When Jay-Jay Feeney met Hoani Molnar in July 2021, neither of them were looking for anything serious. But within a month, when a COVID lockdown was announced, he moved into her Auckland apartment – and two and a half years on, they're still going strong.
Because it all happened so speedily, the lovebirds acknowledge they fast-forwarded through a lot of the milestones that many couples enjoy. "It might seem quick to some people, but we just followed our hearts and when you like someone, you just want to spend all that time together," admits the More FM radio star, 49.
"It would've been nice to have some more time just dating because you need something to look forward to when you're in a long-term relationship, but we've talked about it and instead of the usual milestones of getting married and buying a house, we're planning overseas trips and doing things we're excited about.
"I mean, we could buy a house one day – if Hoani wants to and we can suddenly afford it – but there's no way I'm getting married again. I feel like I've done it once and failed, and I don't want to fail again. I've made a commitment, but I just don't think it's necessary to make it legal and there's just too much admin."
Laughing, Hoani, 29, a manager at men's fashion label Working Style, adds, "Buying a house is definitely the next step for us, but in the meantime, it's all about travel because there's nothing holding us back and we're just focusing on enjoying each other's time."
When the loved-up duo chat to Woman's Day, they've just come back from a romantic trip to Vanuatu.
Jay-Jay tells, "I've been to Fiji, Rarotonga and Samoa, but I like to go to new places that aren't too far away, so when Air Vanuatu offered to fly me over, I couldn't say no – and I really enjoyed the authenticity.
"It's a developing country and they're still recovering from Cyclone Lola last year, so there are fewer tourists around and it's less in-your-face. We stayed in this place called the Nakatumble Luxury Eco Resort right on the ocean, with a big coral reef and tonnes of tropical fish, and we felt like we were on a deserted island. It was just what I needed after such an exhausting year and I enjoyed meeting all the friendly people from Vanuatu."
Certainly, no one brought up their 20-year age difference, which seems to be a hot topic of conversation back home in Aotearoa, with Hoani noting that people back home like to "talk behind our backs".
"We get a mixture of feedback," adds Jay-Jay. "A lot of women my age are inspired in a way. They're like, 'Yes, this is cool!' because I'm removing the stigma about dating people younger than you. Age shouldn't be an issue – unless it's illegal! – because it's just about how you connect and feel around each other."
Joking that he knows "more '80s music than most people my age", Hoani continues, "It'd be different if I wanted to have kids, but our goals line up and neither of us wants children – I've just never had the inclination to do it. It makes our relationship easier. Although I've fallen in love with Kanye."
No, not the rapper, but Jay-Jay's dog, which she shares with her ex-husband and former radio co-host Dominic Harvey, who usually drops their beloved "best little fur-baby" off at Jay-Jay's apartment first thing every morning, bringing them coffee while they're still in bed.
It's an unusual arrangement, they admit, adding that they've also joined Dom and his girlfriend on holidays, and he still shares a bank account with Jay-Jay.
"But it's great," insists Hoani. "If Jay doesn't want to go to a concert, I'll text him and see if he wants to come. It's all about how she feels about him. If she'd said she hated her ex, I'd hate him as well. But we see each other every day."
Nodding, Jay-Jay giggles, "It's a unique relationship and people often say, 'There's no way I'd do that with my ex!' But my ex isn't a crazy, angry psycho. We get along so well."
So what makes Hoani different from her past relationships? "He just has this thing about him," Jay-Jay smiles. "He's honest, genuine and just chilled. I've never seen him mad or upset. He's so even-tempered and always positive about things, whereas I'm a little more cynical."
"You're way more cynical!" agrees Hoani.
Laughing, Jay-Jay continues, "OK, but even if I'm having a moment, you'll help me see a positive side to things. He's quite grounding – and he's less effort! Some people who I've been with need extra attention, but Hoani doesn't need much. We never fight because we just talk things out logically. He's easy to get along with.
"He's just Hoani! I can't really compare because everyone's been awesome. My last three relationships – him, someone else [Algerian ex Minou] and Dominic – I've loved them all for different reasons."
Asked what roles they play in the relationship, a grinning Hoani confesses, "Jay does everything and I pretty much support her by being there."
"It's true," she admits. "But some people are just better at certain things and because I'm older, I'm more set in my ways in terms of how I like things done. Even today, he offered to do the laundry and I was like, 'No, I'll do it!' But I let him take the rubbish out and do the dishwasher."
This year, Hoani turns 30. "I'm catching up!" he jokes, adding that he wants to celebrate with his mates in Bali or Thailand.
Meanwhile, Jay-Jay sighs, "I'm going to be 50 before his birthday. I should have a party with all my friends, but I don't really want to organise anything. I'm thinking of taking a few days off and just disappearing somewhere – maybe Vanuatu!"
Something she's actually looking forward to in 2024 is a trip to Denmark, Ireland and Scotland with her mum, and she's excited about being back on air with Paul "Flynny" Flynn for her sixth year on More FM.
Jay-Jay says, "It's so mentally exhausting creating four hours of new content every day and I've definitely worked with people in the past where it's difficult to work together in such a close environment, but I'm lucky because Flynny and I get on so well. Even if we're having a s**t day, we have heaps of laughs on and off air. We cheer each other up."
And, of course, there's her Judge Jay-Jay agony aunt column in this very magazine. "I really like it a lot," she enthuses. "It's challenging because I realise some of these people might take my advice, so I have to be sensitive even when I just want to write, 'Girl, dump his arse!' But I've always wanted to be an advice columnist, so thanks, Woman's Day – I'm living my dream!"
The same could be said for her relationship with Hoani. As he says, "When you connect with someone and you don't have to force it, that's more special than anything else."
Listen to Jay-Jay and Flynny 3-7pm weekdays on More FM.
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