"It's nice to date someone really smart and passionate and who's busy," she said. "I don't want him living my life in my apartment and [with] my money. I want a partner."
Frankel and Shields reportedly started dating over the holidays and were spotted holding hands in New York last week.
The reality star told People she first met her beau through a mutual friend 27 years ago and called Shields a "perfect match."
"I am in a really happy place right now," she said. "I haven't been this happy in a really long time, and I'm continuing with my policy of not involving [others] in my relationships, because it certainly has served me wrong in the past."
"You know, the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results, so I'm not going to make the same mistake twice," the star added. "So, if I'm happy in a relationship, I want to keep it private for as long as I can."
Frankel confirmed Shields is legally married but separated in a tweet this week after facing criticism from co-stars and fans.
She herself separated from husband Jason Hoppy in 2012, but the divorce is still pending due to settlement negotiations.
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