Let's Not Make Justin and Selena the Millennial Brad and Jen, OK?

If we’ve learned anything from the OG celebrity supercouple, it’s that sometimes things just don't work out—no matter how much we want them to

Young Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez with faded old photo of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt in background

With Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin *finally* walking down the aisle in South Carolina on September 30, it’s time to lay the Jelena narrative to rest—but ardent fans of Bieber’s past relationship with Selena Gomez are refusing to move on, or accept the idea that Gomez probably has.

Since news of Bieber’s engagement, and his courthouse wedding to his model wife in September 2018, fans of the former couple have been pushing hard on social and IRL for the #Jelena to live on.

It got so bad that in March 2019, the Biebs had to address the obsession around his relationship with Gomez, telling fans in an Instagram comment that though he’ll always love his former flame, the new Mrs. Bieber is his wife and “absolutely the BEST THING to ever happen to [him] period.”

Most recently, in the weeks leading up to the Bieber’s Notebook-inspired nuptials, media and social media alike went into overdrive in an attempt to paint Gomez as a sad, heartsick woman who pretty much can’t exist without her former flame. Hours after photos of Bieber and Baldwin’s wedding were released, Gomez posted a selfie on Instagram with the caption “Me, all the time.” And everyone went off, linking the photo—in which Gomez looks just straight up sleepy—to the nuptials and saying that the singer looks “sad.” Which is *super* tired, but also, nothing new.

We’ve seen it all before with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, who still can’t seem to escape their relationship despite divorcing over a decade ago. But if we’ve learned anything from Brad and Jen, it’s that sometimes things just don’t work out—no matter how famous and good-looking you are, and no matter how many perfect strangers yearn for your reconciliation.

So why can’t we just let Jelena go?

Our obsession with true love

We project our own hopes onto celebrities, and we’ve been raised on the idea of finding our one true love. Enter Gomez and Bieber, who first met as teens in 2009, and first confirmed they were dating in 2011. For at least seven years, they’ve been off and on—most recently in fall 2017—so it’s no surprise that when Bieber and Baldwin got serious, tabloids were quick to cite “sources” that claimed Gomez thought Bieber’s engagement was a move to make her jealous. Some reports also included speculation over photos of Bieber crying after church, jumping to the conclusion that he was in tears over Gomez’s recent alleged hospitalization for mental health issues. (Really though, boy could be crying over just about anything).

It’s all too similar to what went down with Pitt and Aniston. After the couple broke up in 2005, Pitt became half of another iconic Hollywood couple, Aniston went on to marry Justin Theroux and the Brad/Jen ’ship was supposed to die. Despite all this, tabloids continue to peddle rumours of a Brad-Jen reunion. Needless to say, the reconciliation rumours reached fever pitch after both divorced again—Pitt in 2016 (RIP Brangelina), Aniston in 2018. Most recently, In Touch claimed the couple was expecting a “miracle baby.” (Apparently, George and Amal Clooney were the first to know!!)

Celeb romances aren’t actually rom-coms

If the Jelena love story was a teen romance movie, we’d expect the beautiful John Hughes-type of ending where after all the ups and downs, Bieber eventually swoops in to confess he’s always loved Gomez. (Hailey who?) Then, the credits would roll and we wouldn’t get to see what happens next—and as a result, they would always remain young and in love in our minds. In reality, Bieber and Gomez’s relationship had become so rocky that some fans turned it into a Dua Lipa “New Rules” meme (“don’t pick up the phone/ you know he’s only calling ‘cause he’s drunk and alone…”). Not exactly the stuff of fairytales.

Back in 2013, Aniston spoke about moving on from Pitt and finding love again, saying she would have advised her thirty-something self to “Go to therapy… Clean up all of the toxins and the noise. Understand who you are.”

Gomez deserves space to do the same. And instead of obsessing over what will likely never be for Jelena (*or* Brad and Jen) let’s start looking for healthier narratives—like Aniston offering Gomez support after her hospitalization. Women supporting other women! Now that’s true romance.


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