Kenya Moore is back in the dating scene – and she’s opening up about what that feels like amid her two-year divorce from Marc Daly.
In a conversation with PEOPLE, Kenya revealed that despite wanting to find love, she has fears.
"I'm focusing on myself now, which includes being able to go out and date," she said. "Do I want to fall in love and have a serious relationship? I'm a little afraid of that."
She added that she feels a sense of ‘pressure’.
"I want to be able to date and I don't want to move too fast with anybody," she adds. "So that's why I think it's nice to have someone you really like, but it's also nice to have options so you can just not feel there's a pressure for it to become something."
The pressure she’s referring to could stem from a lot of different things. But if I had to narrow it down to three, it would be being a mom, not wanting to get dragged by her costars, and the pressure that comes from being a public figure.
Kenya’s daughter Brooklyn is 4 (and adorable.) But dating as a single mom means the man she meets doesn’t just need to be suitable for Kenya, he needs to be suitable for Brooklyn, too. As a single mom of a daughter near her age, I can attest to how much this changes the landscape and experience of meeting people and getting to know them.
Not wanting to get dragged by her costars might just be as important as finding a suitable stepdad for Brooklyn. This is a huge motivator to keep her love life on the down low. There have been a lot of instances, not just on Real Housewives of Atlanta but reality TV in general, in which someone’s relationship has been their main storyline for an entire season. Almost every reality star that’s found themselves in this situation has ended up divorced or single, and certainly embarrassed. The most iconic read in Real Housewives history was born out of Phaedra Parks dragging Kenya over not having a man and the likelihood of her having to resort to a sperm bank to conceive.
That also speaks to the pressure that the older single women feel on these shows. And there’s quite a few of them. We’ve witnessed Sheree Whitfield’s trials and tribulations with her ex, Tyrone, who was incarcerated for most of their relationship. Considering Kenya didn’t marry until her late 40s and didn’t give birth until 48, the perpetuation of the stigma of being older and single or childless runs rampant in reality TV. We’ve also been alongside Real Housewives of New Jersey star Dolores Catania amid her dreams of remarrying later on in life.
Just before season 15 went to air, Kenya’s castmate Drew Sidora announced her divorce filing, which is set to play out on camera over the coming months. And in recent months, former castmates Cynthia Bailey and Eva Marcille have announced their own divorce filings. And this brings me to my next point, about being a public figure and the pressure that it adds to any given situation, but especially dating and relationships.
"Sometimes you can be in denial and just kind of float through it or just not really live through it, but Housewives forces you to live through it," she said.
I don’t often agree with Kenya, but I do on this. Across reality TV franchises, we’ve seen marriages, divorces, births, deaths, family feuds, jail sentences, you name it. And Kenya is essentially saying that despite the widespread belief that a lot of aspects of reality TV is scripted or staged, being on reality TV means you can’t hide from what is happening in your life.
I’ve written before about how people have used their time on reality TV to do everything from come out to their families and promote their businesses. To her point, we’ve also seen people try to hide what is going on in their life, including her.
In the season leading up to her marriage and the later seasons leading up to her divorce, she left much to the imagination about the status of her and Marc. While weddings are often a huge occasion for any given show, she married Marc in a secret ceremony, most likely because she didn’t want the judgement from her castmates. After seeing what’s been said about brides-to-be over the years, I don’t blame her.
Take the last season of Real Housewives of Potomac as another example, where cast members like Robyn Dixon and Karen Huger remained incredibly tight-lipped about their relationship struggles, with Robyn only revealing key details about her husband’s alleged affair only after the season aired and offering the tea up on Patreon, rather than the show, much to Andy Cohen’s dismay.
Or take the seasons of Real Housewives of New Jersey where Teresa Giudice and her now ex-husband Joe faced a 39-count indictment over fraud charges. Not only did viewers have a front row seat to the criminal court cases but we saw them be sent off to jail, got a feel for how their families fared in their absence, and we even got to witness them reuniting with their family once their sentences were complete.
This season on Vanderpump Rules, we watched as the nearly decade-long relationship between Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix was destroyed by an affair between Tom and Raquel, a close friend of the couple, which Maria wrote about here. It literally plays out on a screen in front of us. And now, with social media, we get what are essentially real-time updates on who Ariana has moved on with, where Tom and Raquel now stand, and how the rest of their friend group feels about it.
So all of this is to say, whether you think reality TV is scripted or staged, people are still dealing with very real experiences and at least some of that is going to be captured on camera and shared on screen. So it absolutely makes sense that Kenya’s got some apprehensions about dipping her toe back into the dating pool, something she says she’s already started.
"I didn't know I could laugh like this again. I didn't know I could feel sexy. I didn't know I could go be that girl again that changes her clothes three times before going out on a date,” she said. “I was never thinking, Wait, what now is this skirt? What message is this sending? It's really interesting to revisit all of that."
Prior to Marc, Kenya was in a volatile and abusive relationship with a guy named Matt Jordan that, again, played out on the show. Needless to say, her confidence was shot for a few years. And despite my disdain for her, it is wonderful to hear that it’s building back up again.
"I think it will present itself when it's time, but I just don't want to ever feel like so many people feel when they're single and they're of a certain age ... that pressure that society puts on you or other people put on you."
But it’s even more wonderful to hear that whatever pressure she might feel from others, she isn’t applying to herself.