Let's get serious and fall in love

This is no fling, says Di's new flame, Dodi Fayed. But how can he know? How can any of us? There are ways to spot the Big One, says Hester Lacey

"Diana and I are having a romance, a true romance. It's not a fling, I promise. It's serious." After a couple of sunny Mediterranean breaks, and an intimate take-away dinner in his Park Lane flat, Dodi Fayed, son of Harrods owner Mohammed Al Fayed, is in lurve.

Dodi's amorous track record is already starting to look a bit iffy. Last Friday, alleged ex-fiancee Kelly Fisher, a Californian model, tearfully announced that she and Dodi were meant to be tying the knot on the very day he was photographed kissing Di. And his previous marriage to ex-model Suzanne Gregard lasted all of eight months. So, are Dodi and Di likely to sail off into the sunset? How can one tell if the path of true love will run smoothly, whether that new partner is the John to one's Yoko, the Joanne Woodward to one's Paul Newman - or the Larry Fortenski to one's Liz Taylor?

Dr Catherine Surra of the University of Texas is a veteran researcher into the process of commitment. Her latest study was published earlier this year. "I was very interested in how people arrived at the commitment necessary to wed," she explains. "I wanted to know how people get close to marriage - how they decide to go ahead or not." She monitored 54 couples and asked them to record their attitudes, interests and relationship history; then she asked them to provide monthly updates on how likely they were to marry - and why they were more (or less) sure that their partner was "the one".

Her research identified two types of relationship. The first, which Surra calls "relationship-driven commitment", progresses in an orderly fashion, with each partner reporting a regular increase in commitment. The second type, "event- driven commitment", is a roller-coaster ride, with commitment soaring one month and plummeting the next.

In event-driven relationships, explains Dr Surra, the couples react strongly to what has happened recently; attending a friend's wedding, for example, or having a serious argument. Di and Dodi must be one of the most event- driven couples in the world, by events on a scale that most other pairs can barely dream of: front page stories in the world's press, for example, or knowing that the Queen is taking an interest in one's progress.

This does not, however, make for a cosy life. "With event-driven couples, there is often a pattern of big fights, splitting up, talking it over and being back together two weeks later," says Dr Surra. Her research paper notes: "Women in event-driven commitments reported significantly higher amounts of conflict and negativity than those in relationship- driven commitments."

Having a turbulent, event-driven relationship does not necessarily mean that a couple is any less in love than a more stolid pair, but "I would predict lower marital satisfaction in this kind of relationship", warns Dr Surra. "I would think, in the long run, event-driven couples are more likely to run into trouble." Oh dear.

But even those pairs who thrive on controversy and fuss (and Di and Dodi must be pretty much used to ups and downs by now) will find other pitfalls on the way. In the first throes of romance, one must beware of being blinded by the fleeting attraction caused by, say, an enormous bank balance or a yacht in the Med. "There is evidence that it takes a good two or three years to get a reasonable idea of what another person is like and how you fit together," says Dr Maryon Tysoe, author of The Good Relationship Guide (Piatkus). "You can certainly fall in love fast, but it takes longer to be sure. One study showed that a courtship of two years makes a couple more likely to stay together. And an American study showed, even 21 months into a relationship, that around 20 per cent of couples will still be hiding things that they believe spoil their image." Ahem, quite. Like an ex-fiancee who is now suing for breach of contract, for example.

A couple that shares the same basic view of life are more likely to stay together, says Dr Tysoe. "Opposites attract, but they tend not to stay the course. That doesn't mean you need to find a clone of yourself, but you want someone who will reinforce your view of the world." The English rose and the Egyptian playboy do share a famous interest in shopping - a beacon of hope for their future happiness.

Courting under the glare of publicity must make the process extra nerve- racking, but seeking out "the one" is hardly the exclusive preserve of the rich and famous. For some it's easy. "I knew straightaway when I met my wife, and I was only about 20," says Richard Carey, 32. "I always carried a torch for her. We didn't get married till eight years after we met - she took some persuading, but now we're very happy. Even now we've been married for four years, I still sometimes get that fluttery feeling in my stomach over her."

It can all end in tears. "You can decide very quickly, and be quite sure in your own mind, then be horribly disillusioned," warns Jane Miller, 30, divorced after only 12 months of marriage. "It may be old-fashioned, but I'd say marry in haste, repent at leisure. Or even live together in haste, repent at leisure."

Perhaps it's simply not possible to be sure. "I don't think you can ever be certain that you've found 'the one' - that someone better isn't round the next corner," says one thirtysomething woman, married for five years. "You just have to ignore that possibility and work on the partner you've plumped for. You can't spend your whole life as if you were talking to someone at a party, but all the time looking over their shoulder, waiting for someone more interesting to come along."

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
ebookAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    (Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

    Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

    £55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

    £60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Principle Geotechnical Engineer

    £55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Day In a Page

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup