updated 01/17/2012 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/17/2012 AT 5:15 PM ET
“I was properly in love I’d say three times,” O’Donnell tells Piers Morgan on his show airing Tuesday night. The comedian says that her earliest true love, with a woman O’Donnell does not name, was painful but necessary.
“You have one relationship in your life that’s kind of crazy and out of control a little bit and that usually doesn’t last very long but takes you into the deep water,” she says.
O’Donnell can still recall the feeling of heartbreak “vividly,” but adds that it taught her some important lessons. “It opened me up,” she says. “I realized I was capable of risk taking.”
“You have an idealism when you’re a kid about what romance and family and forever means. I think at 28, 29 years old, you’re ready to step into a mature kind of love, so that’s what got me there,” she says.
O’Donnell also reveals that that she had a long relationship with a man. “His name’s Mike and I lived with him for about two years,” she says.
O’Donnell says Mike was “very helpful” in mending wounds that she suffered during her childhood, but deep down O’Donnell knew she was gay. Still, she enjoyed the feeling of being part of a heterosexual couple.
“There was something really glorious about being in a relationship at the supermarket with your partner, getting stuff for the football game on Sunday and having the cashier say, ‘How long have you guys been dating?’ When you’re there with a woman, with your same sex partner, no one asks,” she says.
But times have changed for O’Donnell. Having recently announced her engagement, she says the public support she’s gotten has been “astounding.”