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Rob Greig

6 London couples reveal the stories behind how they met

By Salma Haidrani
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In a city where 48 percent of single-and-dating people have used a dating app in the past week (so says our City Life Index survey), is it possible to find your match IRL? We talk to six London couples who fell in love without swiping right

Emma & Josh (above)

Emma (27), interiors blogger, and Josh (30), musician, met in March 2014 at the Notting Hill Arts Club

Emma: ‘I was dating a guy who was playing on the same bill as Josh’s band, but when I saw Josh on stage
I felt an immediate attraction.’

Josh: ‘There were glances across the room. I could see her in the crowd. I was dating someone else too, but I just felt that connection instantly without speaking.’

Emma: ‘The two bands got chatting but Josh and I didn’t speak loads.
He used to make me feel quite shy.’

Josh: ‘In September 2015, we’d both broken up with the people we were dating when we originally met.
I decided to test the water.’

Emma: ‘He tweeted me when I was in Berlin, saying “I’m coming over.” I didn’t reply instantly. The next day I was like “What did you mean by that tweet?” We’ve spoken every day since then.’

Josh: ‘We had our first date at one of my gigs. It was the first time we’d seen each other since we were single. We were both wearing the same fedora hats! We stuck out like a sore thumb, didn’t we?’

Emma: ‘He decided to give me a kiss before he went on stage.’ Josh: ‘We were all over each other. I think the band were searching for me before we came on because they couldn’t find me.’

Ruwaydah and Steven 

Rob Greig

Ruwaydah and Steven met on Oxford Street in November 2014.

Ruwaydah: ‘I had a problem with my car as my battery was about to run out and I needed someone to open my petrol cap. I couldn’t open it as it was a brand new car. When I met Steven, he took an hour to open my car!’

Steven: ‘That’s an exaggeration, I just couldn’t open it! It was absolutely ridiculous.’

Ruwaydah: ‘We had each other on Instagram and one night, we went out to hip hop karaoke.’

Steven: ‘This guy who was 6ft 6 made a move on her. I was like, “what are you playing at?”. That was the moment I realised I really liked her.’

Ruwaydah: ‘He’s playing it down! He was shouting at him like ‘mate!’

Steven: ‘I was having none of it! We were having a dance.’

Ruwaydah: ‘Within that week, we were talking more and the following week, we started spending more time together. We went to Winter Wonderland and ice skating. I didn’t realise we were dating. My mum was like do you even realise you’re dating?! We got married last June.’

Rich & Jack

Rob Greig

Jack (30), hospitality manager, and Rich (32), charity office manager, met in 2009 in the car park at The Stag in Victoria (now a building site)

Jack: ‘We met in the smoking area. It all started with “Do you have a lighter?”That old cliché!’

Rich: ‘I was two bottles of wine in. We swapped numbers then I walked out. My friends were wondering where to go next and I was like “Oh, I’ll go back in.” I went over to him, spun him round, kissed him and said “I’ll see you later!” ’

Jack: ‘It felt very natural. We fell in love and Rich moved in quickly. Two years ago, I asked Rich to marry me. Lying in bed, I was thinking: I’m going to do it.’

Rich: ‘We just looked at each other and there was this moment.’

Jack: ‘The wedding’s this August.’ Rich: ‘I feel like Jack has become part of my identity. With LGBT+ venues like The Stag shutting down, I’m lucky to have met Jack so organically. I feel quite frustrated for other people who may not have that opportunity.’

Jon & Sarah

Andy Parsons

Sarah (46), university director of diversity and inclusion, and Jon (54), policy advisor, met at a work fancy dress party in April 1999

Sarah: ‘I was hosting the party at Somerset House. I came as “99 Red Balloons” with balloons tied to my arms. Jon gatecrashed! He wasn’t on the guest list or in costume. I was like: “What did you come as?” And he did a twirl. That made me laugh.’

Jon: ‘I came as a sharply dressed man.’

Sarah: ‘We just clicked. It felt like no one else was in the room. But I was seeing someone else and Jon was in the process of separating.’

Jon: ‘I thought she was attractive. She was outgoing, chatty and smiley.’

Sarah: ‘Once things with my ex ended, I went after Jon at a conference.’

Jon: ‘She kept buying bottles of wine for the table we were sitting at.’

Sarah: ‘We were supposed to be going to a club after. But we kissed and, like, physically ran to my hotel room.’

Jon: ‘By December 1999, we had moved in together. She’d become part of my kids’ lives . Then we had two more. That night at Somerset House is one of the best memories I have.’

Kristel & Mikael

Rob Greig

Kristel (29), communications manager, and Mikael (29), sports analyst, met at Kingston University’s library in 2008

Mikael: ‘I was looking for a book and my eyes were wandering. I saw this beauty learning Spanish…’

Kristel: ‘Checking out the talent! I didn’t realise he’d been checking me out until years later. The first time I spotted him was in a seminar.’

Mikael: ‘In 2010, we went to a mutual friend’s barbecue. That’s when we had our first conversation. I really disliked her!’

Kristel: ‘He saw past that, luckily.’

Mikael: ‘We’d started spending more time together as we went out every Friday with our friendship group. We’d end up taking a longer route to get to our respective bus stops.’

Kristel: ‘We grew really close but didn’t admit our feelings until 2013.’

Mikael: ‘Now we’ve bought a house together! If in 2007 someone had told me I’d spend the rest of my life with the nice-looking girl I’d been checking out in the library, I would have laughed in their face.’

Evie & Scott

Ed Miles

Evie (24), fundraising event officer, and Scott (26), building site manager, met in March 2016 at an event at the Museum of Curiosities

Evie: ‘We were sitting opposite each other. There was a corpse on the table, just by Russell Brand’s pubes and Madonna’s used tampon! I didn’t notice Scott at first.’

Scott: ‘Something about her caught my eye and it was love at first sight. I ate a chocolate scorpion, which happened to be in the shape of an anus. I saw it on the menu and thought: Why not give it a go?’

Evie: ‘Not exactly someone you’d think would end up your partner…’

Scott: ‘I got her attention all right!’

Evie: ‘There was a petting zoo. We were the only museum-goers who put snakes around our necks.’

Scott: ‘Afterwards, Evie’s old flatmate invited me for drinks at the weekend. Luckily, Evie was there.’

Evie: ‘Within two months, he’d told my parents he wanted to marry me! We got married in April 2017. We ended up having three weddings.’

Scott: ‘The last one was “Alice in Wonderland”-themed.’

Evie: ‘We’ve even got a stray eight-week-old kitten! I spotted her right next to the Museum of Curiosities. I can’t believe our new little baby is from where we first met!’

Six pairs of pals share the secret to staying friends 

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