"I couldn't love, respect, admire and enjoy that individual more than I do," she says of her on-and-off boyfriend

By Tim Nudd
Updated September 15, 2010 08:10 AM

Drew Barrymore can’t hold back when talking about her on-again, off-again boyfriend of three years, Justin Long. The superlatives just come gushing out.

“He’s the cat’s pajamas,” the actress, 35, tells Harper’s Bazaar in its October issue, which goes on sale Sept. 28. “I couldn’t love, respect, admire and enjoy that individual more than I do. It would be physically impossible for me to have any more giggly joy at this person.”

And yet, as she’s reached her mid-30s, Barrymore says a relationship isn’t as crucial to her as it once was. In fact, she’s learned to appreciate time by herself once again.

“I’m really good on my own,” says the Going the Distance star. “I was good in my early teens, and then I got really bad at being alone for like 10 years. And then for the last decade I’ve developed such a love of my independence that I have to go, Okay, you’ve had dinner by yourself three nights in a row, now you have to see your friends.”

This newfound maturity has manifested itself in physical ways, too. “I feel like some of my baby fat is going away,” Barrymore says, “and that’s not just physically, it’s psychologically. I think that your body is in tune with your mind and your spirituality and your heart. If things are going better, I just think you look better.”

That’s a fortunate thing for someone who really doesn’t like to work out that much. “I can apply myself at my job 20 hours a day, seven days a week,” she says. “But I can’t apply myself to my body more than a couple hours a week. I have no passion for fanaticism. The psychology when you just forgive yourself and enjoy what nature gave you is so liberating.”

She does exercise for two or three hours a week, but warns: “There is some lighting where I absolutely resemble Shamu.”

For an actress who’s had some well-publicized troubles in the past, Barrymore sounds healthier and happier than ever – and could even see herself as a motivational speaker.

“I have pulled myself out of a million potholes,” she says, “and I can see the potholes ahead of me. That doesn’t mean that I could always do that so perfectly for my own life. I totally fall in potholes. Sometimes I fall so goddamn deep, I’ve got broken legs and I have to mend myself in the well and crawl back out.”