If you’ve been living alone for the past few years, odds are you’ve developed some habits that just might (to phrase it politely) strike the new person in your life as somewhat strange. Changing deeply-entrenched behaviour takes time and effort, so even if you’re convinced the polar ice caps will melt before you meet someone, fall in love, get married and move in together, you might want to start the process by identifying these relationship-defying quirks:

1.    45-minute showers
There’s nothing like steaming up the entire bathroom on a chilly spring morning… except, that is, when there’s someone outside waiting to do his or her business. If you’re a bloke, you can kiss these ablutionary marathons goodbye – and if you’re a girly-girl, well, you’ll have to cut them back to half an hour, tops.

2.    Spoilt pets
Strict disciplinarian that you are, you’re perfectly fine with Bonkers the dog chomping on toast from your breakfast plate every morning, and it’s just so cute when Cleavis the cat curls up in the kitchen sink for a nap. Even if he’s a pet lover, your boyfriend will be horrified. Show the beasts who’s boss – if nothing else, it’ll be good practice for your love life.

3.    “Casual Sunday”
Dragging yourself out of bed at 2 p.m., trudging round the house all afternoon in your pyjamas, brushing your teeth over the six o’clock news and only taking a shower after dinner – unless your new fella is as laid-back (i.e., as much of big a slob) as you are, all that will soon be as extinct as the dirty knickers under your bed.

4.    All TV, all the time
When you’ve been alone for a while, the telly can seem almost like a live-in companion – you may not even notice its intrusive blare 24 hours a day. Your real live-in companion, however, is likely to take heed. Be sure to turn it off occasionally, lest they put an axe through it first.

5.    Biscuits in bed
As long as no one’s watching, that mattress might as well be an enormous dinner table (lads are especially partial to this habit – it has something to do with getting yelled at by mum). Keep it to the kitchen, thank you, and while we’re on the subject, try to clean your sheets once every few months, too.

6.    Aimless whistling
This is an especially insidious habit, because most itinerant whistlers aren’t even aware what they’re doing – until, that is, they notice the people around them desperately trying to claw open windows and jump out. On the other hand, if your new squeeze is an incorrigible hummer, the two of you just might be made for each other.

7.    Lack of matching crockery
This one’s especially for the men – After a certain age, a man resigns himself to the fact that he doesn’t need full dining-room service for four – one or two plates, an enormous bowl, and a knife and fork will do just fine (as well as make washing up a less onerous task). If you suspect a romance is in your future, invest in table settings for at least two. And if you think it’ll be a really serious romance, go crazy and buy three or four.