More than half of all marriages end in divorce. Obviously, there’s no way to even count how many serious relationships don’t even make it to marriage before they, too, fail. And call me cynical, but I’d be willing to bet that even among the couples married for decades, inertia plays just as much of a role as love in keeping them together, assuming they don’t actually hold each other in frosty contempt while pursuing their dalliances on the side for pleasure. Love is real, certainly. Romantic love? Especially as a basis for creating stable, long-term relationships? One of the craziest ideas this species has ever invented.

So why, then, do stories like this inspire so many snide remarks?

He’s an idiot, she’s a gold-digging whore, goes the common refrain. Maybe. But maybe people are confusing love and happiness. Maybe she made him happy for a while, even though he knew that she really didn’t have much in common with a man more than twice her age. Maybe she figured that he was basically a nice enough guy, and combined with a huge fortune, it was pretty easy to be happy with him, too. Maybe they, like a lot of people, feel that settling for flawed, temporary pleasure beats endlessly chasing after chimeras inspired centuries ago by Provençal poets. Maybe marrying for money isn’t quite as pathetic as being forced to stay married because of a lack of it. Maybe the knowledge that she wouldn’t be attracted to you without your money isn’t as hard to accept as marriage based on ♥True Love♥, followed by years of silent suppers, separate vacations, cutting recriminations, dagger-eyed stares, slamming doors and countless nights spent numbly staring at the bedroom ceiling in the small hours.

And let’s not overlook perhaps the most obvious possibility: maybe a lot of people are just jealous because they’ve fucked uglier, nastier people for free.