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After romances with Nick Jonas and underwear model Justin Gaston, Miley Cyrus says both relationships were nothing compared to her bond with Aussie hunk Liam Hemsworth.

“He’s my first serious boyfriend,” Miley tells Parade magazine [via Access Hollywood]. Adding: “[Liam has] become my best friend in the whole wide world. I love him.

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“He really respects me for who I am because coming from Australia, he really didn’t know me as the celebrity I am here. I got to tell him about myself on my own terms and my own way. He had no preconceived notion of who I was supposed to be.”

And she realizes that her fling with fellow Disney star Nick, was mere puppy love. “Nick and I were so young,” says the 17-year-old. “We really did have a genuine love, but it wasn’t like this. We met when I was 12. I didn’t know who I was. I know who I am now and am so content and full of purpose.”

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What about Justin? “He was a good person, so carefree. All I know is that I am so happy right now. I wasn’t last summer after I called it off with Justin and went away to film The Last Song.

“I cried all the way there. The last thing I was expecting to do was to fall in love,” she said. “I went there thinking the summer was about me and getting focused on my career. But I guess God was like, ‘Girl, here is this amazing guy.’ ”

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Miley says she is growing up and leaving her past behind — including Hannah Montana, the show that made her a mega-star.

“I’m going to rejoice and be happy to finally not have to be…well, to not be somebody I’m not exactly,” Miley says. “As I’ve grown into it, I’ve grown out of it. Does that make sense? When I was 12, I thought, ‘I want to be famous all the time! I want everybody to recognize me!’”

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Nowadays, the teen, who canceled her Twitter account last year with the Liam’s encouragement, wants to be a little less public.

“Now I just want to be chill and have my private life,” she said. “When they’re putting me in sparkles and in pink this final season, I have to grit my teeth. I can’t breathe looking like that anymore. A friend came by the set one day and said, ‘You don’t look very happy.’ I said, ‘I’m feeling claustrophobic in all these frills.’ ”

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Miley also addressed the controversy about her pole dance on top of an ice-cream cart during the Teen Choice Awards last year.

“My job first is to entertain and do what I love, and if you don’t like it, then change the channel. I’m not forcing you to watch me. I’m not forcing you to talk about me. I would do that pole dance a thousand times again, because it was right for the song and that performance,” she said.

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“But, dude, if you think dancing on top of an ice-cream cart with a pole is bad, then go check what 90 percent of the high schoolers are really up to. It’s funny. I don’t know if a lot of parents remember what they were like as kids. But I’m like, ‘Dude, as if you were an angel!’ ”

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