"When you love someone that much, even if something comes between you, it's a love that never really dies."
Three years have passed since Justin Bieber first proclaimed to Billboard that he and ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez remained intrinsically, perhaps permanently, linked, and yet his words still ring relevant. It doesn't matter that he's now a married man, pledging his fidelity to Hailey Baldwin—a woman who's also been woven into the fabric of his formative years—in a New York City courthouse last month.
Nor is it significant that Gomez told all of her pals that her most recent breakup with Bieber this March, just months before he took up with Baldwin again, was the last. The teenage sweethearts remain firmly connected in the minds of the fans who always assumed they'd find their way back to one another. And a little bit in their own hearts as well.
That's not to say the reason Gomez recently entered a treatment facility was because she was crushed to watch her ex move on so publicly and so definitively. Nor can the "Wolves" singer be pointed to as the source of Bieber's recent tears as he and Baldwin left their pastor's house last week. But we also can't say they weren't not a factor.
As with most mental health issues, it's hard to pin point one definitive reason why Gomez's issues with depression and anxiety flared up again, with one insider attributing the 26-year-old's decision to seek the dialectical behavior therapy that has been so effective in the past to a whole host of factors. But try as she might to stay strong, to remember all the reasons she'd put Bieber firmly in the rearview, it can hardly be easy to watch a former boyfriend find happiness with someone new. And she can't exactly close out the news by simply logging out of Facebook or requesting that pals keep her a little less in the loop.
Not that Bieber has declared himself the winner in the breakup by virtue of his ability to move on so speedily. Insiders swear he takes no pleasure in knowing his ex is struggling. As Gomez once declared to Ryan Seacrest, "I'm upset when he's upset. I'm happy when he's happy. I don't want anything bad to ever happen to him. It's hurts me."
And that sentiment swings both ways. "Justin and Selena are not in touch but him hearing the news about Selena definitely upsets him," an insider tells E! News of the 24-year-old "What Do You Mean?" singer. "Justin also feels guilty. He wants to help everyone. He truly wants Selena to be happy, and it's upsetting to know she's battling health issues."
Though as Gomez has made clear many times before, her depression and anxiety aren't so much an acute fight as they are an ongoing war she intends to wrestle with from here on out. "It's not something I feel I'll ever overcome," Gomez said in a Harper's Bazaar sit-down with 13 Reasons Why star Katherine Langford earlier this year. "There won't be a day when I'm like, 'Here I am in a pretty dress—I won!' I think it's a battle I'm gonna have to face for the rest of my life, and I'm okay with that because I know that I'm choosing myself over anything else. I'm starting my year off with that thought. I want to make sure I'm healthy. If that's good, everything else will fall into place."
And when she's not feeling so healthy, well, it's harder for those puzzle pieces to come together. Last week was one of those times. Having landed in the hospital twice for complications related to her lupus diagnosis and last year's kidney transplant ("Her white blood cell count hasn't been normal, which can be a side effect for transplant patients," explained one source), she found herself in the grips of a panic attack.
That one episode alone wasn't enough to throw her, says another insider, but combined with a cavalcade of other stressors she realized it was time to be proactive about her mental health. "She realized she needed to seek additional help for emotional issues," the source tells E! News. "She did not feel capable of figuring this out on her own and wanted help urgently. She immediately asked for help and her mom and close friends figured out the best plan for her to get help."
That involved a return to DBT, the cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy she first tried back in 2016 and credits with "completely" changing her life. "I wish more people would talk about therapy. 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," she noted to Vogue last year. "We also need to feel allowed to fall apart."
The insider insists "there was no one trigger" that sent Gomez in search of healing, but that hasn't stopped fans from consistently subscribing to one particular theory.
It just had to be Bieber.
"It's difficult for people to separate us," Gomez once told The Sunday Times of her first love. Indeed, it seems the star can't pen a love song that isn't inspired by Bieber, post a caption on Instagram that isn't some sort of subtle shade towards Bieber or enjoy a relationship without being "on the rebound" from Bieber. And she certainly can't, in the eyes of her fans at least, undergo some sort of health struggle without her devilish ex somehow being the impetus.
For all the atrocities that have been pinned on the cheeky teen turned scandal-prone pop star, Gomez's ongoing health issues aren't one of them. But the "Taki Taki" singer would have to be made of stone to remain completely unaffected by watching her ex dive into a whirlwind betrothal followed by quickie wedding mere months after he was professing his love to her. "Of course Justin's engagement and marriage came as a complete shock to Selena," the source tells E! News, "and has caused her to feel all sorts of different emotions. It's definitely had an affect on her well-being."
And now that effect is having an effect on Bieber, who never wants to see the former Disney star in pain no matter how many months they've put between them and their last breakup. "Justin feels bad that she isn't feeling well," an insider reveals to E! News. "They have both had emotional struggles and bonded over that in the past. He's conflicted and confused. It has definitely caused him some grief."
Grief not being the exact emotion you'd be hoping for from your brand new husband. So eager were Baldwin and Bieber to start their forever together, that they scrapped their original plan last month to simply acquire a marriage license in that New York courthouse en route to their eventual wedding with all the trimmings in his native Canada. "They weren't supposed to get married," notes the insider, but so caught up in their I-can't-live-without-you-love, they decided, hey, why not just do it? "He wanted to show her he was serious this time and wasn't going to split up with her," says the insider, "and that's why they got married so fast."
As for the model there was some portion of her heart that committed to him back when they first met some 10 years ago, so she was thrilled to cement their status. "Most people don't know that my daughter has known him for 10 years, long time, so obviously, for these kids, they haven't always had the chance to have people understand the dynamics of their friendship," the 21-year-old's dad, actor Stephen Baldwin told DailyMailTV earlier this month.
Having spent time with Bieber in Grand Rapids, Mich. ahead of their courthouse vows, the Church People star saw a guy far different than the boy who was once picked up for drag racing and accused of egging his neighbor's house. "He is a man now and I think he is going to start making decisions for himself," the elder Baldwin noted. "He's grown up a lot, quick, and I am very impressed with him already for how he's caring for my daughter."
Part of that newly discovered maturity includes being honest and forthright about exactly how he's feeling, even if that means sharing that he's sad about his ex-girlfriend, an admission that could be hard for any new bride to swallow.
"It has been overwhelming for him since they tied the knot and he's not good at handling his emotions," one friend tells E! News of Bieber. "He's been very emotional, but he always means well and is coming from a good place."
Proving that maybe she really has been his ideal match the whole time, the Adidas Originals style creator has met his concerns with compassion. "Hailey's been a great supporter for Justin and definitely has his back," says the friend. "Their personalities really work well together." To ease some of the stress, the legally wed pair (while sources swear it's officially official, the couple won't feel as if they're truly husband-and-wife until it's announced by a member of the cloth in front of all of their friends, family and God) are going slow when it comes to planning the larger celebration. "They are happy at where things are right now in their relationship," says the friend, "and are trying to live their lives as normal as possible."
Which means holidays in London and in a $13,000-a-night rented villa on Italy's Amalfi Coast and just a little relaxed husband-and-wife time in L.A., where they're reportedly renting out a 6,000-square-foot home.
Still at the prime of her career, Baldwin has decided to temporarily scale back on work obligations, or at least be a bit more stingy when it comes to accepting opportunities that will take her too far from her man. "I've tried to be really choosy with fashion week going forward, just because I want to have the time to spend being relaxed and being with family—and my fiancé," the face of Tommy Hilfiger recently explained to WWD.
Because, frankly, she'd rather not miss a moment of the Bieber show, feeling constantly amazed to witness where his talents and imagination take him. "He is incredible. He crushes everything. Every song, every feature," she gushed in the November edition of Harper's Bazaar. "It's crazy to see what he does. I'm always blown away."
So, yeah, Bieber may forever hold onto some form of love for Gomez, the first woman he ever fell for back when he was just a 16-year-old Canadian with a successful YouTube following and Usher's seal of approval. But Baldwin is confident that she represents his future. "Hailey has made Justin more spiritual and they are happy to be on the same religious path together," says the friend. "Many people around him believe that Hailey coming back into Justin's life has made him a better person."
And in that case, if Bieber is happy, truly happy, in this new relationship, well, then Gomez is going to be happy too. After all, as she's said herself, she only wants good things for him.