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I’d always assumed it was good looks, and it never occurred to me that I was proof of the falsity of that assumption. Rather, I’d have told you, I was an exception, that my every girlfriend was down to a moment of desperation. On her part. You know. Pretty girl hasn’t been asked out for two weeks, begins to think she’s lost it, realises her outfit is half a season behind, and the red-headed spindle who’s plonked himself down awkwardly at her table might allow her to sharpen her tools for an hour or so. But I like to make the most of it, so every now and again when I feel the need for a little more gratitude I remind my wife that I was the last star on her horizon, that I rescued her from a life of spinsterdom. It works for both of us, providing me an opportunity to see myself as a white knight and her an opportunity to assure me that I was not her only or even last star. Nooo, I cry in horror that’s not all mock. Now, after decades of observation, I can tell you it is not good looks that attract women to men, and the facts that my wife is smitten still and that I have become better looking as I’ve aged, as men do, is mere coincidence. I’m moved to the mystery of what attracts women to men by the extraordinary run of success of an old mate who lives in Sydney, where, admittedly, women are particularly desperate. For a decade, since his marriage to a woman his age ended, he has had a conga line of girlfriends half his age, and the arrival of every new one leaves his old friends shaking their heads in disbelief. You’re as ugly as a hatful, I told him over Christmas drinks a month ago just in case he was beginning to think he was good looking. For about as long as I’ve been interested in the mystery of what attracts women to men I’ve been amazed by the proclivity of women to make poor choices in men. In fact, women making a poor choice is so common that even if one makes a good choice she is very likely to have made a number of shockers in the preceding few years. Men of the poor choice will be returned to the market repeatedly, unlike the men of good choice, which is why the poor choices are disproportionately high in the statistics. The issues of attraction and choices travel together. Surely it is reasonable to assume that a woman would consider a man’s prospects in mulling over a decision to embark on a relationship, but I have seen so many women choose a male partner whose prospects have a very low ceiling that such an assumption must be wrong. Partnering up with a trolley collector is one thing, partnering up with a fellow who is always going to be a trolley collector is another. It seems, too, that women are unlikely to consider a man’s propensities for anger, threats, mood swings, selfishness and control, propensities that seem to be obvious to everyone except the wooed. The positives are easy, and top of the list must be a sense of fun. GSOH they stipulate in the Personal classies, but rather than good sense of humour I believe they’re seeking or offering good humour, fun. Life with a partner who’s fun is much better than life with one who is not. A passion is another, whether it be a passion for surfing or finding the extremely rare night parrot. Money? Definitely a catalyst but for the great majority of women its absence is not part of the consideration. Still, discussing considerations is silly because I don’t believe women make a deliberate, measured decision in entering a relationship, and I do believe that elements that lead them into that relationship are likely to be minor and ephemeral. That might be a common interest, a certain funkiness, or, even, her feeling the need for a relationship. Marriage is a different kettle of fish, and both men and women seem to dwell on a decision to marry. My entering relationships short of marriage required only the briefest of deliberations but a crucial part of my decision to marry was my belief that my girlfriend would be a wonderful wife and, if it came to it, mother. She is. And that seems to be the modern, or post-modern, difference. Instead of a formal marriage, of reaching a point in a relationship where marriage is considered and jointly agreed, people seem now to drift into long relationships, marriage-like relationships that don’t have a single and publicly announced point of decision. The children and the joint mortgage are floating on top of a relationship that is much the same as it was two weeks after they shacked up, while in marriage children and mortgage are within a structure that was created carefully and deliberately. Hopefully. Marriage and marriage-like relationships are now in a state of flux, the expectation of a life-long coupling is giving way as we speak to the acceptance that people are likely to have a series of marriage-like relationships over their life. The notion of a broken home has gone already, and the judgement that a marriage or long relationship that ends has failed is on the way out too. It will be simply a relationship that has run its course, a completed relationship. Easy come, easy go, and surely not a bad thing. Poor choices won’t become a thing of the past, but their impact will. Tur. Read more: Toy guns in the crosshairs Read more: Young, dumb and coverered in tats