Few people fall as hard—or as fast—as Jennifer Lopez.
The Second Act star has been dating Alex Rodriguez since early 2017, and she couldn't be happier than she is right now. It took a while to get here, of course, as she admits in the February issue of Harper's Bazaar: "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."
"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," says the multi-talented superstar, who's been married three times. "I feel like I'm in a better place now."
Lopez, who's endured high-profile break-ups from Ben Affleck, Marc Anthony, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Casper Smart, has never given up on love—or herself. "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." At times, life in the limelight can be difficult. And although she has developed a thick skin over the years, she'd rather not see her name in the tabloids. "You're trying to do your best and people are putting you down, or trying to make believe you're not a nice person, or you're a diva," Lopez complains. "I'm always like, 'Who are you talking about?'"
Early in her career, Lopez realized she's considered a role model to millions. But more than anything, she feels a responsibly to show her two children what it means to be good people. "Once I had kids, I realized that I had to be better and do better. Not just for them but for myself. 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?'" she tells the magazine (available Jan. 22). "I started examining myself from all different angles."
Lopez is particularly proud of her longevity in show 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…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," the "Dinero" singer clarifies. "It's like, 'You're doing good, baby. Give yourself a break.'"
Admitting she's a "workaholic," Lopez says, "At the end of the day I just feel like I have a desire to create and sing and dance and act and make movies and write books and direct and produce and perform. I'm excited whenever I work on a new project." She gets tired "a lot," but she's never thought about throwing in the towel. "I just think I need a break. I really feel like I have a lot left that I want to do. I don't know if I'll ever get to a point where I'll be satisfied and go, 'I did it. All of it. I'm done. I got nothing else to say,'" she admits. "I hope that day never comes."