Are you about to be dumped?
Are you currently re-evaluating your romantic relationship? Psychiatrist Dr Francois Lelord delves into the phenomenon of our endless pursuit of love
If LAST Monday was a bit of a damp squib, maybe you are having second thoughts about whether your partner adores and cherishes you as much as he should.
French psychiatrist turned-novelist Dr Francois Lelord, a world authority on happiness who has now turned his attention to the mystery of romance and sexual attraction, believes he can tell straight off whether a man or woman is happy in their relationship.
"I can tell straight away from a person's facial expression and posture whether or not they're happy," Lelord declares on the subject of love and sexual satisfaction. "Humans convey so much emotion in their faces."
It would, of course, be fascinating to know what he makes of Russell Brand and Katy Perry's posture, or the look of love emanating from Chelsea Clinton and her husband Marc Mezvinsky - both recently married couples are already rumoured to be floundering on the rocks of disappointment.
Lelord (57) wrote his original bestselling French novel, Hector and the Search for Happiness, after decades spent treating clinically depressed rich and famous clients on his couch. It tells the story of a psychiatrist who travels the world seeking to establish the ingredients for happiness, and became an instant worldwide bestseller which is now set be made into a Hollywood film starring Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey
In his new novel, Hector and the Secrets of Love, his fictional psychiatrist is hired by a pharmaceutical company to track down the inventor of a revolutionary love potion. This time, his quest takes him to the Far East, away from his girlfriend Clara and into the arms of a new lover.
A third book about time and a fourth, about friendship, are to be published next year, so it's fair to say that happiness expert Lelord is on a roll.
The French writer believes his new novel highlights a modern ill -- our endless pursuit of love, or what he describes as the "right emotions".
He says: "Until well after the Second World War, people were more fixated by their social duties as a worker, a mother, a soldier and a citizen than whether or not they were happy or in love. Now, the affluence of the post-war years, our consumer mentality and the decline of the main religions has meant that love and happiness have become our personal responsibilities," he explains.
Yet, obsessing about love doesn't bring us any closer to achieving either, he feels.
"Finding love is a fixation now and that's because although romantic love can sometimes cause a lot of suffering, it can also give people peaks of happiness that come very close to our ideal of 'the happy state'," he says. We sometimes make too many demands of a relationship, he feels: "It's fine to have this kind of ideal, so long as we realise that there is likely to be some trial and error."
Another falsehood, the love mentor insists, is that women are better at demonstrating affection than men.
"They probably accept the risks involved more than men do because men value staying in control to a greater extent. When we fall in love, we have to give up some of that control, which is a little unnerving," he explains.
So, what if you don't think your man made enough of an effort with a single rose? Lelord believes that our capacity to find love or stay in love are affected by outside factors, such as money and employment. The recession, for example, is capable of "destabilising a relationship -- particularly if you are the man and you feel you no longer have the capacity to provide for your woman", he feels.
So maybe that single rose doesn't mean he wants to break up, but is just a little short of cash.