How do you know they’re the ‘one’?

For modern day ladies, the true sign of relationship bliss is not a ring on your finger, not an introduction to potential in laws and not a proclamation of undying love.
Prepare yourself lovers; it seems that consummation in-between the sheets is a thing of the past. All it takes now is a trip to IKEA.

Sure, moving in with a partner is a big deal. Their cute habits are as annoying as an itch you can’t quite reach and shared cupboard space becomes grounds for emotional war. If you’re a woman, you eat more and the weight piles on as you ditch the grazing for regular carb fests with your man. One person always wakes earlier than the other and morning moaning marathons become routine. Hot, spur of the moment sex-fuelled visits become ‘honey, I’m TIRED… not now’ and sexy lingerie is replaced by comfy dog-eared PJs.

In my case, I’m lucky to be living with a self-confessed metro-sexual. For the beer swilling Neanderthals out there, that’s a self-grooming, well-dressed, compassionate, sensitive Londoner with funk on his side. Not that there’s anything wrong with a bit of raw brawn every now and then… but I had my fair share of that back in rural Australia.

My lad cooks, cleans and buys flowers because they look nice – not because he’s done something wrong. He gives me a ‘look’ when my outfit doesn’t match and laughs when I step out in it anyway. Kylie, Madonna and James Blunt fill his ears whilst ‘Beaches’ and ‘Eight Legged Freaks’ share a space on his DVD shelf.

He calls his mum and treats his girls to glam days out. He burps, farts and grabs my butt when the rest of the world is looking… when they’re not he grabs my boobs. Gucci holds his heart, Prada holds his wallet, yet he’ll fly Ryanair just to keep me sailing towards my independent ‘money saving’ port. My friends want him, I have him… which is why we ended up in IKEA.

As we trekked towards the blue and yellow home ware playground, my chest tightened. “This is it” I thought. “We’re surrounded by Swedes shopping for stainless steel”.

As the smell of wood and varnish filled my head, I knew there was no going back. Ice cube trays beckoned, apple corers called and deckchairs demanded my attention. They got it too.

Be warned; the maze of furniture is not for the faint hearted. Manoeuvring an IKEA trolley should be registered in the insurance registry records as a high-risk activity. Ankles beware.

Children climb the displays, shake the glassware and bounce on every visible surface. Pint sized people are the least of your problems though… it’s the adults you need to watch out for.

The length one goes to for a reduced price sofa is worrying. All rationale is abandoned as you discover knick-knacks you never knew existed, let alone need. Suddenly a set of three luminous sculptures is as essential as the blood rushing through your purchase hungry veins. In our madness we scooped a chair, 2 pot plants, a bright green jewellery hanger and enough Swedish salmon to feed a small troop of Vikings.

As we lugged the cargo home we reflected on the power of a ‘for sale’ sign and the formula one trained London bus drivers. Do they even TEST those guys?

To end the week, I went for lunch with one of the richest men in the country. It was a chance meeting with a gourmet king prawn finale. Unfortunately, he seemed interested in more than my writing. It’s the first time I’ve been offered a trip to India, the Opera in Vietnam, an American getaway and sparkling gems… all in the space of an hour. I’m never going to like wrinkles THAT much.

My lad may like IKEA but at least his pearly whites are the real things.