Total Market Value (TMV)

Last night, after the kids went to bed, my wife and I got into this conversation about the SMV (Sexual Market Value) curve. She is turning 39 soon and is worried that her value as a wife is diminishing as she is aging. She was not s*** testing me, this was a real concern.

It got me thinking. The SMV curve is not totally accurate for our situation. It is based mostly on the things we have little control over, age and looks for women, money and looks for men. While this is primarily the driving force on the open dating market, it is not wholly adequate to describe our situation. As a married couple, there are other things that play a huge part, and our desire for these other traits change over time. For the sake of the length of this article, I will focus on three traits; ambition, trustworthiness, and personality. One extremely important thing to note, unlike looks or money, ambition, trustworthiness, and personality are all more controllable.


When dating, just for a short term fling, a guy really does not care if the woman he wants to get in the sack keeps a clean house, helps out in charitable ways, or exercises regularly. From what I seen in school, in their younger years, women have the upper hand on this. Praise and encouragement throughout their teen years boost a girl’s drive to be the best. Once she is married, she has responsibilities with the kids, keeping the house, and all too often, holding down a job at the same time.  While in their early years, the princess complex drives a girl to show up the boys in her class, the media tells older women that they can slack off, and taking care of the house is not a worthy pursuit. As they age, however maturity will help them understand that a strong family life is a worthwhile pursuit after all in the retirement years. I see many grandmas baking cookies.

Unlike girls, young boys are demonized in our modern schools for being boys. Young and impressionable, many just give up and resort to video games. However, when boys enter into their mid 20’s, a typical shift takes place. They realize nobody else is going to do it for them, on top of that, maturity sets in and the message put out by society that guys are no good means less. This is when guys really go out and start to make something of themselves. Sometime in their later stages of life, the importance of free time is realized, so older men will pull back on the throttle a tad and enjoy life.


Trustworthiness is all over the map as far as people go, and I do not feel that there is a big difference between the sexes in this department. Generally, trustworthiness goes up over time, but will level off at a certain point. It can, go down suddenly, or crash, as in the case of some digression or adultery. This graph is not typical, but it goes to show what I am trying to convey. If a person lives a clean life, their trustworthiness will continue to grow. Oddly enough, the higher someone’s trustworthiness is, the harder it will crash for the same offense. If a televangelist gets caught embezzling money, it has a huge effect, more so than a gangster will feel.

What is important to note is your trustworthiness is a direct result of your actions, albeit day to day, or the major sins in life. The decisions you make are entirely up to you.

Personality and Social Skills

People can be warm and bubbly, or absolute grouches to be around. A good sense of humor will go a long way in being attractive. There is not a strong trend over a person’s life, it can vary widely from person to person. But like ambition, it follows a person’s desire to be around others. Guys tend to be more flat, although it goes on an upward trend as they gain more life experiences, until they reach their 70’s and geriatrics cause them to be grouchy. Guys tend to be quieter than women, with less social interaction, causing a shallower gain than women experience. When I go to visit older couples for church assignments, it is usually the woman who dominates the conversation (for good or bad) while the guy will just hang out and listen.

Like men, women overall have a wide variance when it comes to personality over a lifetime. Status negatively affects many women, and during their 20’s many are crabby and entitled because they can. If they marry off, they become more pleasant to have a conversation with. However, a single woman will become depressed or bitter when they reach their 40’s, until they can accept their status in life. There is a very bimodal trend among women depending on if they are married or not.

Like trustworthiness, personality is a direct result of day to day actions. Do we choose to interact with people? Do we crab at people or act entitled because we can, or do we put on out best face and be kind to those around us? Aside from mental illness, this aspect is under the control of each one of us.

Putting it all together

Putting these trends together is tougher than simply adding them up to find the score. The emphasis on what the opposite sex finds attractive also varies with time. There is a phrase “when the big head overtakes the little head”, which means a guy starts thinking with his brain, rather than his (libido) where he still likes an attractive girl, but ambition, trustworthiness and personality  play a much bigger role in his decision making on whether she is worthy to commit to.

Women tend to be pickier during their 20’s when their SMV is very high, because they can. This leads to the trends on OK Cupid and elsewhere which shows women are pickier on looks than men.

In the end, this will hurt women and men looking for a committed relationship. Listening to our reptilian portion of our brain and only focusing on looks will neglect the aspects we find more important later in life.

Coming full circle, my wife showed concern about not being as attractive as she once was. That may be true, but looks are hardly the full picture. What is lost in looks is overcame with ambition, trustworthiness, personality, and other qualities I did not mention in this article. In my stage in life I would prefer to be with her than any gorgeous 22 year old. The reason being is she has proven herself trustworthy, ambitious, and we get along well. We have spent time building a life together with our six children. Having to do all that again, I may not end up so lucky.

The SMV curve has a huge effect on singles. The first impression is looks, and for those not looking for any long term relationship, is most important. Once in a committed relationship, or looking for a committed relationship, it is not everything.

What It Means For Women

Age and looks are very important to attract a guy for the short term, but if she wants to find someone that wants to marry her, she better do what she can to show that she is trustworthy, ambitious, and is a pleasure to get along with. Work on developing those traits, and the man you marry will be more likely to stick around when you age and your looks fade.

Also, your time of having a high attractive appearance is short. You may be the most warm, caring, trustworthy, and ambitious woman out there, but if you are old and fell off the ugly tree too many times, guys will not give you the time necessary for you to prove your worth. If you spend too many years garnering short term attention, not only does that show a lack of trustworthiness (whether deserved or not) it eats up valuable time.

What It Means For Men

I totally understand the appeal for the hottest girls around, but those qualities fade in time. If you are looking for a long term, solid marriage and family, look for the woman who has the appealing internal qualities that do not fade. Build up those traits yourself to gain the favor from the women you want to attract.

Author: Jim Johnson

As a man in his early 40's, I grew up on a dairy farm in an irreligious home. Disgusted with the choice of women out there, I looked into religion to find a worthwhile mate. At 23, I joined the LDS (Mormon) faith, married, became a civil engineer, and now have six children. My favorite things are puppies, long walks on the beach, and the color blue (not really).