Men's attraction to professionally achieving mates is one piece of a much larger story. "We're experiencing a historic change in the things people want out of marriage, the reasons they enter into it and stay in it," says historian Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Men in their 20s and 30s embarking on first marriages are relieved to no longer be the sole breadwinner and decision-maker, a burden many watched their fathers shoulder. "These men are truly redefining masculinity," says Terrence Real, a psychologist and author of How Can I Get Through to You? Closing the Intimacy Gap Between Men and Women. And the pursuit of a high-achiever is not solely the province of youth. Status-conscious tycoons want to have second marriages—and affairs—with alpha women. "Older men want the most impressive achiever in the office. In the eyes of a man's peers, the woman with the career and degrees counts for more than Miss America," says Frank Pittman, psychiatrist to Atlanta's elite. "Status is attached to a woman who is successful, not to a woman with a perfectly pear-shaped ass."
Common wisdom holds that men are socially programmed and biologically compelled to select women based on beauty and youth, physical traits that signal reproductive health. But many men date "across" and, increasingly, "up" the axes of education and achievement, with less regard for age, or for the notorious "arm candy" factor.
I wonder how the choice of partner applies to same-sex couples. Read any articles or have any opinions on this? I would think there would be more equality in education, career, income, looks, and values. But that doesn't apply to some couples I know and does to others. Can we make generalizations?