The prodigal Housewife has returned! After a failed marriage and flopped talk show, original Real Housewife of New York City Bethenny Frankel sat down with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live on Sunday, Mar. 22. In the half-hour special, the two shared a candid discussion about the current state of her life, which will be exposed to the public once the new season of RHONY returns.
Here, Us Weekly presents the five biggest revelations from the Skinnygirl’s discussion, including whether she’s in a relationship and why she’s decided to come back to a show that once “embarrassed” her.
1. She Doesn’t View Her Marriage to Jason Hoppy as a Complete “Failure”
Frankel thought she found her Prince Charming in Hoppy, whom she married in her very own Bravo spinoff Bethenny Getting Married. Their newlywed life was subsequently documented in the follow-up series [and the subsequent] Bethenny Ever After. The parents to Bryn, now 4, split in December 2012 after two and half years of marriage, and have since remained locked in a contentious divorce battle. Still, Frankel told Cohen that she didn’t see the demise of her marriage as a “failure.”
“I don’t really view them as failures,” she said of her relationship and her daytime talk show, Bethenny, which was canceled in early 2014 after one season. “I don’t think of it that way, but I don’t view them as successes. Don’t get it twisted… I think of them as experiences and I really can’t compare the two. They’re very different experiences. We have to talk about them separately.”
“As far as my personal life, to be a failure? Yeahhhh…” she trailed, before amending her previous statement. “It’s just — I’ve been through some pretty negative stuff, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You’re catching me on the back nine right now. I wouldn’t have been able to do the show a year and a half ago. I would have not been enjoyable for many.”
She noted later: “I don’t believe in regret. I am right where am I am because of all my experiences.”
2. What Caused the Relationship to Fall Apart
While multiple factors were involved in the disintegration of her marriage to Hoppy, Frankel said the biggest component missing was a lack of respect — from both parties.
“I write about mutual respect,” she shared. “People should be in relationships with people that really accept them and understand them.” Frankel then cited an anecdote from Sheryl Sandberg‘s best-selling book Lean In.
“The power struggle between men and women [exists],” the founder of Skinnygirl stated. “And [it is hard] when the woman is the breadwinner. I think fame, attention, and money does not bring out the best in everybody. I think that money, in many ways, is the root of all evil.”
With that said, Frankel refused to confirm how much she’s valued with the rapid growth of her ever-expanding Skinnygirl empire. “I’m not talking about the money,” she told Cohen. “The brand’s very successful, and that was just the cocktails, and I have 14 other categories.”
She also confirmed that her divorce to her estranged (and not-so-amicable) husband is still not finalized. “I don’t want to come in here and start trashing the situation,” she told Cohen. “It’s not good for anyone and it doesn’t help anyone. My daughter’s the most important one… I made an important decision to really just not dive in the mud.”
As for their odd living situation? There hasn’t been much progress on that front, according to Frankel. “I don’t know where I live,” she joked of still sharing an apartment with Hoppy. “I live in a lot of different places. You’ll have to watch the show to see where I live. I may be sleeping here in your office tonight.”
3. What She’s Learned From Her Marriage
Despite the harrowing ordeal, Frankel has learned to tap into her intuition — especially when there are glaring warning signs.
“I’ve learned that you need to go with your gut,” she noted. “As smart as I am in business…. it’s really why I wrote the book [I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have to]… I’ve learned more from my mistakes than from my successes. Women have this biological clock, you want things to be a certain way and you have this idea of how things are supposed to be.”
The reality is that marriage is not always smooth sailing. “Relationships are really hard, and you have to go with your gut,” she told Cohen. “It’s the best shot you have.”
Frankel confessed that there were warning signs along the way that she blatantly ignored. “We brushed them under the rug,” she shared. “Cracks become craters. Little things that you see in your relationships and your friendships… I feel like in our personal lives, we don’t [acknowledge them]. I think men are just better about that than women.”
Frankel also said she will never legally marry again — especially on television. “If anybody would ever want to get married to me on television, I would run like a thief in the night,” she said with a smile. “I will never get legally married again, I will never ever be legally married again. Marriage is the ‘Hotel California’: You can check out anytime, but you can never leave.”
4. This Is Her Reason for Returning to RHONY
Four years after her exit from Bravo’s Big Apple franchise, Frankel explained why she was back for a second helping of Housewives. “I don’t think people really know me anymore,” she complained. “Even when doing a talk show, it was very controlled. I felt like I was directing traffic.”
Frankel compared her experience as a reality star to therapy. “I didn’t realize how liberating this is… to be exactly who you are,” she mused. “It’s who I am which is so scary. It occurred to me recently. I’m a professional reality star. This is like, my calling… I just feel comfortable in this.”
As for the reason why she left? “There was a point I was a little embarrassed to be a Housewife,” she confessed. “Now, coming back, I feel I’m proud to be doing it again. I feel like it is a different show… It seems honest. It seems real. It seems a little… old school.”
During her hiatus from reality TV, Frankel had her very own syndicated talk show, Bethenny, which was canceled last May. “I didn’t enjoy being a talk show host. I don’t think it’s what I should be doing,” she told Cohen. “There was no joy there. I think if you don’t love what you do, you’re not going to be good at it… I felt like I couldn’t breathe.”
Now that she’s back in her element, Frankel said she’s still the same old Bethenny — who’s learned to filter in some ways. “I had exposed too much,” she said of her initial experience on RHONY. “I think that it’s somehow a little different. It’s not everyone around me. It’s MY experience… I’m flying solo in this experience.”
She added: “You will not see Bryn on the Housewives. She’s a little girl and I don’t want that for her. We’re adults and we make these decisions for ourselves…. Being a mother changes you. Everything else becomes so non-important. One thing that’s pure and you have to protect and there’s that.”
5. She Says She’s Single
In the final moments of Frankel’s Watch What Happens sit-down, Cohen asked her — point blank — whether she’s dating.
“I’m not dating now. I mean I’ve been,” she mused. “I wish that my dating life were as colorful and exciting as it’s written about, but right now I’m kind of at a standstill. I’ve been — I’ve dated this year. I’ve had a lot of different experiences, but I have a daughter and I am still married.” (In the last year, Frankel has been consistently dating financier Michael “Mac” Cerussi III, with whom she vacationed as recently as this past New Year’s Eve.)
“I don’t know that my, uh… I don’t know what my judgement is,” Frankel continued on Sunday. “I don’t know what I’m looking for, and I don’t know if I’m looking for anything. I think the kind of guy that I would need to be with has to be able to handle me, which is a tall order.”
For now, she’s been trying to find balance. “I believe in love, I believe in marriage,” she said. “I just don’t believe in legal marriage for myself…. And I do believe in life after love.”
Season 7 of The Real Housewives of New York City premieres on Tuesday, Apr. 7, at 9 p.m. E.T. on Bravo.