Charlize Theron on Being Single: "I Feel Like Me Again"

The actress dishes on being romantically unattached for the first time in 17 years, and reveals what she's learned about life from Kristen Stewart

Charlize Theron has been a model, a ballet dancer and an Oscar-winning actress over the course of her career. But there's one thing she's never been, until now: single. And, in December's Vogue, the South African actress explains that her breakup with longtime boyfriend Stuart Townsend has given her a new appreciation for being alone.

"I've never been single. This is the first time in my life," says Theron, 36. "From the time I was 19, I've been in relationships, literally gone from one to the other within a month."

Theron dated Irish actor Townsend for nine years before their January 2010 breakup. Immediately afterward, she started work on her new film Young Adult, directed by Juno's Jason Reitman.

"I'd gotten out of a relationship, and I was in this really floaty place," recalls Theron. "My feet weren’t touching the ground. I just kind of turned to (Reitman) and was like, 'I feel like me again.'"

For the past three years, says Theron, she prioritized her relationship above her career.

"It was sinking, and I had to give it a fight," she admits. "I really wanted to try and make it work. That was the priority. I wouldn’t do it any different way."

As soon as Theron got back to work, however, she realized that she "really, really missed" acting. And aside from movies, she's been putting her energy into figuring out who she is outside of a relationship.

"It's been nice to rediscover myself," says Theron. "I had to make a real conscious effort to do it -- it's hard. It's much easier to lose yourself in flowers and cigarettes and coffee with somebody else."

While admitting that she someday wants kids, the actress says she's in no rush to start a family ("I don't have a panic about it"). Right now, there's still a lot she wants to learn about acting, and she's learning it from some unexpected people -- like her 21-year-old Snow White and the Huntsman costar Kristen Stewart.

"She's a child... and Kristen is just living this to the max and still has a sense of humor about it," marvels Theron. "There's this really lovely quality about her that just doesn't give a f***. A lot of people say they don't, but then they go home and cry and pop a Xanax. Kristen actually doesn't give a f***. That's what's so refreshing about her."

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