Reality star Bethenny Frankel, 42, opens up in this week’s issue of PEOPLE about launching her new syndicated talk show, her harrowing divorce, life as a single mom, and why she’s not ready to date again. Nine months after splitting from her husband of two years, Jason Hoppy, Frankel and her ex are still fighting in court over the terms of their divorce. Yet as the star begins rebuilding her life, starting her new TV show, managing her ever-growing Skinnygirl empire, and caring for her 3-year-old daughter, Bryn, she tells PEOPLE she has no choice but to focus on the positive.
That would be a welcome relief, after living through what she has described as a “brutal time,” ever since last December, when she and Hoppy, 42, announced their split. Though fans watched the former Real Housewives of New York City star meet and marry Hoppy, and then welcome daughter Bryn on Bravo’s Bethenny Ever After, the marriage began to show signs of strain after the first year, with its implosion eventually providing a plot line for the show. “You never think you’re going to be in these situations, and then suddenly you are,” she says. “I finally realized that you can have it all…but not all at once. I had talked about that regarding food, but I didn’t realize it also translates to life.”
Now, as their divorce battle rages on (at issue is her Skinnygirl fortune, estimated at $100 million by Forbes, as well as custody of Bryn), the exes remain locked in a standoff. Since neither Frankel nor Hoppy will relinquish rights to the Tribeca loft purchased at the peak of her success, she often stays in hotels and at a friend’s apartment when necessary. Frankel has remained in the home in part, “so there will be a sense of stability [for Bryn],” who see her father regularly, a source close to Frankel explains.
Frankel has never been shy about her quest for Mr. Right. “Part of my identity was always looking for a man. I always wanted to meet someone – to complete you, take care of you,” says Frankel, who was married in 1996 and engaged four times overall. “I’m not entirely sure I believe in the fairy tale anymore. It’s ironic. By the time you’re reading fairy tales to your kids, you’re discovering they might not come true.” Still, she insists she hasn’t give up on love – even if she isn’t seeking it out. “I don’t believe in The One or only one soulmate,” she explains. “Maybe there is The One, but that doesn’t mean it’s the person you live with your entire life. Your soulmate may or may not be the person you married. It doesn’t happen often.”
Though Frankel is now skeptical of fantasy romances, she has seen at least one come true. “Fairy tales come in different packages. Having the most beautiful daughter in the world is mine,” she says. “Connecting with my daughter,” Frankel says, “is my definition of love.”
More on Bethenny is featured in the 9/23/13 issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.
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