Tom Schwartz on Trying to Mend “Strained” Relationship With Ariana, “Great Chemistry” With Katie Flood, and Fearing He’d “Disgrace” Ex Katie, Plus Updates on Dad and Brother

by Lindsay Cronin Comments

Tom Schwartz on 5-Year Plan to Mend "Strained" Relationship With Ariana, "Great Chemistry" With Floody, and Fearing He'd "Disgrace" Ex Katie, Plus Update on Dad and Brother

Tom Schwartz wants to mend his “strained” relationship with Ariana Madix — and he’s giving himself five years to do so.

During a couple of new interviews, the Vanderpump Rules star, 40, applauded Ariana, 38, for “absolutely crushing it” on Dancing with the Stars as he looked back on his Winter House romance with Below Deck Mediterranean alum Katie Flood, 31, and admitted to fearing he’d disgrace his ex-wife, Katie Maloney, 36, on the Summer House spinoff.

“I’m always cordial with her, and I’m always excited to see her,” Schwartz told PEOPLE of Ariana, noting that their friendship is “still kind of strained.”

“She’ll give me a nod and say hi, but I think our friendship [is] going to take some work. I got a five-year plan,” he shared. “Five years from now, I want to be BFFs again.” he added.

According to Schwartz, Ariana has been “crushing life” and experienced a “glow up” after Tom Sandoval‘s sordid affair with their friend and now-ex-castmate Rachel “Raquel” Leviss, 29.

“Not that she wasn’t thriving before, but her star is shining bright right now. She’s a star, and she’s dancing,” he noted of Ariana, who accused him of “participating in [her] downfall” while appearing on Watch What Happens Live months ago.

Moving on to his fling with Flood in season 3 of Winter House, Schwartz had all good things to say about his co-star.

“I am just honored to have been in her orbit. Floody’s awesome,” Schwartz told PEOPLE. “We have a great mutual respect and admiration for each other. We just have fun together. We keep it light and cheeky, and we like to bust each other’s balls.”

“I’m super fond of her. She’s awesome. And I don’t know what else to say. I’m blushing now,” he continued.

After traveling to Steamboat, Colorado to film, Schwartz said his time there “was so uplifting and therapeutic and freaking awesome. It felt like a sweet, warm embrace of Mother Nature and friendship.”

He also enjoyed some “great chemistry” with Flood, who has the same first and middle names as his former spouse.

“[I] was very aware … of cameras and everything … [And] I didn’t want to disgrace my ex-wife somehow,” Schwartz confessed. “Even though we had been separated for a year, I felt like I had kind of [messed] up with the whole kiss [with Raquel] in Mexico thing, and it hurt her feelings. I didn’t want to bring any negative attention her way. Maybe I was just overthinking it because Katie was, like, she was cheering me on, apparently. She was, like, all for it.”

Currently, Schwartz confirmed he’s single, saying he needs “two more [years]” before embarking on a new romance.

“I need to put more work into myself. And I’ve been doing that. I’ve been working out and eating healthier. I’ve been spending more time with my family, which is bringing me so much joy,” he shared.

Schwartz then offered an update on his father and brother, both of whom faced life-threatening illnesses in recent years.

“I’m just so grateful that everyone is healthy and stable right now,” he revealed. “I know it can’t last forever, but I’m savoring the moment.”

Winter House season three airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Bravo.