"I hope I didn't have anything to do with him dying," Bethenny Frankel says of her late boyfriend Dennis Shields on Wednesday's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City
Bethenny Frankel says she was ready to end her relationship with Dennis Shields a week before the 51-year-old businessman was found dead in his Trump Tower apartment from a suspected overdose.
The Skinnygirl mogul, 48, makes the revelation while sitting down with a therapist on Wednesday’s episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, as seen in a clip shared earlier in the day to Bravo’s website.
In the scene, a tearful Frankel says that she’s still mourning Shields’ death. “I mean, it’s really brutal,” she says. “He was really someone that I went to for everything. So him being gone is a massive void. I really can’t believe he’s gone.”
Adding to her pain is the fact that the two had what she previously referred to as “not even close to a perfect relationship.”
Shields proposed to her last April while the couple were at dinner together with a mega-carat rock. And though she proudly wore her ring — and he was close with her 8-year-old daughter, Bryn — Frankel never really gave Shields a clear yes, telling him that their engagement was on “ice” until some “conditions” had been met and “changes” made.
She says on Wednesday’s episode that the Saturday before Shields’ death in August, she said, “I have to exit this dynamic.”
“He had such a powerful force in my life and my daughter loved it, that it was like this whole thing that was hard to extricate myself from,” Frankel admits.
After Shields was found dead that next Friday, Frankel began to feel culpable.
“There was a lot in my mind about him dying right after that. I could not get off the ride. I feel guilty that the only way I got off the ride is that he’s dead,” she says, wiping back tears. “I hope I didn’t have anything to do with him dying.”
“Dennis told me if we didn’t work out, he was never going to be in a relationship again. He was going to be alone for the rest of his life,” she tells audiences. “It was a tremendous pressure, and it kept me in. I don’t know what happened that night ,and I will always have to live with that for whatever that means.”
Since his death, she says she’s felt that a weight has been lifted from her — which only makes her feel worse.
“I feel better and I feel guilty that I feel better,” she says.
RHONY viewers are familiar with Shields, as much of their time together was documented on the Bravo series.
The two first met almost 30 years ago when he dated (and later married) one of her high school friends, Jill. Though she didn’t stay in touch with her classmate, Frankel and Shields shared other mutual pals and began dating in 2016, several months after he separated from his wife.
On an earlier RHONY episode this season, Frankel said that she’s stopped trying to make sense of the loss: “You know, someone told me he fell the day before on a boat and then, did he take something ‘cause he was in pain? But it doesn’t matter. He’s dead. Like, it doesn’t matter.”
“Let’s figure out what happened. Let me put the pieces of the puzzle together,” she said in the season premiere. “He wrote me 15 texts. He wanted to marry me. I had a ring on my finger. He’s dead. It doesn’t matter. He’s gone. There’s nothing to say.”
RELATED: RHONY Bethenny Frankel’s Daughter Texted Dennis Shields ‘We Miss You’ After His Death
As sad as the loss has been, Frankel has found love again.
She’s currently dating real estate developer and film producer Paul Bernon. The two made their relationship Instagram-official in December when Frankel shared two photos of the couple celebrating Christmas together in the Dominican Republic. Frankel and Bernon went on to ring in the New Year together in Mexico, joined by Bryn and his two kids.
Meanwhile, the cause of Shields’ death remains a mystery. The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office announced in August that an autopsy was not performed on his body due to a “religious objection.” Thus, his cause of death has been ruled “undetermined.”