For the last century, we’ve had a term to describe the type of woman who pursues a man for his money: “gold digger.” But it’s not as though the practice evolved from nowhere in the early 20th century — people have been using relationships and marriage to elevate their lot in life since the institution of marriage began. Even before that, we can imagine early women selecting their mates based on who seemed most capable of providing for them and their offspring. So what makes today’s hypergamy trend on TikTok any different?
“Hypergamy” refers to the practice of marrying someone of a higher social status. Simply a more scientific term for gold-digging, it originates from ethnographic research of Indian caste systems in the 19th and 20th century, where marrying “up” or “down” were legally sanctioned practices. Beyond castes, hypergamy can also apply more broadly to any other system of stratification, like class hierarchies or different educational levels. It’s this that today’s hypergamous women are focused on: using dating as a means to level up in wealth, and in turn, social status.
Again, this isn’t new, but there are now hundreds of videos from women explaining why they choose to date men they deem “high value,” and their specific methods of attracting them. For example, one popular TikTok in the #hypergamy hashtag is of a woman detailing how her life changed when she started dating men who wanted to be an “asset” in her life rather than a “liability” — she met a guy who would take her on vacations, pay her bills and make it so that she could work only because she wanted to, not because she needed to.
It’s obvious why this would be appealing. I mean, who doesn’t want to feel spoiled and taken care of? Other videos on the hashtag further emphasize the fact that prior to hypergamy, many women dated men who didn’t support them financially, and yet still didn’t treat them with respect. By that measure, choosing to date a man who bolsters their lifestyle is a no-brainer.
But how does one find a man who wants to be an asset? The biggest factor, it seems, is refusing to date a man who exhibits any “red flags” like wanting to split the bill, or complaining about how a woman seems high maintenance. Other tactics include dressing in a “classy,” somewhat modest way that makes it appear like you already have money, and employing certain dating tricks like the “siren gaze.”
In that sense, there’s almost a “pick-up artist” element to hypergamy — after all, it does utilize social psychology techniques to attract specific men. This is part of a broader trend occurring throughout various circles of women who discuss dating online. The Female Dating Strategy subreddit, for example, encourages women to treat dating as, well, a strategy, rather than a natural process of attraction. In many ways, this mirrors some of the PUA communities popularized by guys like Erik “Mystery” von Markovik, who gained notoriety for teaching men things like negging, a technique which supposedly wears down women’s self-esteem enough that she’ll talk to you.
More controversially, some women in the hypergamy scene promote the idea of embracing a “soft feminine” side, and aligning themselves with traditional gender roles that assert a man has dominance in a relationship. This, some women say, is an intentional, yet subtle tactic of control.
Is this all just gold digging, rebranded? Maybe, but many hypergamous people seem to have no qualms with the label of gold digger, regardless. These women are open and honest about their desires and what they seek in men, and if we’re to believe their videos, many have found men who will happily provide for them in the way they’re looking for.
The word “hypergamy” may only be a few hundred years old, but it refers to a practice that’s existed for millennia. Now, thanks to TikTok, we’re just learning the fancy term for it.