There's an upside to Olivia Wilde's divorce from hubby Tao Ruspoli after eight years of marriage.

"It makes you a more empathetic person, and I think it's made me a better actress," the Cowboys and Aliens actress, 27, tells the new issue of Marie Claire.

"Weakness is something we don't like to admit we have. We hold it against people, until we experience it, and then we feel more compassion for it."

The stunning star (who has been linked to a bevy of Hollywood hunks including Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling since that split) says that she's gotten kudos from David Shore, the creator of her FOX hit House. "[David] said 'You should get divorced every year; your acting's never been better!'"

"The trauma of the whole thing has been humbling, and for the first time, I'm a little bit wobbly," she admits of the break from Ruspoli, an Italian prince whom she married at age 18 in an abandoned school bus.

"I'm a case of arrested development, in a way -- from spending your 20s with someone who really loves to take care of you, as my husband did," she muses. "But I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person."

She adds that she and Ruspoli, 35, are on excellent terms. "We're friends; his family is my family. You always have a choice to feel angry and not be friends. But I can't handle the idea of walking into a room and seeing someone I have bad blood with. I can't keep any negative relationship with anyone."

She and Ruspoli knew their elopement was a risk in the first place, she says. "Our deal from the beginning was, 'We're crazy to do this, but we're doing it because we're in love and it makes us happy. The only reason to divorce is if one of us isn't happy. Life is too short.' After really trying to make the relationship evolve in the way our lives had, I realized it wasn't a natural evolution."

And despite all the hookup talk, Wilde says dating again is scary. "I'm trying to be adult, entering the shark pool of dating, but I'm hopeless at it!"