Jennifer Lopez: Casper Smart Helped Me Heal After Divorce

Jennifer Lopez

updated 01/15/2013 AT 1:00 PM ET

originally published 01/16/2013 AT 8:00 AM ET

When Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony split in 2011 after seven years of marriage and two children together, the singer says it felt like “her whole world fell apart.”

But Lopez, 43, credits her boyfriend, choreographer and dancer Casper Smart, 25, with helping her heal after divorce.

“I just got out of a big, heavy, devastating thing, and he’s helped me heal,” she says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. “He’s been there for me.”

But the singer is well aware that the 18-year age difference between the two draws speculation.

“I ask him, ‘Why don’t you go find a young girlfriend and get out of here? What do you want with me?’ And you think, ‘How long is this gonna be?’ You think, ‘Okay, in 10 years I’m going to be like this and you’re going to be like that’ and men at that age are I think all different things. The truth is we don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re loving this moment right now. We make each other happy.”

Even after several larger-than-life romances that played out in the public eye, Lopez regrets nothing.

“I don’t regret those things – that’s who I am,” she says. “But at least now I’m at a point where I have to recognize that these choices and things that happen are partly because of me and my decisions and I have to be more careful. So I am being more careful.”

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For more from PEOPLE’s exclusive photo shoot and sit-down with Lopez, pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday


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