be much easier deceived than men. Since a woman’s mating prospect depend heavily on her own evaluation of her attraction and her own perception of a man’s perceived attractiveness, her social group, friends, and family play a critical role in helping her determine if a man is a good idea for a relationship. There are both good and bad sides to this.

The good side of this is that if a woman has a strong, Christ-centered social group, friends, and family they will help to select a man of high character and integrity who is also attractive to her. However, the bad side of things is if the group is easily influenced by the world’s ideals. In this case, women that are divorced or manipulative may influence their friends and family into breaking off good relationships at the whim of their own feelings. See: poisoning the well.

Disqualification factors

Each woman has certain disqualification factors which are essentially red flags with which she will never get into a relationship or have sex with a certain type of man. This could be anything from being non-Christian to not a particular race to not doing the same activities as her. Maybe she only likes tall, dark, and handsome. This updates the equation to:

  • Trust = (a man’s perceived attractiveness – disqualification factors) – a woman’s perceived self esteem

If a man has disqualification factors are greater than his perceived attractiveness she will already have negative trust in the relationship without comparing her own perceived attractiveness into the equation. Hence, she won’t even think about having a relationship at all.


Fame is a great equalizer. If a man is famous it can overcome anything due the nature of fame elevating everything: power, status, looks, athleticism/talent, and typically money too.

  • Trust = (a man’s perceived attractiveness – disqualification factors + fame) – a woman’s perceived self esteem

Since fame can overcome disqualification factors it is added inside the parentheses before a woman compares herself to you.


The main equation:

  • Trust = (a man’s perceived attractiveness – disqualification factors + fame) – a woman’s perceived self esteem

Understanding the variables:

  • Trust = faith in the relationship. Negative trust means that a woman will want to exist a relationship, and hate having sex with the man. Equal trust means that a woman is generally ambivalent, and sex is okay. Net positive trust means that women will desire to stay in the relationship and desire to have sex with the man.

We see this play out over both Christian and non-Christian relationships.

  • A man’s perceived attractiveness = respect. A woman that respects a man is attracted to him and on a biological level will want to have a relationship and/or sex with him (not factoring in moral codes and disqualification factors).
  • Disqualification factors are preferences that eliminate a man from potential relationship status, before a woman rates her own perceived attractiveness against his. If he doesn’t pass then she has “never thought of a relationship with him before”
  • Fame is fame as it usually elevates the vast majority of all of the vectors.
  • A woman’s perceived self esteem is her own evaluation of her attractiveness.

The difference between a woman who thinks she is more attractive versus being disqualified is the difference between “Ewww, I would never be in a relationship with him” versus “Ewww, I have never thought of being in a relationship with him ever.” The former being she actually compared and thought about it whereas the latter is that you weren’t even on her radar because of some preference that you didn’t meet. However, fame can overcome this.

Perceived attractiveness has multiple components to it. Some tend to be assortive such as power, status, and looks. Others such as athleticism/talents and money tend to be infinite where more is better.

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18 Responses to The influence of hypergamy on attractiveness and relationships

  1. Pingback: The influence of hypergamy on attractiveness and relationships |

  2. Great analytical breakdown of the dating game. I’ve seen this in action many times.

  3. Don Quixote says:

    Nice work DS. The equation gets very complex and I think there would be at least one wild card [probably more] to include in the mix. I’m guessing her perception is a variable that is also somewhat subject to cycles.
    Did you see the second part to the Hot Crazy matrix? [Where the guy explaining it dumbs it down for guys to understand women]

  4. Don Quixote says:

    The part of the video I mentioned begins at the 6 minute mark, enjoy:

  5. Yeah, I’ve seen that, haha. Unfortunately, it really doesn’t explain attraction at all.

    It does get the money part right in that aspect, but you don’t want to be married for only money.

  6. donalgraeme says:

    Fame is part of Status. No need for it to be separate.

  7. donalgraeme says:

    I like where you are going with your “equation.” I’m not sure Trust is the right word, but I can’t think of anything better right now. So stick with it for the moment.

  8. @ Donal

    I agree that fame is a part of status in a sense, but it does cancel out disqualification factors to a large extent not necessarily by boosting attractiveness. Status does not necessarily do that. It’s the difference between being in a high place in your social group versus a state/country/world wide.

    Trust might be a placeholder word until something better can be found. Perhaps… investment?

  9. Don Quixote says:

    Perhaps a flow chart could show the equation?

  10. @ Don Quixote

    I was thinking about that, but I’m bad with making stuff like that. It would be made in MS Paint, haha.

  11. jack says:

    You’re almost right on talent. Women are attracted to talent IF it can be leveraged for status. There are many highly skilled male accordian players. They are more skilled than many male guitar players. Yet, “accordian star” is not a common term. Women, actually, are generally pretty bad at evaluating the talent and skills in any field where they are not a direct participant.

    Therefore, the “cash value” of the talent is all that matters. In fact, you can be a sucky guitar player, but still lead worship service and therefore your “talent” makes you attractive.

    This is like the girl who claims to love the “servant’s heart” of the worship guy. What about the janitor who volunteers? That is a much more thankless job.

    We must not allow women to take one kind of attraction and paint it as another. It is JUST FINE that she likes the guy because he is the worship team star. But it is NOT FINE to pretend that it is due to his “service”. That is like women who justify remaining with abusive men because they are “afraid they will have no one”, when there are many good men who would date them.

    Women have the skill of the lie much better than men, because we allow them to be deceptive so often, instead of calling them out on it.

  12. jack says:

    With regard to women’s self-perceived value, let’s also not forget about how premarital sex screwed that up.

    A nice Christian girl can serve herself up as sexual fast food for a few alpha males, and then think she is actually a nine. You’re only a nine if alpha males chase you aside from sex.
    When young women sleep around, they are essentially acting like a female “John”, wherein they trade their sexuality for temporary access to top-level men.

    Just like how a lower value man can pay for sex with a beautiful prostitute, a low value woman can buy temporary attention from a high value man by slutting it up. There is no difference between a ban paying a prostitute and church-pew Jenny deciding to risk it all on a roll in hay with a “cute guy at college”.

    This is why the 5s and 6s are often the most bitter and damaged in the church, because they have taken their limited chips into the casino, had their “fun” and are now angry that they can’t get back on the radar of the top level men.

    I love listening to chubby 5s complain about “her jerky boyfriend” who cheats on her. Hahahaha.

  13. From the woman’s perspective status is a dominate factor. Her attraction is dependent on the question: does being with a certain man increase or decrease her status, and is there a better opportunity to increase her status. (If she believes the answer to second question is yes she may even divorce to achieve the increase in status.) Money, fame, physique in a man who is with her, gives her status within her social group. If a” hot” guy wants to be with her, she is hot in the eyes of her friends. If a guy is desired by others and chooses to be with her, she has higher status than the her rivals. If the guy is rich, not only does she derive feelings of security from the wealth, but she knows he had many choices and he chose her, her status goes up in her social circle and she may join a higher status social circle as a result of her association with the high status man. Women are inherently social and social standing is a key part of their identity. Men are inherently dominion takers and their identity is dependent much more on their labors.

  14. jack says:

    You are correct. And 90% of secular women care about little else than status in the eyes of the world and their facebook competition group.

    Probably 70% of Christian women as well.

    Of course, it is too bad they don’t care about their status before the Lord. One of these days that will matter, and all the facebook likes, YOLO moments and attention whoring will count for nothing.

    I can’t wait.

  15. Looking Glass says:


    When I was going over the Bible during college (thinking through topics for post-secondary work that didn’t happen), I realized how deeply important the Lord giving us the ability to choose, of our own volition, is to everything the Lord is telling us. The ability to choose is what makes us the pinnacle of Creation. Yet to fall into our instincts and base desires (in a constant manner) is to reject the blessing and revel in the Flesh.

    For most sitting in Churches, they’re there to feel better and cover the fee for the “Fire Insurance for the Soul”. This is what causes so much of the mental gyrations they go through (and enforce on others). This is also the trap of the desire to be a “good person”, without the understanding of what that really means.

    Or as the Lord put it so well: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (mammon).” (Matthew 6:24 ESV)

  16. Looking Glass says:

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  17. Pingback: A Revolutionary Concept (Part 1) | The Society of Phineas

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