The 49-year-old entertainer covers Harper's BAZAAR's February issue and reveals that her unsuccessful relationships prior to her current beau all stemmed from not knowing herself.
“For me, the relationship journey has been very up and down. But it didn’t have to do with anybody else but me—it was about me figuring out me," she says. "Until you learn to love yourself, you can’t completely love [someone else] in a way that is pure and true. Once you do that, you can have relationships that are based on love and respect, that are supportive and nourishing."
"There’s an evolution there that had to happen for me," she adds. "I feel like I’m in a better place now.”
Leah Remini, Lopez's Second Act co-star and real-life best friend, describes her pal as some who "wants to make sure everyone feels loved," something Lopez puts into practice with her 10-year-old twins, Max and Emme, and Rodriguez's girls, Natasha, 14, and Ella, 10.
“She’s ecstatically happy, and the family meld that’s happening, Max with his girls, the whole thing is amazing,” Remini gushes.
For Lopez, having her two kids -- whom she shares with ex-husband Marc Anthony -- changed her whole perspective and made her want to work harder.
“Once I had kids, I realized that I had to be better and do better. Not just for them but for myself," she says. "There’s something about being responsible for another human being that makes you go, ‘OK, what am I doing for myself? How can I take care of someone else if I can’t even take care of myself? How can I teach them how they should be treated if I allow people to treat me in a way that’s not nice? How can I teach them to be hard workers if I’m not working hard?’ I started examining myself from all different angles.”
That determination also dates back to Lopez's early career, where she "felt like people wanted to put me in a box."
"I felt very confined by that because I knew I was going to do different things. I was at least going to try!” Lopez says. “... I feel very proud that I’ve survived as long as I have in this business. At this point in my life, I’m trying to give myself more credit. It’s hard when people are always telling you that you’re not good at things or saying, ‘Why is she successful?’ You get a lot of that when you’re a successful woman. You don’t get that as much when you’re a man. The thing about people, women especially, is that you can have 12 people telling you you’re amazing, but that one person kind of putting you down, that’s the voice that sticks in your head.”
“I think sometimes people try to make you feel like you’re a fraud,” she continues. “And maybe you’re afraid you’re one too. Then finally you go, ‘Wait, I’m not lying. I’ve been doing this a long time. This is not a mistake. I worked hard to be here.’ And you know what? Congratulations to myself. Not in an arrogant way, by any means. It’s like, ‘You’re doing good, baby. Give yourself a break.’”
With a hit show, a new movie and a happy personal life, Lopez is putting negativity aside and focusing on all the good.
“I’ve got two amazing kids and a great boyfriend. I don’t have everything figured out, and everything isn’t perfect," she says. "But I feel very proud that with all the things I’ve gone through in my personal life, I’m still optimistic and hopeful.”
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