Jay-Jay Feeney has opened up about her difficult decision to call time on her long-distance relationship with her Algerian beau Minou, having met via mutual friends online in 2018.
The 46-year-old More FM host is devastated after breaking up with her 28-year-old boyfriend, having come to the realisation their relationship had become entirely "virtual" with "no end in sight" due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The heart wants what the heart wants but it can't necessarily have what it wants," Feeney told Newshub, explaining that her plans to travel to Algeria to reunite with Minou this month and meet his mother were cancelled due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
"Now that's not happening. It's been six months since I saw him and it's just really hard - we want to be together but we can't be together," she said.
After enjoying a whirlwind tour of New Zealand together over the summer, Feeney said she had to get realistic about the couple's future and in the end it was her that suggested they end things.
"I'm the one who said 'look, this is too hard' and he just agreed, for the first time," she said.
"We have no end in sight, we don't know when or if we can see each other. And if it's one or two years, we can't just put our life on hold, we just can't.
"Everybody needs physical affection, you need a person there in your presence."
Feeney said the only way the pair's 18-year age gap factored into the relationship was in their approach to the hard truths of their long-distance situation.
"I am a realistic person and I've been around a while," she said.
"Whereas he still has his head in the clouds in terms of: 'We can do this'. He's more optimistic than me! And I'm like, 'Nah, I can see where this is going: Nowhere fast'."
A few days on from the split, Feeney said the emotional pain was taking its toll and she was grateful for the support of her radio co-host Flynny and producer George on the days she couldn't help crying in the studio.
"It feels like someone has got my heart in two hands and is just wringing out the blood from it," she said.
"You know, like I can just feel it twisting in my chest."
Feeney and Minou "still talk every day", she said.
"This one is unfair because we don't want to break up. It's not like one of us wants out - we both want to stay together, but it's a fantasy at this point."
It's not the first time the broadcaster has been through a public break-up. She and ex-husband Dom Harvey announced their separation on-air while working together at The Edge in 2017. The couple were together for almost two decades and remain good friends - with Harvey offering his support from a distance.
"He's good, he just says if I need anything to let him know. But respectfully, he gives me my space because it's a bit weird for the ex to console you."
With the long-term travel ramifications of COVID-19 still becoming clear, Feeney said she and Minou may be able to reassess at some stage.
"Oh my God, if we can get back together we will," she said.
"But who knows when that will be and who knows what will happen in that time. He may meet someone, I may meet someone, whatever," she said.
"It's not that we want to [be apart], but we just have to free our minds."