What Women Want-What Men Want: Why the Sexes Still See Love and Commitment So Differently

By John Marshall Townsend | Go to book overview

4
Choosing Partners for Marriage

Male Status and Female Competition

Aren't you funny? Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You might not marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?

-- Marilyn Monroe in Gentleman Prefer Blondes


Standards for Marriage Partners

IN CHAPTER 3 WE SAW that professional women prefer to date and marry men whose incomes and job status were equal to theirs or higher, and the farther up the socioeconomic ladder they climb themselves, the higher their standards are. Do women have difficulty finding such men? Do women have to compete for high-status men? What forms does this competition take? Are men threatened by ambitious, intelligent women? These are some of the questions we will explore in this chapter.

Women and men differ more in what they would accept in a casual sex partner than in their standards for marriage partners. For example, for casual sexual relationships, females are choosy about partners' IQ and socioeconomic status and men are relatively indifferent, but both sexes value these traits when asked what they desire in a marriage partner. 1 it is also true that most people still marry within their own social class, ethnicity, race, and religion. From these facts one might conclude that men and women have very similar criteria when they choose their marriage partners. But this is misleading.


Do women compete for high-status men?

In the previous chapter we learned that men and women had different thresholds of initial acceptance and made different tradeoffs between looks and status. Men are often unwilling to date plain women regardless of the women's status and achievements, and women are reluctant to date down

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