(USA TODAY) In a first-person piece for theNew York Times,Maria Belloexplains and explores her search for love.

The 46-year-oldTouchandGrown Ups 2actress reveals she's been in a long-term relationship with her best female friend in a column titled "Coming Out as a Modern Family," published Friday. What prompted it? Her son, Jackson, 12, was asking her about "romantic stuff."

She started thinking about her past relationships and re-read journals she had kept, noting she had fallen in love with two men while working on films with them, "only to find that when the filming ended, so did the relationship."

And she "read about the man who asked me to marry him four years ago over the phone, before we had even kissed. Three months later we were in his kitchen throwing steaks at each other's heads in anger."

(Bello previously was engaged to musician Bryn Mooser.)

When was she happiest? She recalled a woman she had met "sitting in a bar wearing a fedora and speaking in her Zimbabwean accent. We had an immediate connection but didn't think of it as romantic or sexual. She was one of the most beautiful, charming, brilliant and funny people I had ever met, but it didn't occur to me, until that soul-searching moment in my garden, that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically."

She identifies her as "Clare."The Hollywood Reportersays she's Clare Munn, chairman of the new media company The Communication Group.

Writes Bello, "What had I been waiting for all of these years? She is the person I like being with the most, the one with whom I am most myself."

So now, Bello, whose most recent film isPrisoners,says she has two partners in her life: Clare and Dan McDermott, a TV executive with whom she had Jackson in 2001. She says "Jack, Clare, Dan and I" have dinner together "almost every night. ... Mostly the four of us laugh a lot together." Jackson, who is a fan of ABC'sModern Family,says they have their own version. And, writes Bello, "I love our modern family."

Check out some ofour mostread stories from 2013:

#shortyellows:Florida quietly shortened yellow lights

Terrorism Warning:Memo says terrorists practicing dry-runs on Florida flights

Kittens shot:Officer shoots kittens in front of children

Courtroom apology:Woman apologizes for flipping off judge

Weird ice:Strange, giant circles appear on frozen pond

Controversial Club:College student organizes "White Student Union"

CFO Trouble:School administrative chief in trouble over her porn sex blog

Warning Shot Wife:Mother gets 20 years for firing warning shots at abusive husband

Science Arrest:Teen girl arrested over science project explosion

Wait, WHAT??Dog shoots man in the leg with a handgun

Popular photo galleries:

Faces of Meth:Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers

Travon Martin Shooting:Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos

Hooters Winners:Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant

Rejected:Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV***warning graphic***

Deadly sinkhole:Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole

Popular Databases:

Florida Sex Offenders:Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here

Restaurant Inspections:Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here