In Tom Sandoval‘s first full-length interview since his cheating scandal with Raquel Leviss broke, the Vanderpump Rules star revealed he still loves ex-girlfriend Ariana Madix, but their relationship had morphed into a situation where he considered her more of a friend than a lover.

Tom, 40, appeared on the “Howie Mandel Does Stuff” podcast on Tuesday, April 12, and explained, “I love Ariana, I still love Ariana and I care about her very much so, but we were — for a while — had been sort of having our own lives.”

“Like many relationships, it felt like it became more like best friends, family sometimes roommates. There was a lot of ways where the relationship was just lacking the intimacy the connection,” he continued. Tom previously revealed in the VPR midseason teaser trailer that he and Ariana only had “sex four times a year.”

Tom claimed he broke up with Ariana on Valentine’s Day 2023, even though his plan was to deal with their split in therapy, saying, “There is never a right time. What is the right time to end a nine-year relationship?”

The TomTom club co-owner explained that he and Ariana had grown apart so much that he had to point it out to her. Tom said that Ariana heard things about Raquel but was “very much turning a blind eye.”

“I had to actually tell her, ‘Have you not noticed how distant I’ve been lately?’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, you have?’ … She didn’t even notice because that’s just how our relationship was. We had separate lives,” Tom shared. He revealed that things had got so bad that Ariana missed the cues that he had embarked on an affair with Raquel.

“I was seeing Raquel as often as I could — which I know that sounds horrible — and FaceTiming her all the time and, like, Ariana didn’t even notice because that’s just how separate our lives were,” he said.

As for how he felt when he started cheating on Ariana, Tom said of his connection with Raquel, “We just kissed. It was magnetic. … I felt something that I hadn’t felt in so long, like emotionally,” adding, “Those feelings that I had started to take over in a sense. Logic went out the window.”

Ariana allegedly learned about Tom and Raquel’s affair when she found racy messages from the former pageant contestant on his phone in early March. On March 3, it was revealed that the couple had split as a result of his affair.

As for where things stand currently between Tom and Raquel, he said the two are “not putting any label on it,” when it comes to what is going on between them, adding. “We’re just kind of taking a break.” When Howie asked if the pair were in a “friends with benefits,” situation, Tom said, “No, not right now,” about being in a sexual relationship.