This February The Huffington Post UK is running Making Modern Love, a fortnight-long focus on what love means to Britons in the 21st Century. Built on the three themes of finding love, building love and losing love, HuffPost will feature human stories that explore exactly what it is to be in love in modern times
I'd been to that shop before. This time, however, it was a pair of Converse shoes with the Union Jack flag on it that grabbed my attention. Two of my friends were trying to cheer me up - it was a weird day as I was trying to cope with a break up.
Then there was a smile. "The" smile. A sales assistant was waiting for me downstairs in the men' section with a large collection of teeth like I was not used to seeing in a Central London shop. On a Saturday. I couldn't help but comment on how cute and sweet he looked to my two Brazilian friends. He then asked me if I was speaking Portuguese, which is my native language, prompting a quick moment of extreme embarrassment - as I thought he understood the secret comments.
Turns out he didn't speak Portuguese but recognised the language because his dad's family is from Portugal. And how odd, considering my dad's family is French but I can't really speak the language. It did seem like a perfect match - or at least an opportunity to jump in. Considering the embarrassment I feel every time I go to Paris - as people look at my French passport and immediately start speaking French - I mentioned I really needed to learn it. So why not exchange knowledge, helping each other to get in touch with our origins? Half genuine request, half excuse. We exchanged Facebook links (how modern for two people who didn't meet each other in an app) and set a date to start our classes.
Then I encountered a problem: you see, meeting someone outside the gay scene or not in a specific app can be a bit of a challenge for gays because we don't know if the love interest is actually attracted to men as well or if he is just a friendly fella. His online Facebook profile didn't give anything away either: none of the stereotypes were there. So I decided to take our first language exchange to a gay bar in Soho.
Possibly the worst idea I had. The place was mildly empty but extremely cheesy, the whole situation was absolutely awkward and when I asked what he would like to drink he asked for... an orange juice.
We started chatting a bit - in English, no mention of French or Portuguese - and after a few minutes of awkwardness he finally helped me out. Well, sort of.
"I'm a bit nervous", he said. And when I asked why... "Because I've never done this before". And by 'this' he meant kissing or dating a man. Suddenly it was not only awkward, it was very confusing.
Fast forward two years and now I happily speak to his grandparents and father in Portuguese while he doesn't really understand a thing, and he nicely speaks to my dad in French while I wonder what they are talking about. And in a cold morning on the top of the highest hill on a beach in Dorset, we sealed our engagement after I proposed. Eat your heart out, Love Actually.