We’ve all grown up in Disneyland. Whether it be “Cinderella”, “Beauty and the Beast”, or any other number of fantastical tales, we’ve all been taught that anyone can be anything. Anyone can marry anyone else, and live happily ever after.
But fairy tales are actually soberly realistic. They were written in a time where it was easier to believe in woodland witchery than in social mobility. The frog turns into an actual prince, the cinder girl is magically transformed into an elegant lady with a stagecoach, and just a pinch of fairy dust changes Belle’s LJBF love for a hideous man into true desire for a handsome one. People back then understood that a certain amount of compatibility was necessary for a good match, and they built that into their sagas and story traditions.
Assortative mating gets a bad rap. That it’s actually the sexual counterpart to assortative friendship strikes almost everyone complaining about it as completely irrelevant. We’re expected to want to spend most of our free time for the rest of our lives, most of the real-life conversations we will ever have again, the raising and education of our children, visits with relatives and friends, and most of the long nights we will spend in our beds with… just anyone.
How dare we want to spend all of that time with someone we actually like, get along well with, and who… who… who understands us? How can we be so elitist! Preferring the company of one person over another is a clear and unequivocal sign that we think everyone else isn’t a full human being.
Likewise, those who desire the potential spouses of their neighbor aren’t coveting, they’re just interested in fairness and taking a stand against prideful men and shallow women. Every pauper should be able to bed a princess because no gold diggers. That a prince will then be left with the pauper’s women to choose from, women who were not exactly bred and trained to suit him, is alright because sharing.
And I thought you were a Christian!
Christians love everybody. That means that they have to love hanging out with everybody. Obviously. There are no favorites allowed in Christian country. Everybody is not only equal in the eyes of the Lord, but completely the same, in a fit of physical democracy. According to this view, rather than being one Body in Christ, we’re actually a set of mass-produced hands. All interchangeable. No appropriate pairings and couplings allowed. No woman more fitting for one man than another.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
— Genesis 2:18-25
Sure, Eve was fashioned from Adam’s rib, but Steve wants her for himself and thinks Adam should… er… spread the women around. Eve should be happy to have Steve because he loves Jesus. Adam also loves Jesus, but should be reminded that he didn’t build that.
But there is one glaring error to this concept, other than the obvious fact that it’s selfish nonsense:
The people we don’t want to hang out with don’t really want to hang out with us either.
True story. They don’t like us. They think our jokes are lame, and crude or mean. Our cultural references fall dead on the table. They think we’re boring and misunderstand everything we say. They wonder why all of our hobbies suck so very badly and why we spend so much time reading crap and watching crappy television. They misinterpret our emotional state and think our chatter is dull. Our attempts at bonding only serve to further alienate them. Even if they’re similarly devout, they talk about faith and religion with a different set of language. And they really, really, really hate our culinary habits.
It’s all about the food, you see. The couple who eats together, stays together, and all that.
And that’s why I promote assortative mating unabashedly. Like belongs with like because your mate should be someone who understands you. Who can relate to you. Who can see the world through your eyes. Even if you can move fluidly through many social groups, there’s one place that’s home, and that’s where you should hang your heart.
That doesn’t mean you have to be identical, as if we were all destined to marry our twins, and I think the concept of soulmates is a crock, but it does mean that large gaps between your:
- income and social class,
- education and intelligence,
- experiences and age,
- ethnic background and culture,
- views on government and personal finances,
- beauty and style,
- religious beliefs,
- temperament and mannerisms,
and etc. are a burden to any marriage. Slight differences can add some spice, but it’s very possible to ruin the flavor by dumping in a whole shaker of dichotomy.
For all the talk about rising rates of interracial marriage being proof of social tolerance, the fact is that those couples can get along so well because they’re otherwise so similar, and not because all racial differences have vanished overnight. It is just more evidence of assortative mating, rather than proof that we can all “just get along” in the marriage bed.
Well-sorted is well-wed, in the end. You can sometimes compromise a bit on the more superficial things, and we must all take a realistic view of our own mating possibilities, so let’s be sensible about this. But if you don’t connect at your core with them, in such very basic and practical aspects, you might be very lonely lying next to that other person at night. You’ll feel chained to them instead of freed by them, and that will drag down your marital happiness and make every day a bit more of a burden.
I don’t mind that my husband thinks some of my habits are a bit hokey, or that he mocks my occasional bouts of pretention, as long as he’s the sort of guy who doesn’t read this article and wonder when I’m going to start talking about actual birds. If that makes me a snob, so be it. I’m a happily married snob, so that’s one less occasion to sin for me.