He would really advise learning a specific martial art in a class / with an instructor, which is something I am also interested in - but I don't like the idea of sparring / practicing with strangers, I only want to do so with friends. BECAUSE I'M A PANSY
You should really consider listening to your friend. The only way to effectively learn self-defense is in a class, with a trained instructor, and with strangers as your training partners. Videos and tutorials simply cannot compare to hands on training. As for the training with friends thing, in the art I train we specifically separate people who come in to class with a friend/partner/sibling to train with. How do you expect to defend yourself on the street if you don't train with a wide variety of people, with varying body types, strengths and weaknesses, skill levels, etc?
But honestly, as important as sparring/practicing with a training partner in class is, nothing is as important as having a competent instructor right there, pushing you, drilling you. It's rare to meet someone self-motivated enough to push themselves enough, or to even realize that they can push themselves further. That is where the instructor becomes most valuable, because a DVD can cover the details of a technique, but it can't evaluate your individual needs and push you to take your training to the next level like a real, live instructor can.
And thinking you're a pansy is irrelevant... find a good martial art with a supportive community of people and you won't be a pansy for long, that's the whole point. Most people who start training are not good fighters, that's WHY they're training.
I don't know if you're near London, but here's a link to the London school of the art I train. It's a self-defense based fighting art. Check out the website, video, etc, and if you're close enough to London, consider giving it a try.http://www.poekoelan.co.uk/