Jennifer Lopez might currently be in a happy relationship with Alex Rodriguez, but her love life hasn't always been quite this smooth sailing

By Brianne Tracy
January 09, 2019 08:00 AM

Jennifer Lopez and boyfriend Alex Rodriguez might consistently prove time and again that they’re the definition of couple goals, but Lopez’s love life hasn’t always been quite this smooth sailing.

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar for their February cover — which PEOPLE can exclusively reveal — the Second Act star reflects on reaching a point now where she’s in a happy and successful relationship.

“For me, the relationship journey has been very up and down,” Lopez, 49, said. She has been married three times, most recently with Marc Anthony, with whom she shares 10-year-old twins, Emme and Max.

“But it didn’t have to do with anybody else but me — it was about me figuring out me,” she continued. “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. I feel like I’m in a better place now.”

Camilla Akrans

Lopez — who also went through high-profile break-ups from Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ben Affleck and Casper Smart from the late 1990s to early 2000s — met former MLB star Rodriguez, 43, in 2017. While the pair’s blended family holidays and extravagant vacations have been well-documented, Lopez said living life in the public eye isn’t always easy.

[ent-hotlink id="18445" href="https://people.com/tag/jennifer-lopez/" title="Jennifer Lopez"]'s Harper's Bazaar cover
Camilla Akrans

“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,” she explained. “I’m always like, ‘Who are you talking about?'”

RELATED: Jennifer Lopez on What She’s Learned About Relationships: ‘I Was Done Blaming Other People’

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez
Kevin Mazur/Getty

From early on in her career, Lopez said she felt “confined” as people wanted to put her “in a box.” As someone who has taken on the roles of singer, actress, dancer and designer throughout the years, Lopez said she’s proud of her long-standing and versatile career in Hollywood.

“I feel very proud that I’ve survived as long as I have in this business,” Lopez said. “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. It’s like, ‘You’re doing good, baby. Give yourself a break.’”

Jennifer Lopez for Harper's Bazaar
Camilla Akrans

Lopez said that while she does gets tired a lot, she never thinks, “I don’t want to do this.”

“I really feel like I have a lot left that I want to do,” she said. “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.’ I hope that day never comes.”

In December, Lopez released the music video for “Limitless,” a song featured in her film Second Act, in which she can be seen sharing the spotlight with her daughter, Emme, who she said shares her natural talent.

RELATED VIDEO: Jennifer Lopez Says Ex-Husband Marc Anthony ‘Helped Me with My Confidence’ During 7-Year Marriage

“I don’t know if she’ll follow in my footsteps, but she definitely has the genes,” Lopez said. “She’s a natural. Some people, you put them out there and you can just tell. She’s a little me.”