Ethan Miller/Getty; Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Lala Kent is looking back on her relationship with Randall Emmett.
Kent and Emmett, who share 9-month old daughter Ocean, split this fall after getting engaged in September 2018. As she prepares to spend her first Christmas as a single mom, the Vanderpump Rules star, 31, has opened up to PEOPLE about the “red flags” she ignored with Emmett, 50.
“There’s like a laundry list,” she tells PEOPLE. “A dude not letting you look at his phone, someone who is never really home — all of these things that I just think about; he so was not present in any moment, whether it was with me or his children. It was like he was physically there, but he was not mentally there.”
“The phone was a major, major addiction,” Kent continues. “I always wonder what could he constantly be doing on that phone? And now I see it all. I should have opened my eyes and said, ‘This is not normal behavior.’ This is called a red flag. Him being gone so much, this is a red flag.”
A rep for Emmett did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Amy Sussman/Getty Lala Kent and Randall Emmett
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Leaving her shared home with Emmett earlier this year, Kent says, “was like a weight lifted off of me.”
“The moment I left that house and he discovered that I had left, I felt so free. I can’t even explain the feeling,” the podcast host says. “It brought me to tears because I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s over, it’s done.’ I had lost myself a lot in that relationship. I met him at a very young age. It was a huge whirlwind. My independence was somewhat taken.”
“The fact that during that relationship, I was able to build a brand and actually gain independence in a relationship that I could have easily become even more dependent on him, I did the opposite,” she adds. “I feel like I have to preach to all women, get your own funds for a rainy day. If you need to make a quick exit, that you’re able to do that.”
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Lala Kent
RELATED: Lala Kent Questions How She Felt ‘So Safe’ with Ex Randall Emmett: ‘It Haunts Me Daily’
Today, the former couple follow a co-parenting schedule for Ocean but have “very little communication,” Kent says — and she’s happier than ever.
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“I feel very happy,” the reality star says. “Freedom is a really amazing thing.”
“I don’t think people realize, you fall into a pattern of just life and you get comfortable and you don’t even realize that things aren’t working until you decide or you’re forced to switch things up and you’re like, ‘Holy s—, this life is just absolutely amazing,’ ” she adds.