On Sunday’s episode, the Bravo star finally revealed the reason his estranged wife Jessica Parido left him, admitting to his friend Reza Farahan that he “f—ed up” and was disgusted at himself for cheating on her.
The drama unfolded after Farahan, 42, confronted Shouhed, 37, about the allegations while Shouhed repeatedly denied ever being unfaithful before eventually giving in and coming clean. PEOPLE caught up with Shouhed after the emotional episode, and the star opened up about everything from the split, where his relationship stands with Parido now and how it all fell apart.
“I met Jessica and it was wild,” says Shouhed of their romance, which has been heavily documented on the show. “It was just instantaneous attraction and we went from liking each other to loving each other very quickly.”
“Our first date was actually on television, meeting our parents was on television, our proposal was on television – everything was televised. And it brought this factor into our relationship where it was like, we’re a couple, but we’re a reality TV couple,” he adds. “And being on television and having the type of following we have on social media, everyone was always giving their input. Everyone had some sort of opinion on me, her, our relationship: ‘Is it real, is it fake?’ ”
Shouhed says despite the fact that he and Parido, 27, are both strong, secure individuals, the strain of the constant scrutiny – combined with the “growing pains” any couple eventually starts to experience in a relationship – took a serious toll on them.
“You start to have issues, you start to have differences, you start not seeing eye-to-eye about certain things,” he says, “We got into that stage in our lives last year, and with all this outside noise, it just added more fuel to the fire.”
Regardless, the two got engaged and were planning for a wedding and a family – which Shouhed now admits was a bad idea.
“Listen, if you think you have issues now, and a baby is going to fix it, you’re 100 percent wrong,” he says. “It’s only going to add more s—. Because men are big babies, they want attention, and I do, I love attention, then I’m going to have to share my attention with my child and that’s just going to cause more issues.”
And then came the nail in the coffin: Parido found text messages on Shouhed’s iCloud and found out he had cheated on her before they got engaged.
“She approached me about it … and I was like: ‘I screwed up,’ ” he says. “I did things I wasn’t supposed to do, and I apologized to her, but that was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
And while he had been refusing to admit to cheating on the show up until Sunday’s episode, Shouhed said there came a point when he realized he couldn’t run from it anymore.
“It was just weighing on me, and I didn’t like the fact that people were attacking Jessica and making it seem like she’s at fault, so I decided that it was time for me to confess that in fact, I had been unfaithful, and I made a huge mistake,” he admits. “I thought it was time that the world knew, the reason that me and Jessica actually had broken up was because of these messages … because she found out I had been unfaithful.”
“I wanted the world to know that she’s not crazy, she didn’t leave me for no reason,” he adds. “It was time for me to come clean and have integrity and respect and love her enough that I could be honest about this.”
Now, having to relive it while the show airs is “death,” admits Shouhed.
“It’s like going to sleep every night and having the same nightmare every night – and knowing tonight when I go to sleep again I’m going to have the same nightmare,” he says. “So every week I’m like, f—, I’m going to have to deal with this again. And again, again, again.”
That being said, Shouhed knows he has to confront what he’s done.
“If I pretend like it never happened, if I don’t watch it, if I don’t relive it and allow myself to really analyze what I did wrong – then I allow history to repeat itself,” he says.
Of where his relationship with Parido stands now, Shouhed admits their communication is “minimal” – but that there’s still “this underlying love we have for one another.”
“I’ve been with Jessica since the time she was 21 years old – very pivotal years in a woman’s life, or anyone’s life,” he says. “I was her resource for so many things. I was her Google, I was her Craigslist, I was everything to her.”
“We had a really cool, loving relationship – it was just reality TV took a big dump on our life,” he says. “It wasn’t just ‘Mike and Jessica.’ It was ‘Mike and Jessica of Shahs,’ and that caused issues.”
Now that the dust has somewhat settled, though, Shouhed says there are times when the two will exchange softer text messages – but it’s still an “emotional situation” and every day is different.
Does that mean there’s a chance they might get back together?
“I really don’t know,” admits Shouhed with a sigh. “It’s just such a tough situation so public, so many things have transpired in the last year. But I’m definitely not the same guy I was when me and Jessica were having issues and when she left me. I’ve grown leaps and bounds. I don’t want to be a victim of the circumstances of the stupid decisions I made.”
And at the end of the day, he hopes someone watching might be able to “take a page out of my book and learn from it.”
“I was in a dark moment in my life and I did something really f—ing stupid, and I regret it very, very much,” he says. “So, men, if you walk the walk, be careful, because someone might push you over the edge. And you might fall off that cliff and once you fall, it’s done.”
Shahs of Sunset returns July 10 at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.