'RHOA' Star Cynthia Bailey Gushes About the Secret New Man in Her Life at 'Essence' Fest

Cynthia Bailey says she is ready to settle down as her daughter prepares to leave home.

Cynthia Bailey is preparing to be an empty-nester, with her only daughter heading off to college this fall, but she might not be alone for long.

A year after her divorce from Peter Thomas, the 51-year-old Real Housewives of Atlanta star reveals she’s happily seeing someone new, and she is finally ready to get serious again.

“I definitely want to date exclusively now — just one guy,” she tells PEOPLE, speaking at Essence Fest on Sunday, where she attended McDonalds’ annual #365Black Awards and spoke about black entrepreneurship. She continued, “I’ve recently met someone who I really like. I am looking forward to seeing where things go.”

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After splitting with Thomas in 2017 and briefly dating Will Jones, Bailey feels more open than ever to romantic commitment.

“When I first got divorced I was pretty closed,” Bailey says. “The door was closed to marriage, and the door has opened itself back up. I’m not kicking it open but it ain’t closed.”

Even though she has moved on, there is no bad blood with her most recent ex, Jones.

“Things didn’t work out for us, but I think he’s an amazing guy,” she says. “I have a lot of respect for him and wish him nothing but the best.”

Her relationship with Jones suffered when the two went public, so Bailey says she wants to make sure the “foundation” is solid with her new guy this time around.

RELATED VIDEO: ‘RHOA’ Star Cynthia Bailey Reveals Which ‘Rihanna’ Song She Can’t Get Out of Her Head!

While her love life seems under control, Bailey’s emotional energy is spent preparing for her daughter Noelle’s departure.

“It’s like a happy sad,” Bailey says of Noelle’s upcoming move to Howard University. “She’s my one and only so I’m very invested and emotional with all things Noelle. She is the wind beneath my wings.”

Bailey, who was part of McDonalds #365Black celebration at Essence Fest – and even passed out hot fries to festival goers – says she has a number of entrepreneurial projects to keep her busy, including running her Cynthia Bailey sunglasses line.

She’ll be sharing her empty-nester journey and updates on her love life with viewers on the next season of Real Housewives of Atlanta.

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