Like most people, my enjoyment of Valentine’s Day is pretty much inversely proportional to how single I find myself come 14 February, although that’s not to say my personal sliding scale of smug contentedness and overpriced dinners hasn’t always come without its curveballs. I’ve had a boyfriend actually rip up a Valentine’s card in front of my very eyes (yes, evidently I can drive a partner to that level of pure rage), and another make me wait half an hour in the pouring rain while I stupidly convinced myself that it was because he was planning a Valentine’s surprise.
The surprise, as it turned out, was that there was no surprise, and also that my capacity for being a mug seemingly knew (knows) no bounds. Sigh. We all have our weaknesses, eh? Stupid romantic twits that we are.
Luckily for you, I have as many unsolicited opinions on the matter as I do weird little foibles, and when better to share them than in the run-up to this most quasi-romantic of days? So here it is, folks. At the ripe old age of 33, here are not-quite-all the things I’ve learned about love…
Ninety per cent of a happy relationship is spontaneity and doing the washing up. The other 10 is making well-timed cups of tea without having to be asked.
Love at first sight is a total myth. It takes at least 25 minutes to fall in love with someone, three years to really, truly know them, and sometimes a lifetime to wash them away. Which is why it’s so important to remember…
There’s more than one person out there for each of us. You won’t catch them all, though; this isn’t Pokémon GO. Some will slope off into the night, marry someone else like it’s no big deal and leave you scrabbling around, having to swallow one of life’s harshest pills: that soulmates come, and soulmates go. Those near-misses might haunt you, but you must never let them ruin you. Which brings me neatly on to…
Heartbreak. It’s the best thing that will ever happen to you. It moulds you, strengthens you and then sets you on precisely the right path at precisely the right time. Don’t doubt its plan.
There’s no going back once you’ve slagged someone off to your mum. And, in all honesty, that’s probably a good thing. Your short-term memory might be selective, but hers certainly isn’t. And you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of Kyveli. She’s a savage.
Don’t look at who someone follows on Instagram. Just don’t. Sometimes (quite often, actually), ignorance is bliss.
Watch out for anyone too charming. Oh, and chefs. And drummers. And any people whose apartments are suspiciously devoid of books.
Nothing will slowly kill your soul in quite the same way as settling. Don’t ever stay in an average relationship just because it’s there. Wait. Watch some Black Mirror. Travel. Make a sandwich.
Both your head and your heart will lie to you. The most important barometer of any relationship is your gut. Not as romantic-sounding, I realise, but it is the unsung hero of your emotional intelligence. Less sentimental than the heart, not as overwrought as the head, it only speaks the truth. It’s your job to listen. Top line: yes is yes, no is no. Unsure is also no. Sorry.
Grow together, not apart. Be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. For me, love is being able to turn to the other person and know that they’ve made you better just by being on your team.
Marriage and kids aren’t for everyone. And that’s ok. But shared values are non-negotiable. Sticking around hoping to change someone is exhausting.
People will talk about your relationship. Their opinions are none of your business.
Having said that, it’s still worth remembering that if someone else’s relationship is all over social media, it’s an all-singing, all-dancing sham. Don’t be jealous. They’re both DMing other people.
It was only a matter of time before I started spouting Whitney Houston quotes, so here we go: The greatest love of all really is inside of you, kids. And rather importantly, this tends to go both ways. Dating people that fundamentally dislike themselves is a minefield. Avoid, or get out before they start making you think that you’re the problem.
And finally; love is the last great adventure. Find someone kind to share the ride. Someone who knows which songs to turn up. And someone who’ll always take the wheel whenever the road gets a little rough.
Photo: REX Features