While speaking with TooFab, the reality star, 50, said her close friends are allowed to give their opinions about her relationship -- but only "to an extent." Dolores' co-stars have accused her of settling with her longtime boyfriend, David Principe, despite his apparent failure to make a commitment.
"This season it comes to a head," she said. "This is how I feel, if I call you my friend, I consider you like family. I trust you and if I give you that title then you deserve to be able to have an opinion about my life. You don't have to shove it down my throat. You don't have to talk about it behind my back, but you have the right to tell me how you feel about something I'm doing and I can't get mad at you for what you're saying. I have to accept that because if you're that close to me then you deserve to have an opinion. And that's how you feel, and if you're not coming from a douchey girl fight, if you're not coming from a place of jealousy because I know -- I see through it all -- and if you're doing it the right way, I have no problem. It doesn't mean I have to follow it."
"I can take a piece of it," she continued. "I can put it in the back of my mind, maybe you're going to show me something I didn't see, it would be hard to because I'm pretty wise about everything, but you know, it's to an extent. Does it come to a disloyalty kind of point? Like how much are you really saying about my relationship? And I'll leave it at that."
As for future plans with her longtime boyfriend, Dolores said marriage is "not a priority" at the moment. However, the Bravo star doubled down on her previously stated stance about her relationship, noting that she won't move in with David without commitment.
"For right now, you know I look at it this way, this is the first time in my life I don't have any responsibilities," Dolores said, noting that both her daughter, Gabrielle, 25, and son, Frank Jr., 21, have established careers. "Marriage to me right now is not a priority. Living my life, having my freedom, having a degree of unaccountability and having a guy who's like in the same spot where I want him -- he's in front of his computer or at the hospital -- [it] isn't such a bad deal for me."
"I won't cross the line and live with him without a commitment as everyone knows I stand my ground," she continued, "But there was a part of me [that said], 'What's your intentions David? Are we supposed to get engaged now that the house is done? You said this, but guess what you didn’t, and I'm okay with that too. I'm okay with that because if I wasn't I wouldn't even be with you.'"
"It was more for him," she added. "I'll tell you the truth. [It's] f------ his loss not mine. He had a f------- small window."
Despite this, Dolores said she has "no complaints" about her relationship with David and praised him for putting her kids first.
"I have no complaints," she said. "And as soon as the world opens up I'll be back to being in the city. I had an apartment in the city."
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"How many boyfriends can you say, 'I'm going for New Years Eve with my ex-husband, my father, and my kids. We're going away. Can you make it?' 'No.' 'Okay bye!' That's it," Dolores continued, before referencing more examples in which David understood when Dolores needed to "drop everything and go" to be with her children.
"He'd be like, 'Go, kids come first,'" she explained.
Meanwhile, Season 11 will also show Dolores' co-star Teresa Giudice re-entering the dating world after she and ex-husband Joe Giudice separated in December 2019 following 20 years of marriage. (Their divorce was finalized in September.)
While Dolores said she doesn't think Teresa was "trapped" in her marriage, she said her co-star has a newfound happiness she wouldn't have discovered if not for her divorce.
"She loved her life and she loved her marriage and her family. She had very hard times," Dolores said of Teresa. "Every marriage does. They had their fair share. They had enough for 10 marriages for what they had gone through, but I think she has a happiness that she would've never known. You know life opens up after divorce. Divorce isn't the end and I try to tell so many people that. It's not a finale, it's a beginning."
If anyone understands divorce, it's Dolores, who divorced from Frank Catania over two decades ago. Despite being divorced for 22 years, Dolores and Frank have remained close friends and co-parents.
When asked what's the secret to having a strong relationship with her ex many years later, Dolores recalled a "profound moment" she experienced "very early" on when she visited a therapist after her divorce. At the time, her daughter, Gabrielle, was three and her son, Frank Jr., was only a month old.
"I went [to the therapist] and there were troubled kids there, and the one kid was like punching the walls and crying," Dolores said. "And his mom was sobbing and she was so hurt and there was so much hurt, and I had to like walk around."
"I sat down and I said to the therapist, 'What do I do to avoid all that hurt?' She said, 'Don't fight in front of your kids.' From that day, I ate miles of s---. Before that, ... I was terrible. I was just relentless. I did everything to him, but it stopped that day immediately."
"If there was ever a fight I would do whatever needed to be to make peace," she continued. "Nothing was worth losing that peace in my house. And that's why today we are where we are. I was never spiteful. I dropped everything in that second and people back then told me, 'You're sending mixed messages to your children. 'Why do you go hang around together? Why are you going on vacations together?' But it felt right to me and just like my relationship with David at this moment feels right to me. You can't doubt yourself. You can't let peer pressure or what the world thinks of you or ... the way things should be what people say they should be. It's what’s right for you."
At one point, Dolores was living with her boyfriend as well as her ex-husband. However, Dolores told TooFab that is no longer the case.
"Stayed tuned," she teased.
We'll have to see how it all goes down when "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" Season 11 premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo.