'I thought this was the person I was going to spend my life with.'
Chelsea Handler built her brand on being an outspoken comic who pulled no punches about her personal life, but in recent years, she seems to have achieved incredible peace and clarity.
While speaking with Brooke Shields on the latest episode of her Now What? podcast, Handler opened up about her upcoming Netflix special, Revolution, how it differs from her past material, and how much her recent relationship with Jo Koy changed her perspective on life and love.
"I'm just so much more of a professional now, so it's just sharp," she said of the special, which debuts on the streamer on Dec. 27. "It's sharp, it's funny, it's poignant, and it's a story. It's a love story. It's about me kind of losing my faith in men and kind of all the examples of why, and then finally meeting Jo Koy and renewing my faith in men, and then even, you know, after that not working out, not to shut down and close off, to not use a failed relationship or a relationship that didn't go the distance as a reason to say, 'F**k it. I'm single again.'"
"I'm not doing that," she added. "I do want a relationship. It's OK for me to admit that now, like, I've learned and grown so much, that I got a taste of what that togetherness feels like, and I want it again."
Handler and Koy -- who worked together years ago on the comedian's late night show, Chelsea Lately -- made their relationship Instagram official in September 2021 and dated until June 2022, splitting just ahead of their one-year anniversary.
After finding love with an old friend, Handler noted, she hopes to be an inspiration for other women to "never settle." She even said the relationship made her rethink her stance on marriage.
"I'm not that hard up to get married, but I was open to the idea of it and we definitely discussed it at length, like, a lot, 'cause it was important to him," she shared. "And then, towards the end of the relationship, it just became clear that this was not my person."
As far as what exactly happened to end the relationship, Handler kept things fairly vague, but admitted "walking away from him was one of the most difficult things that I ever had to do."
"There were just some behaviors that we couldn't agree on, and it felt to me like I would have to abandon myself -- which maybe I would have been OK to do if I were 20 or 25 -- but I wasn't willing to do that," she recalled. "No matter how much I loved this person -- and I loved him so much -- I was not going to abandon myself. I was like, 'I'm not going to change this, I'm not going to change the way that I behave in order to make you feel more comfortable. I'm not doing that.' And I had to walk away from something that I really believed was gonna be a forever relationship, and so that was difficult."
According to Handler, the pair tried therapy and "any avenue I could think of, and then I just realized, 'This is futile.'"
Since their split, she noted, the pair hasn't spoken in some time -- though Handler remains hopeful for the future.
"I don't think we can have a friendship until there's some accountability and some responsibility taken," she explained. "We had a really great friendship and I would love to have that again, you know, but without a couple steps in the right direction, I don't see that happening."