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Sophie Monk announced her engagement to Jimmy Esebag on Jan. 25
Sophie Monk announced her engagement to Jimmy Esebag on Jan. 25

Newly engaged Sophie Monk has defended her relationship with a man almost 20 years her senior, exclusively telling WHO that she plans to dismiss any negative public commentary about their whirlwind union.

Following a three-month courtship, Monk, 31, recently became engaged to the man she describes as her “soul partner”, Beverly Hills based businessman Jimmy Esebag, 50. The couple has enjoyed a long friendship that began when Esebag — chairman of United Licensing Group, which owns the rights to the Playboy Brand — asked Monk to be the face of a business venture.

“We’ve been friends for a long time. We’ve only been together in a relationship three months but this feels different,” the Gold Coast-raised Monk reveals in this week's WHO magazine. “He's a lot older than me, but I get along with older people. Jimmy is so worldly, he's French, and I want to be with someone I can learn from. I know people are going to make remarks about us, but it doesn't bother me."

The engagement marks Monk’s second — in December 2006 she accepted a marriage proposal from Good Charlotte guitarist Benji Madden, but the relationship broke up in early 2008, before she made it down the aisle.

“When I was with Benji, he had achieved what he’d wanted and I felt like I’d just got here (to Los Angeles) and was just getting started,” says the slim star, who has been based in Hollywood as a working actress for six years. “Men get very possessive with me. That’s why I was surprised when Benji started dating Paris Hilton. I was like, ‘Of all the people! You’re worried about me doing a kissing scene and you date someone who doesn’t wear underwear?”

Monk went on to date TV presenter Ryan Seacrest, Entourage star Kevin Connolly and Hollywood plastic surgeon John Diaz, who she caught cheating on her in July.

Yet this time around, “it just feels right,” says the former Bardot singer, who is planning a long engagement. “When you know, you know. I've never had someone balance me out in a relationship before. They've either been workaholics too, or I needed to make the money for them. With Jimmy, I just love everything about him.”

Esebag, who has been married before, “balances me,” says Monk, who describes her fiance as her best friend. “I’m relaxing and enjoying the moment. He’s given me a new perspective on life.”

Tomorrow in WHO.com: Sophie Monk's cosmetic surgery regrets — "I should have said no, but I trusted the doctor" - and for the full story on Sophie Monk, including why she got too thin, pick up a copy of this week's WHO magazine, on sale Friday, Jan. 28.

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