In our first interview with tears, we explore an ISTP – ISFJ relationship with Peter and Robert from the UK. Peter, an ISTP who is 64, and Robert, an ISFJ who is 54, matched on a dating website 17 years ago and moved in together on the very first night they met. They talk about love at first sight, being the first married gay couple in Cornwall and their contrasting strengths in their relationships.
How the ISTP – ISFJ relationship started
Peter and Robert met on Gaydar, one of the first gay dating websites, “Back then it was more based on pictures than personality,” says Robert. “There certainly wasn’t much personality in there!”
Even before they met, there was a definite spark online. “We chatted for about a fortnight and I was getting very frustrated by the fact that we’d hadn’t met up,” says Peter. “He was amusing and very cheeky, which I liked.”
So cheeky in fact that Robert, when he had to cancel a night out in London to see a friend because of a transport strike, suggested to Peter that they could meet up as he had a free evening after all.
From the moment they met, they knew they were soulmates and being together felt completely natural. “We just gelled,” says Robert. “With some people the conversation is quite stifled and you don’t know what to talk about but with us it just flowed and we chatted and laughed.”
The ISTP – ISFJ first date
Their first date was having fun in a series of Brighton nightclubs. At the end of the night, they went home together to Peter’s house and basically Robert never left.
After lunch out the next day Peter admitted that he had lied about his age on the app and he was actually 11 years older than Robert.
Fortunately, Robert didn’t care. “Age is irrelevant. We’d clicked so much,” says Robert. “I’ve always said you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a Prince and I think it came true. I had never believed in love at first sight but it actually was.”
Robert had recently left a long relationship behind in London and he was looking for someone to comfort and look after him. “I really wanted to find someone to love me,” says Robert. “We were holding each other’s hand within 10 seconds of meeting each other.”
Although Peter laments that Robert has never been keen to hold hands since.
“I’m not one to be open with being gay,” says Robert. “That came with a different generation. I am 54.”
Both Robert and Peter considered themselves a couple from day one even though Robert moved in to Peter’s house while Peter’s ex was still living there.
“My ex and I owned the house together and he had already moved into a separate bedroom a long time before,” explains Peter.
The ISTP – ISFJ marriage
Peter and Robert are now married but at the time, six years after they met, they had to enter a civil partnership because that was all that was allowed in the UK. They then converted it to marriage as soon as it was legal.
“It has been very difficult to say the word ‘husband’ because it just wasn’t in our psyche to say that,” says Peter.
Robert agrees. “I think for our age group, it’s very difficult because we were brought up thinking it [gay marriage] would never happen and then suddenly it happened. I still introduce you as my partner…I can’t say husband.”
They got married the first day they legally could – December 10, 2014.
“We were the first people in Cornwall,” says Robert. “We went to the registry office at eight o’clock in the morning. They hadn’t got a clue what they were doing, so we all had to read the notes and look at the computer and help them out.”
They found the only Cornish registration office that opened before nine o’clock in the morning, so they knew they were the first.
Myers & Briggs personality types
They were both made aware of their personality types and how they matched three months before being interviewed for the Personality Love Lab podcast.
“A friend of mine said, ‘Oh, you must do this test. It’s amazing,’” says Robert. “Then we both did it and So Syncd came out saying my perfect match is Peter.”
Peter was as surprised as Robert. “We were 95% compatible.”
They took the personality tests separately and did not discuss their answers. “We were completely honest. I think that was the first time I went from, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ to ‘Oh wow. There’s something in this [personality matching concept].’ It must be true,” says Robert.
Peter is deeply into politics and Robert manages a holiday home that they own so their lives are busy. Robert jokingly complains that Peter is a politics bore and Peter retorts that Robert’s discusses his cleaning techniques too frequently. They also have a dog that they dote on.
Why the ISTP – ISFJ relationship works so well
Robert was a travel agent for 21 years, so travelling is his passion. They are always planning places they would love to visit. They also love a good gossip.
“Being gay, we can be a bit bitchy, so we talk about the neighbors,” says Robert. As an ISFJ, Robert is more interested in people than Peter, and Peter, true to his ISTP type, describes himself as self-contained. However, together they simply clicked on the first date and have done so ever since.
“What I love about Robert most is that he always makes me laugh and makes me happy. It’s as simple as that,” says Peter. Robert had come prepared for a question like this for the podcast interview and produces a long list. We would expect nothing less from an ISFJ.
Peter is very loving kind, honest, truthful, faithful, caring, generous,” says Robert.
“My life changed 17 years ago and I’ve never looked back.” This list moves Peter to tears because he is so unused to Robert openly showing his feelings.
The ISTP – ISFJ personality type differences
When it comes to suggesting what they would change about each other’s personalities the list is remarkably short.
“I wouldn’t change anything about him,” says Peter but then adds, “although sometimes I wish he was a little bit more assertive instead of trying to please other people.”
Robert being an ISFJ, is a self-confessed people-pleaser. They tend to be very aware of other people and make decisions based on others rather than logic.
Robert, on the other hand, feels their relationship is 99% perfect but would love Peter to relax more. “Peter is quite a serious person. Some people view him as standoffish,” says Robert. “Being a Northerner, I think you say it as it is and some people don’t understand what you’re meaning.”
Peter does admit to being blunt. “I don’t think I’m as good socially [as you],” explains Peter to Robert. “I have great difficulty in getting to know people easily and take a step back until I get to know them.”
However, both agree that neither are the outgoing types who easily walk up to people at parties and introduce themselves. And they are not keen on confrontation, even with each other, although Robert gives it a try sometimes.
“I try and argue and Peter won’t argue back which is really annoying,” says Robert. While this frustrates Robert, he admits it also calms him down. They always end up laughing.
The ISTP – ISFJ relationship challenges
When it comes to challenges, they have always been there for each other 100%. Robert has had a brush with cancer and Peter has had open-heart surgery.
“Normally I don’t do illnesses. I push them away and pretend they don’t exist,” says Robert. “That’s the way I cope.” On the heart surgery occasion though, Robert was at Peter’s side the whole time and sat at his bedside in ICU.
“When I was coming around from surgery and I was semiconscious, the lovely thing was just to hear his voice,” says Peter.
Another moment of worry and crisis was when their first dog died two years ago. “That was quite traumatic because they’re like your children,” says Peter.
Moving from cosmopolitan Brighton to the quieter county of Cornwall was also a challenge.
After his major health crisis, Peter was keen to give up work so he sold his company with a plan to retire to Cornwall. “When you have open heart surgery, it really makes you think about what you want to do in life,” says Peter. However, this meant that Robert had to give up his career too in order to make such a dramatic life change.
“I did wonder ‘what do I do now?’” says Robert. “I was 45 at the time and I thought that you can’t give up work yet.”
As it happens, each now has their own fulfilling projects that keep them busy.
To add to this, moving from liberal party-central Brighton to Cornwall and being a gay couple was unsettling.
The gay scene
“Robert thought Cornwall would be homophobic, didn’t you?” says Peter.
He agrees. “I was scared of walking into the local pub and for the music to stop playing and everyone to start staring at us because two men had walked in together,” says Robert. And it did happen but once the locals got to know them they were great.
Robert feels that he has never experienced real homophobia. “I’m lucky. I came out at 21, left home in London and then I lived in Brighton, which is pretty gay anyway.”
In the 1980s Peter ran one of the biggest gay bars in London. “When I ran the bar, there was a successful gay American magazine called The Advocate at the time,” explains Peter. “The editor came over and I had dinner with him. Gay bars in those days used to be closed off – the windows were blacked out – and he said, ‘In 20 years, this will all change. It will be open to the street and no one will care.’ At the time, I didn’t believe him but he was right.”
“We don’t care whether people are straight or gay,” says Peter. “There are some gay people who get locked into being gay and I don’t think we do. We treat people as they come.”
Complementary ISTP – ISFJ personality traits
Staying true to their respective ISFJ and ISTP personality types, Robert is the more emotional one in their relationship while Peter is more pragmatic and logical.
“Whereas Robert might get quite emotional about something straight away, I’ll just say, ‘Hang on a second. Let’s think about it and let’s try to find an answer’,” says Peter.
This plays out even with sharing the household tasks. “You cook, I clean,” says Robert. “You don’t control the finances but you’re more careful with them.”
This is a couple who clearly clicked on the first date and have never stopped being a great team.
In terms of their future, Peter says he is so happy to continue what they are doing.
Robert seconds that and also adds: “We’d love to travel more. Discover more places and have a nice life and look after each other.”
How to write your own love story
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