Does he think of you as his closest friend, or cleaner with benefits? Find out how his view affects your relationship.
After the excitement of meeting a new man, it's common to slip into a comfort zone where you take on a particular role. And, according to relationship psychologist Zoe Pearce, the dynamics we create are often influenced by what we observe growing up.
"If your mum was a nurturer, you may be like that too," she says. Another factor is emotional reinforcement. "We don't realise it, but we're reinforced by things that happen in our relationship that make us feel good, so we play up to a role we think he likes. Even negative behaviour (like nagging) that leads to a fight can be repeated, as any attention is often seen as better than no attention."
What does this mean for you as a couple? Take this quiz to see...
1. You and your boyfriend fancy a weekend away together, so you:
. Let him sort out the planning, while you focus on the clothes you need to pack.
. Ask if there's anywhere in particular he has in mind, and then research a few different options.
. Pick a destination, accommodation and activities, then spring it on him as a lovely surprise.
. Book somewhere with lots of action for him and vintage markets for you.
2. When you go out together socially, you tend to:
. Spend the night catching up with friends, while shooting him flirtatious, can't-wait-to-be-alonewith- you looks.
. Let him be the centre of attention; he always has funny stories to tell.
. Get silly after a few drinks. Good thing he's the designated driver.
. Be constantly on guard all night in case he drinks too much or starts telling rude jokes.
3. The housework needs to be done, so you:
. Make a start on it without asking him for help. You know you do a better job anyway.
. Tell him exactly what needs doing and when you expect it to be done.
. Divide and conquer-he tackles the dishes, you do the laundry.
. Ignore it until he makes a start on it or asks you (nicely) to help.
4. Your boyfriend is venting about his crazy boss. You:
. Troubleshoot with practical advice and your view on what he could do to fix or improve the situation.
. Patiently listen to him rant about how difficult he's finding it all, then soothe him with a gentle shoulder rub and a nice cup of tea.
. Hope he forgets about it soon, as his meltdown is interrupting Two Broke Girls.
. Get worked up on his behalf and tell him that he deserves a better job.
5. What kind of birthday gift are you most likely to get him?
. Something fun that he probably wouldn't treat himself to normally.
. A super-practical handy gift he can use, such as a new pair of shoes or a fancy coffee maker.
. Something small but thoughtful.
. A gift that treats both of you, like a deluxe couple's spa package.
6. You could describe your sex life as:
. Satisfying, as he always makes an effort to please you.
. Hot-you're in sync and tuned into what the other person likes.
. Okay, though sometimes you feel like it's all about him in the bedroom.
. Exciting: you get a kick out of being in charge and trying new things.
7. Without a doubt, his most annoying habit is:
. Hogging all your time-you don't get to see your friends or do anything you like as often as you'd like to.
. Making all the decisions in your relationship without ever asking you for your opinion.
. Conveniently tuning out whenever you ask him to do something.
. Leaving wet towels on the bed, leaving the toilet seat up, or drinking juice straight from the carton.
8. After having an argument with him, you:
. Sulk until he buys you flowers and chocolates to make it up to you.
. Make a beeline for the bedroom-after all, make-up sex is normally the best sex, right?
. Do something nice for him, like cook his favourite meal for dinner, or give him a massage.
. Wait for him to apologise first, but secretly stew for the next week.
Discover your role:
It's fine to care for him, but if you end up micro-managing his life or always putting him first, you need to re-evaluate the situation. "Playing the nurturer can be draining-you take on responsibilities that aren't yours," says Pearce. "You can end up feeling resentful and lose the ability to determine whether you're too forgiving." He should respect your right to put yourself first. If he reacts badly, says Pearce,"the relationship may be based on false beliefs."
You're happy for a man to take charge in a relationship, as you like being cared for, and are prone to anxiety regarding how he feels about you. "'Anxiety attached' people tend to have a positive image of their partner but a negative image of themselves, and need to be told they're worthy of love," says Pearce. "Improving self-esteem is about liking yourself for who you are. So ditch the negativity and focus on praising yourself for the things you do
If you feel more like your BF's parole officer than his partner, you may have assumed a disciplinarian role. "The 'critical boss' has high expectations of what a relationship should look like and what each person in a relationship should do," says Pearce. The fix? Be realistic. Rather than challenging him over every petty thing, pick your battles wisely. "Identify what issues are really important to you and which ones you can let go of," advises Pearce.
You both compromise on most things and enjoy each other's company. But it's important not to get so absorbed in each other that you lose a sense of who you are as individuals. "You need outside friendships and interests as well as things you can do together-it brings a freshness to the relationship," says Pearce. Chances are, he won't be disappointed that you skipped your Friday-night pizza and DVDs when you demonstrate the flexible yoga moves you learnt in your new class.