Why Temptation Island's Newest Couples Think Their Relationships Will Survive This Season
Summer reality shows have come and gone, but have no fear: Temptation Island is back, and it’s bringing more than enough drama to fill that Bachelor in Paradise-shaped hole in your heart. The journey kicks off on Oct. 10, with the USA Network series introducing viewers to four new couples struggling with trust issues. The pairs will be split up into two villas in Hawaii, with the four men in relationships playing house with 12 single ladies, and the four women doing the same with a dozen very available guys.
During the month-long process, they’ll have zero communication with their partners as they go on dates with the singles, enjoy late-night pool parties, and, of course, tempt the fate of their union (to put things in perspective, only one of the four couples stayed together at the end of season one). Each week there will also be two bonfires — one for the four girlfriends, one for the four boyfriends — during which the cast members will be shown short clips of their significant other’s time on the island. And that's where the drama will really start to heat up.
Just as filming began earlier this summer, InStyle headed down to Maui to chat with each of the four couples right before they were separated (at the time of our interviews, they were unaware that they’d be saying their goodbyes within mere hours). Ahead of the premiere, which airs at 10 p.m. EST, here are our convos with the cast, who got candid about their ultimate hopes and biggest fears going into the experience, plus why they're determined to be the exception — and not the "they're-all-going-to-break-up" rule — on Temptation Island.
Ashley Goldson, 30, and Rick Fleur, 32
Over four years into their on-and-off relationship, the Boston-based pair are testing their commitment for the long haul. They truly love each other, despite their main issues stemming from Rick's flirtatious nature.
InStyle: You’re here on Temptation Island. Has infidelity been an issue in the past?
Ashley: I’ve seen some things that made it very difficult for me to trust him. I’ve insinuated things from text messages — that’s what broke us up. I became very insecure about our relationship and it went downhill from there. We’ve been back together for a solid eight months now, but I’m asking him where he’s at all the time and not really trusting what he’s doing. I nitpick.
Rick: We’re both career-driven individuals, and it came to a point where we were getting distracted by the wrong things, and it was taking us off our game. We were at odds and just arguing over minuscule stuff, so we went our separate ways for a while. Now we’re at crossroads, and we’re both getting older. It’s time for us to figure out what’s next.
Whose idea was it to come here?
Ashley: It was my idea. He didn’t even watch the show, and he was not interested. I had to convince him and say, “I think it’ll be healthy for our relationship. It’ll definitely help us iron out our problems, and figure out what we wanna do next.” It took a while, so I’m just grateful we’re actually here now.
What boundaries have you set?
Rick: I don’t have any rules or boundaries set for her. We came here to take on whatever the island has to offer, and one of those things is being single. This was her idea; she knew full well that there might be potential for that. I want to see how she operates in a setting when I’m not there, and there are guys around. I know her type — she likes abs and smiles! — so I wanna see how she acts when she sees a charmer or slick talker with a nice smile and a nice body. I just want her to act how she would act if I wasn’t around. And we gonna see what’s up! You might hook up with somebody the first day, but then it could fizzle out. I would be more nervous if it’s an emotional type of thing. She made a whole list of things that she wouldn’t allow, though. She narrowed it down to two: massages and kisses.
Ashley: Yeah, I’m the only one with rules. There’s still a lot more, but those are most important to me. And also obviously anything that escalates further past that. Nothing physical. I’m just gonna pay attention to what he’s doing and act accordingly. If he’s doing wild things that make me uncomfortable, then yes, I’m gonna do something wild and show him exactly what that feels like for me.
Are you thinking at all about the fact that everyone you know will be watching?
Ashley: Of course. Our parents play a major role in where our relationship is now. We haven’t moved in together because they’re very traditional — I’m Jamaican, he’s Haitian. They’re not interested in us living in a house without being married. We’re willing to take it to the next step if we feel like it’s worth it, and now we all get to see for ourselves if this is a relationship that’s worth holding onto.
Rick: My mom’s always been big on prayer, so she’s just like, “Go pray about it and then what will be, will be.” Things happen for a reason.
What’s your best-case-scenario outcome?
Ashley: That he leaves with me or he does something more than leaving with me [laughs]. I just wanna put that into the universe!
Rick: Best case scenario for me is just her ironing out her issues and us growing internally. And then also finding out if we’re gonna take the next steps and move in together. We’re here to expedite that whole process.
Kate Griffith, 34, and Dave Benavidez, 28
The former business rivals from New Jersey have been together for three years and bring some serious trust issues to the table. During our chat, she cried and he defended his decision to "push" her to sign up for the show.
InStyle: How did you decide to come to Temptation Island?
Kate: I feel like I’m still deciding whether I want to be here or not. We have some issues in our relationship, and a lot of it has come to the forefront from this experience already — just the interview process and chatting so much about our personal relationship with others. I need to learn to trust a little bit more and have more self-confidence, and he needs to open up more.
Dave: I brought the show to her attention after I binge-watched it with a friend. He was like, “You have to watch this show. This is you and Kate.” When I watched, I saw things in all four of those couples that were similar to our relationship. Obviously we have issues, but I’m the most private person ever. I don’t have any social media; I never have. So for me to say, “I wanna go on national television and have everyone in our private life,” that speaks volumes on how much I want this relationship to work.
Kate: At first I was like, “No, we’re not doing this; 100 percent, no.” But he submitted the application. There’s been some convincing on his end to go through with the process. I was very resistant. It’s given me a lot of anxiety and made me very self-conscious in my relationship. What does he have to gain from this? Are we playing with fire? So many questions have been raised by his desire to do this and the fact that he hasn’t let it go — even when I first said “no.”
Dave: I see it as a chance for us to take 10 steps in our relationship. When am I ever gonna live in a house with 12 single women with her nowhere nearby and no communication? And with her able to see what I’m doing? She can gain trust by seeing how I am when she’s not around, as opposed to when I go out to a bar, where there are single women. I can only see positives coming out of it.
What are your biggest fears?
Kate: That something will happen in the moment and it's unforgivable. And that we go home and one of us — whoever it happens to — tries to convince the other one that it wasn’t a big deal. And then never being able to move forward past that.
Dave: My biggest fear is she sees that I’m not this totally different person when I’m not around her, but then at the end of this, she tells me she’s still having trust issues or she’s still insecure about our relationship. At that point, I’d have to reassess the whole relationship.
What are your boundaries and deal breakers?
Kate: Anything physical. If I see something, I cannot unsee it. If something hits me a certain way, it will forever be replayed in my head as something disrespectful.
Dave: If she gives a guy a hug, that’s not a deal breaker for me. I know that if I form an emotional connection — which is discretionary, because everyone has a different definition of what that is — with a girl, that’s a big deal for her. She can form emotional connections with anyone she wants, as long as it doesn’t go physical. Once it turns physical, we’re both on the same page. That’s where we draw really our line.
Last season, only one of four couples stayed together. Is that in the back of your mind at all going into this?
Kate: Yeah. I kept saying, “You have a 25 percent chance of making it through this. What is so special about our relationship that we are gonna be the one of the four?” It’s totally something I’ve taken into consideration throughout. Only one in four made it out alive.
Dave: The couple from last season that we're most similar to is Javen and Shari. Shari had her insecurities — granted, Javen actually disrespected the relationship by cheating on her, and neither one of us has done that. But to see their growth and that they’re in a place where they’re strong and getting married is exciting. That’s what I’m hoping will happen with us, too.
What do your friends and family think about you doing the show?
Kate: I haven’t told all friends and family. I haven’t gone into detail about it, because I didn’t want anyone to sway my decision of coming here or to have an opinion. I’ll handle that after the fact. That’s my personality in general; I do things when I want to and I don’t like my opinion to be swayed. My best friend knows, but she might think I’m crazy.
Dave: My friend who watched the show with me knows and my family knows. Obviously it’s a strange conversation to have. They know that I like to keep everything on a minimal need-to-know basis. They’re on board with it, and they know that if I’m doing something totally different from the norm, that I must think it will be really good for us.
Do you feel any pressure to be good entertainment?
Kate: I feel like there’s always a little pressure to have an exciting story on TV. But I’m totally fine being the most boring one in the house. I really don’t care. Maybe that’s bad, and I should’ve said that in the interview process. But I want to be myself. If I need to go to sleep, I need to go to sleep. If I don’t wanna join the party, I’m not doing it.
Dave: We don’t want each other to go into this with a closed mind or not be ourselves just because there are cameras in the ceiling. We want to have conversations with other people, open up — especially for me — and just have fun with the whole experience. I’m hoping she works on her issues, I work on my issues, and at the end, we’re both going back to Jersey together.
Ashley Howland, 25, and Casey Starchak, 26
The Florida couple of a year and a half is haunted by indiscretions from past relationships. But they both seem like they're ready to have a good time and, most importantly, make their romance work.
InStyle: What brings you guys here?
Casey: We were just delving into our issues in our relationship when I got an email about casting couples for the show. We didn’t even know what our issues were at the time; just that there was an issue and that we would get into arguments. As the casting progress continued, we got clarity and figured out what we need to work on. We realized that the show was something that could help us grow as a couple.
Do you have any ground rules for your time on the island?
Ashley: We’ve definitely set rules for each other. Nothing intimate — kissing, sex, none of that. We’re here to work on our relationship and not try to ruin it. I feel like if you’re intimate with somebody else, you’re just kind of like, “Ok, I’m over you now.” We’ve spoken about that, and that’s not anything we’re planning on doing.
Casey: Yes, to me, even if we didn’t say it out loud, that was definitely an unspoken rule. Obviously each couple is coming into this in a different place, but we’re coming in to work on ourselves and to be together at the end. We’re not here to hook up with other people.
Last season, even some long-term couples got physical with singles on the show. Does that concern you?
Ashley: It’s a fear. But I’m just trying to focus on us. Obviously people have hooked up on the show, but their relationships aren’t like ours. Everybody’s relationship is different, so you’re not always gonna have the same outcome.
Casey: Because you’re putting whatever tiny little issues you have out there for the world, it may look like you have a bad relationship. But we’re the only ones that know our foundation. And we can tell you that we’re in this to stay together.
What’s your biggest fear at the end of this?
Ashley: My biggest fear is losing him. That’s one thing that I’ve worried about. I’m really hoping that we come out together, but it could be a possibility.
Casey: The main reason we’re here is to build trust, and a lot of that [stems] from Ashley’s past and her being hurt in different relationships. My biggest fear is that Ashley doesn’t go 100 percent in on this, and then still doesn’t trust me in the end.
What do your friends and families think of you being on the show?
Ashley: At first, my family thought it was weird. But now they’re rooting us on and respect that we’re trying it. Not just anybody can be like, “Oh yeah, let’s go to Temptation Island and put the relationship on the line.” They’re happy we’re doing it for each other.
Casey: My friends and family are definitely in our corner. They love Ashley, and of course they love me [laughs], and they love us together. They wouldn’t wanna see anything come between that. At first, hearing the name Temptation Island sounds like we’re going to a place to break up. It sounds scary. But after talking to them, they realized that it’s not as bad as it sounds. And you’re gonna get out of it what you put in.
Esonica Veira, 30, and Gavin Rocker, 26
They’ve only been together a year and a half, but the Georgia-based couple is already plagued by trust issues after Gavin's past infidelities. She wants to get engaged, he isn't ready, but they're both admittedly down to have a good time on the show.
InStyle: How do you feel going into this experience?
Gavin: I’m feeling pretty numb right now. It’s happening, but it still doesn’t feel real. I feel the anxiety slowly creeping up. When you have 12 people who are here for you, it’s like, “Woah, that’s a lot.” It will definitely be an experience.
Asonica: For me, it feels like it started the the moment I got off the plane. But I’m just going with the flow and seeing what happens. Realistically, every day when you walk out the door you could be tempted — you have the option to choose to be tempted or not.
What’s your biggest hope at the end of all this?
Gavin: We’re hoping to come back together stronger than we were before. I feel like it will be a great time for us to grow simultaneously, while being separated. I could come back a better man. She could come back a better woman. And then we can present that to each other.
What’s your biggest fear?
Asonica: The fear of the unknown. Not knowing the connections he’s having and how he’s gonna feel four weeks from now. It is what it is; I can’t control it. And sometimes I guess I could be a little controlling, so since I can’t do tha ... I’m scared. [laughs]
Gavin: Worst case scenario would be her finding someone else, leaving with them, and us never being together again. It sounds terrible. But I’m confident in the fact that that won’t happen, at least not in this small window of time.
Are you prepared to watch clips of each other’s time on the island?
Gavin: I’m nervous to do that. Actually, I’m more worried for her to watch mine. Not because I plan on doing a bunch of bad things, but I know how TV can be. They’ll probably pick a clip that looks really bad and makes it seem like I’m doing something I’m not doing. I do wanna watch her clips, though.
Asonica: I think it’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes you’re like, “Man, I wish I could see!” But now, having the opportunity to do that, I’m wondering if I really want to. It’s scary, but I’m gonna take it all with a grain of salt and keep my eyes open. I know he’s very ... social. I prefer the word “flirtatious,” but “social” is a more clean-cut version of that.
What are your deal breakers?
Gavin: Hooking up with someone or having someone in your room. Also just a strong emotional connection. Sometimes the physical is a lot more shallow than the emotional. So if you’re flat out falling in love on TV, I’ll be like, “I guess I’m done.” I can’t do anything about that.
Asonica: Good answer! I agree. But yeah, no kissing. I would prefer for you to keep your lips to yourself. You go on dates to speak to someone and get to know them and enjoy their character and their personality. You don’t go out there kissing everybody you see. Kissing is a big deal. You have to feel something. So no kissing, no sex, and no hanging out in people’s bedrooms.
Gavin: And no sleepovers!
How are you affected by the fact that your family and friends will see this play out on TV?
Gavin: My family and friends are all for it. They think it sounds exciting. But it's really awkward, knowing my mom’s watching me go on dates right now. I don’t think it’ll affect my behavior at all, but it will be in the back of my mind.
Asonica: Yeah. At the end of the day, you’re grown up. You make decisions, and they can’t control you. They have accepted that, and they’re like, “Congratulations on this journey; we wish you the best and we only hope for success.”