Surprise! Women Don’t Trade Beauty For Male Status


trophy wife

The good old days?

The  Science of Us profiles a new study that investigates the exchange of female beauty for male status in marriage. In Beauty and Status: The Illusion of Exchange in Partner Selection, Notre Dame prof Elizabeth McClintock looks closely at the incidence of trophy wife marriages and finds assortative mating instead.

“I find that handsome men partner with pretty women and successful men partner with successful women,” says McClintock, who specializes in inequality within romantic partnerships. “So, on average, high-status men do have better-looking wives, but this is because they themselves are considered better looking–perhaps because they are less likely to be overweight and more likely to afford braces, nice clothes and trips to the dermatologist, etc. Secondly, the strongest force by far in partner selection is similarity — in education, race, religion and physical attractiveness.”

McClintock’s research shows that there is not, in fact, a general tendency for women to trade beauty for money. That is not to say trophy wife marriages never happen, just that they are very rare.

…McClintock’s research also indicates that, contrary to the trophy wife stereotype, social class barriers in the marriage market are relatively impermeable. Beautiful women are unlikely to leverage their looks to secure upward mobility by marriage.

McClintock is an expert on the behavioral economics aspects of relationships. In this study she differentiates between two prominent pairing mechanisms:

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The Two Questions You Should Ask Before Sex

Defining the Relationship Talk

Isabel thought she’d found the real thing, then he disappeared after sex. There are two questions that could have reduced the risk of this significantly.

Hi Susan, 

I recently read your article about how to not fall for the player and I have to say it described the same scenario I just went through. This guy was perfect when we were together…every date he was a total gentleman (didn’t even try to kiss me the first date), and I thought everything was going fine.

I mean, he works in Private Equity and works alot so he would cancel sometimes, but he always made up our dates later and apologized for how busy he was. Anyway, we finally hooked up after the sixth date and the next morning was perfect. We cuddled and he even offered to let me stay in and sleep in.

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Tinder: Online Dating or Hooking Up?

Tinder Love Match

Tinder Love Match

Good news! Anna Gensler, the artist who has so amusingly ridiculed sexist creeps on Tinder, has gotten a book deal. She’s also created the hashtag #sexytillirejectyou. Well done!

The male response to Gensler’s Insta Grannie Pants campaign has been interesting, and also puzzling. Lots of guys have suggested that explicit sexual come-ons are perfectly appropriate because Tinder was designed to facilitate casual sex. It’s essentially supposed to be the online equivalent of solicitation, but free. And because women, you know, “want the pipe.”

Huh. Because I personally know three serious couples in their 20s who met on Tinder within the last year, I was surprised to learn that people viewed the app exclusively in sexual terms. To be fair, though, each of the couples is a bit sheepish about how they met, implying that they’re afraid others will think they went on Tinder to troll for sex.

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Hooking You Up With the Web’s Best Links

The week’s best articles, from around the web.

For your convenience, all articles busting red pill myths have been designated.

Don’t forget to sign up for email updates before I move the weekly links post to an email newsletter!

red pill tongue1. The More You Idealize Your Partner, the More Distant They Will Become

The costs of being put on a pedestal: Effects of feeling over-idealized

” A pedestal is as much a prison as any other small space.”

Gloria Steinem

“There was a negative association with satisfaction when husbands felt that either their abilities or traits were being over-idealized at relatively high levels. These results suggest that it is beneficial to feel somewhat idealized by a partner, but that idealization becomes detrimental beyond a point.

…The curvilinear effects were especially strong for husbands, while the actor effect for perceived idealization of traits was only marginally significant and for abilities was not close to significant for wives.

…In both dating and married samples (for husbands), results indicate that feeling one’s abilities were over-idealized by a partner was associated with lower relationship satisfaction.”

Why do both men and women (but especially men) feel this way?

  1. Their autonomy is threatened (see Gloria Steinem quote).
  2. Pedestalization implies a lesser willingness to accommodate partner’s needs, because needs are minimized.
  3. People want to feel understood and appreciated for who they are. Being put on a pedestal makes both sexes feel as if they are not loved for their true selves.


red pill tongue2.  ‘Red’ States Have Higher Divorce Rates Than ‘Blue’ States, And Here’s Why

New research by a University of Texas professor determines that conservative Protestantism carries a high risk of divorce. Well, that explains a lot.

It was previously thought that socioeconomic hardships in the South were largely to blame for high divorce rates, however Glass and her fellow researchers concluded that the conservative religious culture is in fact a major contributing factor thanks to “the social institutions they create” that “decrease marital stability.”

Specifically, putting pressure on young people to marry sooner, frowning upon cohabitation before marriage, teaching abstinence-only sex education and making access to resources like emergency contraception more difficult all result in earlier childbearing ages and less-solid marriages from the get-go, Glass writes in the paper.

“It’s surprising,” W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, told The Los Angeles Times. “In some contexts in America today, religion is a buffer against divorce. But in the conservative Protestant context, this paper is showing us that it’s not.”


red pill tongue3. Study: Musical Skills Could Help You Get Laid

A study of women in their fertile phase found that women preferred musicians who composed complex musical pieces over those playing simple rhythmic cords.

“The findings of this study provide the first support for Darwin’s original contention that music evolved via sexual selection,” said Dr. Benjamin Charlton, who led the study. ”The ability to create complex music could be indicative of advanced cognitive abilities. Consequently, women may acquire genetic benefits for offspring by selecting musicians able to create more complex music as sexual partners.”

Classical virtuoso 1, Mediocre guitar player 0


red pill tongue4. Girls More Likely Than Boys to Suffer From Mental Health Issues After Breakup

Researchers looked at data from more than 5,300 high school students gathered for the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Specifically they examined the mental health consequences when teens find their relationship doesn’t match with what they had hoped it to be.

“I found that girls’ risk of severe depression, thoughts of suicide and suicide attempt increase the more their relationships diverge from what they imagined,” said Brian Soller, who led the research.

He goes on to say “romantic relationship inauthenticity,” or the collapse of what the teen had hoped would occur in the relationship, did not seriously impact the mental health of adolescent boys.”

The study, which is titled “Caught in a Bad Romance: Adolescent Romantic Relationships and Mental Health,” was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.


Hookup Culture: Real or Myth?

A new study was released last month in the Journal of Sex Research, which has once again spurred a flurry of headlines declaring that hookup culture is a myth. At the same time, I have yet to meet a college student who can’t describe it in great detail from personal experience. Is hookup culture real, or is it a myth trumped up by conservative old scolds?

The answer depends on what you mean by “culture.” Generally, the word culture in this context refers to the attitudes and behavior of a specific group. What’s confusing about hookup culture is that the “scripts” for behavior are not consistent with actual student behavior. Don’t forget that the term “hook up” can mean everything from one kiss to a one-night stand. I have most frequently heard it used to refer to a makeout session.

Prepare to be astounded by the results of the study!

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