It’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to love, but according to experts, we all have a different concept of romance.
While one person will like nothing better than spending Valentine’s Day having a couple’s treatment at a spa, another will love receiving expensive cufflinks or jewellery, and still others will want to see the latest movie.
‘There are many different traits when we talk about romantics,’ says psychotherapist Tricia Woolfrey, the author of 21 Ways & 21 Days to the Life You Want. ‘We might be very loved-up and touchy-feely with our partner, or we could be laid-back and relaxed about romance.’ So which one are you?
Grand gestures are your thing
You’re passionate and your relationships will be intense and full-on. You give enormous bouquets of flowers or a dozen heart-shaped balloons, and you love cuddling your partner in public, says Tricia.
‘If you’re planning a weekend away, you whisk your special person off to Rome or Paris to a luxury hotel,’ says Tricia. ‘You hold hands across the table in a restaurant and cosy up on the sofa to watch a movie.
‘Your language is intense – you tell your partner they’re the best thing that ever happened to you, or they’re the most beautiful woman or handsome man in the world.
‘We usually feel this passion at the start of a relationship when the chemical dopamine and the pleasure hormone oxytocin make us feel very connected with our partners.
‘If you’re the passionate type, your partner will feel so good because they get lots of attention.’
You’re happiest when you get plenty of reassurance from your partner about everything, from your shape and your clothes to the way you deal with the children and the job you do. You bask in being their number one priority and you enjoy their feedback.
When you’re out together, you may compare yourself to other couples. A woman might wonder if the other women at a party are thinner than her, while a man may check out the other husbands and decide he needs to work out more or wear sharper suits.
Tricia explains: ‘This person may ask for feedback about how they look. They may even say: “I look awful”, in the hope they will get a compliment.
‘They can be competitive in other areas. They often want the furniture they saw in a glossy magazine or the most friends on Facebook.’
Prefer to be in charge
You like your romance to run like clockwork and you want to know exactly what’s happening and when because it makes you feel strong and in control.
You make the decisions in your relationship – you decide who your friends are, what you spend your money on and where you will go on holiday.
‘If you take charge, you will happily book tables, plan itineraries for weekends away and invite people to dinner,’ says Tricia, ‘but you are not as happy when unexpected things, such as illness or having to work late, get in the way of your plans.
‘On the few occasions you ask for help, you want the job doing immediately – you expect your partner to be as quick off the mark as you.’
Like to please?
You’re often on the lookout for things that need doing, and you can be heard saying: ‘Let me do that for you,’ or ‘Leave that with me and I’ll sort it out for you.’
You’re very obliging and you like to please your partner and keep them happy. You’ll check their car oil and tyres regularly, or you’ll buy their favourite cupcakes on your way home from work.
When you go out, you’ll wear the clothes you know they like and at mealtimes, you’ll check if they like the food and if they’ve had enough to eat.
Tricia says: ‘This person moulds themselves into the type of Valentine they think their partner wants. For example, if a lady is with a man who loves football, she’ll watch it all day with him, even though she isn’t that interested in it.’
Going with the flow
You like to take a back seat in your romance and you go with the flow most of the time. You’re not keen to make decisions – you like your partner to tell you what’s happening. That way, you don’t have to take responsibility if things don’t go to plan.
You shrug or laugh off behaviour you’re not happy with – you feel it’s best not to cause arguments. Anything for a quiet life!
‘You don’t like to ask for what you want,’ says Tricia, ‘whether that’s a table for two on your birthday or your anniversary, or help with the housework or children.
‘You see yourself as easy-going, but by being too laid-back you run the risk of being ignored or taken for granted.’
You have a strong sense of yourself and you accept your partner for who they are, not the ideal they can be moulded into.
‘When you meet someone for the first time, you’re open-minded and you don’t have a pre-conceived agenda,’ says Tricia.
‘You problem-solve as a couple. You’re not embarrassed to deal with issues, such as money or health problems, and you handle them with grace and tact.
‘If you hit a tricky time, you talk about how you can get your romance back on track. You know when you both need to make more effort.
‘In a relationship, you may hold hands and you won’t feel threatened if your partner looks at other people. You enjoy events like Valentine’s Day and you’re relaxed about what you do to celebrate.’
Still not sure what kind of a romantic you are? Try this quiz devised by Dr Sheetal Kini, clinical psychologist at The LightHouse Arabia in Dubai.
1. Your partner has announced they’re going on holiday with friends. Do you:
a) Excitedly ask about the trip
b) Say ‘Sounds like fun’, then carry on scrolling through Facebook
c) Drop hints you haven’t had a weekend away together in a long time
d) Suggest where they could eat and what they could see
e) Help with packing and lifts to the airport
f) Suggest you do something with your friends
2. Your partner wants to go to a concert but you don’t like the band. Do you:
a) Happily tell them they’re welcome to go
b) Go – begrudgingly
c) Go as you fear they may take someone else
d) Buy tickets for the two of you for a band you like for the same night
e) Tell them you’d love to go
f) Suggest they take a friend instead
3. You receive a puppy for Valentine’s. You:
a) Whoop and cuddle it
b) Smile and say thank you
c) Wonder why they needed to spring a dog on you
d) Draw up a walks rota and sign up for dog training for the three of you
e) Say thank you for weeks
f) Show your enthusiasm but if you’re unable to keep the puppy, ask what you could both do about it
4. If you were to leave your partner a note in your apartment, what would it say?
a) I love you
c) Call me!
d) Remember to collect the dry-cleaning
e) Your favourite cake is in the fridge. Enjoy!
f) Hope you have a nice day!
5. Your partner works with some very good-looking people. Do you:
a) Feel jealous but not threatened
b) Act as if you didn’t even notice them
c) Ask lots of questions about them
d) Meet them and make them your friends
e) Don’t say anything in case you sound distrustful
f) Joke about the office’s good looks
6. Your partner’s boss suggests relocation to another country for a year. You:
a) Plan a life together in the new country
b) Pretend to be happy but dread him leaving
c) Urge your partner to stay where they are
d) Find a new home and a job there too
e) Ask your partner what you should do
f) Talk through what makes sense for you both at this point in your careers
7. Your partner loves a pricey watch. You:
a) Impulsively buy the watch and present it over a romantic dinner
b) Keep looking at it but don’t buy it
c) Worry about whether they’ll still love you if you don’t buy it
d) Buy it and make sure they wear it… always
e) Splurge, then make sacrifices on what you spend on yourself for the next six months
f) Save up and buy a similar one
8. It’s your partner’s birthday. Do you:
a) Create a scavenger hunt with clues leading to a big surprise party
b) Book the day off work so you’re there if they want you around
c) Buy a pricey gift but leave the price tag on
d) Plan activities, restaurants and outings
e) Ask your partner what they want to do so you get it absolutely right
f) Book the restaurant you both love and give a special gift you made
If you scored mostly As, you are passionate – you’re exciting to be with and romance with you is a big adventure.
If you scored mostly Bs, you’re so laid-back you’re almost horizontal. You’ll never have big arguments but you might need to start asking for what you want.
If you scored mostly Cs, you crave reassurance that you’re good enough. You could learn to love yourself more if you focused on yourself instead of comparing yourself to others.
If you scored mostly Ds, you’re the boss in this relationship. You know what you want and how to get it.
If you scored mostly Es, you’re lovely to be around because you look after your partner, but now and then give them the chance to do nice things for you, too.
If you scored mostly Fs, congratulations, you know yourself and your partner well. You have a lovely, honest romance.
Happy Valentine’s Day!