Jonathan Knowles
Lauren Porter
Jan, 17, 2018

For Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes, there's no denying that her husband Gregg Leakes is the man she needs in her life, and she'll be the first to admit it.

Fans saw in the early episodes of the Bravo hit series' tenth season that Gregg went through a health scare and Nene's harrowing fear that she might lose the love of her life. 

When the reality star stopped by ESSENCE, we asked the 50-year-old about their decades-long relationship and how, back in the early days, she knew that he was the man for her.

"So one thing I love most about Greg is [that] he allows me to be who I am and I allow him to be who he is," Leakes began.

"I was very young dating Greg by the way, I was 28 when I met him and I was a mother though," said Leaes. "Okay, so that's a different kind of story. I was a single mom and being a single mom knowing what you need ... I needed stability. I needed somebody who was financially stable."

Part of the reason why Nene became so smitten with Gregg, she said came from her upbringing. 

"We weren't raised like to be no gold digger, but we were raised to date up," Leakes explained. "I mean, we were told all the time, 'You better date up. You better date somebody that can help you.' I'm 28, Greg was like 40, and I'm just like, 'Uh, hi.' Honestly, seriously, even today I still think I'm way older than Greg mentally. These men are very young, they are. At 28 I could have just really roll with Greg on a conversation with him and everything. He was really into me, at 28, can you believe that? Because we were talking on the same level, really, at the end of the day. Today, we still talk on the same level."

The Leakes initially tied the knot in 1997, but got divorced in 2011. They reconciled years later then remarried in 2013.

Leaks says she knew he was the guy for her after just a few dates, but the revelation snuck up on her. Their first date was at a Benihana restaurant where Leakes recalls being impressed by Greg's manners, conversation and the way he took control.

"The place was super packed, so I sat at the bar with him, and he was just talking, and talking, and talking, and of course, we had cocktails," recalled Leakes. "Our conversation was working and then they sat us at a table with all these strange people, you know, and I didn't know what to order and he said he would order for me. I thought that was so [sweet]. I wanted the guy to order for me. Greg took the menu and just ordered.

Slowly but surely, Leakes began to realize how happy he made her.

"He was doing all these great things for me," she fondly remembered. "When I left him after our first date I said, 'You know what? He's cool, good enough to go out to eat with, that's it.' But every time I went out with him I would say, 'You know what? He's a great eating partner, like to go eat with.' And after that, after a little while, I was like, 'Now this is my boyfriend now, hold on.'"

And just like that, she knew!