Hypergamy is a term used in social science to explain the practice of someone who marries a person with a higher social status than themselves. More colloquially referred to as “marrying up”, many women who choose to date richer men are also known as gold diggers.
This system of finding a mate is nothing new – it’s been practiced throughout history in Ancient Greece, Imperial China and India – however, it’s started to gain traction again, particularly within a small movement of feminist thinking.
Despite some experts believing this method of choosing a partner is dwindling as we achieve better equity, some women think it’s the only way to date.
Feminist author Chidera Eggerue has spoken about the topic of hypergamy in the past, and says she only dates men who are wealthier than her as a result.
The author of What A Time To Be Alone spoke about her beliefs around partnering based on earnings during a recording of Kate Thornton's White Wine Question Time, saying, "This conversation is deeper than just me saying I want to live a luxurious lifestyle at the expense of men. Because I absolutely do. But the point that I'm making is that this is more than that. This is about understanding that systemic change is happening, and more women are waking up."
A natural reaction?
The attraction of a richer man for women may be biological: it’s rooted in the effort and time that goes into producing offspring. Men can, with minimal effort, easily conceive a child, whereas a woman not only has to carry a baby for nine months, but then invest time, energy and resources into nurturing and rearing the child.
So why is this concept proving popular again? Well perhaps as Chidera says it’s because as much as the gap between the sexes is ever dwindling, men still largely run the world and earn more cash.
Explaining her reasons for wanting to find a man who can provide for her financially, Chidera said: “As someone who belongs to the group who are responsible for my oppression and in a world where for every dollar you make, I make 79 cents, it doesn't make any sense for me to be pouring water into the ocean, going half on bills.”
She continued that men need to understand the value they’re getting from women and that women need to tell men this. “What has to happen is for women to implement boundaries and create parameters that men move within when interacting with women,” she said to Kate on the podcast.
How to date ‘up’
While the positives of dating up seem obvious – not having to split the bill, being bought lots of nice gifts, potentially not having to work – how easy is it to bag yourself a wealthy suitor?
Dating guru Sami Wunder believes it’s fairly easy once you know what you’re doing.
“I strongly believe that attracting men with a higher income range than yourself doesn’t have to be a challenge for the strong and successful woman of today,” she says.
“Just as there are millions of intelligent, smart, well-earning women in the world, there are also plenty of men out there who are a match for these women.”
1. Tap into your feminine energy
The problem she does see though is that highly successful women, who make good money themselves, are trained to take charge and be in control. She says: “While this use of their masculine energy is phenomenal for their careers, it doesn’t serve them to attract healthy, masculine men in their love lives.
“The healthy masculine, high-earning man isn’t attracted to masculine energy in a woman. He is attracted to feminine energy. This isn’t sexist. This is biology and understanding the polarity of energies when it comes to attraction.
“Being more in your feminine energy doesn’t mean that you have to dumb down or play small. It just means you have to learn to receive more from men and be more connected with your emotional side.”
2. Don’t let him take you for granted
Sami says the reason a lot of men lose interest in women is because he’s getting more than he gives.
“Giving a lot to men, doing things for them, buying them gifts or doing their chores doesn’t endear you to a man or increase his attraction for you,” she advises.
“It makes him feel like you’re his mother. This reduces his attraction for you and makes him take you and your goodness for granted. So always give a man less than what he’s giving you in order to be valued by him.”
3. Date more than one man at a time
It sounds very Sex And The City but dating more than one man at a time can, according to Sami, really help you find the one that is perfect for you.
“Rotational dating is where you date more than one man at the same time, until you have found that one man who offers you the commitment you desire,” explains Sami. “This could mean he asks you to be his girlfriend, he asks you to be his wife, or you decide to buy a house together – you get to decide what that commitment looks like.”
“Up until that point, you keep your options open and go on non-sexual 'connection dates' with several men. This is not about sleeping with lots of men, it's about getting to know different men, to assess whether you're compatible.
“This gives you the time needed to make up your mind about the man who is the best fit for you in the long term, without getting blindsided by sexual chemistry.”
Don’t forget to love yourself
Chidera agrees that finding the right man should have nothing to do with how you feel and those ‘butterflies’ you get, because that cannot sustain a relationship. She believes it’s more important to show love for yourself.
“You can always choose yourself,” she said when talking about dating the wrong kind of men. “Know that your love for yourself is more important than any kind of butterflies or any kind of cute ’90s romance type experience you can have with him, because these men are just not interesting enough to take you off the course of your life.”
“Men aren't systemically harmed by women having boundaries - and it's about understanding that every single man is not the opportunity. Like, he's not The One.”
Sami believes keeping your options open will not only help you find someone that is right for you financially, but it will also help your self-esteem and expand your horizons.
“It prevents you from focusing too much on a man you're just getting to know and getting caught up in worrying about if he's texted you or not,” she says.
“Dating this way works because it helps you experience a whole range of men and can expand your horizons and it can save you months or even years of your life because it stops you wasting time on a relationship that isn't going to work out.”
Despite setting the internet alight with her relationship remarks, Chidera isn’t going to change her opinion anytime soon.
As she tweeted earlier this year year: “I don’t have much to say about dating broke because the benefits are minimal. You can’t plan your future on good vibes and emotions, but you can always form a solid relationship with yourself so that you can set up boundaries that allow you to prioritise your own wellness.”
Hear Chidera Eggeru and Munroe Bergdorf talk more about dating, growing up online and the continuing need to educate people about racism on the latest episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen now on iTunes and Spotify.