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There’s a little bit of gold-digging in all of us

Money can buy you love in China. €10,000, to be exact. Twenty-one single billionaires and 22 single women attended a Shanghai matchmaking ball last month, where tickets came with a quadruple-zero price tag.

The 21 billionaires were all registered members of Golden Bachelors, a Shanghai-based matchmaking agency dedicated to helping wealthy Chinese men find a partner.

The bachelorettes donned elegant ball gowns and performed in a talent show at the ball where they sang, danced and cooked for the assembled men. On the surface, this matchmaking ball sounds like something from the 1800s; but perhaps its attendees are just more upfront about what is, let's face it, universal behaviour.

Gold-digging is as prevalent as ever, if not more so. It's become normalised, glamorised even. You might not have worn the T-shirt, but you have been there. At the very least, you've sneered at the man who insists on going Dutch on a date. Likewise, many of us would balk at the idea of dating a man who earned considerably less than us.

For many, money is a box on the tacit tick-list, however, much we might distance ourselves from this kind of behaviour. Remarkable are the women who deny their behaviour and the men who allow their coffers to be pilfered.

Just before receiving a £24m divorce settlement, Heather Mills remarked: "If I was a gold-digger, I would be a very wealthy woman now . . . and I'm not." What does that imply?

Consider the response a 25-year-old self-confessed gold-digger received when she posted a topic on an internet forum asking where she could meet a rich banker.

"Here's the rub," an investment banker replied, "your looks will fade and my money will likely continue in perpetuity . . . in fact, it is very likely that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't be getting any more beautiful! Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation accelerates!" He did offer her an invitation to "lease", though.

Those who place commerce before love should be transparent about the deal they're striking: money in return for youth and beauty. Sexual economics, if you will. Women commodify their vaginas and men pay the entry fee.

More to the point, they should be aware of how it reflects upon them: women look shallow, greedy and incapable of making their own money; men look foolish and easily led.