Ariana Madix: 'I Don't Know How I Can Trust Anyone Again' After Tom Sandoval, Raquel Leviss Affair (Exclusive)
"I'm getting there, at my own pace," Ariana Madix tells PEOPLE, after friends encouraged her to "not lose that part of myself" following the headline-making scandal
After what happed to Ariana Madix, it's no surprise that she may have developed some trust issues.
The Vanderpump Rules star opens up to PEOPLE exclusively about how the months-long affair between her ex Tom Sandoval and her close friend Raquel Leviss impacted her view on future relationships, explaining that she's hopeful she can allow herself again to put her faith in someone else.
"When this first happened, I really thought, 'I don't know how I can trust anyone again," says Madix, 37, while promoting her new partnership with BIC EasyRinse razors. "A friend of mine — about 10, 11 days after I found out — encouraged me not to lose that part of myself; to still see the good in people, and to trust people, and to be loyal to my friends and my relationships. And I was kind of like, 'Yeah, I don't know about that...' "
"But her saying that, and hearing that from others too, has really helped me move forward," Madix adds. "I'm getting there, at my own pace."
Related:Ariana Madix Says Her Anxiety Was 'So Bad' After Scandoval Broke: 'It Felt Like Rock Bottom' (Exclusive)
Madix and Sandoval, 40, were together for nine years when she learned back in March that he had been cheating on her with Leviss, this costar on Vanderpump Rules. The scandal — dubbed "Scandoval" by fans — made national headlines and catapulted Madix into the spotlight in a way she hasn't been over her 10 years on the show, with stars like Jennifer Lopez, Kristin Chenoweth, Molly Shannon and more commenting on it publicly. Roy Wood Jr. even referenced it at the White House Correspondents Dinner.
"I've ben absolutely floored by the support," Madix tells PEOPLE. "There a pretty long and very incredible, mind-blowing list of people who have spoken out about it or even just have like, any knowledge of any of it at all. And I swear, every single time, my jaw is on the floor and it's me and my friends in our group chat being like, 'Are you freaking kidding me? This is insane!' "
"These are all sorts of heroes of mine. So it's just really, really wild that they even know I exist on this planet," Madix says. ""Going through this in the public eye has definitely added an aspect that makes it an additionally insane experience. But the support from the public has been really amazing and has meant the absolute world to me."
With a newfound level of fame has also come new opportunities, including Madix's partnership with BIC EasyRinse razors. It comes at "exactly the right time," she says, the product's patented unclogging technology not only resulting in a smoother shave with less irritation but also giving Madix a perfect metaphor for her life right now.
"It's time for me to get free and unclogged," Madix shares. "With so many exciting thing going on in my life, the last thing I want to do is be standing in my shower, banging my razor against the wall, wasting water trying to unclog. So in addition to unclogging my life, I'm also unclogging my razor with Bic. It's very exciting."
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She's also in a new romance, with beau Daniel Wai, a fitness instructor she met through mutual friends at a wedding in Mexico just 10 days after Scandoval broke.
"He is very cute, and just the kindest person," Madix tells PEOPLE of Wai. "I think that in so many ways, not just romantically, but professionally and on so many levels, it does feel like just a completely new and amazing energy right now."
Related:Ariana Madix Recalls Meeting New Love Daniel Wai — at a Wedding — 10 Days After Tom Sandoval Broke Her Heart
Earlier this month, Madix said on Today with Hoda and Jenna that she didn't expect to find herself in a new relationship. "In no way shape or form did I go into that thinking anything," she said. "And I've just been taking things very, very, slow and really enjoying myself."
A source told PEOPLE, meanwhile, that Madix is head over heels for Wai. "Ariana's been telling people in her circle that she's falling in love with him," the insider shared, adding, "It's happening faster than she thought but he treats her well, they're having fun, and she's happy to be moving on to this next chapter with such an incredible guy."
And while Madix tells PEOPLE now still she's not 100% right now, she does say she's "feeling relief" in her life right now.
"It's been a process to get there, and I know it's not been very long, but it certainly feel like I'm coming out the other side and the trajectory is up," says Madix. "Where I'm at right now, honestly — I'm at a point now where I just feel like I'm amazing. And I don't think I ever thought that was possible."
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