These days, fans are lucky enough to have numerous “Real Housewives” franchises at their fingertips … and on their TV screens. The various locations (New York City, Beverly Hills, and Salt Lake City to name a few) and the unique cast members all bring something different and exciting to the table. However, there are certain things that remain consistent across the board.
No matter what city they live in, there’s seemingly nothing the Housewives love more than a group trip filled with drama and fights over who is sleeping where, a peek into someone’s ultra luxurious closet that happens to be filled to the brim with Birkin bags, and of course, gossip. You know, the standard sharing what’s supposed to be a secret and then saying, “But you didn’t hear it from me.” However, there are some secrets that the Housewives actually do want kept secret. When it comes to love and dating, quite a few of the ladies have kept — or at least tried to keep — certain relationships off fans’ TV screens.
Here are some of those (sometimes not very well kept) secret relationships.
Kim Zolciak-Biermann had a sugar daddy known as Big Poppa
Kim Zolciak-Biermann is now happily married to former NFL player Kroy Biermann. However, when fans first met her on Season 1 of “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” she was spending her time with another man who viewers never saw and who she referred to only as “Big Poppa.” While his actual identity was kept secret, Kim made sure to flaunt the lavish gifts (think Range Rovers) that he generously showered her with.
As it turns out, there was a reason Big Poppa’s identity remained hidden. He happened to be married at the time he was with Kim. In 2009, TMZ leaked photos of Kim and Big Poppa as they vacationed in the Bahamas together, outing Big Poppa to the world as businessman and real estate developer Lee Najjar. Najjar has an estimated net worth of $50 million, per Distractify, and is allegedly still married to the woman — who is coincidentally also named Kim — he was married to while with Kim despite past divorce rumors.
Another coincidence? According to E! News, Najjar once dropped Kim off at a “Dancing with the Stars” event that led to her meeting her now-husband.
Viewers never saw Dina Manzo's husband
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from “Real Housewives of New Jersey” it’s that family is everything. That makes it even stranger that, despite being a regular cast member for three seasons, Dina Manzo’s now ex-husband Tommy Manzo never appeared on the show. To make matters even more interesting, the Brownstone popped up on a lot of the early seasons of “RHONJ,” which Tommy co-owns with his brother Albert Manzo (Albert happens to be married to Dina’s sister, Caroline Manzo, another “RHONJ” alum).
The reason for Tommy’s obvious absence probably doesn’t have much to do with him being anti-reality TV since he and Dina appeared on an episode of VH1’s “My Big Fabulous Wedding” in 2006. His lack of camera time may have more to do with speculation about a “secret life” of his that reportedly included a string of other women. Per Heavy, Dina admitted that Tommy had cheated on her multiple times even before they were married.
The Brandi Glanville and Denise Richards did they or didn't they
There is quite a bit of “she said, she said” when it comes to Denise Richards and Brandi Glanville from “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. So, did they actually hook up? If you ask Brandi, not only did they most definitely have a thing, they had a thing despite Denise being married to husband Aaron Phypers.
Per Page Six, Brandi claims that Denise was “sexually aggressive” towards her, and “previously claimed that they had sex” on a trip to Mendocino, Calif. Brandi told Us Weekly that Denise instructed her not to share any details of their hookup with Phypers. This reportedly came as a shock to Brandi who had been under the impression that Denise was allowed to be with other women, according to Page Six. Denise has strongly denied that anything sexual ever happened between her and Brandi, and she’s accused Brandi of making the story up for “shock value.” In fact, per US Weekly, she has said her communication with Brandi was always pretty limited.
In an interview with US Weekly, Brandi claimed Denise has not responded to any of her attempts to talk about the controversy.
Shereé Whitfield secretly dated a man in prison
At first, Shereé Whitfield from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” denied rumors that she was dating Tyrone Gilliams, but it has since been reported that the two are actually together and going strong. Gilliams once appeared on an episode of “RHOA,” and can be seen as Shereé and NeNe Leakes fight over a business venture that involved him as a promoter. However, in 2013, Gilliams was charged with wire fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
According to Page Six, he was released early over COVID-19 concerns at the end of February 2021. Shereé and Gilliams reportedly dated on and off while he served his time, which, according to Shereé, helped their relationship grow and forced them to get to know each other on a deeper level, per Page Six. The newly reunited couple has reportedly been spending their time together in Philadelphia as Gilliams readjusts to life outside of prison.
Teresa Giudice played coy about her current boyfriend
Little brothers have a tendency to open their mouths at the wrong time and Joe Gorga from “Real Housewives of New Jersey” is no exception. Joe’s sister, Teresa Giudice, tried to be discreet about current boyfriend Luis Ruelas and keep their relationship under wraps. However, Joe spilled some juicy details about the somewhat new couple during an episode of “Real Housewives of New Jersey.”
Teresa’s sister-in-law, Melissa Gorga, took it even further when she shared her prediction that Teresa and Ruelas will eventually get married. Teresa finalized her divorce from Joe Giudice in September 2020 and by the following November, Page Six had confirmed that Teresa and Ruelas were officially together. Ruelas has since met Teresa’s four daughters (as well as her now ex-husband) on a family trip to the Bahamas, per Page Six.
Teresa is now seemingly willing to openly admit that the relationship is going well. In March 2021, she even told Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” that marriage bells could be in the future for her and Ruelas.
Did NeNe Leakes date another man behind her husband's back?
“Real Housewives of Atlanta” alum NeNe Leakes and her husband Gregg Leakes have not done much to keep their marriage lows a secret from viewers. The couple was even open about their short-term divorce. However, NeNe may have a different secret: a relationship with another man. Both NeNe’s co-star Kenya Moore and Page Six have claimed that NeNe had been in a relationship with a man named Rodney White.
According to Page Six, NeNe and White have “reportedly been long time ‘family friends’ for years.” People started spotting them together around the same time that sources claimed NeNe and Gregg were fighting publicly, which sparked rumors that NeNe and White’s relationship had turned into more.
Per Page Six, NeNe and White enjoyed a dinner together in Miami and a night out in South Beach in January 2019 where, a source claims they were touching, kissing, and giggling. This was reportedly all going down while Gregg was in Atlanta battling stage three colon cancer. White works in upper management for the Unites States Department of Agriculture, but, according to a source, he is very drawn to Hollywood and the celebrity lifestyle that comes along with NeNe.
To make matters a little more suspicious, according to the outlet, White happened to post a photo of himself at the Bravo Clubhouse the very same night that NeNe made a guest appearance on “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen” in November 2019.
Bethenny Frankel didn't confirm her engagement
Despite once telling co-star Ramona Singer to “mention it all,” it seems like there was one thing “Real Housewives of New York City” star Bethenny Frankel didn’t want mentioned: her engagement to the late Dennis Shields.
Bethenny and Shields actually met while they were in college, but they didn’t start dating until 2016, per US Weekly. They were in an on-again, off-again relationship until Shields’ August 2018 death from a suspected drug overdose, per People. Shields reportedly proposed to Bethenny in April 2018 with a massive diamond ring, which Bethenny was spotted wearing around town. However, Bethenny didn’t share the engagement news with her “Real Housewives” co-stars. In fact, she didn’t even confirm their engagement until after Shields’ death.
In a 2019 episode of “RHONY,” Bethenny admitted to former co-star Dorinda Medley (via Page Six) that she “didn’t tell anybody” about the engagement out of a desire to avoid a “circus.” Bethenny is now happily engaged to film producer and real estate developer Paul Bernon.
Braunwyn Windham-Burke came out in 2020
Even though Braunwyn Windham-Burke and Sean Burke renewed their vows for their 20th wedding anniversary on a November 2020 episode of “Real Housewives of Orange County”, things in their marriage were seemingly not as picture perfect as they tried to make them seem.
At the end of 2020, Braunwyn officially came out as a lesbian during an interview with GLAAD, saying that she is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. People reported that Braunwyn got to a point where she didn’t want to keep her true sexuality a secret anymore after taking on sobriety. Braunwyn and Burke have seven children together and are now in an open marriage, per People.
She shared with People that they had known she was bisexual for quite some time, but after being with a woman while sober, it became apparent that she was “not straight at all.” Braunwyn was in a brief relationship with her first girlfriend, Kris, but People reported that their relationship ended in April 2021. Braunwyn and Burke remain married and are navigating their relationship on a day-by-day basis.
Kim Richards was in a six-year relationship and nobody knew
She wanted to “talk about the husband” when it came to Lisa Rinna, but Kim Richards did not want to talk about boyfriend Wynn Katz during her time on the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”. Richards was an original “RHOBH” cast member and was on the show for the first five seasons from 2010 until 2015. She then had a guest role for Season 6 and 7 and made cameo appearances on Season 9 and 10.
Kim and Katz dated for six years, according to Entertainment Tonight. However, per Bustle, the two are no longer a couple. That seemingly means that they were together while Kim was filming “Real Housewives.” However, they managed to keep their relationship completely hidden from the cameras. Kim and Katz didn’t open up about their relationship until they appeared on “Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars” in 2018.
Even though they went on the show together as a couple, some people questioned if their relationship was actually real after Kim admitted that they had never been intimate and that she didn’t know if they had a future together, per Bravo.
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