Rhodri Marsden: Love is all you need... apart from a devil-may-care attitude to lists

Life on Marsden

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A friend of mine came to me for romantic advice last week, presumably because all other avenues of assistance – prayer, palmistry, Yahoo Answers – had been explored. She was concerned that her administrative efficiency was putting off a gentleman she liked. "I'll give him a selection of times to choose from for our next date," she said, "but he won't reply for a couple of days. It's infuriating." I could sympathise. My life also hangs on a framework of spreadsheets and forward planners and I'm aware that these rank in the sexiness stakes alongside wicker, paint-stripping and streptococcal pharyngitis.

I find businesslike attitudes and streamlined organisation to be deeply alluring, but you can't admit to this any more than you'd confess to a dogmuck fetish. Take a glance at any internet dating website, and you'll see that we inhabit a world where snowboarding prowess is valued way above efficient list-making. No-one says on their profile that they put aside a little money each month in case of unforeseen expenses. No, they say that they like to make love on the beach at midnight instead. Yeah, and what happens when you get fined for outraging public decency? Eh?

I remember being confused as a young man when my first long-term girlfriend wistfully recalled her previous relationship with a philosophy graduate, where they'd blow their dole cheques on highish living for 48 hours and then subsist for the rest of the fortnight on mashed potato. "That was a bit stupid, wasn't it?" I asked her, but got no reply, because she was still wistfully recalling it.

That kind of behaviour is considered romantic, you see, while careful rationing is deemed dull. But listen, I beg you, because a relationship with an admin ninja doesn't necessarily mean rigorous audits, lengthy planning meetings and dockets to be filled out in triplicate. We can be spontaneous! Come away with me on a yacht to Sorrento! I've done the sums to make sure it's financially viable – and look, I've put together this schedule for the month and had it laminated.

But people don't like that.

Those of us who suffer from administrative proficiency would thus be advised to keep it quiet from a partner. Don't let on that you know what's going on. Feign insouciant indifference to details you've secretly pored over. And for God's sake don't plot your sexual activity on a scattergraph.

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