When I introduced Johnstone’s concept of the Status Transaction, I suggested that the status hierarchy came from evolutionary biology, and that humans were similar to other animals that operated in packs and had a discernible “pecking order.” This concept also greatly influences how attraction works.
One of the precepts regarding the biological pecking order is that those at the top of the order are rewarded for their position with more mating opportunities.
It turns out, attraction is biological (which is to say not a matter of choice), and goes hand-in-hand with the Status Transaction. This is actually true of humans as well as animals. The Status Transaction goes a long way to explaining why we feel attraction towards certain people, and not towards other people.
There is one columnist for Askmen.com, a dating expert named David Deangelo, who really keys-in on the concept of status transactions and puts it in a dating context. His writing lets you see easily how status plays into dating. He believes that attraction to others isn’t a choice, or anything we can alter logically. But it is something we can spark and maintain.
Deangelo believes that, due to their biological programming, humans are attracted to those they perceive to be of equal or higher status to themselves. We become excited by the “challenge” posed by that high-status person. This sounds a little cynical, but it explains a lot of behavior that can’t be explained any other way.
Deangelo states that certain projected male behaviors, like leadership, indifference, inner control, dominance, strong body language and masculine vocal tone all communicate that men are of relatively high social status. Whereas behaviors such as being defensive, explaining, justifying, rationalizing and seeking approval all communicate relatively low status. He contends that we all make an instant unconscious judgement about a person’s relative status, and that judgement doesn’t usually change once it’s made.
Deangelo’s biggest piece of advice to men is to not play the part of what he calls the “Wussy” guy. He says that generally men shoot themselves in the foot with approval-seeking behavior, like putting women on a pedestal, and then trying to ‘bribe’ them or ‘convince’ them to feel attraction for him (flowers, dinners, gifts, forced compliments, etc.). This establishes a lower-status relationship (he’s obviously chasing), and robs women of the opportunity to find him a valuable challenge. The advice tells men that once they shed their wussy, low status habits, they would naturally act in a laid-back, effortless way that would automatically come off as high-status and attractive.
What I like about Deangelo’s advice to men is that he doesn’t advocate putting on some fake persona in order to become more attractive. A lot of people would get a hold of this information on status and simply think, “Well, if I just look confident and speak low, everyone will love me.” But that’s not any kind of solution because if you normally play low-status in life, and then all of a sudden you try and play high-status, people will see through it. Better to actually work on your insecurities and get rid of them one-by-one, so that you no longer feel the need to seek approval, speak hesitantly, or follow others like a lemming.
“Confidence,” he once noted, “is the lack of insecurity.” That’s profound to me. I always thought that confidence was a thing you had to gain. It turns out that confidence is what you have by default when you lose all the extra, unnecessary crap.
As I mentioned before, this whole concept does seem very cynical and controversial on the face of it. But once I accepted that the Status Transaction was at the root of attraction, it explained a lot of behavior that previously mystified me. It explains, for example, the “Bad Boy” complex. I’ve known many women who prefer a certain hard-edged type of man, and I don’t think it’s because they are masochists or want to be mistreated. It’s more because they’re looking for certain high-status traits that more often than not get associated with bad boys: fierce independence, relative indifference towards women (they have so many to pick from), strength of will, challenge, protectiveness of their own emotions, and the tendency to push people away (if you can afford to push people away, then you must be in-demand).
I’ve seen women get mistreated in relationships, and wondered why it seems to make the woman more loyal to the man rather than less. The answer of course is the misguided idea in her head that, “If he’s the only guy I know who’d be willing to just throw me away, then he must be worth more than every guy I know, and therefore I desperately have to keep him because I’m worth more by being associated with him.”
The converse of this is the old Groucho Marx quip: “I would never be a part of any club that would have me for a member!”
Here are some Q&A articles Deangelo has written:
I’d recommend reading as many of these Q&A articles as possible, to see if you can see why guys are being given this specific advice. Se if you can see what his advice means in terms of a Status Transaction. It’s fascinating.
Please leave a comment below about how you’ve seen attraction and status at work. Have you ever seen a man have a woman lose interest in him because he was being a wuss and seeking approval? Have you ever had a friend fall for someone who was bad for them, and they would say, “I know I shouldn’t like them…I can never trust them…but I can’t help it!” How have you seen status play into attraction?
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