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February 13, 2017 12:48 PM

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Bethenny Frankel admits she’ll likely be alone on Tuesday night instead of with Dennis Shields, her boyfriend of the past year.

The Real Housewives of New York City star, who has famously sharing her romantic struggles on camera, is taking a break from their romance — but she’s not calling it a breakup.

“He’s still in my life,” she says. “I saw him last week for his birthday, but I’m not ready to settle down right now.”

Adds Frankel, 46: “The truth is, the world made it into something more than either of us have.” 

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“I care about him but the bottom line is he’s still married,” she notes. (Shields is in the process of divorcing his wife of more than 20 years.) “And I don’t want to stop the music yet. I’m not ready to be linked to any one person.”

“I’ve known him for 27 years and I care about him, but I’m keeping my options open,” she says. “I don’t know what the future holds.”

Still, she adds, “It’s not a heartbreak story, it’s a heart healing story.”

After a bitter, four-year long divorce battle with her ex husband Jason Hoppy that ended last June, Frankel says, “In the past, I’ve made some choices that were questionable in my opinion, for myself, and I’m looking at that. Given the circumstances of my previous relationship and the torment and difficulties I’ve had the last five years, I need to balance and rest and reflect. It’s very easy to rush something or turn something into a solution, but right now I feel the solution is me spending time with myself and my daughter, trying to regroup and not hurry to find the answer.”

And she’s had more serious matters on her mind. Two weeks ago, she filed a complaint with New York Police Department against ex husband Hoppy, who was arrested and charged with harassment in the first degree and stalking in the fourth degree.  (Hoppy denied the charges.) At his arraignment, the judge issued an order of protection against him for the next six months. 

“I’ve been having a difficult time for a long time, and I’ve kept that in,” says Frankel. “I was walking on eggshells. I felt hopeless. But now I feel calmer. You don’t know how imbalanced you are until you feel a little balance. Sometimes I feel a little numb like someone who’s watching someone else’s life. It’s better now but still, it’s not party time.”

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“I feel traumatized and unsure why any of this happened,” she says. “I’m trying to make better choices.”

And so this Valentine’s Day, she has no romantic plans in store. “If I’m sitting home with my three dogs by my fire, there will be a lot of love and that’s kind of liberating,” she says. “Or if I’m out on a date or with my girlfriends that could be fun too. I don’t care if I’m out with them and there are 500 people getting engaged next to me!”

“I would like to be with someone,” she says. “I don’t want to be alone, but I’m not going to make choices based on that feeling. I’m ready to meet new people and I’m hopeful. But I’m not desperate and I’m not looking.  I don’t think about things like marriage or having other kids. That’s above my pay grade right now.”

Still, she admits with a laugh: “I’m even considering online dating.” 

One thing’s for sure, she says: “I’m renewing my membership in the lonely hearts club for Valentine’s Day.”

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