Right. It's Valentine's Day and while we don't care, obviously, it is about now that our thoughts turn to whether romance is alive in our relationship, or rigor mortis has set in.
We do want romance, but it's a tricky one to get right, volume-wise and, above all, tonally.
Most of the romantic gestures we're supposed to crave, we really don't. No woman, excepting a Kardashian or Love Island contestant, wants any truck with rose petals, chocolates, anything heart shaped, anything quilted, anything, God forbid, to do with underwear.
We don't want the M&S Valentine's deal dinner for two, served by candlelight in the kitchen, or, for that matter, dinner on a sandbar in an exotic location. (We once had dinner on a sandbar and it was strangely depressing, like being stuck in a promotional video for a luxury retirement home.)
What we want is romantic behaviour, spread out throughout the year, that is not asked for or expected or that frequent (once a month will do, too much romance makes us feel suffocated).
We don't want it to involve flowers (some people may like to be bought flowers, we say you should buy your own if they don't want white crysanths) or spas or bubble baths or destinations or special dinners (we like dinners but we tend to want to have a wine-fuelled debate… so).
And we don't want stock romantic gifts. Weirdly, not even the things we might appreciate, like silk pyjamas, though it's hard to explain why.
Maybe it makes us feel like chihuahas receiving treats. But we are very keen on romance. Sorry.
So this is our 10-point romance test. If he's done more than half of the following in the past six months then the romance is still alive and kicking - otherwise, you may want to take steps.
1. Remembering things about you, that you barely do. The restaurant you loved up the mountain. The song that will always make you dance. The one that you both did karaoke to the night you met (although you can't agree what that was: could it have been, Hall And Oates' 'Your Kiss'? Or was it 'Wuthering Heights'? Cocktails had been taken).
2. Gestures suggesting you have been missed. For example, meeting you off the early flight even though that involves all sorts of hardship for Him and, practically speaking, it would make a lot more sense for you to get home under your own steam (e.g. you have a bus pass).
3. Spontaneous whisking off. Whisking you off somewhere in a car, like the early days, before the Prius and you taking charge of all planning and booking because you know best. Sigh.
4. Paying attention, plus effort presents. Like the ski gloves for the person with the exceptionally poor circulation that had to be researched and then mailed from a specialist outlet in the Austrian Alps. Once I got a Sarah Lund jumper because I had full Sarah Lund obsession. (Sadly, when I got the Saga Noren obsession I did not get the 70s Porsche, or the leather trousers).
5. Once in a while getting a text saying love things - especially effective if he is literally up against it or, say, in the crowd at the Aviva.
6. Once in a while holding hands in the cinema, not in front of the TV.
7. On birthdays and today, receiving an amusing and spot-on card. Maybe with a dachsund on it.
8. Dropping everything in order to ring you and talk you off the ledge if you are having an irrational, foetal position in the bathroom, could be hormones but that must never be mentioned, lady meltdown.
9. Being deluded about you in a good way. For example, buying you some youthful/tiny/inappropriate clothing because you used to own something similar when you first met and he apparently can't tell the difference between you then and you now. Mad, but also great.
10. Making heart shapes on the frothy milk in your extra hot, almond milk flat white... JUST KIDDING!
Sex & Relationships
It's often dubbed 'the Curse of Strictly': The scenario when couples meet professionally on shows like Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing with the Stars or Dancing on Ice only to end up romantically involved off camera.
I quite like the idea of Galentine's Day, the unofficial holiday that celebrates female friendship every February 13. The concept comes, not from a PR company or Hallmark marketing team, but from an episode of Parks & Recreation in which the relentlessly conscientious Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) organises a brunch for a motley crew of women on Valentine's Eve.