Younger Star Nico Tortorella on Polyamorous Newlywed Life and That Time He Proposed to Lindsay Lohan
Nico Tortorella never tires of talking about love. Whether he’s discussing sex and romance on his podcast The Love Bomb or getting candid about his own polyamorous marriage with longtime partner Bethany Meyers, the Younger star—who identifies as sexually fluid—is an open book on matters of the heart. Naturally, that also applies to his fictional relationships onscreen. And last we saw him on his hit TV Land series, Tortorella’s character, Josh, gave us plenty to talk about.
A refresh: In last season's finale, Josh threw us a curve ball by marrying his Irish girlfriend, Claire, so she could get a green card and stay in the U.S. as the pair explored their feelings. But Tortorella, for one, isn’t holding out hope that the relationship will stick through Season 5, premiering tomorrow (June 5 at 10 p.m. ET).
“Honestly, no, I’m not rooting for them to work out,” he tells InStyle. “I want to see Josh really work through some challenges rather than putting a Band-Aid on it, and I think Claire has been a really immediate Band-Aid. Josh has this huge hole in his heart and she was like this quick, easy fix," he says, alluding to Josh's tumultuous romantic history with ex-girlfriend Liza (Sutton Foster), Kelsey (Hilary Duff), and others. "But he needs to go in and do the work on himself.”
But should Josh find happiness through his green card marriage to Claire, Tortorella won't be one to judge. “It works for some people, and I truly believe that every different relationship is so individual,” he says. “I’m the last person to generalize.”
His own marriage to Meyers (who identifies as queer) is anything but conventional, he says. “Bethany and I have been together in one way or another for 12 years, and we are the exact opposite of a traditional marriage. We don’t even live together, and we are queer and polyamorous.”
Some people, Tortorella says, find the ideas of "forever" and polyamory contradictory, but the commitment that comes along with his marriage is just like any other. “Being married has just solidified the ‘no matter what,’” he says. “It has strengthened the ‘forever’ aspect. Before we were married, I think there was always a possibility of us marrying somebody else. But now that we have literally tied the knot, it sets the guidelines for any secondary and tertiary relationships to be different than what they have been in the past.”
The biggest misconception about their marriage? “Probably just that we’re sleeping around with a bunch of folk, because we’re not at all,” says Tortorella. “I’m super demisexual when it comes to secondary relationships, or any relationships really. If I’m not emotionally invested, I’m not having sex with you. It’s just not going to work. But Bethany and I also navigate relationships the same way. We are individuals and we see love, gender, and relationships completely differently. We respect that in each other, and we allow each other that space to explore.”
While the couple's wedding in March was the first time Tortorella tied the knot, it wasn’t the first time that the actor had considered exchanging vows. “I’ve almost been married a few times from some drunk situations,” he says, laughing. “If you Google ‘Nico Tortorella proposes to Lindsay Lohan,’ there are some good images that pop up.” (The pair may not have wed, but Tortorella has nothing but positive things to say about his longtime friend: “I still love her so much! We both had to do the work on ourselves, and I think we’re both in a lot healthier places now then we were 4-5 years ago,” he says.)
Had he gone through with spontaneous nuptials of any sort, Tortorella knows that it wouldn’t have gone over well at home. “My mom would’ve had a huge problem with that,” he says. “If she doesn’t like somebody I’m dating, it’s very apparent from day one. So she would’ve absolutely not supported that kind of situation." He added, "That being said, I do my own thing and everybody knows that. No one can really tell me no.”
Meanwhile, other married couples have been eager to offer the newlyweds advice. “We’ve only been married for a couple months now, and the only thing that feels different is the way that other married couples will talk to us,” he says. “They’ll start saying, ‘Well this is how long we’ve been married, and this is what works and this is what doesn’t.’ It’s like, ‘Girl! We don’t need to know how long you’ve been married!”
Of all the marriage advice he’s been given so far, there’s one piece he’s taken to heart. “Never go to bed angry,” says Tortorella, who also shared his own tip for other newlyweds out there. “Figure out how to be alone with each other in the same house. If you can be alone together—completely separate energies, your own separate force fields—that is the secret to forever.”
Often, he says, sex is the first thing people want to talk about with Tortorella. Which is fine—but that's just part of the equation. “Love is my favorite thing to talk about in the world,” he says. “It’s the fabric of life for me, so I never get tired of talking about it. I do get tired of talking about sex, though. Sex is not the driving force of my message. For me, it’s like a byproduct—a physical exchange or manifestation of love in physical form.”
He does feels that, with a platform like his, he has a responsibility to start conversations that no one else is having. “Nobody’s ever really talked about being in a polygamous relationship publicly [to this degree] before, and there’s a responsibility that comes with that visibility,” says Tortorella. “In no way are Bethany and I experts on what we’re doing; we’re just figuring it out and decided to share it with the world.”
“I’ve been talking about it for a while now, but sexuality was the first conversation that I started having in terms of love,” he says. “Then a few years ago, I was like, ‘I’m just going to record this and share it, because everyone’s curious. Everyone’s having this conversation in one way or another, so why don’t we just share this publicly?’ The second it became public, there was this responsibility not necessarily to always be politically correct but to stand for something that was bigger than what I was going through. As a white cis-passing, straight-passing, [conventionally attractive] human being, my privilege and my platform is so much different than other people’s. I realized very quickly that because of what I am, what I look like, and where I come from, it is my job to celebrate marginalized individuality as much as I possibly can and share the microphone.”
And with his podcast, he's just getting started. “This is just the beginning,” he says. “Bethany and I really want to take this conversation to a global level. As Americans, we never really hear or know about what’s going on in terms of love and relationships outside of where we live. So we’re very curious to expand that conversation on a much larger scale.”