Love Rules: 10 compliments for every negative


Perrier-nominated comedian, author and 35 year old married father of three, Andrew Clover is best known for “Dad Rules”, his long-standing column in the Sunday Times Style with musings on being a father figure, which turned into a hit book. He’s now writing a sequel called Learn Love in a Week. Last year Andrew toured the country with his highly acclaimed one man comedy show “Love Rules” which he is now sharing with eHarmony Advice. Join Andrew each week as he picks apart some of those old clichés that abound about love.

Cliche #1: “Give 10 compliments for every negative”

Wednesday, 11:30 pm. The moon is low over London.  My wife and I leave the party.  We get into the car.  Silence.  Then…

“You were on good form tonight…” she says.

I immediately tense up.  I can sense what the next word will be:  “But…”  Right away, I feel like a boy summoned to the headmaster’s study.  Any second now, I’ll be finding out what I did wrong.

Well I’m not having it.  I divert her.  “I read a magazine today,” I say meaningfully, “and it gave the secret of love…”

I’m pleased with this.  I feel I’ve regained the upper hand in the conversation.  I’ve set her a test…What sort of woman does she wish to be?  One interested in discovering the secret of love?  Or one interested in telling her man he shouldn’t have told that story about Athletes Foot?

“Go on then,” she says a bit crossly.  “What is the secret of love?”

“Give ten compliments for every negative.”

She takes that in.  “You want me to give you ten compliments?”


“Then I can slag you off?”

“Well…  yes.”

“Right…  Erm… You look much better with your haircut.”

“Thank you.”

“And…  You got 12 As in your GCSEs…  Amazing!”

I’m angry now.  “You’ve got it completely wrong!  The point is not that you must give compliments to your partner like a patronising schoolteacher.  The point is you must love them, and not think you must criticise them all the time.  Or at all.”

“No!  You’ve got it completely wrong!  Cos whenever you try to talk to your partner, there’s usually one little thing you’re trying to say.  And there’s a completely different thing that they hear.”

“But…  I know you want to tell me off about something… What is it?  Did I shout?  Should I not have done the underarm fart?”

“No.  That was funny.  I just wanted to say:  ‘You were on good form tonight.  But I’m glad you got up when you did cos I’m tired.’”

“Oh…  Right.”

“Do you know what I think the secret of love is?” she says.


“Listen to what your partner wants to say:  it might not be as bad as you fear.”

“I’ll try to do that, but I can’t promise. Are there other things you’d, ideally, like me to do?”

“Quite a few, yes.”

“List them.”

“You must accept my dad is a genius; don’t take his side in an argument.  You must have a really great job, which should take you no time at all.  You must be strong; you must always agree with me.  Also…  Don’t dribble round the toilet, put the toilet seat down, always know where I’ve left my car keys.  And don’t fart.  Don’t talk about football.  And when you’re snogging don’t stick your tongue out too far, it’s like having a big eel in my mouth.”

“Right.  OK.  I’ve got all those.”

“Anything you’d like me to learn?”

“Yup,”  I say.  “When the football is on, don’t talk…  That’ll do, actually.  Unless you want to discuss football. But you never do.”

“I often discuss football.”

“You discuss David Beckham. You’re not a football fan, unless you discuss the ugly ones.”

Mentioning football has the usual effect:  she loses interest.  She looks out the window.    After a bit, she says:  “Lovely moon, isn’t it?”

“Yup.  Let’s give that moon ten compliments for every negative.”

“No,”  she says.  “Let’s just give it one.  Then leave it at that.”

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