"More than even just being friends since we were 16, it's also the understanding of now what she may be facing, what I went through at one time," Dolores tells TooFab.
Dolores Catania and Teresa Giudice have been friends for decades and co-stars on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" for years, though they've always been careful to tiptoe around each other's difficulties because that's just how "old-school Italians" operate.
However, Dolores told TooFab viewers will see several changes when "RHONJ" returns to Bravo Nov. 6 -- one them being her relationship with Tre. As we know, Joe Giudice is currently living in Salerno, Italy, waiting for the courts to determine his fate in his ongoing deportation case. The legal woes for the Giudices has led to both Teresa and Dolores being more open with sharing their process with each other, at least according to Catania.
"I think that you will see that Teresa and I -- we've grown out of that old-school Italian 'You can't talk about your problems 'cause then that makes them real,'" Dolores told us. "I think we've both come to terms with that, that if we both go on how we feel, we can get through it that way. We're different. We're grown. We've evolved."
"The thing with Teresa and I is the familiarity that we have," she continued. "We've also now, more than even just being friends since we were 16, it's also the understanding of now what she may be facing, what I went through at one time."
"I wanna be there for her," she added, appearing to reference Teresa's marital situation, "and I think she's ready to open up about things."
Dolores also revealed that her boyfriend, Dr. David Principe, an obstetrician-gynecologist who specializes in maternal-fetal medicine, moved into her house where her ex-husband, Frank Catania, also resides.
"It's a new thing," she told us. "[David] is building a home, which, stay tuned on that. And his lease was up and his home wasn't done, so he turned to me and said, 'Would you mind? Can I?' I don't even know how he said it; it was the most awkward moment of our relationship."
We asked Dolores if she had to talk it over with Frank before letting David move in. "No, it's my house," she replied. "And I knew Frank wouldn't mind. There's actually a big bromance going on in the house." She called the ability to cohabitate with an ex and a current boyfriend "an art."
Indeed it is.
"Not every personality clicks with this kind of situation, and if it doesn't, I can't have that person in my life," she said. "That's been a point of contention for me in the past with other men. But you know what I would say to them -- and I would say the same thing to any woman who's divorced -- I would say, 'Do you wanna pay what he pays? If you do, I'll tell him he has to knock before he comes in, but otherwise, I'm not.'"
Another major difference between last season and this is that viewers will get to know David -- and while Dolores is excited that all her worlds are colliding, she's more nervous than perhaps she even thought.
"Oh, you will see him [this season]! Yes, yes, yes," she said excitedly, before her voice dipped ever so slightly. "There will be a lot of opinions. I'm curious to see what people think. Do they like him? Do they not? He is loved by a lot of people, especially his patients, because he gives so much to them."
"You'll have the women looking at him as the doctor that saved their lives, saved their kids' lives, that has given them so much during their pregnancies, or just the woman who had a hard time who knows what it's like for a doctor to do what he does for people every day," she explained. "And then you'll have the girlfriends or the relationship people saying, 'Who wants somebody that's never around?' There's gonna be a lot of different opinions about David."
"Are you ready to hear them?" we asked.
"That's a very, very good question. You just made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. That was really good," she replied. "I, uh, I don't if he's ready to hear them. I don't know. I never let anybody else's judgement cloud mine, but at the same time, I hear it. It's in the back of my head. Hearing it and whatever I wanna do with it are two different things."
"I don't know that everyone's going to understand the dynamics of our relationship," she added. "Him and Frank, they'll probably understand better. It's a little complex, which you'll see."
"I hear it all the time," she told us. "I'm used to that. I'm so used to that. I haven't slept with Frank in 20 years! Frankie's 21 years old, just so you know."
Dolores also isn't worried about David seeing that comment air because "he knows that we're so platonic because he lives with us! He lives it every day. Frank and I are like family. At the end of the day, we love each other. We always will. We raised our kids together."
"And one of the biggest things I have to thank him for is that he never fought me on my parenting," she continued. "He always had my back. A lot of divorced couples do not have each other's backs when it comes to raising the kids, and that does not work out for anybody at the end of the day. There's a lot of resentment, the kids pit them against each other, you can't do that. So I'm very grateful that Frank didn't give me a hard time and shared our holidays and vacations together when they were little. Being separated from them would've hurt both of us."
"I urge every divorced couple to put the kids first and put their egos and resentments aside," she added. "I beseech them!"
Despite having a full house, Dolores is an empty-nester -- and it's forcing her to face new personal obstacles.
"This season coming up, I'm now finding my way after my kids have left. I'm getting used to them being gone," she explained. "I'm dealing with a different stage in my life. I'm finding my footing in the second half of my life, and it's really not that easy for me. It's a little complicated. It's a little bit like, I don't know where the next decision is gonna take me, and it's gonna depend on how I'm gonna be for the rest of my life, or at least a long time. But it's some serious stuff going on with me."
Dolores was much happier to discuss the fact that viewers will get to see her son, Frankie Jr., accompany Teresa's oldest daughter, Gia Giudice, to her senior prom. In the trailer, Gia's seen whispering to Teresa as they watch Frankie strut down a runway, "He's so hot!" Dolores didn't know that happened and was overjoyed to hear it.
"Ohhh, I didn't see that! I didn't see that! I think that was the catalyst for prom," she told us. "I think? I think! I don't know. I love Gia. I'd love them together. You know in Italian culture, you look at the kids as like, 'Would they be great together if they got married?' I love Gia. She's such a good, old-school Italian girl.'"
Dolores told us she nearly fainted when Gia recently offered up her seat so that Dolores' mother could sit. "I think somebody had to pick me up off the floor," she said. "Like, I was dying. Dying! I die for her."
Despite her wishful thinking, Dolores said Frankie and Gia are simply "good family friends." And, logically, she doesn't think either of them should be tied down right now.
"Now is not the time for any relationships or children. I say it's an anchor," she explained. "Timing is everything. They need to live their lives, and then if it's meant to be, come together at the end of their college experience when they're more settled in their careers. That's when you make that decision."
Season 10 of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" premieres Wednesday, November 6 at 8 p.m. on Bravo.
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