Jennifer Lopez Vanity Fair that she still "believe[s] in love," in her first interview since announcing that she and husband Marc Anthony were ending their seven-year marriage.

"Sometimes it doesn't work, and that's sad. But I remain an eternal optimist about love," Lopez said. "It's still my biggest dream. I am positive — determined — to move forward with my life, bring up my babies and do the best job I can as a mother, entertainer and person. I now look forward to new challenges. I feel strong."

Lopez appears on the cover of the magazine's September issue (on newsstands nationwide August 9), and she spoke openly not only about her marriage to Anthony, but her previous high-profile relationships with P. Diddy and Ben Affleck. Calling herself "a hopeless romantic ... [a] passionate person when it comes to love," she added that, until recently, she rarely loved herself, a revelation she says lead to her decision to split with Anthony.

"It's not that I didn't love myself before. Sometimes we don't realize that we are compromising ourselves," Lopez said. "To understand that a person is not good for you, or that that person is not treating you in the right way, or that he is not doing the right thing for himself — if I stay, then I am not doing the right thing for me. I love myself enough to walk away from that now."

But Lopez adds that she remains close to Anthony, whom she married in June 2004and with whom she has two children, telling the magazine, "I will always respect Marc as a singer and a performer. ... We actually work great together, and he was always very supportive. ... He will always be in our lives. He will always hold a special place in my heart as the father of my children."