Jonathan Knight captured the hearts of millions as a teen idol and member of New Kids on the Block, but it’s the man who has captured his heart who gives him the fuel to continue to perform all over the world.
“Being in a relationship grounds you. You feel a sense of home,” Knight, 46, tells PEOPLE of his boyfriend, Harley Rodriguez, 41. “And we have our future to look forward to. Life definitely changes when you settle down and you have a goal between two people. That helps keep me focused.”
And even though Knight keeps busy with his upcoming tour with TLC and Nelly – and the band’s cruise – he says he welcomes the ties he has made because of Rodriguez, a personal trainer he met through a mutual friend in 2008.
“A lot of my life I was just jumping on a plane, going here, going there, just no plans and just enjoying life. But now I can’t just jump on a plane and be, like, ‘Bye, Harley, I’m going away,’ ” he says. “We have to plan stuff together.”
One plan the couple – who live together in an apartment in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood – recently made together was to venture across the globe as contestants on the new season of The Amazing Race.
“We’ve traveled together, and we really just balance each other out in a lot of ways,” Rodriguez says of his dynamic with Knight both on and off the Race. “We were worried we would fight on the race. But at home, we are totally chill and get along, so I didn’t worry about it so much.”
“He is always encouraging me,” adds Knight. “[On the Race] there was a few times I thought I was going to have a heart attack. But he was right there – ‘Come on, you can do it!’ ”
The new season of The Amazing Race premieres Wednesday, Feb. 25 (9:30 p.m. ET), on CBS.
For more on Knight’s relationship with Rodriguez, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now