Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli credits her six month split from on/off boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio last year with saving their romance. She says their time apart forced her to "grow up" and learn about herself.
Refaeli has been romantically involved with DiCaprio since 2005 but they parted briefly last summer before reuniting again by the end of the year.
The model admits she was devastated by the relationship breakdown and went through a "tough time" dealing with her emotions, but says the time apart proved to be key to their chemistry when they eventually got back together.
"It was half a year for which I am very grateful. I needed it. I came to understand a lot of things about myself," the 24-year-old tells Israel's L'Isha magazine.
"I worked on myself (and) I grew up. I didn't know what alone was like. Today I know that a relationship can work only if you know you can be alone and you are not afraid. Today I'm not afraid of being alone."
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While their romance is still going strong, the couple recently dismissed engagement rumors.
"I'm not thinking about getting married," Refaeli said. "I'm still young, not yet 25."
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But she's still supportive of everything the "Titanic" hunk does -- even though she rarely walks the red carpet at high profile events with him: "I am there for him and I am at all the events. I just don't walk in hand-in-hand with him. I don't see any reason. I don't need to strike poses with him in front of the cameras."
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