Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber’s rocky relationship can be chronicled by Instagram posts, Instagram comments, and now “Lose You to Love Me,” Selena’s first single in two years. The lyrics point to their doomed reconciliation in late 2017 and Selena’s struggle to come out unscathed. Sixth months after their breakup, he would be engaged and married to Hailey Baldwin. “This song was inspired by many things that have happened in my life since releasing my last album,” Gomez said in a press release. “I thought it was important to share the music, as I know many can relate to the fact that the road to self-discovery generally comes through the scars in one’s life. I want people to feel hope and to know you will come out the other side stronger and a better version of yourself.” The new single walks us through Selena’s perspective on the breakup, so here’s everything you need to know about the end of Jelena.
It was rough from the start.
“You promised the world / And I fell for it / I put you first and you adored it / Set fires to my forest / And you let it burn / Sang off-key in my chorus / ’Cause it wasn’t yours. / I saw the signs and I ignored it / Rose-colored glasses all distorted”
When Jelena reunited in late 2017, the stans were thrilled (a truce between Selenators and Beliebers is big), but Selena paints a different picture. She describes the relationship as one-sided, with her putting him first and him letting her fall by the wayside. Blinded by her love, she “ignored” signs, like the ones her mom and her best friend, Taylor Swift, were holding up. In 2013, sources told Us Weekly that Taylor “hates” him. More recently, Taylor liked a Tumblr post that said Justin cheated on Selena, although it’s unclear when or with whom.
She confirms that Justin could be cruel.
“Set fire to my purpose / And I let it burn / You got off on the hurting when it wasn’t yours”
Earlier this summer, Justin penned a very long note on Instagram, revealing that he mistreated people in his past. “I became resentful, disrespectful to women, and angry,” he wrote. “I became distant to everyone who loved me, and I was hiding behind a shell of a person that I had become. I felt like I could never turn it around.” In “Lose You to Love Me,” Selena opens up about being on the receiving end of that hate.
Also, the use of the word “purpose” could be a reference to Justin Bieber’s album of the same name. The couple had been on and off up until 2014, so she’s possibly referencing that time period in their relationship, when he was more focused on himself and making the album. (The lyrics, “Sang off key in my chorus / ’Cause it wasn’t yours” from earlier also point to this.) Or, she’s using it more generally, to signal to fans just whom she’s talking about. We love a queen who does the work for us.
Justin broke up with Selena …
“I gave my all and they all know it / You turned me down and now it’s showing / In two months, you replaced us / Like it was easy”
… Or at the very least was the one who made the relationship untenable. The second verse frames their breakup as if Justin was the one who didn’t want to continue. She sings, “You turned me down and now it’s showing,” suggesting that he ended things. A month after the world found out about their break (turned breakup), Justin was already hanging out with his ex, Hailey Baldwin. The “they” could be her fans, who frequently sent Justin Bieber hate, especially after he got married. He wrote a message to those fans on Instagram, saying “I absolutely loved and love Selena she will always hold a place in my heart, but I am head over heels in love with my wife and she is absolutely the BEST THING that has ever happened to me period.” So, maybe it was easy for him.
Selena herself addressed Selenators attacking Hailey Baldwin in a recent Instagram Live. After “Lose You to Love Me” came out, her fans began posting hate about Hailey Baldwin, who had posted a screenshot of the song “I’ll Kill You” by Summer Walker and Jhené Aiko on her Instagram Story. Since stans take everything very seriously, they considered it an insult to Selena and went on full attack mode. But just before the release of her new song “Look at Her Now,” Selena asked fans to chill with all that. “I am grateful for the response that the song is getting,” she said. “I’m so grateful. However, I do not stand for women tearing women down. I will never ever be by that. So please be kind to everyone. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, if you’re my fans don’t be rude to anybody, please.” So, effectively confirming that the lyrics are about Justin and Hailey. Who else would her fans be sending hate to as a result of the song? Her response also confirms something else about “Lose You to Love Me.” She’s so over this relationship.
The breakup didn’t help Selena’s mental-health battle.
“Made me think I deserved it / In the thick of healing, yeah”
In October of last year, Selena Gomez was admitted to a mental-health care facility after experiencing multiple emergencies related to her ongoing health issues. So, literally while “in the thick of healing,” both emotionally and physically, the whole world was captivated by Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s engagement (a month later, they would be quietly married). That’s so much to deal with that it feels like “Lose You to Love Me” hardly captures the scope of the pain. What’s the rest of the album going to be like?
Selena found self-love by being alone.
“I needed to lose you to find me / This dancing was killing me softly / I needed to hate you to love me, yeah”
“To love, yeah, I needed to lose you to love me, yeah”
The prechorus and chorus echo the song’s message: Losing him was the best thing she ever did. After recognizing the toll the relationship was taking on her, she realized she had to move on to really love herself. The “dancing” could be a metaphor for their on-and-off again relationship or for the dynamic within their relationship.
She’s done with all of this.
“And now the chapter is closed / To love, love, yeah / To love, love, yeah / To love, yeah / And now it’s goodbye, goodbye for us”
We can decode these final lyrics by looking to a whole other song: “Death by a Thousand Cuts” by Taylor Swift. Taylor mentions in her Tiny Desk Concert that the song was partially inspired by a friend’s crazy breakup: “those kinds of breakups where you need to talk your friend all the time because they need to talk about it all day, everyday.” Although it’s not necessarily about Selena and Justin, lyrics like “But if the story’s over, why am I still writing pages?” and “Gave you so much, but it wasn’t enough,” echo lyrics in “Lose You to Love Me.” Either way, with “Lose You to Love Me,” Selena has closed the Book of Jelena, officially. Sis is ready to move on and it’s about time we let her. See you when the album drops!
*This post includes breaking news and has been updated throughout.