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Valentine's Day: Thrills for Type Ts, Lessons About Gifts

February 14, 1989|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Thrill-seeking or Type T personalities and their romantic interests likely will find more excitement than many people on Valentine's Day, but all lovers must think carefully about the gifts they plan to give today, experts say.

"Type T personalities tend to be romantic, generous people, in love with love and willing to take risks in a relationship," said Frank Farley, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He developed the Type T theory, which holds that certain people love intensity, novelty, variety and change while shunning structure and the mundane.

Type T personalities, he noted, likely will bypass buying flowers or chocolates for their loves today. Instead, they're more likely to throw a surprise party, plan an adventurous night on the town or dispatch a singing Valentine. "T-types tend to keep a relationship fresher, more novel," he said. "They're willing to try new things."

But even non-Type Ts need to take a lesson about Valentine gift-giving, other mental health experts say. They note that tokens of affection, chosen with care and exchanged today, can help strengthen relationships.

"A box of chocolates is no big deal," says Milton Wolpin, a USC associate psychology professor. "It's like shaking hands."

Gifts also should reflect the recipient's personality. "When the gift reflects that the person knows the other person, it really matters. And the giving of a Valentine's Day gift can temporarily make relationships smoother," he said.

Dr. Roderic Gorney, a UCLA School of Medicine psychiatry professor, agreed, noting that a Valentine gift, "might ease communication in a relationship and it might help the recipient get over the results of some real or presumed neglect from the giver."

But only if the gift is chosen with care, he cautioned: "A Valentine's Day gift reveals how well you know the other person and whether you cherish that person's actual characteristics or your fantasy about that person."

As for empty-handed lovers, Gorney warned: "The giving of ceremonial gifts is taken by many as evidence of the devotion and love they want. But neither the absence or presence of a gift may represent a person's real devotion to you."

Which Comes First?

Should you exercise, then eat? Or should you eat and exercise after allowing for a reasonable time for digestion?

Experts don't agree on the answer to those questions.

Fat people should exercise, then eat, but lean people should eat, then exercise, says Karen Segal , an exercise physiologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at New York's Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

She bases her advice on a study of eight fat and eight lean men, each fed a 750-calorie meal before or after 30 minutes of cycling. She found the obese men burned more calories if they cycled first and ate later; the reverse was true for the lean men.

But Stephen Welle, a metabolic physiologist at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, says it makes little difference whether people exercise or eat first. "Just exercise," said Welle, who has studied the issue. "It doesn't matter when you eat. Most important is to exercise regularly to burn more calories."

Childhood Counts

Parents interviewing potential child-care givers should ask them about their own childhood, a Washington physician says.

"A person's capacity for mothering (or fathering) in large part depends on how well he or she was mothered," said Dr. Constance U. Battle, medical director for the Hospital for Sick Children in Washington. Those who enjoyed a healthy parent-child relationship are more likely to provide good child care themselves, she contends.

Not everyone agrees. Alan Stern, an educational and developmental psychologist at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles, said some people with inadequate parenting may actually be more sensitive to child care issues, especially after undergoing therapy and educational courses.

Instead of asking care-givers about their childhoods, he suggests asking: What is your philosophy of raising children? What forms of discipline do you feel are best? What do you see as the major developmental issues of childhood?

Think, too, he added, about the personality match between care-giver and child. "Certain kids are more vulnerable, for instance, and need more attention," he said.

Retin-A Dosages

A lower dose of Retin-A--the acne medication that also may lessen wrinkles--appears to give the same results while causing less skin irritation, some dermatologists report.

In an 11-week study of 556 acne patients, the .025% cream was found comparable to the .05% cream but the lower dose caused half the skin irritation, said Dr. Stephen Mandy, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Miami School of Medicine and one of the investigators. The study was funded by the Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp. of Raritan, N.J., which manufacturers Retin-A and introduced the .025% cream last October.

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