Hypergamy colloquially referred to as ‘marrying up’ is the act or practice of seeking a spouse of higher socioeconomic status, or caste status than oneself.

Venus de Milo

The term is often used more specifically in reference to a perceived tendency amongst human cultures for females to seek or be encouraged to pursue male suitors that are higher status than themselves, which often manifests itself as being attracted to comparatively older, wealthier or otherwise more privileged than themselves.

Hypergamic behaviours can be explained in terms of genetic economic necessity, in which societies with high levels of gender inequality are more likely to have women who marry-up for the benefit of their children, and more likely to have men who marry-down to ensure that their mates have a higher incentive to remain faithful.

The word hypogamy typically refers to instances of the inverse occurring: marrying a person of lower social class or status.

Some evolutionary psychologists believe that women exhibit mate-selective preferences for spouses who are at least equal to them in terms of attained physical attractiveness, educational level, job status, social standing, and capital accumulation. In comparison, males would tend to place higher emphasis on the value of physical attractiveness in a woman alone.

In an anthology about money and relationships by many prominent female writers, the authors expressed that the role money plays in determining how women select long-term male partners is often considered a taboo subject.