With his failed marriage finally behind him, Mike Shouhed is ready for the next chapter of his life.
PEOPLE caught up with the Shahs of Sunset star ahead of Sunday’s season 6 premiere, and he opened up about how he’s moved on since finalizing his painful divorce from Jessica Parido last fall — and whether the two are still in communication.
“I feel at peace,” says Shouhed, 38. “It was a very difficult time of my life. Anyone who has gone through a divorce knows it’s never fun. It’s emotionally and mentally draining, and there was an overwhelming feeling of guilt that I had because I was responsible, partly, for breaking up a marriage.”
Shouhed and Parido’s entire relationship has been chronicled on the hit Bravo show, from their first date to their March 2015 wedding in Los Angeles. But by August, the two separated, and less than eight months after they tied the knot, Parido filed for divorce in November 2015, citing irreconcilable differences.
The split was largely spurred by the fact that Parido, 28, found text messages on Shouhed’s iCloud and found out he had cheated on her before they got engaged. On the show, Shouhed initially denied ever being unfaithful, before eventually publicly coming clean on an emotional episode in June 2016.
“Jessica is an amazing woman,” he says. “We had a very strong, close relationship and then things started to unravel. When you have very high highs, you have very low lows and our lows really hurt us, so we don’t really communicate. But she’s someone that I’ll care about forever — we were together for almost a decade.”
“It’s hard because both of our families were very close — we affected a lot of people,” he adds. “It was a sad time in my life, but I found the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m in a much better place now.”
These days, Shouhed, who owns a shoe line, True Gold, is focusing on his business ventures.
“I’m very happy with my life. I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of the things that I’m accomplishing,” he says. “I finally was able to change all my: Oh my God, I’m getting divorced thoughts to: Okay, I’ve accepted it, now what? I started focusing my energy on working out, on making money, on creating things that I enjoy. That’s what really took me out of that depressed headspace.”
But that’s not the only step he took in his quest for a fresh start: Shouhed also moved into a brand new home in Hollywood Hills (his housewarming party will be featured on Sunday’s premiere).
“The house that I lived in before was the house that I shared with my ex-wife — it was a house that we turned into a home and there were a lot of memories,” he says. “ was disturbing, and I couldn’t do it anymore.”
“I decided to move and start the next chapter in a new place and make new memories,” he adds. “Me and Reza got together and decorated the house. He’s got amazing taste — very expensive taste. It’s all pops of color and antique furniture from the ’70s — it’s like something out of the movie Blow. I’m proud of it.”
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So what does Shouhed’s dating life look like these days?
“I am seeing someone — she’s a very sweet girl,” he reveals. “She’s just trying to understand everything that’s going on in my life. It’s a lot for anyone to take in, but we’re two adults who respect each other and who care for each other. We enjoy each other’s company.”
That being said, dating in Los Angeles is “super hard,” he admits.
“It’s like two degrees of separation between you and the person that you’re dating who dated somebody else that you know,” he says. “It’s just weird, because you size up somebody on who they dated before they dated you. I’m just trying to find my groove.”
One thing that’s certain, however, is that Shouhed is keeping his private life off of Instagram.
“With social media being the way it is, if you have a problem in your home, social media amplifies it by 1000,” he says. “Before, the gossip would only extend as far as your circle. Now the gossip goes between you and the entire f—ing world.”
“The world is evolving,” he adds. “There are so many haters. Now, I don’t post pictures of anyone I’m dating or I care about, because everyone is just waiting to see what your next move is so they can take you down.”
And beyond his dating life, Shouhed can’t wait for fans to see what him and the rest of the Shahs get up to this season.
“Honestly, I know I say this every year, but I think this one is our best one yet,” he says. “We’ve all evolved as a group of friends and some real life s— is happening. To see both the wins and losses that are happening amongst our friends is pretty crazy, and I think people are going to relate to it.”
Perhaps his favorite scene, he says, was visiting the Western Wall in Israel.
“To be able to take my friends who are Muslim, who had fears of going to Israel because they didn’t know what to expect, to take them to this country and to have them feel the energy was amazing,” he says. “Being at the Wall with Reza … to have the rabbi hug and kiss and dance with us — me and Reza started crying because we were overwhelmed with emotion. It was really touching.”
“Israel is amazing and the world gets to see it not just from the lens of a Jew, but from the lens of a diverse group of friends that visit this country and experience it,” he says. “Of course, we run into some drama, we get into some trouble and we party — it was insane. One of the best trips I’ve ever taken.”
Shahs of Sunset season 6 premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.