29 Feb 2024
Love Refugee: Friends with Benefits
Fiction Love Refugee

Love Refugee: Friends with Benefits

Love Refugee is YLC’s fiction serial; a romantic comedy about expat and confirmed singleton Ellie, determined to avoid commitment at any cost…

 

Weirdly enough, after thinking about Andreas last week, I ran into him. On Friday night I was zonked and really looking forward to a night in with a pizza and movie (an actual fredagsmyskväll – when in Rome and all that) – when there he was, at the pizza place, apparently doing the same thing.

He wasn’t wearing the little old lady cowboy hat this time, but instead a flatcap of the sort that dustbin men wore in the 1950s. Whatever else I can say about Andreas, the man… wears hats.

It was actually really lovely to run into someone I know – well, I knew him for three days, but beggars can’t be choosers when moving to a new country – so I was quite ridiculously pleased to see him. We got to chatting, within minutes he had me giggling about some nonsense and by the time our pizzas arrived, we had made a plan to eat them together at my flat.

As we walked the couple of blocks, I marvelled yet again at how high the sun was for quite late in the evening and he promised that in just a couple of weeks it would barely get dark at all. It was really easy and nice: he has this dry sarcasm which cracks me up (even if he did claim not to have a TV – the reason we decided to go to my flat – which re-opened concern that he is in fact a hipster), and seemed to still be quite into me. I’m not completely proud to admit this, but I kind of needed that after the slightly bumpy last couple of weeks.

It made me wonder whether I should say anything about having broken off contact, confirm in some way that we were just hanging out, but then I decided that bringing stuff up would in fact make things the exact big deal that I was trying to avoid.

So we watched American sitcoms and some creaky old British detective show that I’m not sure is even on British TV any more, and hung out and… well, let’s just say it didn’t stay entirely platonic. I did worry a bit about leading him on, but I had managed to drop my general feelings on relationships into the conversation earlier in the evening, so I felt satisfied that I had been clear.

Sure enough, the next morning, we lay having a silly chat about dogs vs cats (cats all the way, I like an emotionally independent animal, though in fact I’m not really the pet owner type at all, I can barely keep houseplants alive), and he asked me if I had been dating anyone in Sweden.

I cringed inwardly, thinking this was a ‘do I have competition’ kind of conversation, but he obviously spotted my fake smile and laughed, said that he had got the picture between us, he was just curious as a male friend. Given the whole coffee shop guy palaver, I wanted to know whether I had given him the wrong impression by asking him for a drink, so I poured out the whole story, and Liv’s take on it.

Andreas thought it over and said Liv was right that people in Stockholm don’t tend to just ask strangers on dates, but that in our case he knew I was British and he did a year of university in Leeds, so he hadn’t taken my asking him out as anything other than just that.

He said he had just liked me after we spent those couple of days together, and I felt a fleeting stab of guilt – which, when you think about it, is silly. Why do we feel responsible for other people’s emotions?

I should feel guilt if I had given him the wrong impression (especially if I had done so deliberately) but he assured me I hadn’t and seemed to be genuinely chilled about it all and happy to be friends with benefits now, which suits me down to the ground.

I asked him how, if people here don’t hit on strangers, how on earth anyone gets laid, and he replied that they wait for cute British girls to ask them out on planes, and that on any given plane there are several hopeful Swedish guys waiting and wishing and paying for stuff to be dropped on their head. We ended up hanging out most of the weekend, and it was nice.

 

Featured Image: Fey Ilyas/Flickr (file)

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