It's been a tough week for young celebrity love. ICYMI, Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande just called off their engagement, although I can't say I was surprised. But this I found surprising: the news of Justin Bieber grieving, reportedly over his ex Selena Gomez's recent hospitalization, while in the photos snapped by paps, his fiancée (or wife?) Hailey Baldwin looked on.
It may not have come as a surprise to hardcore Jelena fans who've been biding their time until the next plot twist in this on-again, off-again love saga, but maybe I had just been naively hopeful that both Justin and Selena were finally moving on after that whole maddening web they weaved around each other. He did call Hailey the "love of his life" in that gushy engagement-confirming Instagram post, and I figured those aren't words you say lightly.
You're likely more amused than affected by these young Hollywood relationship mishaps, and I don't blame you—with their chart-topping singles and millions in the bank, they're hardly real people you can come up to and pat on the back while cooing, "It's going to be okay!" But I, a 34-year-old woman, actually feel for these celebs, and I say that without shame, as someone who's seen the same thing happen in her own life.
In my life, I've been both Selena and Hailey, and I've even been Justin at one point (and for that, I am eternally sorry). Let me tell you: None of these positions are great.
I don't claim to know all the details of this celebrity love triangle, but taking it at face value and considering the accounts of the multiple unnamed sources who have so generously spilled the tea, theirs is a common story, one that you've likely heard among your friends or been through yourself: Girl and boy meet, girl and boy date, girl and boy break up, girl or boy still has feelings for the other, girl or boy dates someone else anyway, girl or boy hopes they're doing the right thing by moving on with someone else, but all girl and boy are really doing is making the mess bigger, and this time, dragging someone else into it. Replace "girl" with Selena, "boy" with Justin, and "someone else" with Hailey, and here we are.
In my life, I've been both Selena and Hailey, and I've even been Justin at one point (and for that, I am eternally sorry). Let me tell you: None of these positions are great. As a Selena, you can't completely walk away because you're constantly called back; as a Hailey, you never quite feel fully safe in the spot you find yourself in; as a Justin, you're in this perpetual state of push and pull in either direction.
Being the Selena was tough, but in the times I was her, I often found myself wondering about—and after the initial rage, eventually feeling sorry for—the Hailey in my Justin's life. I would go on to feel this way about the Hailey—whether male or female—with every version of this tired love triangle I heard from my friends. I would wonder, did this Hailey know that her new boyfriend was still texting his ex? Could this Hailey sense in his new girlfriend that she wasn't completely present with him? Did these Haileys ever feel truly secure in the relationship? No matter where my loyalties lay, I felt for the Haileys, simply because no one deserves that from someone they're in a relationship with. And besides, I had been the Hailey myself, and to this day I remember that nagging feeling I used to live with those days—that feeling that I deserved more.
Dumping your unresolved ex drama on your next partner is no way to make her feel like she's the "love of your life."
But back to the real Justin, Selena, and Hailey. Stop thinking of Hailey as the headline-fodder model for a moment, and think of her as the everywoman Hailey in that tired love triangle—that girl who just wanted to believe that everything was peachy until she was faced with the uncertainty of her place in her man's life. Even if it turns out the real Hailey has been certain of her place all along—neither she nor Justin have officially said anything in response to all this and they're still being snapped kissing up a storm, so we could all be wrong, in which case, forget everything I said and good for them, yay!—dumping your unresolved ex drama on your next partner is no way to make her feel like she's the "love of your life."
For the sake of all the Haileys in the world, we all need to get our past-relationship shit together before jumping in a new one. In fact, to get a healthy relationship, we need to get our shit together, period—whether the shit we're drowning in is past-relationship shit or family-drama shit or career-standstill shit. We need to stop seeing potential partners as the solution to our life's woes, swooping in just in time to save us from ourselves. There is dignity, there is fulfillment, there is happiness in conquering our issues on our own, in ironing out our kinks entirely for our own sake—not spurred by the presence of someone we see as heaven-sent to set us on the right path.
TBH, I wasn't thrilled when the Jailey engagement news first came out, what with some residual Jelena blood still running through my veins at the time. But now, speaking not as a fan but as someone who just wants the best for everyone, here I am, pledging allegiance to Team Hailey…and Team Selena, and okay, fine, Team Justin, too. I want them all to just find that damn happiness that keeps slipping from their grasp—even more so now that the state of their mental health is clearly on the line—whether that happiness means staying in a relationship or striking out on their own, partner-free.
In our love-obsessed world, staying single until you get your shit together is an underrated move, but take it from a tita who's been there, lived through that: There is no greater happiness than the happiness you feel when you realize you're completely fine on your own.