"I went through a tremendous low," Lopez, 44, tells PEOPLE of ending her marriage of almost eight years in 2012. "But I wouldn't change anything [about my past] because it made me who I am."
Lopez says her breakup allowed her to "take a look at what was going on" and reevaluate her view of relationships.
"As women we can sometimes give ourselves away," says the star, who will perform two songs and become the first female recipient of the Icon Award at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, airing May 18 on ABC.
"I was certainly guilty of that for some time. Now I realize I am good on my own, so now I can share my life with somebody."
For the past two years, Lopez has been sharing her life with boyfriend Casper Smart, but she credits her 6-year-old twins Emme and Max for teaching her the most about love.
"I just feel like I went through a real growth spurt as a human being [when I became a mother], says Lopez, who will release her tenth studio album A.K.A. on June 17, featuring the song "First Love." "Having my babies allowed me to realize what real unconditional love was."
For more on Jennifer Lopez's thoughts on love, kids and looking great in her forties, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE Magazine, on newsstands now