Liar, cheat and.... best mate!

Breaking up with love rat Alex couldn't have brought us any closer

Published by: Karen Armstrong and Louisa Gregson
Published on: 19th April 2010

So this was it. My parents were about to meet the most important person in my life. Oh, my God. I’d been dating my boyfriend Alex for three months.
We’d met at college, and one look at his honey-coloured skin, fit body and dark eyes, and I’d been desperate to strike up conversation.
‘Nice scarf,’ I’d said. It was the only thing I could think of!
‘Thanks,’ he’d smiled, eyes crinkling warmly. ‘It’s new. I wanted to make a good impression.’
Well, he had on me!
Now, standing in front of Mum and Dad in their living room, I gulped. Introducing a bloke can be nerve-racking, but I felt even more under pressure because Alex was my first serious boyfriend.
He wasn’t like other lads. He had a great sense of style, was really kind – not laddish or loutish at all – and didn’t blow off every five seconds like it was the cleverest thing in the world…
‘Come in,’ beamed Dad, 53.
‘We were just about to get Jennifer’s baby photos out.’
No!!! ‘Only joking, sweetheart,’ he chuckled, catching the look of horror on my face.
‘Good to meet you, Mr Bruce,’ said Alex, holding out his hand.
‘You into football?’ Dad asked.
‘Erm, no,’ he blushed.
‘Stop hassling him,’ I laughed. ‘Not everyone has to be obsessed with Rangers like you!’
‘Never mind,’ he shrugged, slapping Alex on the back. ‘We’ll make a football fan of you yet.’
‘Cool!’ Alex beamed.
The butterflies in my stomach settled. They liked each other!
Soon, dates with Alex were a regular thing, and we were head over heels in love. Everyone at college noticed.
‘You two make me want to vomit,’ my mate Cara laughed.
Alex had just got me my favourite morning snack, a Diet Coke and Dairy Milk.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll go get you a chocolate bar, too,’ he smiled at her.
‘See,’ I giggled at Cara. ‘He’s lovely.’
But I was worried I might be eating a few too many choccie bars… Maybe I was putting on weight? There was definitely something turning Alex off in bed.
To start with, we’d been at it like rabbits. Still, I suppose we were a year into our relationship, things had settled down. We were a proper couple now. The only thing we ever argued about was music – he loved dance, I loved indie.
We didn’t even argue about nights out, we both liked to socialise with mates as well as together. Like now – it was an evening in September, and he was heading into town for a few drinks.
‘You don’t mind do you?’ he asked, handing me a cuppa.
‘Course not,’ I smiled. Alex had been so supportive lately, while I’d been busy with coursework.
Later that night, hurriedly typing up an assignment, I didn’t notice seven texts from my friend Cara.
Phone me!!! I read.
‘She’s probably drunk and needs a lift home,’ I sighed, ringing her.
‘Jennifer!’ she answered. Something in her voice worried me. ‘Look, me and some mates stumbled into this gay club and Alex was there…’ she continued.
‘So?’ I replied.
‘He was kissing another man!’ Cara yelled.
I gasped. ‘N-no, you’re winding me up,’ I stammered. ‘It wasn’t him or maybe it was a dare…’
‘Jen, in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never lied to you,’ she said.
Cara was right. She wasn’t one to exaggerate or stir trouble either…
‘I’ve got to go,’ I whispered.
Texting Alex, I asked him to come around to mine. It’s urgent! I tapped. An hour later…
‘What’s up?’ he smiled. Such an innocent face that hid so much…
‘Why the hell is my best friend texting me to say she’s seen you in a club – kissing a man!’ I screamed.
His face fell. Running a hand through his black, gelled hair, he kicked the sofa leg. ‘I’m sorry, it shouldn’t have happened like this,’ he croaked. ‘But I can’t deny who I am any more.’
‘Who are you then?’ I asked slowly. Oh God… ‘Are you gay?’
He nodded.
I thought I’d go mental. Instead, all the rage that had built inside me just disappeared, like someone had popped my balloon.
Strange. A feeling of calm washed over me instead – must’ve been the shock. I’d had no idea my boyfriend of one year was gay. Now I find out when he’s spied snogging the face off another bloke!
Hadn’t I been enough? But…Alex, gay? Wouldn’t I have noticed?
‘Please, Jennifer, I love you,’ Alex wept. ‘You’re my best friend.’
‘Just tell me,’ I sobbed. ‘How long has it been going on?’
‘A few weeks,’ he blurted. ‘I love you, but I like men, too.’
‘Have you slept with any blokes?’ I asked.
‘No!’ he whispered. ‘Try to understand, this is so hard for me.’
Hard for him! To think I’d been pleased Alex wasn’t like other blokes. But imagining him with other men made my skin crawl.
Alex had been my first real boyfriend, had it all been a lie?
I was so confused.
‘Get out,’ I whispered.
I barely slept that night. I needed answers, and Alex owed me them. So when he knocked on my door the next day, I let him in.
‘How are you?’ he asked.
‘How do you think?’ I said, pointing to my red puffy eyes, swollen from crying.
‘Let me explain,’ he begged. ‘Your friendship is so important to me, and the thought of hurting you… well, that’s why I didn’t know how to tell you.’
He took a deep breath. ‘The fact is, for a long time now I’ve known I’m gay… I can’t hide it any more.’
He’d said it! ‘But you said you loved me,’ I sobbed.
‘I do,’ he replied. ‘Just not how you want me to… It’s so confusing.’
I looked into his eyes, and at the face I knew so well. He wasn’t lying, I saw the pain. Strange, but in that moment I felt sorry for him.
I knew who I was, I liked being Jennifer. But Alex didn’t know who he was, or what he wanted.
He explained how he’d longed to tell people, but worried they’d think he was letting them down. ‘Can we be friends?’ he begged.
I thought about it for a moment…
‘Yes,’ I said.
It’s true we were best friends. If I couldn’t be there for him, who could? I could give him advice on blokes, and we could double date,
And that’s how it’s gone for the last six months. Although I’ve not seen him with a guy yet, I’ve learned to accept Alex is gay, and he’s my best friend.
That’s why the pair of us were standing outside his parents’ front door, nervously giggling. ‘I can’t believe I’m going to come out to Mum and Dad,’ he said.
‘I’m here for you,’ I soothed.
To think, only 18 months ago, I’d been nervous about introducing Alex to my parents – as my boyfriend! Luckily, Alex’s parents have been supportive. And for now, I’m just glad I haven’t lost a friend…

Alex Mills, 22, said: ‘I meant all the things I said to Jennifer. I was going through a difficult and confusing time. I’ll always be grateful to her for all of the support that she gave me. We’re still friends, and she accepts that I’m gay.’
Jennifer Bruce, 20, Aberdeen