Madison LeCroy Says It's 'Refreshing' She's Not 'Mean and Toxic' on 'Southern Charm' This Season

"I'm in a different headspace," Madison LeCroy tells PEOPLE exclusively, as she gushes about life with fiancé Brett Randle

Southern Charm Season 8 - Madison LeCroy
Photo: Bravo

Southern Charm viewers are getting a new side of Madison LeCroy this season — and she knows it.

The reality star, who has been a firecracker on previous seasons of the Bravo show, has mostly kept to herself in season 8. And it turns out, it's all about fiancé Brett Randle.

"I'm in a different headspace," LeCroy, 31, tells PEOPLE about life since she and Randle got together. "I'm truly happy in my relationship because I'm finally with someone who loves me in the way that I need. He's the most incredible man. He's there for me, no matter what. I turn to him for advice, and he knows how to be a man.

Madison Lecroy
Madison LeCroy and partner. Madison Lecroy/Instagram

Randle even has a close bond with 9-year-old son Hudson and Hudson's father, LeCroy's ex-husband. "I don't think my ex likes the fact that they look kind of similar, but they have a great relationship,'" LeCroy jokes. "To have that support shows you everything you need to know."

"He just makes me want to be a better person," she adds. "I just have the most respect for him. I can't say I've ever been a relationship where that's the case before."

"It's refreshing to be with someone like that," she continues. "And refreshing to feel like I'm not so mean and toxic on the show."

Madison Lecroy and Austen Kroll
Tommy Garcia/Bravo; John Valkos/Bravo

Of course, Southern Charm fan know that LeCroy was previously dating Austen Kroll. The couple's on-again, off-again relationship imploded during season 7, leading to a messy reunion in which the two lobbied insults back and forth.

"I take no s---, but I'm not going to mean to anyone for no reason," LeCroy says, looking back. "I react to how everyone else reacts to me. That's what you saw."

Since the reunion, the tables have turned of Austen, so to speak, with the 35-year-old beer brewer's playboy ways being called out in back-to-back seasons of Winter House and Summer House.

"I'm redeemed at this point. He got it coming for him," LeCroy says. "Austen showed his true colors so now people can see why I was acting that way. Anyone can tell, I was just better at the game he and Craig [Conover] had been playing the entire time. They were mad about it."

madison lecroy and new beau
madison lecroy/ instagram

LeCroy is over the games now, looking forward to walking down the aisle with Randle his November.

Wedding planning, she says, has been stress-free. "I haven't been a bridezilla yet but I still have a few months left," she joked. "I've had my fair share of trauma being in the industry [as a hairdresser] so try to be really appreciative."

She has a wedding planner — who happens to be her childhood best friend — helping her get everything settled for their November nuptials, which will take place outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

"His family is from California, so it was already going to be a destination for them," she explains. "We just figured, 'Why not do something a little more adventurous?"

She adds, "Even though I've been married before, this is actually my first wedding, and the last thing I wanted was a costal vibe. I didn't want shells on the table, driftwood — none of that. We will have some sand, but it's white sand! So I'm excited to see it all come together."

"The dress was the hardest part," she jokes. "I went everywhere, cause I wanted something local, but I ended up finding a dress in New York City. So at least that's done!"

Madison LeCroy and Brett Randle
Madison LeCroy/Instagram

Viewers of Southern Charm might just get to see her wedding on TV if the show is brought back for season 9. But they'll have to wait until then to meet Randle, who she says won't appear in front of the cameras this year.

"That was his preference, and I have to respect people if they want their privacy," LeCroy tells PEOPLE. "He didn't sign up for this, he just happened to fall in love with girl who is in the media. And while he's adapted well and has been opening up slowly to the idea of everything, we're moving on his time. Hopefully, if everything is going well who's to say we might not see him next season?"

She jokes that there are benefits to Randle, 35, not being on the show (or on social media for that matter). "He's so hot, I have to keep him off the grid so the girls will keep off," she teases. "I mean, have you seen him? He's very pretty. Sometimes I'm like, 'Why did I pick a guy that's a prettier than me?' "

Ultimately, if Randle doesn't want to film ("filming with my ex might be uncomfortable for him," she admits) — and if her reality TV life becomes an issue for him — LeCroy says she would happily walk away from Southern Charm.

"I will protect Brett at all costs," she says. "If that means me ever having to leave the show to protect what I have with him, then sayonara, I'm out of there!"

Until then, the pair are happy in their newly purchased home. "To be in our dream home is just, I can't believe it,' she remarks. "We're in the suburbs off a golf course, which is just such a different life than this downtown society I've been living in."

She adds, "But for this to be the place where Brett and I are starting this chapter of our lives together? It couldn't be more perfect."

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Southern Charm airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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