Charlize Theron and Sean Penn were initially worried about “screwing up” their friendship.
The 38-year-old actress was first romantically linked to the 53-year-old star earlier this year, and although they have been seen at events together, neither likes to discuss their private life in public.
Although Charlize still wants to hold some things back, she’s admitted she is the happiest she’s ever been at the moment.
“What I guess I am trying to say is: a friend kind of stepped into that role, and I really didn’t see it coming. Sean and I have known each other for 18 years. We were just really good friends. And it’s been slow going because you are aware that you could screw that up and lose it. We had to think about it,” she told Vogue magazine. “But at the end of the day, it was somewhat effortless. It just kind of naturally happened, and before I knew it, I was in something that was making my life better – the people who really love me can see the effect it has had on me.
“The last time I was dating, I was 24. I was like, ‘Awww, you’re miserable and moody, but I’m just going to forgive that because you’re so cute! Oh, you treat me so badly, but maybe that will change in five years when I have your children!’ That just doesn’t exist anymore.”
The actress insists she and Sean aren’t trying to hide their romance, although she doesn’t appreciate constantly being probed about her love life during interviews. Before Sean she was single for a long time, following the end of her nine-year relationship with Stuart Townsend, and also become a mother to her now two-year-old son Jackson, who she adopted. She had always planned to become a mother this way, revealing that when she was eight she asked her mother to take her to an orphanage so they could get her a brother or sister for Christmas.
“I was enjoying mommyhood. You just naturally become kind of selfish about your time, and all of it is dedicated to this little thing, whether he needs it or not,” she explained. “And then they get into more of a schedule and you start to think, ‘Wow, wait a second.’ There’s this passionate creature in me. And going about dating in your late 30s is such a different ball game. I know so well what I want to fit in my life. And the simple answer to that is: unless he can make my life better? My life is really pretty f**king good.”
Charlize is constantly asked about whether she will ever marry, but it’s not something that’s important to her. She isn’t against the institution, rather she never dreamt of donning a white gown and exchanging vows in front of people.
“It’s supposed to be this night of celebrating love, and all you see is a couple separated all night making sure everybody else is OK. It just looks like a lot of work. And as you get older, you start sifting through the stuff that really matters,” she said.
“A lot of people want to make it about my past, my mom and dad not being in a great marriage, but I will tell you honestly: I have had a good amount of healthy therapy about it, and it really isn’t about that. Because I think that would kind of showcase itself more in a fear of long-term relationships, which I don’t have at all. I want the long-term relationship. And I don’t really know how to invest in the other thing.”
Charlize’s father was abusive towards her mother and when she was 15 her mom shot him dead in self-defense. She understands many believe this will be the root of all her issues, although she actually only started counseling when she was in her early 30s.
“[I was] kind of at rock bottom. I called a friend and said, ‘Will you give me the number of your therapist?’ And I started seeing an incredible woman who is always just a phone call away,” she said.
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