Don’t Marry (Or Date) the Prettiest Girl You Can

In any group, there will be a status ceiling, above which there are no group members, and a status floor, below which there are no group members.

We intuitively get, I think, the idea of a status floor; unless you were accepted to every college you applied to, got every job you tried for, and have always hung out with the “cool kids” of your social milieu, you’ve experienced a status floor.

The ceiling is a bit trickier.  No one’s stopping a high-status person hanging out with a group, so why aren’t they there?

The  answer is that at that level, those of high status can probably succeed at joining a higher-status group, and leaving this one behind.

OK.  Well and good.  So why am I writing a blog post about this?

Because this dynamic is not necessarily obvious.  The reason is that there are different types of status.

When I was in high school, I wanted to do…I don’t know.  Smart things.  And I had pretty insanely good test scores.  So when it came time to apply for colleges, I applied to BYU, Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and Cal Tech.  I was only accepted to BYU.

Why?  Because I had abysmal grades in high school.  Like, barely graduated.

So let’s take a second and think about how one gets into a college.  They look at a bunch of stuff: test scores, grades, extracurriculars, essays, who knows what else.  But to get in, one must do well on at least one of these.  That’s the status floor: anyone you meet on campus must have something, orthey wouldn’t be there.

But after the acceptance letters go out, it’s time for the status ceiling to take effect.  Imagine a more diligent me with better grades.  Perhaps I would have made it to Harvard.  In which case: I probably would have gone there.

So while it’s true that anyone you meet on campus isn’t a complete moron, they’re probably not Ivy material either—because if they were, they’d be there!

Note that the floors and ceilings for individual characteristics is much wider than for the composite used for admissions.  You can have a very smart person at BYU (who’s a slacker) or someone not too bright (who works very hard and plays the system well).  So it doesn’t look like there’s a narrow floor/ceiling, because on any one characteristic, there isn’t.

But a ceiling/floor combo there is, which leads to an interesting property — if you meet someone really smart on the campus of an average school, you automatically know they probably have some sort of other problem.

This could lead to some weird conclusions.  If you went around asking everyone for their test scores and high school GPA’s, you would find that they’re negatively correlated.  You might conclude that “public schools just can’t manage their genius!”  or that “tests don’t measure scholastic aptitude!”  Those may or may not be true, but they aren’t supported by our little ad hoc study.

So let’s bring this back to the topic at hand.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill about my BF helping out his mentally unstable ex?

Don’t even click the link for a second.  Just think about it.  The boyfriend, to have a girlfriend, must somewhat have his life together.  Why does he have an unstable ex?  I’m guilty of this as well.  All my bro friends are down-to-earth dudes.  Why are some of the girls I’ve dated crazy?

The answer is:  the layer effect.  The field of girls available to a guy will, overall, fall in a narrow range.   But on any given characteristic the range is much wider—including looks.
So we really need to be asking two questions: a) why did the guy date her (she was hot), and why did she date him.  Or, to put another way: if she was so pretty, why couldn’t she date a better dude?  The answer: crazy.

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4 comments on “Don’t Marry (Or Date) the Prettiest Girl You Can

  1. I think the caveat is better termed as… marry the prettiest girl you can that also adores your presence and is crazy for you (in a good way of course). For most men this will not be the prettiest girl you can.

    Most girls that are the prettiest a man can marry will often be settling for him. Generally speaking, the lone exception tends to be if you’re top percentage in looks, status, personality, wealth, and whatnot then that may be a reason to marry the prettiest girl you can… but that’s not most men.

  2. MC says:

    I’ll throw out the possibility that “craziness” of the kind that we associate with crazy girlfriends may in fact be somewhat correlated to female attractiveness, and not just due to perception based on the “layer effect,” although I agree that the effect exists.

    It’s easy to see that high testosterone levels are correlated with both male attractiveness and violent aggression. It’s a manosphere cliché, the thug who women can’t resist even if he beats them and makes them miserable.

    But I look back at my craziest girlfriends, and I see that they all had a sort of hyper-feminine, passionate, sexy quality that made them very easy to fall in love with. Not sure what you call it, the Scarlett O’Hara gene? So my thinking is that “hotness” and craziness are actually correlated, not sure to what extent.

    • Anecdotally my experience agrees with yours, and intuitively I think you’re right that there’s something there, but I don’t feel I understand it enough to write about it. Somewhere on reddit I wrote a comment where I imagined the problems I could see arising from being a very attractive girl, but it was just me imagining, not lived experience.

      One thing I am convinced of: above-average beauty would increase the need for tact, grace, social acuity. Maybe I’d go crazy too if I had thirsty dudes hitting me up all the time.

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