Prison bae! Families of the Mafia star Karen Gravano and her boyfriend, Xavier,  are “in for the long haul” as he serves a life sentence behind bars, she exclusively tells In Touch.

“We actually met in the ’90s and, we didn’t date. We just really, you know, grew a friendship,” Karen, 49, reveals in a new video interview ahead of the premiere of her MTV series. “And then through the later years, when the laws started to change and I started to actually experience my own situations with the justice system and started helping my father with some of the things that he was going through with his case, I was always thinking about Xavier and we were always in contact and one day I was like, ‘So many laws are changing that maybe this is able to help you.’ And the more I started to do my homework and the more I started to like research, not only his case, but other cases, the more this became so personal to me because there are so many people that are currently incarcerated that don’t have a voice or don’t have a means or ways to fight for their freedom.”

karen gravano boyfriend families of the mafia
Karen Gravano/Instagram

The Staten Islander previously shared her passion for prison reform on her former VH1 series Mob Wives, as she advocated for her father and former underboss of the Gambino crime family, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.

On the upcoming season 2 of MTV’s Families of the Mafia, fans will get to learn more about Karen’s relationship with her boo. The pair have been dating for the past five and a half years.

“Our love for each other has grown stronger and stronger and stronger. And he’s definitely someone that I want to be in my life forever,” Karen gushes. “We don’t focus on the relationship as much as we focus on his freedom. Like that’s, my boyfriend we definitely want to be together, but the reality is up front and center is his fight for his life. And I will always remain in his corner through thick and thin, whether if we’re in a relationship or we’re not in a relationship.”

When the couple isn’t focusing on his freedom, they also keep their spark alive in their romance through emails, phone calls and visits. “I think the main thing in any relationship is communication and when a person’s locked up and they’re not able to be across the table from one another looking at each other’s eyes, you have to really exhaust every avenue that you can and communicate on a different level. And like, that’s why I think I fell in love with him because it’s his soul that you get to meet and know a person as an individual,” the Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and Me! author adds while joking, “I mean, hopefully he don’t come home and get on my nerves, but the reality is, he’s definitely a great person and he definitely deserves a second chance at life.”

Families of the Mafia premieres on MTV Thursday, July 15 at 9 p.m. ET.

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