It's been seven months since Selena Gomez hit rock bottom.
She was in the middle of a world tour when she realized she couldn't continue living a lie and checked herself into a treatment center.
The breakdown came in the wake of the implosion of her six-year, on-and-off relationship with Justin Bieber. Ever since 2009, when Justin's manager called Selena's manager (her mom) and set the pair up on a date, the duo's paths had been entwined; they had shared a house, grown up together and jointly navigated their dramatically changing worlds as their fame and fortunes rose.
But after first calling it quits in 2012, there was reluctance, on both sides, to walk away from the person each felt knew the other best. And it led to the worst kind of breakup. You know the one, the kind that tortures and can leave you feeling like a husk of your former self. The end of any relationship can suck, but when magnified by tens of millions of social media followers, it can lead to a path of destruction.
Things finally came to a head this past summer as Justin publicly flaunted his brief romance with Sofia Richie, and then hit out at fans who were critical of it. But after Selena publicly defended the actions of his loyal fan base, things escalated. Soon Selena and Justin were accusing one another of bad behavior; Selena said Justin cheated on her while he retorted that she was using him for attention (and had cheated on him, too). Selena ended up apologizing via Snapchat, while Justin deleted his entire Instagram account.
Two weeks later, citing her Lupus diagnosis, Selena released a statement admitting she was suffering from panic attacks and depression; but there is no doubt, the disintegration of what had once been an all-consuming love affair compounded the pain.
Over the following months, the 24-year-old retreated from public life and quietly checked herself into an all-female treatment center in rural Tennessee. Then last November, holding her head up high, she re-emerged to stand on the stage at the 2016 American Music Awards so she could be completely honest with her fans. Despite being the most followed person on Instagram, there was no pretty filter she could use to hide her painful journey.
"I had to stop, I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside," she admitted.
But that wasn't the only realignment taking place in Selena's life because we now know she had also been working hard to detach herself from the ghost of Jelena.
The proof came in January when Selena was snapped leaving a romantic dinner date with Canadian singer The Weeknd. They had spent three hours dining at Giorgio Baldi, and were photographed as they waited for their ride home; Selena was glowing as she wrapped her arms around her new man.
At the time, a source told E! News that the hookup wasn't anything serious, which made sense because Hollywood is a minute ecosystem where a lot of overlap seems to take place. Plus, Selena had had previous flirtations (remember Zedd, or her time with Niall Horan?), but none of them had really stuck.
But how wrong we were. Ever since those first shots of them, Selena and The Weeknd have become inseparable. What might have begun as a fling has developed into something much bigger.
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"Selena couldn't be happier right now. She has fallen fast and hard for Abel," says a friend, who used The Weeknd's real name, Abel Tesfaye. "They can't get enough of each other. When they are apart, they miss each other like crazy and can't wait to reunite again. They FaceTime and text all day, every day."
On first glance, The Weeknd may seem like the wrong choice for a girl fresh out of treatment. Red flags include his 2015 altercation with a police officer in Vegas (he pleaded no contest to punching a cop) and frequent references to drugs in his lyrics. But according to our source, the Grammy winner's private persona is very different from the one we witness in his music.
"They inspire each other," says the friend. "He is very supportive of Selena's sobriety and has helped her stay focused and on track. They have other things they like to do together other than partying. They like to do simple things like go out to dinner or go on walks. Their relationship is not about being out in clubs and partying. They are homebodies and very low-key. They just enjoy being together. They can have fun and be goofy and have this crazy undeniable chemistry.
"She feels very taken care of when she is with him, and like he will have her back. He's a little bit older and more mature and she likes that about him.
"They can relate to each other on so many different levels; what they do for a living, music, being in the public eye," the source continues. "She just loves how he makes her feel on top of the world. He puts her on a pedestal and makes her feel like the most important and special girl in the world. That's done wonders for her self-esteem and value. She has a confidence when she is with him and it's been good for her."
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Since the beginning of the year, the two have spent a lot of time on the road traveling to Europe and South America, and Abel has even taken her on a trip to his hometown of Toronto. "They've even met each other's families," confirms a source.
They've also made it social media official, the ultimate celebrity declaration of love. While on a jaunt to Italy, Selena posted (but then deleted) a black and white video of the "Starboy" cruising on a riverboat and captioned it with a heart-eyed emoji. The Weeknd mirrored the ephemeral gesture by posting a pic to his Instagram Story of Selena looking at Botticelli's The Birth of Venus—and just this past weekend, he doubled down with a regular (i.e. it's still there) Instagram shot of Selena giving him a kiss.
An insider tells us, "Their relationship has accelerated quickly because they've traveled the world, seen different cultures and shared lots of life experiences in a short amount of time. She loves being on tour and being in the crowd every night, getting to watch and support her man from the sidelines. She loves his music and thinks he's so talented and sexy. She has so much pride when she watches him. It's a crazy-good feeling."
In 2015, during an interview with London's Sunday Times, Selena begged the public to get over its obsession with her and Justin. "It's difficult for people to separate us," she lamented. "The Internet wants to freeze this moment in time and constantly repeat it."
But now, it's Selena who has finally been able to cut the cord.
Although Justin may not be entirely happy with that, given his comment—made not long after his ex's new beau was revealed—that The Weeknd's music is "whack."
Selena has come a long way and is no longer trapped in the drudgery of an unhappy relationship. We've been told she's happier than she's been for a long time and is optimistic about what the future may hold. "She is in a good place and is doing her best to avoid stressful situations. Her head is clear and she is trying to surround herself with people who are good influences. She doesn't want drama or negativity in her life. She blocks out the noise and has more tools to be able to help her tune out the haters."
Whether the new romance will last, none of our sources can say for certain, but Selena now knows she is better equipped to handle whatever life, or love, might throw at her. She's on the rise—but she isn't afraid to fall again.
As she recently told Vogue, "We girls, we're taught to be almost too resilient, to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back, the girl who's down. We also need to feel allowed to fall apart."