After splitting from Marc Anthony, her husband of seven years and the father of her twins, and marking the end of her third marriage, you might think that Jennifer Lopez had given up on finding the man of her dreams. But just a few months after announcing her breakup, the former "American Idol" judge had found a new relationship with choreographer Casper Smart, now 25. Though the May-December romance — he's 18 years her junior — raised a few eyebrows (and, let's face it, had "boy toy" written all over it), the couple is still going strong after nearly a year. Why? Because, when it comes to Lopez's tastes, nice guys finish first. "The most important quality the man in my life should have is that he is sweet. I like the good guys," Lopez says in the September issue of InStyle.
And while it was difficult to stay optimistic about romance, Lopez — who recently turned 43 and celebrated the big day at swanky yacht party thrown by her beau — did: "The hard part is that you never stop believing in love. You never stop. But that's also the best part. You never stop believing, and you never, ever give up."
"Jenny from the block" may have grown up in a working-class family in the Bronx, but the future superstar ended up with a pretty charmed life when it came to showbiz early on, becoming one of the "Fly Girl" dancers on Fox's variety show "In Living Color" at age 22 and landing the starring role in the biopic "Selena" five years later.
Her career has stayed steady and strong over the past few decades with more movie roles, hit albums, and even a successful fashion line. But it's been Lopez's love life that's thrown her most of her curve balls. Her first marriage to Cuban actor Ojani Noa only lasted a year, a second to dancer Cris Judd fizzled after two, and she dealt with the very public breakup of "Bennifer" (the name the media dubbed her and one-time boyfriend Ben Affleck). Then there was, of course, her recent split from Anthony, which meant her two children, 4-year-old twins Emme and Max, would be raised by single parents. "I live by the mantra that God doesn't give you anything you can't handle. It's not until something bad or difficult happens that you really get to grow. And then you realize that those difficult moments, the times when you feel pain, are when you do a lot of your growing," Lopez explains. "You realize: There's no reason to be terrified of things. Either way I'm going to be OK."
Despite the fact she lives a very different life than most of us, filled with private planes, performances in front of thousands, and paparazzi on her tail, Lopez does point out a similarity between herself and the average American. "I'm the same as any parent. I feel the pressures of wanting to be a great parent and of wanting to do right by my children. I feel the pressure of knowing you can't be perfect even though you want to be," she admits. "One thing I've learned: Being a mom, or a dad, is the most important job there is. It doesn't matter who you are. You have to embrace it for everything that it is."
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