As She Likes It

02/28/2002 at 01:30 PM EST

Roberts, meanwhile, has sworn allegiance to a different tribe -- one stationed somewhere between the Smug Marrieds and the Thrilled to Be Single platoon led by her pal and Ocean's 11 costar George Clooney, 40. "Julia's not a manizer," says a colleague, pointing to her romantic record: broken engagements to Dylan McDermott and Kiefer Sutherland, followed by relationships with, among others, Jason Patric and Matthew Perry, a 21-month marriage to Lovett and, of course, Bratt. "She's a serial monogamist. When she's with her guy, she's with her guy." It's just that she wants to take happily-ever-after one day at a time. "I'm not a plotter or a planner," Roberts said when asked last year about marriage and motherhood. "I live for today."

So where does that leave Hollywood's bachelorette No. 1? Anywhere she wants to be: taking a walk, just her and her eight or so dogs, near her 51-acre ranch in Taos, N.Mex.; schussing down the slopes at nearby Angel Fire ski resort; or blissfully submitting to an impromptu leg massage on a couch at what one witness likened to a "pajama party" after a performance in Manhattan on Nov. 19 benefiting summer camps for seriously ill children. While Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep chatted at a postshow cocktail party, Roberts spent the evening on the couch with pals including her sister Lisa, 36, an actress in Manhattan, and her spokeswoman Marcy Engelman, 40. "They were all kind of splayed across each other," says a guest. "They were just talking and laughing, like a girls' night out."

That kind of female bonding is crucial to Roberts's peace of mind. Over the years, it seems, it has been the girls in her gang who have provided the stability that has eluded her in romance. While men have come and gone, Roberts's mother, Betty, 67, an acting teacher, Lisa, Engelman and Roberts's former agent turned business partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, 42, always stick by her. "Whenever there is an event or an occasion, they're there," says one source. "That's her core group. Them, and now Danny."

But don't expect her to wax rhapsodic for this guy as she did for Bratt. "I'm never going to talk about a man again for the rest of my life," Roberts told Esquire in December. In this case, she has a good reason: Moder is still married. A 1987 Santa Monica High School graduate, Moder filed for divorce from his wife of four years, makeup artist Vera Steimberg Moder, 29, last October -- six months after meeting Roberts while making The Mexican. Drawn to the man one of his pals describes as "vivacious and lively, smart, with a good sense of humor," she kept in touch with him back in the States. When Roberts and Bratt were quietly breaking up in May 2001, "Dan was helping her through it," says the friend. "Vera found his cell phone bills and found out he was calling Julia every day."

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