You'll Either Love Or Hate Bethenny Frankel's Dating Advice

Image: Courtesy Of Simon and Schuster.
Whether you love her, hate her, or aren't entirely sure who she is, know that "Real Housewife" Bethenny Frankel isn't up at night worrying about it. "I say what’s on my mind. Not everyone has to love me," she declared in 2013, and her interpersonal style on Real Housewives of New York and her solo shows is testament to this philosophy. Now, Frankel is speaking her mind on relationships, by way of her new dating manual I Suck at Relationships So You Don't Have To: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After. "Here’s my confession: I suck at relationships," she writes in the book. "I find relationships to be just about the most impossible thing in the world and I’ve done so many things the wrong way that I’ve become, strangely, a sort of expert at what not to do."

Frankel has come under fire for her heteronormative interpretation of gender relations, especially in the realm of money, which she covers at length in her new book. (Maybe it goes without saying that Frankel's brand of wisdom is tailored to women who date men.) "I'm okay with the money gap, but men need to feel in control," she recently told PEOPLE. "There's nothing more emasculating than a woman pulling out her credit card. I don't care how women's lib we are." With such chapter titles as "Understand the Man" and "Master the Catch and Release," her book echoes the tropes of the dating-advice classics of yesteryear, but Frankel is confident in the modern-day applicability of those concepts. We spoke with the newly returned RHONY star (her tagline this season: "I'm not a housewife, but I am real") about her hatred of online dating, why you should play hard-to-get, how money can destroy relationships, and more. Read on for her frank words.

Which mistakes that you’ve made in relationships do you most hope your readers will avoid?

"I’ve gone with my head and my heart and not my gut, number one. Number two, I’ve let the cracks become craters — you have to nip things in the bud and heal them and take care of them. In the beginning, you’re willing to overlook things: You argue about them, and then you brush them under the rug, and they come up again. If you don’t have a good foundation, your house will come tumbling down. So, you gotta take care of the cracks early."

In your book, you discuss how “playing games” can be beneficial to a relationship — what does that mean?

"Even if you're married...you [may] have to shake it up. [For example], maybe your husband takes you for granted and he's having a midlife crisis, or you don't feel good about yourself in your relationship. And, I think that there is a time and a place for games. We don't just walk into life and tell everybody what we think about them. I don't walk into business meetings and say 'Oh my god, I think that's the greatest thing in the entire world, and I wanna do the deal right now!' You don't walk into buying a house and say 'Oh I love it, I'll pay a million for it!' You don't meet somebody and let them know exactly how interested you are. You do a little dance. A little cat-and-mouse is really necessary, because the bottom line is, the least interested party always wins — in business and relationships and life. Unfortunate, but it's true."

You've said you're against online dating — why is that?

"It could not be further from who I am! And frankly, if I weren't a celebrity, I don't think I'd be into social networking either. I started to do it because it became something that you have to do as a reality television personality and for the brand, but I am not trying to be socially networked, and that's kind of what online dating is. I'm about the story and the happenstance."

If not online, how do you think people should meet romantic prospects?

"I think you just have to keep your eyes open. If you have blinders on and your head is down and you're in your phone and you're not open to experiences, you don't meet people. If you're in a bar or a restaurant or supermarket or the gym, look around; you may be noticing what's in someone else's shopping cart, you see them at the dry cleaner, you're at the ice cream store, you're at the dog park. You're just a little more awake and aware. I'm not a person that wants to be texting someone all the time; I want to be talking to someone... I like to really connect. I'm not an online dater, but I meet a lot of men."

Recently on RHONY, you commented to Luann that "Love isn’t enough, which is a very sad thing to believe." If love's not enough, what is?

"Ah, I wish I knew! I guess you have to have a combination of love and respect and understanding and acceptance. It's really hard because all the planets need to be aligned at the same time... I believe in the connection, so the key is to not screw it up when you have the connection."

Let's talk income disparity. As more and more women are outearning the men in their lives, do you think that couples will move on from the friction that might create, or will it continue to be a cloud over relationships?

"I think it will be a cloud, because men need to provide and pursue. I think that a man can make less, but you need to figure out how you're going to deal with it — who's paying for what? — so it's not ambiguous, you're not standing at a restaurant feeling awkward, you're not resenting someone for them yet again not paying. Work it out ahead of time."

Any parting words of wisdom?

"You have to understand the other species — otherwise, you’re never going to be happy, because you’re going to be expecting them to do what you do, and a man doesn’t understand why a woman doesn’t want to just be quiet. 'Just don’t talk! Why are you analyzing everything?’ You have to understand that they’re not mind-readers, and you’ve got to tell them what you want [without being] overly dramatic — men don’t want to hear it. They want to hear, 'Can you do me a favor and make a reservation, please?' 'Can you buy me a present?' They just need very specific instructions. It doesn’t sound romantic, but believe me, telling a man that you would like him to send you flowers and then a month later receiving flowers will be very romantic."
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