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Out Weddings

Boyfriends Noa & Ross Couldn't Be More Different (or More in Love)

Landon Strempel/Landon Ray Photography

We chatted with the stylish couple about the gives and takes of their relationship and how to strike a life-balance through design.

If you needed any proof that opposites attract, just meet Noa Santos and Ross Matsubara. Santos is the founder of Homepolish, a personal interior design company that makes decorating with an expert easy and assessable; it's a demanding job that speaks volumes about Santos's character: exceptionally hardworking, obsessed with the home, curiously introverted. Matsubara, on the other hand, emanates an extroverted, social quality, one that's complemented and challenged by his job as VP of Nike Communications. Sitting on a chair across from the couple in their Flat Iron apartment, it is clear that their relationship strikes a delicate equilibrium. Santos is earth--grounded, steady, constant. Matsubara is air--far-flung in the sky, soaring through the city. They meet somewhere in the middle, at the perfect vantage point where New York is more enjoyable and life together is exceptional.

Out: Let's start with the obvious question. Where did you meet?

Noa Santos: We met Halloween night in 2010. But before, I was on Facebook at home in my pajamas. This was when Facebook was the new Instagram.

Ross Matsubara: It was the blue Grindr.

NS: I saw a photo of him in Hawaii, where we're both from. I knew I was going home for Christmas, so I thought I should line up a date. This might have been pre-privacy settings on Facebook, but I saw his photos and that he lived in Manhattan, so I messaged him. I wrote, "I'd love to get coffee." He replied back, "I don't do coffee, I do drinks."

RM: Well it was Halloween night! I was out! I remembering thinking, This creepy guy messaged me on Facebook, it's so weird. But then I saw his profile photo, and then Stanford, and Hawaii. I was like, Oooooh. And I messaged him back. But I didn't want to do coffee. Who does that?

NS: I didn't want to be sketchy!


Where'd you get drinks?

NS: At the Rusty Knot with three of his friends. I almost missed it though because I was napping.

RM: I already had plans and invited him to meet.

Were you nervous walking into a big group of people?

NS: I was less nervous because I thought I could get along with the girls. It ended up being amazing.

RM: We closed the place down.

NS: One by one they left and then we stayed until like 3:30. We started dating three days later.

Do you guys believe in love at first site? If so, did you feel it that night?

NS: For sure.

RM: I wouldn't have said that at the time, but now, after five years--

NS: What do you mean you wouldn't have said it at the time?

RM: Well, looking back I remember the feeling I had and how he walked into the bar. I remember it so detailed and vividly. Looking back, yes! There's no other way to explain how I felt.


Photo by Seth Caplan

So you've been together for nearly six years. How do your personalities complement one another?

RM: In general, he is a lot less emotional than I am.

NS. Yes, I'm not emotional.

Do you think that strikes a balance?

NS: Totally. Temperamentally we're so different, but our values are so similar. I think that's what makes an amazing match. You have to value, at the core, the same things. Like trust, honesty, love. Especially living in a city like New York, where you can really be polarized, it's good to have a counterpart balance you out. If it wasn't for Ross I'd certainly be in pajamas and Homepolish wouldn't be the way it is now. He has pulled me to go out, to stretch myself.

What are three qualities in the other person that you value?

NS: You go first.

RM: Sure. Family would be number one.

NS: No, things you love about me!

RM: I know! Allowing other people to talk, I guess--

NS: (Laughs) So you mean you love my family?

RM: Yes. You are so grounded in your family. You know what's right. I value that and it's important to have a partner who shares that because I feel the same way about my family. Your sense of humor.

NS: Hmm!

RM: I'm attracted to comedians. His humor is smart and different. I know a lot of funny people, but we'll be at dinner and I'll look at him and laugh. It's not that he's telling a joke or anything, it's just the way he tells stories.

NS: I'll tell more stories.

RM: The third is how insanely driven and focused he is. He is honed in on his passions and what he wants to accomplish and he won't stop until he gets it. It's really sexy.

NS: I'd rank those three in my top five, too. When we first met we had so much fun laughing together. Ross also refuses to take no for an answer. This is what makes him an amazing publicist. He fosters genuine relationships, but he also gets what he wants. Whether it's getting into a restaurant we don't have a reservation at or getting on an overbooked plane.

RM: You just need to know how to talk to people.

NS: I love that he is the quintessential best friend. I am not that. I have one, maybe two, best friends.

RM: He's a terrible friend to them.

NS: I am. I spend so little time with other people because I'm so involved with work, doing my thing all the time. But Ross is an incredible best friend. There are a number of people who know that if anything happened he would drop everything and fly anywhere for them around the world. Having that innate sense of love and care is something I admire in him. I am a sympathetic person, but I am not an empathetic person. He'll meet someone who has a problem and invest in that problem.

Let's reverse it. A few qualities that are the most challenging.

NS: Ugh, he doesn't take no for an answer! Love when he gets me plane tickets, but hates when he makes me hang art after work. Also, he is so social it drains me. We only fight about him not taking no for an answer and going out too much. I yearn for the days in pajamas on Halloween night. Oh, and he's messy!

Your turn, Ross.

RM: Okay, I'd say he's stubborn to a fault. And he doesn't like to go out much, so it's a push and pull sometimes.

How do you work around those introvert-extrovert natures?

RM: A couple of years ago, when we were really fighting about it, we had to pick days. Two days a week he got to choose days to stay in. But we don't do that anymore. We kind of just know when it's fair to ask. So I'll go out Saturday night with just my friends sometimes.

NS: I think in any good partnership you should understand what the other person does better and then you play to those strengths. Ross plays to mine and I play to his.


Photo by Seth Caplan

Let's talk a bit about your apartment. How do you approach design together?

RM: I feel like I know good clothes and I know how to put things together, but my old apartment was terrible. I had no design sense.

NS: It's kind of like a designer-client relationship. I'll present options. But I love that Ross pushes me. He'll chime in a lot, and I'll ignore 90% of it, but the one thing I listen to actually really propells me as a designer. Some of our favorite pieces we have are because of him. One time I went to a flee market looking for lamps and I found one I liked. I brought Ross and he was like, "That's the lamp! We have to have it!"

RM: I said, "Coco Chanel had that same lamp in her apartment in Paris!"

NS: So I bought it and now the lamp goes with us everywhere.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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