What Is Hypogamy? Pros And Cons
You might have heard the term floating around, but you thought it was a foot disease or something. Or, like most, you assumed it was a misspelling of the more widely-known hypergamy (even my spellchecker gives me error lines when I write the word).
Well, hypogamy is actually pretty common, and you probably know of about a dozen people practicing it as we speak.
What is the Definition of Hypogamy?
Hypogamy is a sociological term that means the act of marrying someone of a lower social and economic class than your own. Something the cool kids like to call “marrying down”, and the really cool kids – “slumming it” (okay, I’m the only one who calls it that).
Despite the practice being as old as dirt (seriously, Homo Erectus was probably doing it), western society had no name for it. In Hindu tradition, however, the practice had a name, which was translated from Sanskrit to English in the 19th century.
Curious minds can read more about this in The Structure of Indian Society: Then and Now, by A.M. Shah.
Hypogamy is the inverse of hypergamy, which is the act of marrying up. For a person to practice hypogamy, there would also need to be hypergamy; one can’t exist without the other.
Who Practices Hypogamy More, and Why?
That’s an easy one. It’s most commonly practiced by men, as both statistics and anecdotal evidence show. There are countless stories of rich men marrying women who make far less than them, and don’t move in the same circles.
It’s not difficult to understand why. Take a look at how society is structured. Though things are slowly changing, there is still an expectation that men be the breadwinners in the relationship, which means that a wife’s position in society doesn’t, theoretically, impact her husband’s status.
For this reason, an oil magnate marrying a call girl who grew up in a trailer park wouldn’t be unusual, nor would it be a deterrent for him. He might just have to embellish a little when his buddies ask him what she used to do for a living (call girl = working in the service industry).
There’s also the “savior complex” that many men have, that is often overlooked when people discuss this topic. Since money and power make the world go round, those who don’t have either are pretty screwed, and marriage can sometimes be the only way for them to move up in the world.
Now, imagine being a man who can wrench a destitute woman out of poverty and transform her entire life. If that doesn’t make you feel like Zeus himself, I don’t know what will.
Do Women Practice Hypogamy?
We all know that society’s most annoying copycats, in their quest for equality, will insist on doing everything their male counterparts do, even if it destroys them (I’ll expound upon this later). Hence why there’s a rising number of women who have started practicing hypogamy.
It’s more common in western cultures, where women have the same career opportunities as men. High-earning/achieving women, aka Head Bitches in Charge (HBICs), often find that the higher they climb and the more they make, the smaller the pool of men with comparable achievements. Which means they’re stuck scraping the bottom of the barrel.
For many women, if they didn’t have a hypogamous relationship, they wouldn’t have a relationship at all, because that’s all they can attract. No woman worth her salt sets out to marry down (unless she’s been hypnotized by the idea of a man’s potential). She knows the risks involved.
Pros and Cons of Practicing Hypogamy
As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages to practicing hypogamy, and these do differ slightly depending on sex.
|Power and control||Attracting golddiggers|
|Feeling benevolent||Spouse might not assimilate|
|See the world through new eyes||More to lose|
|Less expected of you||Resentment|
|Abuse of power|
Power and control
He/she who has the money calls the shots. Wife keeps hogging the bedsheets? Give her a lesson in selfishness and take her credit card away; she’ll soon learn how to share.
You get to “save” someone from sometimes desperate situations, and introduce them to a new, exciting world. Watching them experience different cultures, meet and network with influential people, and really grow should make you feel good about yourself.
See the world through new eyes
As a product of their upbringing, your lowly spouse will come with their unique way of seeing the world and doing things. This will open you up to new experiences. Ever eaten breakfast cereal with water instead of milk? No? Well these are just some of the wonderful culinary adventures awaiting you.
Less expected of you
A spouse from a lower social class will naturally expect less, because they’re used to that. This could take the pressure off you. (Though don’t use your wife’s lowered expectations as an excuse to slack off. Even you can be replaced.)
How can you ever be sure that the hypergamous spouse who’s marrying you is doing so out of love? Well, you can’t, and there’s a huge risk that your new Thai wife or Dominican husband sees dollar signs every time they look at you.
A skilled digger will play the long game; it might be years before you realize you’re a mark.
Spouse might not assimilate
Not everyone’s cut out for the high life. It’s like buying a knockoff Rolex: no matter how good it looks on the outside, the idiot who made it still spelled it with two Ls, and used cubic zirconias instead of diamonds.
Put simply, no matter how much money you throw at someone, their lowly status might never rub off. I direct you to the famous (and hilarious) horse racing scene from My Fair Lady.
Embedded video –
Not fitting in can be stressful for a new spouse, who might be bullied by your peers, and constantly reminded of their humble beginnings.
More to lose
Marrying down means that you risk losing a chunk of your wealth through divorce. Prenuptial agreements can help, but they’re not recognized in some countries and states. Judges may also use their discretion to throw out prenuptial agreements altogether, if it is fair to do so.
This is particularly problematic for women practicing hypogamy. Their husbands have been known to resent them for their success. Some men feel inferior and weak when their wives earn more than them.
Whether she means to or not, there will come a time when a hypogamous wife throws her money in her husband’s face. Even if it has never happened, he’s anticipating it. So the resentment is steadily building, while his wife is oblivious. More often than not, in his bid to make her feel as small as he does, he’ll cheat on her with multiple women, all of whom are on his level socially and economically.
Abuse of power
It bears repeating: he who makes the money calls the shots. Unfortunately, men have used this power imbalance to control and abuse their wives: Cutting off access to funds, twisting the arms of their high-ranking friends in order to deprive their wife of things, stuff like that.
Abusive spouses take the stance that their significant other should be grateful to them, and should thus accept whatever ill-treatment comes their way.
Is Hypogamy Right for You?
Hypogamy doesn’t seem to be too problematic if both parties go into it with pure intentions. Love should be the basis for your decision to practice it, but you should be aware that, for your spouse, this might not be their only motivation in marrying you.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone wants to improve their lives, and if someone they love has the ability to help them achieve that, they’d be foolish not to grab that opportunity with both hands.
As long as you understand the risks involved and don’t try to abuse your position, but instead treat your partner as your equal, there’s no reason why a hypogamous marriage can’t work.