Pippa Middleton is beautiful, loaded and the owner of the most lusted-after derriere on the planet. So it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that while women want to be her, men want to marry her. Oh hang on, what’s that? They don’t?
Whilst there’s no doubting that she’s fun, sexy and a nice girl to boot, late last year it was alleged that despite her eligible status, Pippa was dumped by her boyfriend of 18-months, Alex Loudon, because his parents didn’t consider her to be ‘marriage material’.
And she’s not the only one. Model Kelly Brook might be the woman every man wants on his arm, but allegedly, her current beau, Thom Evans, has admitted that his mum has urged caution when it comes to the pair getting hitched. It seems that Kelly isn’t quite ‘wife material’ either.
Julie Wilbonn, 32, is another woman who’s in the gang of females who seemingly make great girlfriends but not brides. She dated Pete* for nine years, yet never persuaded him to make a trip down the aisle. “I was never the sort of girl who wanted a ring on her finger six months into a relationship, but after three years together I certainly expected that we’d go on to get married. We did talk about it, although I was never very pushy. After four years, I assumed it would happen but after five years I was starting to wonder if it would,” says Julie, who runs a business supplying make-up brushes to professionals.
“We were happy together and I definitely thought we were moving in the same direction, but whenever I brought up the subject of marriage Pete would just ask why I wanted to change things between us. He’d say, ‘We don’t need a piece of paper to be happy. How could it be better than this?’ and he’d pacify me into believing I was being silly and making unreasonable demands.”
Eventually Julie’s mum convinced her to give Pete an ultimatum.
“The subject became the ‘elephant in the room’, so in the end I told him that we either got married or we split up. He chose the latter, saying he didn’t like being coerced into things. For a while I fell apart and wanted to go back to him but marriage was important to me and I knew he’d never commit.”
But that’s where Julie was wrong. Less than a year after they broke up, she learned that Pete had married someone else.
“I was devastated,” she recalls. “I blamed myself and wondered what this woman had that I was lacking. I needed counselling to help me accept that it wasn’t my fault. Pete was simply plodding along with me until something better came along.
“A year later, I’ve moved on. I’ve now signed up to the British dating website iloveyouraccent. com and am having fun meeting nice American men who love British women. It’s helped me to realise that while I wasn’t right for Pete, I will be right for someone else.”
Even so, Julie’s convinced that men have double standards when it comes to what they want in a wife. “They want a glamorous girlfriend but once she’s their wife they don’t want her to be too glamorous in case other men want her,” she says.
And this view is certainly shared by the experts. According to John T. Molloy, author of Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others (Dhs47, amazon.com), men are happy to bag themselves an independent, flirty girlfriend but those qualities are not so attractive in a wife. In short, once they are looking for a life partner, they value loyalty and kindness above being fun and sexy, because fundamentally their animal instinct is to ensure that any children they are raising are their own.
Molloy claims there are definite types of women that men marry - and equally, women they do not. For his book, he interviewed more than 3,500 people and when he asked men who were about to be married to describe their fiancées, only 20 per cent said ‘gorgeous’ or ‘sexy’. The others focused on their future wives’ personalities.
“In a girlfriend, someone with whom a man is not planning to spend his life, it is more about fun,” says Dr Joel Block, psychologist and author of The Real Reason Men Commit (Dhs43, amazon.com). “Some issues, like shared culture may not be as important. Some habits that would be annoying in the long term, for example smoking or drinking too much, may be tolerated and offset by the sexy or fun factor. Being flirty may more likely be tolerated as a girlfriend, but not as a wife, and stability is going to be less important in a girlfriend than in a wife.”
That was certainly the case for Ben Eastman, 36, a furniture designer from Dubai. He dated his ex, Emily, for four years but admits that all along he knew they would never make it down the aisle.
“Our relationship was great fun. We partied hard, but I just couldn’t envisage us as pensioners cuddled up on the sofa together.
“I always told Emily that I didn’t believe in marriage, but what I actually meant was that I didn’t want to marry her. I knew that in 20 years time I wouldn’t want a hard-drinking, party girl, I’d want someone with the same values as myself and those around me. My family kept making comments along those lines to me but at the time I ignored them. In hindsight, they were right and luckily I found someone who is more my type and we married two years ago.”
Interestingly, as was the situation for Ben, Pippa and Kelly, it seems that the opinion of the man’s family can play a large part in whether a wedding will be on the cards. According to Molloy, 30 per cent of men said that their family’s opinion of their girlfriend helped them to decide that she was The One, and it stands to reason that most parents won’t want someone too flirtatious or sexy for their son.
But if you are struggling to make a good impression on his parents, spare a thought for Heidi Withers. Last year, the mother of her fiancé, Freddie Bourne, sent her an email berating her for her supposed lack of manners.
The email, which went global, said: “If you want to be accepted by the wider Bourne family, I suggest you take some guidance from experts with utmost haste. There are plenty of finishing schools around. You would be an ideal candidate for the Ladette to Lady television series. Please, for your own good, for Freddie’s sake and for your future involvement with the Bourne family, do something as soon as possible.” Amazingly Freddie and Heidi still got hitched!
Molloy’s research into the subject shows that most men propose after 22 months and after that the chances of the relationship ending in marriage rapidly diminish. After seven years, the prospects are slim and it’s this timeline that might be what causes some women to be unfairly dismissed as not ‘marriage material’. However, Bhavna Jani-Negandhi, a clinical psychologist for the British Psychological Society, is keen to point out that in most cases, if a man hasn’t proposed then it’s highly likely to be due to the circumstances, rather than the individual woman.
“It could be that a couple simply got together at a different stage in their life, when they were looking for different things,” Jani- Negandhi says. “For example, people often meet at university when they are looking for fun, and then grow in different directions. They still care for one another but ultimately the relationship is just stagnating. Even so, it’s often too hard to break up.”
She continues, “Alternatively, maybe the woman wants marriage and children but the man hasn’t reached that point. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the woman, it’s just that she’s come to that life stage earlier than the man.
“They may then break up and the man realises he doesn’t want to be alone, so he marries the next person he meets. Chances are, she’s no more ‘wife material’ than his ex is, she just came into his life at the right time.”
And there’s the key. If you and your man both want different things from life, then it’s time to reassess your relationship. But if you are both genuinely happy with the way things are, then just because you’re the only one of your friends who doesn’t have a wedding date in the diary, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed.
“Marriage isn’t everything,” Jani-Negandhi continues. “If the relationship works for you both, then that’s fine. And if not, remember – one man may not consider you to be marriage material, but the next might view you as his perfect future wife.”