Why are women so materialistic? (and how to deal with it.)

Embracing "Materialistic Women"

David Buss is one of the most well-known evolutionary psychologists out there, and when it comes to dating he has a lot to say about it. The Evolution of Desire is proof of that. In this book, he uses an easy way to show us what women want in long-term relationships. Or as he would call it, long-term sexual strategies. How does this relate to women marrying up? Or gold diggers?  The answer is preferred personality characteristics. Every woman prefers a certain characteristic in their long-term partner. When it comes long-term sexual strategy, we’ll find that certain preferred characteristics can explain the materialistic pursuit that you don’t like to see in dating. 

How? Each of the traits below will be somehow related to finding the best provider of resources. Now keep in mind that this is a book explaining women’s behavior, not exposing them for their distasteful dating choices. You are trying to understand women in research-based terms, which is only one way of seeing it. At the end of this article, you will be able to adopt a more holistic view towards why women are materialistic when they date/settle down. You’re not changing your attitude towards marrying up, but you will have a deeper understanding. 

 My summaries below will explain to you simply why these personality characteristics mattered so much in the ancient past. The content is not easy to like, but it will open your mind to a new perspective. And that is women’s biology at work when they are dating. Can you accept materialism as a possible by-product of our evolution? If yes, then you are able to embrace the reality of dating and relationships, and screen for the women you actually want to date. 


Economic Capacity (EC) -

 How much resources can a man provide? That’s economic capacity. In the ancient days, this could mean protection, food, money for the woman and her children. In today’s setting, this could mean how much money and what kind of lifestyle can you provide. We all know that this matters to a lot of modern women. But why? Why must you be the provider? For some women, that answer is simple. She needs to know what kind of life will she be having with you, and whether or not it is worth it for her. Call it your old-fashioned entitlement and/or materialism, but it is more than that.

Instead of seeing this as entitlement/materialism, we can look at the preference of economic capacity as an instinct developed over time. How? The instinct of survival forced it. In order to secure enough protection and resources for herself and her children, a woman had to look for a man with the right amount of economic capacity. Her life and her children's depended on it. If she settled for a man with less economic capacity, the family might starve, or not have the proper physical protection. But is this today’s modern dating problem? In most places, of course not. Even though women can take care of themselves now, there are still women who thinks that economic capacity is important. 


So the pressure is back on you, the man. Make lots of money or else. Okay sure, but isn’t there a better way to look at this situation? Yes. Let’s say you find a woman who openly confesses the material requirements she wants in a life partner. That’s honesty straight up. Right away you can screen her out, and find a better date. On the flip side, you can just tell her of the frugal lifestyle you want in the future. And have her screen you out. 

Disclaimer: (whether or not you’re looking for a life partner, girlfriend, something casual, remember that dating is supposed to be fun. The above is just a temporary solution for you to screen out the girls you don’t want. ) xD


Social Status

So she prefers dating the more famous, well-connected, and well-positioned career guy over you? Yup, this might be social status at work. Dating for social status is not a new thing for us to hear about, and the reality is it sucks. It affects your dating life for sure. But ancient women could care less for your dating life. Why? Because a man with social status probably meant access to better social opportunities, living environments and life-training for a woman’s children. Is this something you want to provide? Can you can increase the social value of her future life? 

Every man understands their place in the social ladder. And so do women. A woman accounts for social status, as she’s planning for her and her children. She wants the best social status that she can get. If it is going to be one long-term mate, then he better giver her the best increased social value she can get. So I ask you, what incentives are there for a woman to settle for less? Let’s not say materialism, but just practical long-term planning.


With that said, there is also education level to consider. This is because its highly linked to social status, and so women who care about education level could also care a lot about social status. Education could lead to social opportunity, or carry a beneficial social prestige. But wait, it doesn’t stop there. Your current job will also be judged on its career trajectory and where it would lead to. Will your success in your job bring social benefits? These things can be very appealing for many women out there. 

So, can you escape from this judgement? Probably not. What’s something you could do? If you really don’t want to date a woman who wants a man of social status. Just tell her you’re not sure where your career is headed, and downplay your corporate position if it is higher than average. Screen out that woman asap.

Ambitiousness and Industriousness (A&I)

Why is she dating this guy with no money or social status? Maybe she thinks he’s a hard worker. Maybe he’s got ambition and industriousness. These two things are indicators for how hard-working a man can be. And hard work leads to success. Success usually means resources. As you’ve already guessed, this means women prefer finding a guy that’s hard-working and ambitious.  Of course this doesn’t mean you have to discover/invent the next big thing, but you do have to show off how hard you work.

For men who work really hard, they do earn higher annual salaries and get better job promotions. This connection is real. And of course women are aware of this so they want these hard-working men. This could be why women judge their partners on how hardworking they are.


This judgement can be seen as a woman being picky. But for ancestral women it was about surviving. This awareness of ambitiousness and Industriousness was vital, because it searched for a man who could work hard to acquire resources. A man who couldn’t work hard, would be less likely to acquire resources for his family. This could have resulted in a life of hardship and poverty for women and children.

With that said is this evolutionary preference of A&I something modern women should put to the side? Is there a practical side to this characteristic trait? 


Moving back to you, if you really don’t want to work that hard as a provider, maybe it's best to make that clear early on in a relationship or when you’re dating. Don’t set yourself up for such high expectations when you don’t want to work that hard. 


Dependable and emotionally stable (D&E)

This guy is not good looking or successful at all. So how did he end up with her? Maybe he’s dependable and emotionally stable. Why would she choose someone with lots of money, but is also someone who might lose money or leave her that easily? You may have all the money now, but you may leave your partner when life gets difficult. In the modern dating market, maybe this is why some women settle down with nice guys or safe guys. They are more D&E than bad boys. Does this mean you have to be a nice or safe guy? Absolutely not.

The terms nice or safe guy didn’t exist back in the day. However, ancestral women had to make sure their mates wouldn’t leave them. If a man suddenly leaves his woman, the woman and her children could be left without physical protection. Their lives would have been in danger! And so this is why women learned how to judge a man’s D&E. There is a survival value behind D&E. But is it the same for modern women?


Because we know that modern women don’t suffer the same danger as ancestral women. However, women nowadays still has to make sure that she has a dependable flow of resources. She must find a reliable man that will provide her and her children in the long-term. Being a single parent is still really difficult. And so as crazy as it sounds, women have to be sure about that you can provide for the long-term. 

You don’t want a woman who wants you for the long-term? The answer is not being unreliable and emotionally unstable. Instead, just make it clear you’re not looking for anything long-term right now. 



Women love smart guys. This is another thing we’ve heard before, but not so often.  Do you think you’re smart enough to date? Why do you have to be smart? First of all, intelligence isn’t all about IQ. Your intelligence is about how good you are at problem solving. Women will judge you on how well you can navigate through challenges and acquire resources. No one wants a dumb partner who can’t close a business deal.  At the same time, it can also be about raising your child. Are you intelligent enough to know how to raise your children. Do you know how to be a good parent? All these things are related to the characteristic of intelligence.


In the past, men who were better problem solvers knew how to build their wealth and influence. These were the attractive men. Women who wanted these men knew that problem-solving is linked to intelligence. In order to retain, grow and acquire resources, men had to be intelligent enough to do so. Less intelligent men would be more likely to lose resources, or miss opportunities for resources. Finding an intelligent man would then increase a woman’s chances of retaining and growing resources.


If a modern woman really wants an extravagant lifestyle, intelligence is probably a key factor. A stupid partner would lose more resources. But what about a woman who doesn’t want the extravagant lifestyle. What then? Does your intelligence still matter? Probably yes. Your intelligence could still show how good of a family leader you are. When life gets difficult as a family, she wants to turn to you. She wants you to figure how to get through the financial, emotional and physical difficulties. 


That’s a bit much to consider, and probably why intelligence matters so much to some women. So are you going to show how stupid you are when you go on dates? Hopefully not. This is probably the most difficult characteristic to work with. 


Keep in mind, this is a scientific way of looking at dating. Some would find this outrageous! How can we think that women approach dating through personality characteristics? The truth is some probably do. But also remember, this article uses characteristics because that’s how David Buss’s research is structured. As readers, we can use these characteristics to make sense of certain perceptions and stereotypes we have of women. 

At the end of the day, love and commitment is still the top characteristic for a long-term mate. Dating is still about romance: most of the time. It may be depressing to read about the characteristics on top, but i consider it helpful knowledge. Use the above knowledge to screen out women who are grooming you to be a certain provider: if you don’t want to be one. If you do, then what kind of provider traits do you have? Which traits are your strengths? How can you work on your weaknesses?

All these provider traits can be worked on over time, but once thing you can’t learn is creating love. If there isn’t any connection or chemistry, then where is the love? And if there’s no love, then all your provider traits, whether or not you care about being a provider doesn’t mean much at all. 

I hope you enjoyed this article, please leave me comments below. I would give The Evolution of Desire a full read, as David Buss covers sections on Casual Sex, What Men Want and many more.