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The Seven Ages of Love

Questionnaire: What is your 'love age'?

Are you young at heart or ancient in the ways of love? Shakespeare's seven ages of man infant, child, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon and mere oblivion were derived from the seven "planets" of medieval cosmology, each of which governed its own sphere of influence. This influence extended to affairs of the heart, so there could arguably have been seven ages of love to go alongside Shakespeare's version. Find out where you fall in the Independent Almanac of Amorousness with this simple quiz.

1. You're single. Your friend offers to set you up with a single friend and asks what qualities you are seeking in a date. Rank the following characteristics in order from 1 to 7, with 1 being the characteristic that would be most important to you, and 7 the least.

a. Handsome/pretty

b. Likes the same music, movies, books, etc as I do

c. Good body

d. Interesting and funny

e. Old enough to be interested in kids, young enough to have them

f. Comfortably well off

g. Kind and loyal

2. Rank the following statements from 1-7, with 1 being the statement you feel best describes you and your partner right now, and 7 the statement that applies least.

a. My partner is so dreamy

b. Love songs and romantic movies make me think of my partner

c. My partner and I can't keep our hands off each other

d. My partner and I talk about everything

e. If things got difficult with our relationship I'd still feel committed

f. We're working together to make our dreams come true

g. I worry about my partner's health


Now add up the numbers you attributed to each letter in both questions for instance, if you made option (b) your third choice in Q1 but your fourth choice in Q2 it would have a combined score of 7.

Which letter from (a) (g) got the lowest overall score? This letter determines your stage of romantic maturity.

a. Puppy love: You are still at a somewhat childlike stage of romantic development with your heart constantly swayed by crushes and infatuations. Break-ups still hurt, of course, and you have little experience with which to cushion the blows. But the tempo is fast and you usually move on just as rapidly.

b. First love: You're at the stage of the first deep affair. First loves often feel rock solid and magically exciting but in sober reality we do NOT usually settle down with this person. Most of this exercise is a form of training for more serious commitments to come.

c. Wild oats: This is the stage when you have some experience of love and relationships, but you're certainly not ready to formalise matters. In this stage, you refine and fix your basic sexual patterns and prejudices.

d. Getting serious: Now you're ready to forge those serious bonds of intimacy. The stakes are high this is your moment of genetic commitment and therefore so are both the risks and rewards.

e. Settling down: Your priorities at this stage are procreation and the things that go with it building a home, nesting, planning for the future. This stage is challenging for all aspects of love, passion, sex and even intimacy, because everything else can become subsumed to the "tyranny" of family.

f. Silver surfers: Now you can turn your attention back to yourselves, rediscovering elements such as romance and intimacy, but with a different slant and much more sophisticated experience probably in an exotic location too.

g. Side by side: At this late stage in love's chronology, it's all about companionship. You're into salvaging memories as well as making as many new ones as you can.

Phillip Hodson is a Fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy www.bacp.co.uk www.philliphodson.co.uk