Like most of us, Bethenny Frankel has loved and lost. The Real Housewives of New York star, self-made mogul, and committed philanthropist is famously direct, outspoken, and take-no-bullshit, but fans are just as enamored by her rawness and vulnerability. When Frankel spoke to Refinery29’s global editor-in-chief and co-founder Christene Barberich for a live recent taping of UnStyled in New York City for AdWeek, she was characteristically honest about, well, everything – from hitting up titans of industry and A-listers at an intimidatingly swanky Hollywood party, to frenemy Ramona Singer, to her early days hawking muffins inside a Costco.
And the twice-divorced single mother’s romantic life hasn’t been easy. (Her ex-boyfriend, Dennis Shields, died suddenly in August.) “Real love, to me, is the sum being greater than its parts,” Frankel told Barberich. “You don’t have to like every cheesy movie, but [you need to find] a person who makes you want to be a better person. [Who] makes you want to be nice to them, love them, and take care of them – and vice versa.”
“Real love is not settling. I'm not a settling kind of person. I feel like I've made decisions out of fear versus love, many times,” admitted the Skinnygirl founder, who joined RHONY in its first season as the only unmarried, decidedly un-wealthy woman in the bunch. She, who struggled financially, endured relationships that weren’t working, and contended with a painful, dysfunctional childhood.
“We all do that; it's what are our parents did. You know, ‘I'm supposed to be doing that, this guy's so great, everybody loves him, my biological clock is ticking, he has so much money,’ or whatever.”
Older, wiser, and more confident, Frankel has learned her lesson —, battle scars and all. “A lot of times people make decisions out of fear, versus true love, and I just won't make that mistake again.”
Another vital takeaway from her years in the public eye: shattering the myth of the perfect, “great life.”
“People would rather you think they're having a great life, than actually have a great life,” she mused. “I'm really the opposite of that. I felt a responsibility to discuss that, only because I had gotten married on TV. I feel a responsibility to discuss the demise of [my second marriage to Jason Hoppy], because I'm not going to pretend everything's perfect.”
Hear Christene’s wide-ranging, freewheeling, and often hilarious chat with Frankel by clicking here and subscribing to UnStyled via Apple Podcasts today.