These Two Engaged Hotties Give Us Couple Goals

Newly engaged hottie couple Chad Sanders and Erik Howell can sometimes be sickening. Like so cute together they are sickening! They are the couple that holds hands and kiss in public, make sure the other is comfortable while cuddling on the couch and open car doors for each other.  Friends will sometimes lovingly roll their eyes but are more thrilled that they found each other.


A testament to meeting later in life {there’s still hope for me yet!} the two met in January 2021 after each recently moved to Palm Springs, CA.  Chad in LA working as an actor and set decorator and Erik on the East Coast working in healthcare technology. Each had plenty of miles under their belt and think their prior world and romantic experiences have served their relationship well. Despite living in different places and having different types of careers, Chad and Erik were instantly drawn to each other. Their roots are in the heart of the country – Chad’s hometown is an hour south of Nashville and Erik is from the Chicago suburbs – and they think that has an impact on how they show up in the world.

Chad gave Erik a promise ring when they were together for only 5 months, and on their one-year anniversary, Erik proposed marriage. Beginning in July they will be embarking on an 18-month journey around the country to consider different places to live (follow along on the video blog they plan to create!). They will also be getting married somewhere along this adventure in a surprise wedding! Four of their close friends know their travel itinerary and are planning to surprise them with a wedding somewhere along the route. 


We gave these two lovebirds our Instinct Couple questionnaire to get them know them a little better!

Names: Chad Sanders and Erik Howell


Age: 50 and 41

Website / social media handles: @chadwicksand and @ehowell80

Where do you call home?: Palm Springs, CA

How did you two initially meet and was it love at first sight? Crossing paths at an outdoor gym on a cold Palm Springs January morning, Erik’s midwestern hello caught Chad off-guard. Such unabashed friendliness isn’t what people did in LA, which is where Chad had spent 15 years prior to moving to the desert a few months before this fateful morning. Chad followed Erik out of the gym, Erik asked for Chad’s number, and coffee was planned for the following day, all with only having seen each other’s eyes (masks and cold-weather clothing were being worn by both). “I love you”s were exchanged a short two weeks later on Valentine’s Day. So yes – it was love at first sight!


What is your favorite thing to love about each other? We have so much FUN together! Dancing, singing, playing, scaring, exercise, games, cuddling. We have each had our share of relationships and have learned the importance of loving each other exactly as the other is, including and especially in the ways we are different

Erik: I love Chad’s creativity, kindness, thoughtfulness, and intuition.

Chad: I love Erik’s warmth, playfulness, stability, and how supportive he is of me. 


Are you monogamous or in an open relationship? How do you make either work? 

Sex! A juicy, loaded, and important topic. We are incredibly attracted to each other and emotionally bonded, so the sex we have is SO GOOD – connecting, fun, playful, and satisfying! We’ve chosen to be monogamous to keep it simple and build a foundation of safety and trust. (We also know that open relationships can work and be rewarding when done well. Doing so ethically, by establishing boundaries, maintaining honesty and communicating emotions with all of the partners involved, seems like A TON OF WORK. Sometimes that’s enough of a challenge with just two of us! Although we don’t envision that in our foreseeable future, neither of us is naive. We trust each other to continue openly and honestly communicating our thoughts, feelings, and needs.)

What was COVID been like for the two of you? Has it brought you closer together? We both moved to Palm Springs separately, in part due to COVID, and then met here, so in a way COVID brought us together! We are each other’s BFFs (shout out to Andi and Ella, our non-romantic best friends who will be the ‘Best Women’ at our wedding), so the times in quarantine together, either due to illness or lockdowns, have been fun. That said, we all need our personal space and time, so we make sure to get enough of that.


Has the topic of adopting or having kids via surrogate ever come up? We would each make great dads, but it’s not for us at this stage of our lives. If we met a decade ago, then it might have been a different story, and we would have considered adoption. However, if we met in 2011 we probably wouldn’t have worked out as a couple! The last decade has given each of us the necessary life and relationship experience to make this union thrive. That all being said, we do love animals and have enjoyed fostering pups.

What is the best advice you would give to anyone who is looking for love out there but hasn’t found it? Self-love is sexy! As RuPaul says, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else? Amen! So love yourself boldly and unconditionally. Not sure how? Start some therapy! Take the steps to build a full and joyous life of activities and friends that make you happy. This will attract all kinds of love into your life, including the romantic kind.



What is your all-time favorite movie? Favorite? Not possible! Here are a few: Clueless, A Clockwork Orange, Working Girl, Mean Girls, Silence of the Lambs, The Godfather 2, Singin’ in the Rain, Death Becomes Her, Alien, The Shining. The list goes on.

Who is your biggest celebrity crush? We each have so many!

Chad: Burt Reynolds and Chris Hemsworth


Erik: Lee Majors, Tom Selleck, Alan Thicke, Russell Crowe, and Jim Cantore (Erik is a weather nerd)

What is your favorite cheat meal or snack?

Erik: POPCORN, extra butter, and salt, please.

Chad: Morning Star veggie chicken nuggets.



If you were stuck on an island for eternity, what music album would you want to have with you? One isn’t possible. Carole King’s Tapestry, Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits or Rumours, Janet’s Velvet Rope, Any album by Prince, definitely 1999 or Purple Rain. Xanadu soundtrack St. Vincent, Daddy’s Home Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen.


What does it mean to be featured as our Instinct Hottie? It means we get to share our love with more people, and spreading love is a big calling of ours! We are also very proud to be considered as Instinct Magazines couple to know. Thank you!

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