If there is one thing I have learned about dating it is this: never let your friends set you up with somebody. Inevitably, it will be said friends that break you up.
It seems great at first “Oh, you’re friends with so and so? Me too! You like the Inbetweeners, drinking beer, and complaining about our mutual friend? Me too!!” It’s as if you’re immediately stepping into a relationship with someone you feel like you know, but, as it will soon be revealed, there are details about this person who “is perfect for you!” that probably shows how little the person setting you up knows you. If you hear those words from a friend, feign illness, fabricate an imaginary boyfriend or girlfriend, run, do whatever to get out of the situation.
I have been set up twice now. Once by a female friend and once by Tom. Recently one of my best mates from oop north claimed he had a great guy for me. Said “great guy” burst into the party thirty minutes later, paralytically drunk, and almost fell on me. Twice. ‘Fanks for that!
Setup No. 1: I have a friend who we shall call Pandora. Pandora decided that, four days after I broke up with The Ex (whom she hated), that she had the perfect answer, Russ (short for Brussells Griffin, a dog breed that had a name which was easy to manipulate into an actual name). Russ and I had met through Pandora a couple months before and I had thought he was very attractive. The feeling was apparently mutual, Pandora told me, as he had apparently told her. So herein lies our first problem, the he-said/she-said conundrum. ‘Oh really? He says he likes me? Did he? Did he reallly?’ I think skeptically in my mind. I mean, of course I’m attractive and funny, who wouldn’t be attracted to me? But I highly doubt he called her up that day with the kind of enthusiasm she portrayed about it. I later found out that she was indeed hyperbolising the situation.
Anyhow, flash forward a few months and, because both Russ and I are single, Pandora thought it appropriate to conjure a forced social situation in which we would both be in attendance. A friend of a friend of a friend was turning 21 so we all had to go apparently, and as I was walking to the bar where we were to meet all I wanted to do is go home and wallow in my breakup. I turned a corner just as a boy was crossing the street ahead of me. He looked towards me and, lo and behold, it was Russ.
“Hey! It’s (his name), right?” I asked.
“Yeah, good to see you! How have you been?”
And we spent the subsequent three hours attached at the hip. Matchmaking success for Pandora, to her credit. He bought my drinks all night, and around our third pub we made our way to the dance floor.
“We’re the only ones dancing,” he observed.
“And?” I asked. He kissed me.
It wasn’t long after that we separated ourselves from the group and ended up back at his where we had some drunken sex then passed out. I woke up sometime in the morning to his wandering hands and we had sex again before falling asleep until sometime in the early afternoon. We woke up, had sex again, showered, got dressed, had a cheeky snog, then headed to the pub to meet up with Pandora and co. from the night before.
“You’re wearing the same outfit you wore last night,” he noted as we walked to the pub.
“So? I’m not sure it’s a secret that we went home together.”
We all sat in the pub, hungover and coming down from mephadrone. I’ve had better moments. We recalled the parts of the night before we could remember and they took the piss out of the love bites Russ had left scattered around my neck and shoulders.
We eventually made our exit and outside the pub we said our goodbyes.
“Well, it’s been fun.” I said. “See you around, I suppose.”
“You’ll definitely see me, you nutter,” he said, then paused for a second as if to consider his next move. In one swift move he put his hands behind my neck and held me in place as he pressed his lips to mine. He pulled away then said, “See you soon.”
And I did. I saw him very soon afterwards. We spent a weekend together, going to a concert then staying in bed all day recovering from the alcohol and drug induced stupor we had been in the night before. Then spending the next day watching movies before I had to escape his pleas for me to stay in bed instead of going to lectures. My skirt was a bit loose and he gave me one of his belts which is now stuffed in the back of a drawer somewhere, never to be worn by either of us again.
Another weekend I went to his and in similar fashion we went out, got drunk, and spent the rest of the weekend in bed recovering. It was an interesting trend. Usually involving drugs and terrible hangovers, we were outside the realm of ‘healthy relationship’ status. He was a good distraction from the pain of leaving The Ex though and the drink and drugs dragged me further into denial as to how upset I actually was.
“So I’ve been talking to Russ about you.” Pandora said over coffee one day.
“Why?” I hate when people get involved in my business.
“Oh, you know, just to see how it’s going! I think you guys are so cute together.”
“We’re not really ‘together.’ Just having a good time.”
“You guys are so going to be a couple.” Pandora gushed.
“I don’t really want a boyfriend, things are pretty good as they are. Casual, no drama.”
“Whatever, you’re totally his girlfriend.” Great. Just what I needed.
A few weeks passed and I saw Russ less and less. We were meant to go for a meal and I got a text from him two hours before the date. Hey, can’t make it tonight. Sorry mate x
Mate? Fucking Pandora. I knew her meddling would freak him out. He was like me, which is why we got on so well. Commitment-phobes for the most part. Just having a laugh, a very casual, non-committal, stress-free laugh.
He became more and more distant until finally on a night out Pandora looked at me, eyes sad like a puppy, and said, “What happened? Why did you guys breakup?”
“Were we dating?”
“I’m so sorry! This is terrible! It’s all my fault.”
“Pandora, don’t worry about it. Really. It’s fine. Did he say something to you about a breakup?”
“Well … umm, he just said he didn’t want to be in a relationship right now.” Neither did I! How was it that I was now being dumped through a mutual friend by someone who wasn’t even my boyfriend?! Russ walked in the pub. Perfect timing.
“I’ll be right back,” I said to Pandora. I walked up to Russ.
“Hey,” he said.
I went for a kiss and he quickly turned it into a kiss on the cheek. “Did you tell Pandora you didn’t want to see me anymore?” I asked.
“Uhhh,” he stammered.
“Look if you don’t want to sleep with me any more it’s fine, really.”
“I don’t want to sleep with you anymore…” he said, slowly, and almost as if it were a question.
My cheeks burned with anger and embarrassment. “Fine.” I walked away, so angry I could barely see straight. Why was it that I was just dumped by someone I wasn’t even dating? I could only think back to Pandora claiming that she would ‘talk to Russ for me.’
“Please don’t,” I had pleaded with her. For this reason exactly. I knew it would scare him off and leave me with one less friend with benefits.
I left Russ and the rest of our friends in the pub that night, instead joining up with another group of friends I had spotted out in town. One was a friend of a different ex-boyfriend and another was a boy who constantly hit on me, but whom I’d never actually sleep with. I indulged my other male company that night, surrounded by guys who wanted to make me laugh and take me home.
Russ and his gang had made it to the same pub and he approached me at one point. “I’m going home.”
“Okay.” I said, glancing towards him, but keeping my body facing the other present company.
“Are you going to be alright? Do you need me to walk you home?”
“No,” I laughed. “I think I can manage.”
“Um, okay, well…bye.”
“Yeah, bye.” I said, and turned my head back towards my other conversation.
Five minutes later I excused myself from the boys I’d surrounded myself with and walked home alone.
A couple of months later I was contemplating my Saturday plans and remembered that Pandora was throwing a party. As I browsed the details on facebook I noticed that Russ ‘might be attending.’ He was on facebook chat at the time so I clicked on his name.
Me: Hello stranger.
Him: Hi! How are you?
Me: Good good, long time no talk.
It had been a very long time. We hadn’t spoken a word to each other since ‘breaking up.’
Him: Yeah, it’s been forever. How’s school treating you?
Me: It’s a pain, so much work. How are you?
Him: Shit. I work all the time.
Me: That’s too bad 🙁 Are you going to Pandora’s thing this weekend?
Him: When is it?
Him: I think I can actually make that. Are you going?
Me: Not sure, might do.
Him: Cool, well hopefully see you then. I’ve got to run to work. Nice talking to you.
Me: Yeah, maybe see you Saturday x
I didn’t go to the party. Not because I wanted to avoid him, more because I had a lot of work to do the following week and was sure people would be off their faces on drugs. I hadn’t done drugs since the night Russ and I broke up and wasn’t exactly keen to pick up the habit again.
Having started seeing Russ so immediately after breaking up with The Ex, the relationship was doomed to fail from the start. He was cute and we had a good enough time together, but I had no expectations except for him to be a good distraction. Which he was, until Pandora butted her head in and made it more than it needed to be. Russ was never going to be my boyfriend, but it didn’t mean we couldn’t have fun together. Which to our credit, we did, despite the incessant insisting by others that we be anything more than friends with benefits.
To Be Continued … w/Setup No. 2: T
2023 Edit/Update: Okay so this story is very true, but not the entire version of the truth, which is even more insane. These weren’t uni friends and I would have to go visit them in Reading. The first time I slept with Russ I had missed the last train and he said, “Guess you’re playing ‘sex or death’ tonight” which in hindsight sounds like a very creepy thing to say, but at the time I thought was quite funny. Essentially the same as Tom’s “bang for roof” game. “Sex or Death” sounds way funnier though. To be fair it was winter and sleeping outside could have very well resulted in death, but it was very apparent that sex or no sex he wasn’t going to leave me for death.
Now, it being winter is an important detail because the day he dumped me was BOXING DAY. You can’t dump someone the day after Christmas! And it wasn’t Pandora who did it, it was her sister, who I was pretty sure had a crush on Russ, and she took great delight in telling me the news. That woman now lives one road over from me as I had the displeasure of finding out through a neighbourhood whatsapp group. I can’t make the shit that happens to me up, these are just the cards I’ve been dealt. I would never take any of the free junk she’s always putting in that group chat that’s for sure. I’ve somehow also avoided ever seeing her even though I’ve been here for three years…may it stay that way forever!