When a partner in relationship inadequacy falls romantically, irreproachably in love, your initial reaction is to feel slightly betrayed. But then, sometimes, all it takes is to meet the object of their affection to get over it. My friend Isaac Hindin Miller, blogger behind Isaac Likes, recently found the perfect yin to his dysfunctional yang in longtime friend, model Jenny Albright. These kids are young, smart, mildly photogenic, and currently killing it as part of DJ duo Isaac Likes Jenny. Intrigued, I strapped them down at La Colombe and demanded some insight on what goes on behind those annoyingly perfect Instagram photos!
Marina: Let’s start from the beginning – how did the two of you meet?
Isaac: We were at the Stolen Girlfriends Club 5th Anniversary party during New Zealand Fashion Week in 2010 and Jenny had walked the show. I had seen her at some other party that week, so then I saw her again and I got my friend to take a photo pretending that I was grinding up on her. She didn’t actually know that I was behind her. I was probably 3 feet away from her, but it looked like I was touching her in a very creepy way.
Jenny: He was touching me.
Isaac: She didn’t see these photos until years later. Anyway, we must have started talking or something..
Jenny: Yeah, we started talking. I was there for 2 months and I didn’t have friends, I didn’t have a car. So then he asked me if I wanted to go to the movies with him and some friends, they picked me up, and since then we were attached from the hip.
Isaac: Then we hung out again in Paris. Jenny was dating her ex-boyfriend at the time and I had just moved out of New Zealand for good, so we hung out there. Then, in August, she left and all my other friends left, so I was like “fuck it” and I went to New York, and we hung out pretty much every single day for the next 4 years. We created this big group of friends who we used to hang out with and party all the time.
Marina: Why didn’t you date?
Isaac: We never looked at each other in that way.
Jenny: Yeah, I always had boyfriends and he had girlfriends, but there was never any jealousy or anything. Nothing ever happened but people always thought that something was going on..
Isaac: I always thought that we stayed such good friends because we never crossed that line.
Isaac: We also had a few moments when she would date somebody and she would get obsessed with the guy for awhile, or I would be dating somebody and get obsessed with that person, and then we wouldn’t hang out as much, but we would always come back together afterwards.
Marina: Did you give each other relationship advice?
Jenny: We actually got into a couple of arguments because he wouldn’t give me relationship advice. I would come to him with something and all he would say to me is “this guy sucks, forget it”. Meanwhile, his favorite thing to do is to give people all these constructive ideas!
Isaac: It’s easy to give advice to somebody you’re not emotionally invested in. She’s my best friend in the entire world. I cant do it impartially.
Marina: Ok, so then what happened?
Isaac: My life changed a huge amount over the past year. I had a big breakup, it took me a really long time to get over it. Then I cleaned up my act and stopped partying and got on a straight arrow, and, at the end of that, Jenny was the last one from that group of friends who stuck through it all with. Then we started DJing together, so that added another element to our relationship..
Marina: And then…?
Isaac: And then we went to this barbecue.. She had been dating this guy and I had noticed that, over the course if the last few guys she had dated, I didn’t even want to be around her. And when I would start dating a girl, I didn’t know how to explain to them who Jenny was to me. Like, I know my best female friend way better than I’m ever going to know my girlfriend.. So then we were at this barbecue one day and I looked at her across the room and I felt differently. The next thing I knew, we were pressed against the wall making out.
Marina: Oooh. And then..?!!!
Isaac: And then we went to Nicaragua with a bunch of out friends and that kind of solidified the relationship, if you will. And then, I was like, “We should be together”. And then.. Would you like to take over from there, Jenny?
Jenny: And then Isaac was like, “We should be together,” but I was really nervous about it, because he was my best friend in the entire world and I don’t have that great of a track record when it comes to guys. I tend to quickly get bored and not feel as strongly about people as I did in the beginning. So Isaac kept saying that he wants to be together, and one day I just freaked out and was just like “ I can’t do it, I want to go back to being friends”. We were sitting on this stoop and he was like, “Well. if you don’t want to be together I don’t think I want to be friends either”. It was very dark. I walked away like a sad puppy, saying good bye to my past life as it started raining.. It was really devastating at the time, but kinda funny now.
Isaac: The next day I must have sent here 80 text messages. I was like “I think you’re making a bad decision and this could be an amazing thing. I know that the result could be us getting married or us breaking up, but imagine if we did get married, how incredible would that be? And she was just like, “No”.
Jenny: I was actually really upset about it and then I thought that maybe I should stop being such a pussy. And then I did something stupid, not with a guy, just a stupid life thing. This is when I came to the realization that I need to stop what I’m doing, that I need to be smart that I need to stop being scared and…la di da…follow my heart! So I did something cute and lame and I wrote him a letter and I told him what had happened and I was like “I love you and I’m sorry and I’m still scared but I want to try this” and I gave it to him.
Isaac: In a movie, that would be happily ever after. But, because she had said no for 3 days and I had gotten really upset and hurt, for the next two months I was really hesitant about the whole thing.
Jenny: So then I was the one who was really into it. He was leaving for Milan and I was like “I don’t know how you think I am with guys, but I’m not actually cold-hearted. I love you and I can’t just sit here and have you change your mind every single day, it just makes me feel really uneasy..”
Isaac: And I was like “Welcome to the club!”. So then I went to Italy for two weeks, I think it was good for us both to take some space and some time apart. When I came back, I was ready to start over and, since then, its been really easy..
Marina: Cool! Have there been any other challenges?
Isaac: Well, we work together and that has been getting busier and busier. For me, the most important thing is finding balance. Life is complicated when things are going badly, but also when things are going well. What I’ve noticed that, the better our work goes, the more I get focused on that. So, on some days, all were talk about is work, work, work.. You have to figure out how to make time to be a normal couple as well!
Jenny: Yeah but, at the same time, I feel that, with a lot guys, their main topic of conversation is work, except that its their work, whereas here its our work together.
Marina: That’s all people do in New York anyway – work.
Jenny: Yup, it’s the first thing you ask somebody.
Marina: Jenny, what was dating in New York like from your perspective?
Jenny: Well, I never really had a type, so I dated the most random people imaginable, every kind of guy and profession. I think that, in New York, there is this whole sense of throwaway relationships – you date people even though you know you’re not going to be together with them for that long. You don’t put much effort here, because you know there is always going to be someone else. Which is fun when you’re in your 20s and you’re not looking for anything serious – no shame in that game – but at some point it just gets tiring and not fun anymore. Also, people can get hurt that way.
Marina: Isaac, what about you? Dating in the US, compared to New Zealand?
Isaac: Dating in New Zealand is so unbelievable different from daring in America. You would never go hang out with somebody you had never met. In fact, the whole idea of going on a date with somebody you don’t know and selling yourself to them is the most nightmarish idea I have ever heard of, and I would never want to inflict that on myself or have that inflicted on somebody else.
Marina: I think that pertains to all people who come to New York from Europe or elsewhere.. America is very different in that sense.
(Isaac see friends, conversation is disrupted as we watch him work his magic.)
Marina: Tell me what you told me the other day, about how Jenny makes you a better person.
Isaac: I think the sole purpose of romantic relationships is to add value to your life. ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” When you’re in a good, solid, strong relationship, it makes you a better person as a result. And anytime you’re with somebody who makes you feel insecure or lowers your self-esteem, it takes value away. I think 90% of divorces would be avoided if you just listened to that voice when you started out in a relationship and you were like “Something about this isn’t quite right.”
Marina: But wouldn’t you cut everyone out then? You guys might be rare.
Isaac: Maybe we are, but maybe we just invested a solid amount of time into each other and figuring each other out. Also, we have that solid foundation of friendship and know how to deal with each other when the other person is upset.
Jenny: And we know why the other person is upset. Even when we were just friends, we would fight like family members, instead of people who you are going to throw away. We would make sure to lay the groundwork for something in the future, so it doesn’t happen again.
Marina: That’s good stuff..
Jenny: Its like when you have an argument with a sibling and you don’t want to say something that they will remember in 20 years. So you just take a step back and you don’t say what you want to say in that moment. Also, you respect them enough to look at both sides and listen to their opinion.
Isaac: I have to say, this is one of Jenny’s greatest character strengths – she can pause before she makes as decision to do something. I’m much more likely to say something and apologize and Jenny is much more likely not to say anything at all. She is one of the most tactful people I have ever met in my life. I have never heard her say something and been like “You should not have said that”.
Marina: Do you do that?
Isaac: No but I fly of the handle sometimes.
Marina: Jenny, how do you deal with that?
Jenny: He can sometimes get caught up in the heat n the moment. But the good thing about Isaac is that he is not an overly proud person, so, if he says something that he regrets saying, he will come out and say “I’m sorry” and work to make a change or to come to a conclusion. I always know that we will be able to work it out.
Isaac: I have a big bark and no bite.
Marina: What’s your dynamic when it comes to DJing together?
Isaac: I am a control freak by nature, so it was hard for me to give that up in the beginning.. But then I realized that Jenny ends up choosing the exact same song I would have chosen anyway. Jenny has put in so much work into perfecting her skills that she ended up being much more skilled than me when it comes to DJing. We have complementary skills, she is great technically and I’ll sell us and get us the jobs..
Jenny: I’m a terrible networker, Isaac is a great networker. Also, Isaac is the kind of person who can just pick up things. I am not the kind of person and I know that about myself. I have to put a lot of man hours to be on par with most things, and I don’t want to embarrass myself, so I put in time to learn.
Marina: Well, its working! You guys are doing great and you look fantastic together. This whole couple DJ thing is a big thing now…
Isaac: I think this whole couple thing, full stock, is a big thing now. Before we even got together, Scott Schuman took a photograph of us on this bench and that photo of us got about 22,000 likes. I saw that and I was like…
Marina: I’m going to use this girl.
Jenny: I’m going to pretend to be in love with her to make money.
Photo by Scott Schuman for The Sartorialist, 2014