Theron and Townsend at the 2008 Jameson Film Festival

The gorgeous South African Oscar winner Charlize Theron hasn’t been heard from much these past few years, but that’s about to change as she has a good few high-profile roles in the offing, the first one in Young Adult which debuts next month.

Why has she been away for so long?  Part of the reason was at attempt to salvage her nearly 10-year relationship with Irish actor Stuart Townsend, which went kaput last year.  

Townsend, a native Dubliner, lived with Theron in LA and was a constant presence by her side.
They often talked about marriage to the press – but said they wouldn’t tie the knot until the right was also extended to gays. Charlize even wore a commitment ring that Townsend had given to her that was supposed to symbolize their lifetime devotion to each other.

But, alas, like so many things in life, all was not what it seemed.  Theron tells the December issue of Vogue that she knew the relationship was crumbling and tried to save it, so she put her hot career on the back burner.

“It was sinking, and I had to give it a fight,” she told the magazine. “I really wanted to try and make it work. That was the priority. I wouldn’t do it any different way.”

Theron says that she’s had a boyfriend ever since she was a teen, so being on her own has been a strange but liberating experience.

“I’ve never been single,” she says. “This is the first time in my life. From the time I was 19 I’ve been in relationships, literally gone from one to the other within a month.

“It’s been good for me,” she continues. “I’m a creature who’s really found her comfort zone in relationships.”

The role in Young Adult came at just the right time, she says.

“I’d gotten out of a relationship, and I was in this really floaty place. My feet weren’t touching the ground. I just kind of turned to (director Jason Reitman) and was like, ‘I feel like me again.’”

No word on what Townsend has been doing since the split.  At the time he was said to be extremely upset at the parting of ways, not surprisingly.

“Stuart is gutted but Charlize said that she realized during (a holiday) that the relationship was over. They had become more like brother and sister than lovers. It was she who ended,” a friend of hers told the Daily Mail last year.