Life never makes sense. The world’s sexiest man alive shared his bed with a potbellied pig for 18 years. That’s three times longer than the time he spent (in bed and outside) with his ex wife. Or any of his numerous girlfriends. Could this porcine tragedy be the reason why the road to the epic Clooney boudoir is said to be paved with shards of broken hearts?  Honestly, who cares if this man’s bedroom is indeed a pig sty, as long as it’s in an 18th century villa on Lake Como, in Italy?

On a serious note, when the hottest, most charming, most successful and also the most confirmed bachelor pulls out a seven-carat $450,000 solitaire ring on bended knee, the seismic upheaval across the female population of the planet is bound to be pretty devastating. We’ve just about finished mourning the loss of evergreen bachelor Number 2 Archie Andrews, and now this. How much carnage can a woman take? Women, that is, in every home on every street in every city of every country. And yes, on every continent. The line of grieving ladies starts at Clooney’s bedroom window, shows gravity the finger and goes up in the air, all the way to the International Space Station.

Amal Alamuddin

Did I mention it snakes across the oceans, all five of them?  Anyhow, while I sat and brooded, a sharp English fan chose a far more constructive modus operandi. Like good ol’ double-oh-seven, (perhaps even commissioned by Her Majesty), a first time British writer living in Switzerland, D.H. Barkley, set off on a mission to answer the question every woman on this planet was asking, between the ages of 16 and 80, HM included. What made Clooney give up his vows of debauchery in favour of domesticity?  Did he get hit by a rock on his head, and then decided to offer it to his latest lady love? Being a medical professional, Barkley brings a forensic thoroughness to the job, complete with a prescription of true love at the end. The e-book George Clooney: From Bachelor to Betrothed echoes the collective female dismay at the announcement of this engagement and is an earnest attempt to decipher the phenomenon called Clooney.

From the book it appears that George has been as impulsive about his piggy entanglement as he was with his human consorts. He saw it, he liked it, he brought it home. A self confessed ‘full-on spontaneous’ sort of guy, as a 28 year-old, he eloped to Vegas in a Winnebago with actress Talia Balsam (on the rebound from a broken relationship with another actress, Kelly Preston) and found himself saying ‘I do’ in the Chapel of White Lace and Promises, ordained by an Elvis impersonator holding a Bible. If that’s a lot to absorb in one sentence, imagine it all happening in a single champagne-charged  night. “When you come from Kentucky, any kind of white-trash thing like that really impresses you,” he ruefully quipped later. Five years and $80,000 later, he told Barbara Walters in an interview, “I won’t get married again. I wasn’t very good at it.” A home with two actors in it, both trying to establish themselves, is bound to see some marital drama.

Clooney’s response to discord was shooting hoops with the boys. He admits he never really tried ‘to fix’ any of the cracks, and when the marriage ended, he moved in with one of his buddies for nine months. That was when the George Clooney was born. The man who moved back home was to become the irresistible superstar the world adores, the charming playboy with a political agenda and a very democratic outlook on romantic partners. Wrestlers, models, actresses, waitresses, showgirls, mystics — bachelor George was on a roll.

George Clooney and Stacy Keibler

The only thing his ladies had in common was drop-dead gorgeousness. Barkley observes that Clooney’s love timeline is pretty clear-cut in terms of girlfriend profiles. The pre-stardom dalliances were all about dating equals — professionally and in terms of age. Post-stardom, and with George touching the infamous 40 year mark, the women, predictably, got younger and less professionally threatening. George – The Naughty Schoolboy morphed into George – Dapper Sugar Daddy. I hate saying this, but the more women he dated, the more desirable he seemed to become to women everywhere.

Barkley substantiates this with a study, which proves that the female grouse prefers to mate with the male that is surrounded by other females, even if these other ‘females’ were stuffed animals. If Barkley weren’t a woman of science, I’d pick a grouse with her right now. George certainly has the power to turn most women between 15 and 80 into drooling messes. Truth be told, I’m one of them. The only difference is that I mask the lust with respect for a humanitarian who uses his star power to shed light on global injustices. So he looks like a silver fox, and makes my respect take on wench-ish undertones, bite me!

Then, was it a failed nuptial that coloured his perspective on long-term commitment? Or was the rock steady 51-year-old marriage of his parents, Nick and Nina, too hard to live up to? His best buddy, actor Richard Kind, in whose house George moved into after his marital mishap, had this to say in an interview: “In a marriage, you’re bound by what’s expected of you. He doesn’t want to be expected to do anything.” No wonder his most enduring mate was a lazy pig.

When asked why none of the innumerable relationships after his divorce led to a single long-term relationship, Clooney replied without guile, “Women expect to go out with George Clooney and then find out I’m not George Clooney. I am an ordinary guy. I can’t put an act on all the time.” Beneath all that shimmer of stardom is a bloke as flawed and messed up as anyone else. Trapped, of course, in a luxurious villa in northern Italy.

Still, ten serious relationships in 14 years does make for a rather cavalier ‘kiss-the-girls-and-make-them-cry’ kind of GeorgiePorgie persona. In his defense though, it’s not like he has the luxury of getting to know someone before becoming romantically involved. Just a second glance at a person with a double X chromosome factor has the media calling dibs on what their progeny will look like. Small price to pay for being voted one of the world’s best-looking, most eligible bachelors.

Thing is, even eligible bachelors have a sell-by date. Be that as it may, it certainly doesn’t seem to have affected the 51-year old’s mojo. “I don’t like to feel like I’m being hunted down…”, implying probably that he  always likes to do his own hunting, especially when it comes to women. As crass as that sounds, at least his hunting grounds were not the casting studios of Hollywood. Clooney met the future Mrs. C at a human rights fund-raiser in September 2013. They were seen dining together a month later. A few quiet weekends spent in Tanzania, Mexico and the Seychelles, and voila, it was solitaires and pre-nups.

The seven-carat stone — a carat for every month they’ve dated — has forced fiancée AmalAlamuddin into the crosshairs of both the frenzied media and Clooney’s bristling fans. Born to Lebanese immigrants who worked hard to find success in the United Kingdom, Amal does appear to be different from his exes — successful, accomplished, confident and grounded, for starters. The closest that most women who look like her come to world peace and human rights is  the Q&A rounds of beauty pageants.

As a human rights lawyer, Amal has represented the likes of Julian Assange, Kofi Annan and former Ukrainian president YuliaTymchenko. I concede, albeit grudgingly, that there’s much going on between the ears, as there is….well, in front of them. A strong minded woman with a will of her own has finally been checked off Clooney’s romantic bucket list. Apparently, it’s not her brilliant mind or her smoking body that got Clooney looking for real estate in London. It’s her ability to remain unfazed by his celebrity status. Amal, it appears, doesn’t even hide behind the customary dark glasses in anticipation of the popping flash bulbs. Beautiful and brave.

Moving on, let’s take a look at what the lady’s bagged. A millionaire hunk. Digging deeper, we come up with an ex-construction worker, tobacco-cutter, insurance agent, shoe salesman turned actor, with more girlfriends than the zeros in his bank account.  An aging divorcee who feels compelled to fill his empty palatial homes with guests, often strangers he’s just met. His world, despite its private jets and palatial heritage homes, is by his own admission, ‘small’ and ‘claustrophobic’.  ‘The boys’ have been his lifeline for half a century, and that’s not about to change anytime soon.

As for his charm and good looks, let’s face it, being Mrs. SexiestMan Alive, isn’t exactly what a girl dreams of in a marriage. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Amalis an even more eligible bachelorette in her world than Clooney is in his, given that she’s 16 years younger with an unblemished marital track record.  All things considered, what we have here is a rich sexy aging cad with an agenda to save the world from injustice. And a young beautiful intelligent woman who has the professional skills to do it. This is a match made in the UN.

The question being tossed around like a Brazuca these days is, will this match endure? Maybe we should be asking ‘why is the success of any relationship measured by its longevity?’ Is it because we’ve been engineered by nature to commit to the ‘date, mate and parent’ paradigm to ensure the survival of the species? But now that our species itself has become a threat to the survival of the poor planet, the breeding angle in the mating game has lost its edge. And without offsprings to rear, there seems to be no practical reason for mates to remain in long-term relationships.

Ergo, serial monogamy is ‘trending’ everywhere, with young couples living together sans long-term commitment and moving on to more suitable mates as and when they find them. With this ‘conscious uncoupling’ being the hot flavor of the season in Hollywood, it’s ironical that George, the founding father of this phenomenon, is plunging into good ol’ fashioned conscious coupling.

According to Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at Washington University, middle age changes the whole dynamic in men, particularly men who have trouble giving up their motorcycles. “The thrill-seekers and lust-lovers get a whiff of their mortality and turn to love with a new sense of its gravitas,” she says, “No matter how bright your star, you know that only so much time is left to have a profound relationship and perhaps, a family”.  Schwartz observes astutely that Clooney had already begun his course correction on screen, playing a variety of lost middle-aged men, emotionally drifting in their identities, relationships or careers, who finally ‘find’ themselves by reshuffling their life, readjusting their principles or awakening to a self truth. (Up In The Air, Descendants, Michael Clayton)

Could it be that the wiser, olderClooney has woken up to a truth his parents have always known, but didn’t know quite how to tell him? A simple fact that eluded even Einstein, who continually struggled with his marriage? The fact is that, it isn’t people but life that comes with warts. Moving from one partner to the next doesn’t quite reduce one’s chances of encountering imperfections and disappointments — it, in fact, increases the odds of frustration and failure.

Maybe, the sexy silver fox in question is too tired to hunt anymore and wants to retreat to his borough with a hot water bottle, a book and a cozy companion. Maybe, the man is indeed ready for commitment. So what if the closest he’s come to it is his 18-year relationship with a pig? Man’s got to start somewhere, right? Given Amal’s credentials, it seems like the aging playboy has, for the second time in his life, come home with the bacon. And a pretty prime cut at that.

Can Perennial Bachelors Change Into Husbands?

As one of the most famous bachelors gets ready to take his wedding vows, the question seems rather pertinent.  Can perennial bachelors like George Clooney change and become longstanding husbands — able to weather the rough seas that accompany the great times?

Remember those snippets of advice our mothers offered on our love life? My mother’s wisdom was that you should never marry a longstanding bachelor, as they were set in their ways, too used to getting their own way, and unaccustomed to compromise.

But leopards can change their spots, as demonstrated by Warren Beatty who, after a string of relationships with beautiful women, married in his mid-50s. More than 20 years and 4 children later, he and actress Annette Bening are still together — no small feat in Hollywood.

Apparently many a middle-aged bachelor finally decides to settle down as they realize time is running out to fit in a wife and family before the Grim Reaper calls. So if my mother’s advice on perennial bachelors is not universally applicable, what do they need for long-lasting love?  In the end they probably just need the same as the rest of us – although it may be harder to achieve when you have been single so long.

Seven all-purpose ingredients for long-term romantic success:

Similarity – Research shows that if we want our romantic relationships to last, we should search for ‘homogamy’ in a partner – that means someone similar to us, particularly in values. Borne out by several studies, showing that similarity between partners for various characteristics, including age, background, intelligence, socio-economic status, and values predict greater relationship success.

Realistic expectations – Realistic expectations of our partner and the relationship is another key ingredient for long term success. It’s important we recognize that no one is perfect, it won’t always be plain sailing, and it is quite normal to feel we don’t like our partner from time to time. According to the so-called ‘Disappointment model’, if individuals start out with extreme positive beliefs, disappointment frequently ensues. And such feelings of disappointment do not bode well for the longer term.

Friendship – Hardly surprising this one ranks as important – after all we will spend plenty of time with that ‘significant other’, so after the first flush of love is over, we need a true friend to weather day-to-day life.  According to Franz Schubert, ‘Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife’.

Equality – We need to believe we bring as many desirable qualities to the relationship as our partner. Equality means we have balanced power in the relationship, that we can act independently of our partner’s control, influence their actions, and participate equally in decision-making.

Commitment – Commitment is the most powerful predictor of relationship stability. But it’s not about a marriage ceremony – it’s about making the relationship a priority and being willing to sacrifice for it, invest in it, link our personal goals to it, and seek the other person’s welfare, not just our own. It’s about having ties together, such as joint possessions and family, which help keep us glued together during rocky times.

Understanding – As mentioned in the bestselling relationship book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, many of our relationship troubles start because men and women are more different than we may think. When women have problems we want care and understanding, but our partner offers solutions and resentment builds as we feel we were not listened to. To help solve his problems we try to be supportive by offering comforting, unsolicited advice, but our good intentions make him feel smothered and controlled. Then we have to contend with each other’s cycles. After getting close, men need to feel independent again and become distant for a time, whilst women go up and down emotionally like a Yo-Yo. We need to talk and talk around our problems, whereas men prefer to be alone to mull over solutions in their cave.

Conflict resolution – According to researchers ‘the mere presence of conflict may reveal less about the quality of a relationship than does the way in which the conflict is handled’. Conflicts are normal and inevitable in any partnership, and it seems that mutually satisfactory resolution to disagreements is key to the continued harmony, satisfaction, and even survival of the relationship.

And for Mr Clooney and Ms Alamuddin?

She certainly ticks more of the boxes for similarity than many who have come and gone before. But he may need to work hard to ensure they are equal co-directors of their movie, given that he likes to be the ‘guy’ and his fame means that his partner’s identity inevitably becomes associated with him. In the past he didn’t seem to have a big appetite for commitment, but he is older and perhaps more ready for the sacrifice and constraints that are key to commitment. As a macho man, he could be quite far up the ‘Martian’ scale, so a good understanding of gender differences could come in handy. And maybe a bright young lawyer is just the ticket to hone one’s conflict resolution skills, given that in his first marriage, in his own words, ‘instead of figuring out how to make it work, I looked for a way to get out of it. The truth is, you shouldn’t be married if you’re that kind of a person’.

Only time will tell whether George Clooney can change from long-standing bachelor to long-standing husband.

 By D.H.Barkley

George-Clooney--From-Bachelor-to-BetrothedAfter her interest was piqued by encounters with a number of women who clearly found George Clooney fascinating but were so different to the women he has dated, D.H. Barkley settled down to write her first book, George Clooney: From Bachelor to Betrothed. She lives in Switzerland with her husband. Details on www.clooneythebook.com.