BERLIN — The conventional wisdom goes that beautiful women have a difficult time finding mates because, among other reasons, there aren’t enough good-looking men to go around. And yet, it turns out that looks are not nearly as important in the game of love as is generally assumed.
Fairy tales and myths tell us that beauty is the trump card in finding love, that a beautiful princess has untold numbers of admirers. And if women’s magazines are to be believed, women need amazing perfume, regular workouts, great body lotion, the occasional whole-body peel, well-shaved private parts, an impeccable manicure, perfect make-up, and of course a fashionable hairstyle.
But the longer I work as a consultant to singles, the clearer it becomes to me that the importance of looks in the search for a partner has been dramatically overstated. Despite cosmetic industry hype, the fact is that all the efforts made to look more beautiful are pretty much a waste of time. And yet I also see what huge pressure women feel to measure up.
About 90% of women question whether they are beautiful, and many have internalized an image of themselves as a sort of ugly duckling. This is true of all ages and education levels, and of women with both average looks and who are by any objective measure beautiful.
But just how much do looks really play in the search for love?
People generally choose partners who are roughly their aesthetic equals, and plenty of studies confirm this. Because most people have average looks, it is easier for them to find partners than it is for good-looking or extremely good-looking people, for whom the pool is smaller.
The very beautiful woman rarely meets her male equivalent because there are very few of them. And othe admirers she attracts are often the wrong type. Many of these men are not interested in her mind (“she’s so smart!”) or who she is (“are we suited to each other?”) but rather are attracted to her because of her looks (“wow, she’s seriously gorgeous!”).
Because so many women have internalized the myth of the beautiful admired woman, they often don’t understand their failure in love. I speak from experience with a client who looked like a top model but was all alone. She told me how seldom men were interested in her.
That doesn’t surprise me. I’ve spoken to many men about this, and the result is pretty unanimous: They generally can’t see themselves with a woman who has it way over them in the looks department. Men want to feel on an equal footing, so beautiful women are often written off.
What would I advise the exceptionally beautiful woman to do when looking for a partner? For one thing, to be very active in her search, particularly on the Internet. For another: The more attractive she is, the more she should expand her search radius. It’s not enough to look where you live. One attractive German TV talk show host expanded her search to Paris — a successful idea, as it turned out.
The whole aura
Looking for a partner is not a beauty contest. Some “lookers” are boring and colorless when you meet them. Others are the embodiment, the picture, of joie de vivre. When it comes to a connection between one person and another it’s the whole aura of the other that counts.
Facial expressions, gestures, voice, posture, what people say and — often far more important — how they say it are all part of this overall essence. A person’s attractiveness are dictated by all these elements, of which looks are only one of many criteria.
The aura somebody projects is directly related to how satisfied they are with their life. So far more important than a stunning dress or hairdo is, for example, whether a woman is really happy with her life. If she enjoys her work. If she has good friends. If she projects confidence and a fundamental satisfaction with her lot.
Being satisfied with one’s life, inner peace, serenity — these are what really matter when looking for a partner.
Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.
SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.
The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.
It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.
Seoul housing prices top London and New York
In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.
According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.
Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.
One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.
According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.
Playing the stock market
At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.
A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."
In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.
42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s
Game of survival
In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.
But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.
This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.
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