Within a few minutes to talking to don9ja Meyers, it’s obvious why she’s the fitness instructor New York City can’t get enough of. Her voice is soft yet encouraging, she laughs easily, and she’s an open book: She won’t leave any questions unanswered, no matter how ridiculous or personal. If you’re going to work your core in ways you never thought possible, who better to do it with?
Her never-not-sold-out workout classes have led to a booming career in the fitness industry—after leaving her job at the popular workout studio SLT in June, she launched her own workout calledbe.come, a music-driven pilates-meets-yoga-meets-strength-training workout. But Meyers’ relationship with Younger star Nico Tortorella has also garnered media attention. The duo have been together for 11 years, and they both identify as sexually fluid. And if you ask Bethany to put a label on her sexuality, she’ll tell you labels are complicated. “There’s the way you feel yourself, and then other people’s words and definition to describe how you identify,” she explains. “By definition, I’ve been in love with and slept with both men and women, which is ‘technically’ bisexual. I’ve been with Nico for so long that I can’t see myself being with any other man. But I also feel more comfortable with women than men. It’s complicated.”
Beyond their sexualities, Meyers and Tortorella have another nontraditional element to their relationship: They’re in an open relationship, meaning they’re free to date and sleep with other people. “It took us a while to say we were in that place, but people we would date seemed so thrown off by how close we were,” she says. “So we finally sat down and said, in a way, it’s almost like we’re husband and wife—so we should present our relationship that way to other people.”
An open relationship is what works for Meyers and Tortorella, but that doesn’t mean either of them is immune to jealousy. So over the years, Meyers has come up with reliable coping mechanisms for dealing with it. “Jealousy is absolutely the hardest thing,” she says. “As humans, we want to feel like we’re No. 1 in our relationships. And at the end of the day, the best you can do is respect those feelings. So if my partner says ‘I feel jealous,’ I make sure to allow them to feel that way and move through it.”
Meyers also advises coming up with a specific set of accountability rules to make coping with these feelings easier. “I was with a woman, and we set up some rules just to hold each other accountable. For example, we would set up times to talk, so I would say, ‘OK, I’ll talk to you at nine tonight’ instead of just ‘I’ll talk to you later.’ Ultimately, we want to make each other feel safe.”
She also adds that for her, transparency is key. “Anything that happens, you know it’s going to happen before it happens. Sleeping with someone shouldn’t be an in-the-moment thing. Then you go back in and say, ‘how did that feel for you?’ it’s a very clear conversation. You have to establish boundaries ahead of time.”
Judgment happens, but it’s hard to argue with happiness.
Meyers grew up in a small town outside Missouri, and most people didn’t quite understand her relationship choices. And some of her friends don’t get it either. “People might not get it, but at the end of the day, it’s really hard to argue with happiness,” says Meyers. “Both Nico and I have worked hard to explain that it’s not about sleeping with a bunch of people and having a lot of sex; it’s about having your needs fulfilled in a way that’s not relying on just one person. My siblings have more traditional lives, and I’ve told them I don’t expect them to understand it. But you just can’t argue with happiness. I’m the best I’ve ever been to people in my life in my relationship because I’m honest with myself.”
While Meyers sees Tortorella as a “husband” of sorts, she’s not sure marriage is for her—but she’d be open to the seven-year contract marriage model. “We can’t deny that the institution of marriage is really failing right now. In my ideal world, we would reframe marriage to make it more manageable. I read about entering into marriage as a seven-year contract and having the option to renew, and I love this idea. I think if you enter into a marriage for legal reasons and at the end of seven years you talk about what you want to do next, it gives you some checkpoints in the relationship and doesn’t undermine the fact that we as humans change, shift, and evolve.”
As for how she feels about Tortorella? She doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. “I met him so long ago, and we’ve always been so supportive of each other’s careers. I always believed he was going to be successful, and since his role on Younger our relationship hasn’t changed at all. I just love him.