Why do men buy expensive status symbols like designer watches?
It’s not because they’re actually better. After all, a Rolex is no more accurate than a cheaper watch. And the taste of that eye-wateringly expensive 50-year-old whisky won’t actually make the earth move.
It’s all about social status. And that really matters in life. People treat you differently — quite unconsciously — depending on your gender, height and attractiveness. And your wealth of course.
People are much more likely to push past someone they see as low status, talk over them, and push them around. And I’ll bet even you find yourself giving way to people in expensive cars…
So are status symbols simply about telling people you’re posh, so they treat you better? No, because as people get to know you better, they use other more subtle clues to judge your real worth.
And if your status symbols and your actual status don’t match, they’ll end up thinking you’re superficial and vulgar.
So why do men go on buying them?
It’s actually all about attracting sexual partners. The most beautiful women look for men with the highest social status, which usually means rich. So when a man spends ridiculous amounts of money on bling, he’s saying he can afford it. And so he must be a good partner, so she should choose him.
But if that’s all it is, why not just show everyone his bank statements?
That’s because money’s only part of the story. After all, the world’s full of rich and greedy rogues who’re simply terrible partners. So women can’t simply choose men because they’re rolling in money. They also need reliability, warmth, intelligence, kindness and so on. Raw displays of wealth suggest those qualities might actually be lacking, which means men must signal their wealth more indirectly.
So, during a date, he casually selects an expensive wine. Not because it’s costly, of course, but because it’s exactly the right wine for his date’s meal.
How thoughtful and intelligent, she thinks. Isn’t it nice to be with someone who appreciates the finer things in life? And who doesn’t have to worry about money?
Get it? Men who talk about Rolex’s wonderful craftsmanship, are really trying to show you how intelligent they are. They buy expensive whisky? They’re implying that they have good taste.
They say they only wear Italian suits because ‘it’s good for business?’ They want you to think they’re brilliant entrepreneurs.
And they really mean it — because social status is all in our subconscious. And anyway, no one want’s to admit they’re just sending a message to dazzle the girls, because we’d all laugh.
You can only really impress people by seeming not to be trying — buying that vintage whisky simply because you’re the sort of person who appreciates it’s wonderful flavour.
So next time you see a man buying a bottle of wine that costs three month’s salary, you know what he’s really up to…