Whether you're happily single, unhappily single or totally loved up, the following 'How We Met' stories are certain to make your heart ache (/want to move to Leeds).
Whether you snogged on the steps of the Corn Exchange or held hands halfway round the Otley Run, romance in Leeds is all well and good, until you need to get home the next morning and realise that you’ve ended up with the one guy in the whole city who doesn’t live within five metres of Brudenell Road.
Nevertheless, these couples managed it. Here they share their stories of hamster funerals, lost connections and Leeds dating in all its northern glory…
Jen and Dan: Together two years
‘I met Dan while working in a bar in Leeds City Centre. I was pulling pints, and he was… well, he was my boss. And yes, I’m aware that on paper that doesn’t exactly sound like a relationship set to last.
On our first date we went to a tapas restaurant by the river, and I promptly made several (rather large) mistakes. I was so nervous that I did the classic “drinking yourself interesting” thing, which resulted in a bit of a grey area where memories of the meal should be. (I might have been interesting – I really don’t know.) What I do remember is that I wore control pants. Really, really big control pants. Which gave me stomach cramp. Needless to say, the combination meant that I had to nip out half way through the date to throw up.
Luckily, Dan didn’t seem to mind. Two years later, we don’t work together anymore (I’m not very good at being told what to do) but we do live together. Plus, now we’re sure we definitely love each other, those control pants are banished to the back of the wardrobe, right where they belong.’
Follow Jen on Twitter @JenniePritchard
Shakira and Nathan: Together four and a half years
‘Five years ago, I was a cringeworthy 16 year old with a terrible habit of over-plucking my eyebrows (we’ve all been there) and generally repelling most of the male species. And of course, the highlight of my social calendar was a sixth-form party – predictably held at one of Leeds’ grimiest social club.
There, I came across a tall dark handsome stranger (read: a lanky teenager with glaring braces) whose first words to me were: ‘I got arrested today for not having a license for these guns’ (in reference to his non-existent biceps).
I can’t say it was love at first sight for me, but giving Nathan a chance to take me on a date was the best decision I have ever made. These days, that awkward teenager has blossomed into the most attractive, loving and brilliant boyfriend I could have ever wished for. 16 year old me would never have believed her luck!’
Lucy and Gareth: Together five months
‘We matched on Tinder and met for coffee. I ended up running late because my hamster had died the night before and I had to bury it in the garden that morning (RIP Minnie). On the way to the date I swung by the skip to chuck the cage unceremoniously onto a trash heap and felt extremely guilty about it.
Halfway through our first coffee Gareth convinced me to drive us to another, ‘better’ coffee shop in Chapel Allerton. Unfortunately he only had a vague idea of where it was, and we ended up on a motorway outside Leeds. Eventually I drove us to Roundhay Park, (his suggestion, yet again), to go to Tropical World so we could look at the meerkats.
Of course, as luck would have it, Tropical World was closed for renovations. It was freezing cold outside so we went to the pub across the road and ended up chatting for nearly four hours. Two months later, halfway round a pub crawl (he was dressed as the Pope, and I was dressed as a nun) he finally asked me out.’
Gemma and Jonathan: Together 13 years (married for five)
‘We met on the very first day of University, 13 years ago in Flat one of the Henry Price halls of residence. I’d moved down from Scotland, and only knew two people in the whole city. One was an old friend called Talia and she introduced me to Jonathan immediately. Well, she introduced me to him – and his parents. They were preparing to say bye, and helping him unpack. Llittle did they know at the time that I would become their daughter in law!
From day two, we were basically a couple.
We spent the next three years in a roller-coaster of a relationship, and it wasn’t until we went travelling separately in the summer of 2005 that we realised that we couldn’t be apart. I flew out to meet him in Thailand to travel the last couple of months together and we haven’t been separated since. We got married in Spain in 2010, and as I write this, we are waiting for our first baby to arrive.’
Follow Gemma on Instagram and Twitter: @GemmaRoseBreger, or check out her blog, www.wearisitfrom.com
Lauren and Lawrie: Together three and a half years
‘I wasn’t looking for love when I met Lawrie at a gig. I’d almost not turned up because I’d had a rubbish day, but my friends dragged me along and I got chatting to the grumpy-looking but pretty-and-bearded lad standing next to me. I think we must have bonded over our crappy days, because by the end of the night we’d become firm friends with a mutual interest in complaining! And my new kitten. He was keen on kittens.
It turned out that we shared a large extended friendship group, but had somehow never met before, let alone chatted. We worked our way backwards through each others’ Facebook photos and realised how many times we’d passed like ships in the night. There’s even an album from a house party we were both at but had stayed in different rooms! We share similar music tastes, and went through the number of gigs that we’d both been to at places like The Brudenell, and even the number of times he’d been to see bands I was in!
So finally we’d met, hit it off and quickly grown attached to each other. Unfortunately for this blossoming romance, I was all set to move to Glasgow to start a PhD just two weeks after we got together – brilliant timing. We decided to give it a stab anyway and see how we coped with long distance, taking it in turns to travel up and down on the train.
Somehow, we managed it. But eventually, after two years, we decided that the swaying-induced travel sickness and infamous toilet smell of the Virgin Pendolino was getting a bit much, so for my final year of PhD I moved back down and we’re now living together – with our very happy cat family, of course.
Alex and Paul: Together almost three years
‘I’d been dating wholly unsuitable men – mainly courtesy of Match.com – for about a year when I met Paul. As my mum had always said, despite really wanting to meet someone genuine, it would happen when I was least expecting it – on this occasion at a house party where (after one too many glasses of punch) I had a tantrum and stormed out.
Before my dramatic exit, we’d worked out that we actually lived in the same block of flats – in fact he lived on the floor above me and (as he revealed later) he’d spotted me out and about before we met.
After meeting for the first time we got to know each other at a snail’s pace, using the Draw Something app to stay in touch and write each other little notes for months. He even made up a story about his mum visiting and needing to borrow our vacuum cleaner so that he could pop down, and then he dropped round with a Magnum to say thank you.
It took a drunken night of drinking tequila as a mixer for us to finally get out of the friend zone, and it’s been amazing ever since. We now live together and are about to buy our first home, complete with our cat (read: child), Boris.’
Phoebe and Matt: Together for just over a year
‘I’d been the newbie at work for around six months and loved using our end-of-month get-togethers to break out from my team and meet some new people. After months of small talk over the tea making facilities, Matt finally introduced himself properly, and we loosely confirmed a date the following week.
After endless mental deliberation on whether or not I should commit to a date with a co-worker, I finally agreed, and we arranged to go to the Hotel Chocolat restaurant, Roast & Conch in Leeds city centre. I’d been eager to try it and figured the inclusion of cocoa in every meal would be at least be a conversation starter if nothing else. Matt had set it up to be a big date night, agreeing to meet me off the train and suggesting he’d be treating me to the evening out.
His opening words as I stepped onto the platform?
Oh yes: “My card’s broken so you might have to pay.”
I’m all for going Dutch, but it wasn’t exactly the date night I’d pictured. I couldn’t work out if Matt was joking, if it was a ploy to get out of spending cash, or he really was that awful with his finances. Cue a sit down with online banking in the station and me eventually footing the bill. The saving grace was Matt’s utter mortification, as he came to the conclusion that this would be our first and final date.
Of course, it wasn’t. Just over a year later and after moving in together, we’re happier than ever. Although, needless to say I won’t let him live it down. At least he’s a little more organised when it comes to banking now.’
Follow Phoebe on Twitter @phibster and check out her blog at: www.northoflondonblog.com
Erika and Mick: Married for ten years
‘I met Mick at work. I had just moved to Leeds from the south of England, I didn’t know anyone and my life was in a bit of a mess. I was in an abusive relationship and up until that point I hadn’t told a soul. But Mick and I became friends really quickly, and after a couple of weeks he noticed I was really down. We went for a drink after work and I told him everything. From that moment, he became my rock, and with his support I found the courage to tell my family and end my relationship.
As Mick helped me to come to terms with everything I had been through, I began to realise that I could be me again. We spent our time with the people we worked with, going for drinks after work and generally enjoying life. When he wanted to move out of his parents house, it was perfect timing: I had a spare room and needed help with the bills. Living together was fun, but there was nothing more to it until a few months later, when Mick asked me out on a date. I remember feeling really surprised at the time – not just at him, but at the fact that I liked the sound of it too, even though he was five years younger than me.
Of course, it was like everything had just fallen into place, and we never looked back. We got married two years later, and are still happily married after almost ten years.’
Check out Erika’s website: Eclectic Enchantments