Still going strong. Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix, who continue to outlast other relationships on Bravo’s addicting series Vanderpump Rules, are giving Us Weekly the goods on the new season.
The couple, who have been dating for nearly four years now, admit they still have “ups and downs” and friends’ drama sometimes has a “ripple effect” on their own relationship. Nevertheless, they continue to remain supportive of one another.
Sandoval, 34, takes on a new project this season with boss lady Lisa Vanderpump and bestie Tom Schwartz — a restaurant aptly named Tom Tom. Meanwhile, Madix, 32, tackles some serious issues that arise from her past.
Not to mention, they constantly find themselves in the midst of Sur’s biggest scandals — including one in the premiere episode that involves major accusations that Jax Taylor cheated on girlfriend Brittany Cartwright.
Here, the bartenders break down the new season with Us:
Us Weekly: What are the biggest hurdles for you guys this season as a couple? And individually?
Ariana Madix: I think, as a couple, we tend to … when things are happening with friends of ours, it feels like there’s a ripple effect there. We disagree on how other people should be handling things, or what’s going on with those people…
Tom Sandoval: And sometimes maybe how we handle things as well. Also, in any relationships, you have ups and downs, and disagreements. Sometimes little things become big things. And they can take on a life of themselves.
AM: And individually this season, I feel like I struggled a lot. Obviously, I haven’t seen [the episodes], so I don’t know if they are going to show it or that was just something I was feeling internally. I know that’s what I was really feeling — really struggling a lot with some things I dealt with in my past. And trying to move forward and create a future for myself, and create a future with Tom. That, I feel like was my biggest hurdle to overcome this season.
Us: One of the big things for you, Tom, this season is your restaurant with Lisa. What was it like going from employee to business parter? What was that dynamic like with her?
TS: Opening up a bar is something I always dreamed of doing, so when the opportunity presented itself … sometimes I get a little excited. I have a tendency to overstep my boundaries. But in any relationship, when you’re building a working relationship together, you have a tendency to bump heads and disagree. And obviously, me and Lisa come from different places. And we’re at different places in our lives. It’s been awesome in a lot of ways, but of course, there have been some hiccups. But we’re still there, getting things going. So…
SM: Forging ahead.
TS: Forging ahead!
Us: Ariana, what did you think about Tom taking this on?
AM: Honestly, I can’t wait for it to be done so I can hang out there. I’m really excited for him. It’s a really good creative outlet for him and it’s something he’s always wanted. I think it’s really great and bodes really well for our future as a couple, and for him on his own. Of course, I was also a little frustrated at times because we also have a project that we’re working on together. It took a lot of time away from that. We still really need to get that completed. But, at the same time, it’s like when you say “I’m so busy. I’m so busy.” It’s a good thing. You know what I mean? It’s a good problem to have. So while it can be frustrating at times with all the time management and things like that, it’s a really awesome problem to have.
Us: Because you do work together on some projects, do you chime in on each other’s solo endeavors or keep that separate?
TS: A little of both.
AM: Yeah, definitely somewhere in between. With Tom Tom, that’s obviously something that he’s working on that I am not, but I will offer my support or advice. Sometimes we’ll be shooting ideas back and forth, and there will be an idea I have and he’ll be like, “Oh, that’s great.” Or he might run something by me. I think what’s cool is that we’re both really supportive of each other’s projects. Now that we’re doing the book together, I feel like it’s a really fun for us to be creative together. I think it’s really cool.
Us: One of the major bombshells in the premiere is that Jax may have cheated on Brittany with Faith [Stowers]. What did you first think when you heard about it?
AM: Tom heard about it before me.
TS: Yeah, I actually heard about it and I didn’t know what to think about it. It seemed pretty far-fetch. It’s something that you’ll definitely get to the bottom of pretty quickly in the season.
AM: That was pretty shocking and … it’s one of those things. Jax, with Brittany, he’s seemed kind of like this different person, so to hear that rumor, it’s like, “Is it far-fetched? But it is.” It’s weird. In the past I would have said, “Oh yeah, for sure.” Because that sounds just like Jax. But now, it doesn’t seem like that. Also, Faith was somebody I considered to be a friend. So that’s also really weird and shocking and upsetting. The whole thing was just bizarre, honestly.
Us: Ariana, I know you weren’t always the biggest Jax fan. Have you both gotten close to Brittany over the years? Did you feel protective of her too?
AM: Tom’s very protective of his friends in general. Brittany’s just really fun.
TS: Very nice. Like a positive ball of energy.
AM: Somebody you really love to be around. And just…
TS: A ray of sunshine.
AM: She really is. So to hear something like that, she doesn’t deserve that. She doesn’t deserve half the … like the “make me a sandwich” comments. Some of the stuff that Jax has said to her and about her, she doesn’t deserve that at all.
TS: Obviously, there are two sides. Nobody’s perfect. We get that. [Jax and Brittany] have been together awhile now and it’s been really fun hanging out with Brittany. We’ve gone to the Kentucky Derby. Me, Ariana, Jax and Brittany. Twice. We’ve done other things together. It’s brought us closer together, you know? We always have a good, memorable time.
AM: We always have fun, the four of us.
Us: Do you think Jax is capable of monogamy?
AM: I want to say yes.
AM: But, you know, time will tell.
Us: Let’s talk about Tom [Schwartz] and Katie [Maloney]. It seems like married life is going well for them, but we do see some trouble ahead in the trailer.
TS: I feel like they’ve definitely … I think their year getting to the alter was probably one of their toughest years together. Maybe it’s pressure, I don’t know. I feel like they have gotten a lot better. They seem to vibe better together. They seem to argue less. But of course, those times do pop up. I just think they pop up a little further and far between than they were maybe a year ago. They seem to be doing a lot better.
Us: Katie is on the outs with Scheana [Marie] this season. What’s your relationship like with Katie?
TS: We butt heads sometimes. Sometimes we’re cool, sometimes we’re not. That’s just the way it is. We have a large group of people. Sometimes you vibe with people all the time, sometimes they really get on your nerves.
AM: With me and Katie, I feel like we’ve had a lot of ups and downs. When that happens, at least for me, I just become very cautious. I’m not very all-in or all-out. I’m kind of like “dip the toes in and see how it goes.” You know what I’m saying? For me, with Katie, I feel like because we’ve had those ups and downs, when things are going well, I’m like, “Eh, is this really going to last?” So I’m just very cautious when it comes to that. I’m a cautious person in general, I guess. You will definitely see a lot of that progression this season.
Us: Ariana, Scheana is a good friend of yours and she’s dating someone new. Kristen [Doute] and Lisa seem a bit skeptical of the relationship. Do you think it’s too soon after her divorce?
AM: At the time, the things is, Kristen and Lisa don’t really talk to Scheana that often — especially not in the way that I do. By far. So of course, them expressing concern is them expressing concern from a place where they don’t really know a lot of what they’re talking about. I had similar concerns in the beginning, when she and Rob [Valletta] first started seeing each other after the holidays. But because I talk to Scheana so often, I really got to hear from her, her process, her mental state and what was really going on with her in her head. She also felt like, “Man, this is really quick, but I really like this person. And I don’t see why I would push someone away” — he’s actually known Rob for like 12 years — it’s not like they just met. So in her mind, she’s thinking, “Why would I push someone away who I already know pretty well as a friend and I really like? Why not just enjoy this time and try to get back to a happy place?” And she did get back to a happy place. I was happy for her at that point.
Us: Who would you say has changed or grown the most since season 1?
AM: Everyone has made strides, but I do feel like — myself included — old habits die hard.
Vanderpump Rules premieres on Bravo Monday, December 4, at 9 p.m. ET.