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"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.

New trends in the mating game—marrying someone like yourself—plus an unstable economy breathe new life into the term "peer marriage." In previous generations, successful doctors, lawyers and bankers sought wives who looked good, were well-bred and made a mean Stroganoff to boot.

Now, more and more alpha males are looking for something else from the A-list: accomplishment.

According to a poll, 48 percent of men (and an equal percentage of women) reported dating partners who drew the same income as they did.