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How we met: ‘I wanted to discover the world. He said: I’ll go with you!’ | Life and style


After a difficult day at work in February 2009, Stefan went to a popular gay bar in London with a friend. “It was around the time of the economic crisis and I was a junior lawyer. We’d just had to let lots of new recruits go,” he says. While there, he spotted a “cute guy” in the smoking area. “I really liked the look of him and asked my friend to give him my number,” he says.

It wasn’t the first time the two men had seen each other. Sebastien, who had been working in financial services in London since 2006, had spotted Stefan on a night out two years earlier. “I was so shy and just coming out at the time, so I didn’t speak to him,” he says. “I remembered him instantly, though, and told the friend I was with that he was ‘the man of my life’.” Sebastien still felt too shy to approach Stefan, so he was delighted when his friend passed on the phone number. “My cheeks flushed and I was so excited,” he says. “I sent him a text the next day. It took me ages to write because I didn’t want to mess it up.”

They went on a date that Friday night to a French bar, followed by a Spanish restaurant. “Sebastien is French and it was his favourite bar,” says Stefan. “We hit it off straight away. We had the same interests, the same values and the same taste in music.” Although Sebastien was “too nervous” to eat much on the date, he was pleased when Stefan offered to finish his leftovers. “It meant he enjoyed his food as much as me,” he laughs. He was also impressed by all the travelling that Stefan had done. “I had always wanted to discover the world. When I told him I was thinking about leaving London to go travelling, he said: ‘I’ll go with you.’”

Over the next few weeks, they continued to enjoy date nights and soon became a couple. In 2011, they moved into a shared flat in Acton, west London. “We started doing small trips to Europe, but knew we wanted more,” says Stefan. After a trip to Thailand in 2012 to get diving certificates, it became clear to them both that a gap year was on the cards. They began saving and by 2014 they were ready to quit their jobs and leave the country. “We started with the Trans-Siberian railway through Russia and spent almost two years travelling across Asia,” says Stefan. They set up a blog called Nomadic Boys to document their travels, which has become a full-time job for both of them. “When we started out, we wondered whether there might be an issue with any countries that have anti-gay laws. We were very careful,” says Stefan. “But after a while, we began to relax and we were welcomed by gay communities everywhere.”

They married in 2018 in Ealing, west London, with plans for a bigger wedding celebration in 2020, but the pandemic put that on hold, as well as their travels. The couple settled temporarily in Cyprus, where Stefan has family. “We are so used to being with each other in confined spaces that the lockdowns weren’t too much of a challenge,” he says. This year, they hope to travel again, starting with Iceland and South Africa.

“I’ve been with Seb for 13 years and he always finds a way to make me burst out laughing,” says Stefan. “Every day is different and it’s always exciting. He fills me with joy when I’m with him and I feel like I’m at my greatest as a person.”

Sebastien appreciates his partner’s honesty and positivity. “He would never lie or say anything bad and he’s the sweetest person you will ever meet,” he says. “I’ll be thinking about what could go wrong and he’ll always be looking at how to make it better. That’s what I love about him.”

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