The Dark Knight Rises actress claimed that her tendency to put others' happiness before her own made her feel "desperate", a pattern which only broke after she split from ex-boyfriend Raffaello Follieri - currently serving prison time for money-laundering and wife fraud - in 2009.
Hathaway explained to Harper's Bazaar: "There's something very addictive about people-pleasing. It's a thought pattern and a habit that feels really, really good until it becomes desperate. It's one of the reasons that relationship ended. I wasn't able to grow or foster anything.
"I think a lot of girls have that story. It's a big moment when you step away from that and say, 'I'm going to be exactly who I am. And I'm going to be brave enough to only be with someone who wants me the way I am'."
Hathaway said that she has moved on from harmful patterns and is currently enjoying a better relationship with boyfriend Adam Shulman.
"So far, it's worked out great, which has its wonderful side, of course, but also it was exhausting, and sometimes it would freak me out. Mellow doesn't always make for a good story, but it makes for a good life," she said.
Hathaway has previously insisted that she learns from difficult situations and is then able to let them go.
She also admitted that she felt like a "lost, timid person" during the early days of her career.