What You Didn't Know About Tom Sandoval And Ariana Madix's Relationship

"Vanderpump Rules" premiered in 2013 as a spinoff of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," focusing on restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump and the eclectic cast of young, attractive, fame-hungry models, actors, mactors and hangers-on who work as bartenders and servers at SUR, one of her West Hollywood restaurants. SUR, believe it or not, stands for Sexy Unique Restaurant, which too often gets forgotten. 

Much of the drama on the show comes from the romantic shenanigans among the SURvers, following their break-ups, make-ups, and adulterous adventures, all in the phenomenally petty pursuit of screentime. Though several of the cast have gotten married at this point, one relationship towers above them all as a model for a healthy partnership. No, we're not talking about Lisa Vanderpump and Ken Todd, although they seem to be pretty solid too; we're here to take a look at Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix, the SUR bartenders who have risen above the drama (well, mostly) to stick together despite the rollercoaster of a decade they've had on television. Raise your glasses high as we revisit the best days of their lives and uncover the truth behind Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix's relationship.

Did they really start out as friends?

When viewers were first introduced to Tom Sandoval all the way back in Season 1 of "Vanderpump Rules," he was the bartender boyfriend of SUR waitress Kristen Doute. Their relationship was a rocky one; in her 2020 memoir "He's Making You Crazy," Kristen seems to resent Tom's fastidiousness about his appearance. "We would get ready together at his vanity, and when he said 'you're beautiful' I wondered if he was talking to me or to himself," she wrote. "His flat iron, oh, his f***ing flat iron. It was his most prized possession."

Kristen spent Season 2 convinced something was going on between Tom and SUR newcomer Ariana Madix, a bartender who transferred from a different Vanderpump restaurant. Tom and Ariana insisted they were just friends, but Kristen refused to believe it, and they clashed throughout the season. Ultimately, Tom admitted that he and Ariana had in fact kissed in Las Vegas while he and Kristen were still together. "Something about telling [Kristen], it's brought us closer together," he said on the show.

However, the SUR friend group was then rocked by the revelation that Kristen herself had cheated on Tom, having slept with Tom's best friend Jax Taylor... while Tom was asleep in the other room. Their relationship fell apart for good by the Season 2 reunion, and Kristen wrote on her Bravo blog, "In hindsight, it's obvious that Tom and I should have broken up a long time ago."

At the Vanderpump Rules reunion, they made it official

Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix officially debuted as a couple at the Season 2 reunion. "We've definitely been hanging out and things have been great," Tom revealed to a bemused Andy Cohen. "I mean, it's been awesome. ... I'm like, so much happier." 

When Season 3 kicked off, Ariana said Tom being there for her when her dad died is partially what brought them together. "We progressed from friends to something more over a period of time during winter of last year," she wrote on her Bravo blog. "We had both had an extremely trying year, including the very sudden and unexpected loss of my dad, and through being there for each other as friends I think something just eventually clicked."

Even though she had her own burgeoning rebound relationship with troublemaking DJ James Kennedy, Tom's ex-girlfriend Kristen Doute spent the season trying to undermine Tom and Ariana as a couple. Sitting down to preview the season with OK! Magazine (via Heavy.com) Kristen said, "I hope everyone sees [Ariana's] true colors...two bull**** personalities that I don't just buy...I hope everyone just sees right through it. Everyone's going to see Tom's big fat lying face."

Tom Sandoval faced cheating accusations

In one of the most memorable clashes in "Vanderpump Rules" history, Kristen Doute flew Annemarie Kunkel, aka "Miami Girl," to LA. Doute engineered a meeting with Tom Sandoval at SUR so that Annemarie could confront him face-to-face, alleging that he cheated on Ariana Madix with her. However, after a brief interaction, Tom and Ariana simply left the restaurant rather than get into a shouting match at work, and the explosive aftermath led to Kristen herself getting fired from SUR.

Though cheating allegations have rocked many a couple on "Vanderpump Rules," Tom and Ariana weathered the storm. Ariana didn't believe Miami Girl's story, listing inconsistencies in a lengthy Tumblr post and concluding, "I am not only happy and in love, but... I don't have any reason not to trust Tom. He has always made sure that I don't have to play guessing games or wonder for a moment what the truth is."

Both Tom and Ariana weren't happy with how things played out. Ariana told Us Weekly, "The reason why we left [SUR] is because we felt like production was pulling this whole thing. ... I do regret ... not fully calling out the whole real story, like on camera, and staying there." Tom, for his part, wishes he hadn't entertained the drama whatsoever. "If I can do anything over again," he said in Us Weekly, "I just would have never even filmed with [her]."

Ariana Madix isn't racing to get married or have kids

Unlike their friends, who are largely married off if not raising kids, Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix don't have plans to get hitched in the works. This is something Ariana made an early condition of the relationship. She elaborated on her hesitance to wed in Los Angeles Magazine in 2019, explaining, "I would have a nervous breakdown [if I had to plan a wedding]. Every month when I pay my half of the mortgage, consider that my commitment to you, Tom." And that's fine with Tom. On "Watch What Happens Live," he told a fan, "We don't need marriage. We know who we are to each other, and that's what's most important."

The question of raising kids together is somewhat trickier. Ariana has made her reluctance to give birth clear, telling Bravo's Daily Dish in 2016, "I would maybe consider adopting later on in life. There's something about child birth, man, I can't get into it." Tom, though, does seem to want kids someday. He revealed on a Season 7 episode that he may someday have a child of his own that he wouldn't expect Ariana to help raise, even if they are still together. "To not have that option is a dealbreaker for me," he told his friends.

One thing's for certain: they are tired of answering questions. In a since-deleted tweet (via BravoTV), Ariana shared that she will walk away from any interview that presses her about kids. Fair enough.

Never say never about Ariana Madix

As of Season 9 of "Vanderpump Rules," Ariana Madix's stance on marriage seems to have softened somewhat. After witnessing the impressively romantic circumstances around James Kennedy's Coachella-themed proposal to longtime girlfriend Raquel Leviss — a display that involved a backdrop of fireworks, glittery confetti cannons, dancing, and taco trucks — Ariana couldn't help but be moved. "How could anyone say 'no' if this is how someone asks you to marry them?" she said in a confessional. "So... if it was like this, but it was just us... maybe."

Tom Sandoval helped plan Kennedy's proposal, and he revealed that he too was touched by the event. "Seeing Ariana so happy, it just really inspires me to want to do something so special for her, if and when we do decide to get engaged," he said.

Ariana also revealed at a live event for "Sexy Unique Podcast" that she froze her eggs during the COVID-19 lockdown, perhaps a sign that she's reconsidering whether she wants to someday have kids of her own. She told the podcast hosts that she and Scheana Shay were meant to go through the fertility procedure at the same time. "We were getting shot up with hormones together, and then she got pregnant," she said. (Shay gave birth to a daughter with boyfriend Brock Davies in April 2021, per Us Weekly.) Ariana's procedure was successful; she revealed that she was able to retrieve twenty six eggs. "I'm very fertile," she joked.

Tom Sandoval is an ally to Ariana Madix

Tom Sandoval "betrayed [Ariana Madix's] trust" by revealing on a Season 7 episode of "Vanderpump Rules" that Ariana had hooked up with co-star Lala Kent (via People). In a confessional, Ariana revealed that, though she was hurt by her boyfriend telling the story to his friends, "I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of what happened between Lala and I." She explained why Tom outing her was a problem: "My sexuality is not something that is meant to sound cool to a bunch of dudes."

The incident led former castmate Jax Taylor to make biphobic remarks on a 2020 episode of "Watch What Happens Live." Jax insinuated that Ariana was lying about her sexuality, suggesting that she was really a lesbian and that's why she doesn't want to get married, playing into harmful stereotypes about bisexual people. Ariana officially came out on Twitter as a result of the episode, and then host Andy Cohen gave her a chance to respond on "Watch What Happens Live." "I have been very open and honest about the fact that I'm bisexual," she said, "and I don't think that that's an issue, and it's certainly not an issue in my relationship."

Despite the rocky start to his allyship, Tom agrees that it's not an issue, telling Us Weekly that he's known for a while. "I think that the more you're open and honest about who you are, I feel like it just makes you stronger in the end," he said.

Ariana Madix leans on Tom Sandoval

Ariana Madix opened up to Lisa Vanderpump in Season 8 of "Vanderpump Rules" in a big way about her struggle with depression, admitting that achieving some major goals in her life — buying a house, releasing a cocktail book — left her paradoxically feeling worse. "I thought that was gonna fix me. But it didn't change who I am, and this undercurrent, this depression, is, I'm realizing, probably always going to be a part of me and a part of my life," she said (via People). She also wept to Tom Sandoval that she wanted to "leave her life," leading Tom to cry as he told her, "I would way rather you live your truth than to hide something for me. I wouldn't want you to be any other way."

Tom supports her as best he can behind the scenes. "It's something that she struggles with on a regular basis," he said, giving an update in Us Weekly. He revealed that he has seasonal depression, but he understands that Ariana's depression is a more constant presence in her life. "All I could do is try to be supportive, try not to be annoying. Because I'll try to overcompensate it and it's annoying," he shared.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

They adopted a dog during quarantine

While fellow "Vanderpump Rules" stars Stassi Schroeder, Brittany Cartwright, Lala Kent, and Scheana Shay all had babies during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval partnered with nonprofit I Stand With My Pack to adopt a dog instead, per Bravo's Daily Dish. On Instagram, Ariana revealed that the dog — who initially went without a name — was a pit bull mix, "but we aren't quite sure what she's mixed with yet!" She also replied to a fan who asked if the pooch was originally meant to be fostered. "We were never fostering her!" she explained. "She was forever as soon as we met."

They eventually settled on the name Mya Moon Madix... just a coincidence, surely, that Shay named her daughter Summer Moon almost a year later. They even set the pup up with her own Instagram account, where they share regular snaps of the pup playing with toys and lounging around their home. One adorable shot shows Mya resting on Tom's head; the photo is captioned, "me and dad. ppl say we have the same smize." Aw, can you get enough of that Smizing Unique Rover?

Tom Sandoval discovered his kinky side at Pride

In "Vanderpump Rules" Season 6, Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix went to Long Beach Pride to support Lisa Vanderpump acting as Grand Marshal in the parade. While celebrating, they visited a tent selling leather and kink objects, and Tom participated in a flogging demonstration. "I've never really understood the BDSM kind of thing," he said (via Daily Mail). "But Ariana and I are going through a dry spell — maybe there's something to it?" He pulled down his pants and allowed the vendor to gently hit him with a leather strap, and he discovered he had a bit of a kinky side he was previously unaware of.

On the "Pump Rules Podcast," Tom revealed that he really liked the experience and in fact went back for a second round later in the day. "I've kind of like, showed Ariana how to do it right, like, what I like," he said. "Don't knock it til you've tried it!"

Ariana Madix stood up for Tom Sandoval

At Tom Schwartz and Katie Maloney's wedding, Lisa Vanderpump broached the idea of creating a bar with the groom and Tom Sandoval. The establishment would be called "Tom Tom," she said, and the two Toms would be business partners and help run it. Tom Tom officially opened for business in August 2018.

After Tom Tom finally launched, Lisa suggested the Toms take their friends to Mexico for a vacation so that they'd be well-rested for the real work to begin. However, upon their return, supportive girlfriend Ariana Madix was furious to see Lisa joking around about the boys' work ethic in an interview, implying that they had gone on a trip rather than sticking around to actually work at the bar. "If she claims you're an idiot, then she's basically saying I'm such an idiot that I would date somebody who's like that. And therefore I find it an insult to me," Ariana told Tom (via People).

Ariana confronted Lisa about her comments in the Season 7 finale of "VPR," and Lisa told her to "lighten up." "I just want us to at some point earn the same love and respect from you that we feel for you," Ariana countered. She later told the "Vanderpump Rules After Show," "Literally as the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized that it was a completely pointless endeavor." A nobleif pointless endeavor, if you ask us.

Friends and fans worry about their finances

During a Season 9 episode of "Vanderpump Rules," Ariana Madix reassured Lisa Vanderpump that she's fine with Tom Sandoval taking out a home equity loan to help launch a bar called "Schwartz & Sandy's," believing her own equity in the house to be protected. Lisa was alarmed by Ariana's apparent lack of understanding of what she was getting herself into, joking, "If they default on their loan, the bank never goes and takes half the house back." When the episode aired, Ariana responded to concerned fans on Twitter. "I already do [have my own] accountants and lawyers. They do their job very well," she wrote to one surprised viewer. "Enjoy this episode from May while I sit here just fine in October with everything taken care of," she told another.

Later in the season, after Sandoval revealed that he split the cost of James Kennedy's extravagant $25,000 party to propose to Raquel Leviss, Tom Schwartz grew concerned about the way the other Tom was handling his money. "We're trying to open a bar!" Sandoval's business partner bemoaned to the camera. "We haven't got financing for the bar!" Sandoval assured him he had nothing to fret over, noting that he "can afford to do it."

And based on the pair's reported net worth, it sounds like Sandoval and Ariana could afford to throw a lot of engagement parties: According to Celebrity Net Worth, Ariana's got $1 million to her name and Sandoval's at $4 million.

They aren't afraid to call each other out

Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval usually present a united front, regularly having each other's backs in arguments and defending one another from various petty squabbles. However, when one of them acts out in a way that causes trouble, or when one thinks the other is in the wrong, they aren't afraid to call each other out. Most explosively, as the show's audience saw, they questioned each other's judgment about how the news spread that Jax Taylor cheated on Brittany Cartwright; Sandoval blamed Ariana, who called him "obtuse." "Obviously, I'm not thrilled," Sandoval told In Touch about their argument being televised.

However, the supportive way they hold each other accountable can be seen in how Ariana reminds Sandoval he was at fault during the Season 8 blowup at Stassi Schroeder's Tom Tom book signing. After Sandoval sent Stassi a barrage of late-night rage-texts about the event, threatening to ban her from the bar, she called him a "selfish, egotistical piece of s***" in front of customers.

On "Watch What Happens Live," Ariana said Sandoval's rage-texts were "way out of line and severely inappropriate." Sandoval continued to hold the situation against Katie Maloney in Season 9, trying to prevent her from being involved in his and Tom Schwartz's new restaurant. Sandoval told Ariana he was upset with her use of the phrase "hill to die on," taking issue with her saying he was "not gonna win this battle." "Not about the book signing," she said, matter-of-factly.

They released a cocktail book and got sued over it

In Season 5 of "Vanderpump Rules," Ariana Madix secured a deal for a cocktail book. By that point, she'd spent ten years "bartending... at some of the busiest, most well-known places in the country," and she was ready to put her expertise on paper. Tom Sandoval decided to invite himself along, annoying his girlfriend. "You're not gonna be the face, and you're not gonna take attention away from me," she told him on the show. This led to an argument where he called Ariana a "grumpy cat" and she retorted that he's a "Bitter Betty." Oh, these two. So vicious when they fight.

They wound up releasing "Fancy AF Cocktails" together in 2019, and Ariana explained to the New York Post that this is a different book altogether. "That project never went past the book proposal stage. That was dead." She recalled appearing on Danny Pellegrino's podcast "Everything Iconic" and being convinced to revisit the idea. "Doing it with Tom this time just made sense," she said. Pellegrino wound up co-writing the book with the couple.

The change in plans got Tom and Ariana sued by Alison Baker, the woman who was initially going to co-author the book when it was just Ariana involved. The couple were accused of breaching her contract with Baker, which reportedly involved agreeing to pay Baker 45% of the advance and royalties, according to People. "The allegations presented are false and frivolous," Ariana and Tom said in a statement provided to the outlet.

They bought a house together and waited to furnish it

For a while, "Vanderpump Rules" viewers were to believe the members of the cast were still struggling waiters and bartenders rather than rich and famous reality TV stars who could make a year's worth of tips with a single sponsored Instagram post. All bets were off by the time Season 8 rolled around; much of the cast no longer clocked in. at SUR, and they finally moved out of their various West Hollywood apartments in favor of lookalike houses near one another in Valley Village.

To the bemusement and consternation of their friends, Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix waited to furnish their home, leading to much teasing. Tom Schwartz once brought his own folding chair to make sure he had a place to sit, whereas his wife Katie Maloney teased, "I love what you haven't done with the place."

However, now that they're finished, the $2 million home is stunning. They filled it with gorgeous furniture, sleek design, and jaw-dropping accessories, unlike their friends, who Sandoval revealed on "VPR" had bought "staging furniture." They showed it off in a spread in People, with Ariana telling the magazine, "Every room is different because Tom and I both have different individual styles and then we've really worked hard to put those two very different ideas together." Meanwhile, on the show, Tom did his best Oprah impression and joked, "Ya'll can shut up now, because you get a chair, you get a chair, everybody gets a chair!" A chair-y Pump-mas to all.