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Merits of men: What qualities should you really look for in a life partner?

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1 January 1970

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Pretty boring or just plain rich, Rosemary compares the merits of men and what you should avoid when looking for “the one”.

You may have had more sense – though I doubt it – but in my youth, I admit I believed the truly most important test of any male’s worthiness was the arrangement of his face and his ability to wear fashionable clothes with confidence.

I reduced teenage boys to sex objects. Whether they were pretty or not shouldn’t have mattered, but I was a young idiot. I paid the price for that as I ran a mental tape measure over young males in my orbit – and those I worshipped from afar – in my investigations. If that was primitive biology at work, my life would have been one long snore.

You learn from teenage skirmishes how boring pretty people can be. You either learn that, as many men fail to do, or you’re condemned to a life of talking about the weather (which is not conversation) or doing jigsaw puzzles together. With lots of sky pieces.

They call them husbands. They look good in wedding pictures, smiling bland smiles, but prettiness fades, and bores are bores.

I did the research.

Smarter girls consider the potential bottom line, as in ledgers. Sensible parents bring them up to understand that misery with money is infinitely more pleasant than misery without. My parents were negligent, having gone the pretty face way themselves only long enough to produce me and part company.

Pretty people will always be sought after, but smarter women aim themselves from an early age at nerds with potential. MacKenzie Scott and Melinda Gates both landed men with Scrooge McDuck buckets of money (Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, respectively). Now that their marriages are consciously uncoupling, they’ll have enough money to buy South America.

What stands out about Bezos and Gates is not their looks. You may have half-commended them, as I did, at marrying attractive women rather than trophy wives, and fondly imagined they’d never be unfaithful. But their uncouplings teach us that no man that rich doesn’t fancy a harem, and his dark side always knows he can buy one.

They were not the type to stray too far, from what we’ve been told. Gates had an affair, and tried to have more, with his own female staff. Bezos seems to have strolled over to the neighbours and charmed the wife. He could do that effortlessly in slippers and track pants, confident that no woman of sharp intelligence would turn him away.

Think of Arnold Schwarzenegger – also lazy, having an affair with the family housekeeper, who produced a child as evidence. He probably didn’t even need to climb the stairs to woo her. No wonder his wife uncoupled him too.

I’m disappointed in Bill Gates for having had Jeffrey Epstein, procurer of young girls, as a buddy. What could an ageing man have to say to a young girl in that orbit? And what would a young girl see in him? Money may brush such considerations aside, but young girls will have enough regrets one day without piling up more of them. What do they get out of it? Gold-plated nail clippers for their charm bracelets?

We can sigh and say that’s what men are like, and the world was ever thus, or we can look to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and dare to hope for better – even as the British press shreds him in mock outrage and condemns him in red ink for having feelings and talking about it. Who can deny that he lived a Truman Show life from birth, the product of an unfaithful man who coldly married a 19-year-old for babies while keeping a mistress and expecting the child bride to like it.

Harry gives every sign of wanting to be what Prince Charles was not: a stable husband and father. I hope it catches on.

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