updated 12/28/2010 AT 1:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/28/2010 AT 4:15 PM ET
Romance hasn’t come easy for Leighton Meester over the years – and that’s okay with her.
“I think that the importance of love is really strong for me in my life, whether it’s a guy or a friend or just my puppy,” the Gossip Girl actress, who also stars in Country Strong, tells February’s Seventeen, on newsstands Jan. 4. “I think love changes you over time, and whether you have good or bad experiences, you always grow and learn from it.”
Still, Meester, 24, admits to some trouble finding the right fit in a romantic relationship.
“I’ve never really liked anybody before. Even when I would date guys, it would sort of be on the surface and it was always a relief when we broke up,” she says.
Asked about her relationship with costar and ex-boyfriend Sebastian Stan, she says, “I’ve only had one experience where it was really hard and I was really sad when it ended, but that’s what taught me a lot about myself and love and life – and that’s good.”
Despite the heartbreak, Meester believes in love. “If I shut love down or didn’t let it in, I would just be this really cold, sad person,” she adds.