Real Housewife Ashley Darby on Life After Divorce: “I’m Emerging From the Cave”

The star of Bravo's Real Housewives of Potomac opens up about life post-split, and what you aren't seeing on-screen.

Imagine being a millennial mom in your early 30s going through a divorce in front of millions of viewers. That’s the reality for reality TV star and Real Housewives of Potomac’s Ashley Darby. 

The 34-year old split from husband Michael earlier this year, after eleven years together. The couple share kids Dean, 3, and Dylan, 1.

Viewers are watching Darby’s marriage unravel in the show’s current installment of season seven, after Darby’s husband was caught cheating.

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We sat down with the former beauty queen to get the scoop on her off-screen life and what you aren’t seeing on the show. “Sometimes I feel like a rug is gonna be pulled out from underneath me,” shares Darby, about her life since splitting from Michael. “But I’m emerging from the cave and the light is feeling so good on my skin.”

Although the couple is not officially divorced yet (you have to be separated for a year in the state of Virginia), they announced they’d officially started the process in April.

“I’m taking it day-by-day,” says Darby. “Each day brings it’s own set of emotions and challenges, but I’m learning to navigate being a mom, working and at the same time, how to date again and just be healthy,” she shares with HelloGiggles. 

But like most young divorcées, Darby has a little help from her friends.

“I’ve always had a really great support system. Besides my mom, I’ve learned to lean on my friends more. I’ve re-learned how to be a real friend again. Not just for them to be there for me, but to be there and be present for my friends, who are having babies and buying homes and changing jobs and losing loved ones. Learning to show up for my friends emotionally again has been a great experience,” she explains.

Those friends include Darby’s co-stars for the past seven seasons, especially 52-year old Gizelle Bryant, who divorced her husband Jamal in 2009. “Gizelle is older than me and has been through similar life situations,” says Darby. “She remembers what it’s like rebuilding her life and gives me great advice and inspiration. Seeing what someone else has gone through gives me a lot of hope.”

While Darby is technically single again, she didn’t waste too much time jumping back into the dating pool. She recently went Instagram-official as a couple with Summer House star Luke Gulbranson, 34, after meeting the fellow Bravolebrity at BravoCon.

“I really was nervous about it. Dating requires time that I just don’t have,” says Darby. “But Luke respects my time, that I have a schedule, that I have kids, that I have priorities. He’s not jealous or demanding of my time, and he has his own life.”

Darby says even though the public knows she’s dating again, her kids do not. She’d prefer to shelter them from that part of her life, and is continuing to learn to adjust to living life under the lens.

“Viewers saw my husband being unfaithful to me and that was incredibly embarrassing and I hated it. But it prepared me for a lot. It made me fortify and strengthen what I had going on inside. I had to tune everything else out,” she shares.

The star, who’s going on an upcoming “drag brunch tour,” goes on to say: “It’s an exercise everyday for me to not hear that outside noise. Because no one else is gonna take care of my kids, no one else is gonna pay my bills, no one else is gonna hug me when I’m sad. So it helps a lot to block out the noise.”

“You get a thick skin and for better or worse, being in the public eye is sink or swim and I’ve learned to swim,” says Darby.

The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays on Bravo.



Jené Luciani Sena
Jené Luciani Sena is an accredited journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author, regularly seen on national TV outlets such as Access Daily, Today and Dr Oz. Touted as one of Woman’s World Magazine’s “Ultimate Experts,” she’s a TEDTalk speaker and a busy Mom of 4. Read more