Selena Gomez: Being Justin Bieber's Ex Can Still Overshadow My Career

"It makes it a little harder for people to take me seriously."

Selena Gomez has been explaining the toll her Justin-Bieber-ex status has had on her career for months now. "I am so beyond done with talking about him," she said earlier this year (opens in new tab). "It's my job to make sure that the work outshines the noise," she told ELLE in October 2015 (opens in new tab)—noise including the rampant Jelena tabloid headlines (opens in new tab) then.

Months went by, and Gomez said it again and again, in greater detail. ("I would try to promote something that I loved, and the entire interview would be about my personal life. I would leave a room feeling defeated," she told Marie Claire in our June 2016 issue (opens in new tab).) This May, Ariana Grande joined (opens in new tab) the conversation, seemingly calling the press out for labeling Gomez just "Justin Bieber's ex" in a headline. "This person has had so many great records in the last year, and she hasn't been dating him forever (opens in new tab). Call her by her name!" Grande told Billboard.

It's August 2016, and Gomez is still making that same point—never naming names, of course. "You want to do what you love, but all this other stuff overshadows it. So it makes it a little harder for people to take me seriously," Gomez says in a new interview (opens in new tab).

"For a while my private life was the most-talked-about thing. Nobody really knows everything and they can only assume," she says. But Gomez is patient. "I figured it's just temporary. I feel like that fortunately and unfortunately it's where my life is at the moment, and I have to accept it."

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She's taken steps to change the conversation, however (opens in new tab). With her record Revival, she fought to have "Good for You" released as the first single, not "Same Old Love," a song many believe to be about Bieber. "I was so adamant that I didn't want that to be my story. 'Same Old Love' is so obvious in what it's about, it's a cycle of a very vicious relationship. Even though that is such a huge narrative of my life, I felt confident with 'Good for You' [as the first single], and then it could be like, I'm pissed and this is exhausting. I think any girl would feel that."

Gomez is still single these days ("I like to have fun, I like to hang out") and doesn't really date outside of her circle of friends. "Because I think people would think it's kind of dumb [to date me]," she said. "Nobody would want to throw themselves into that situation where it was so heightened publicly. Like, why would they?"

She's just looking for someone chill. "I'd be so stoked with a writer or producer or actor who is low-key, but those kind of guys are terrified of me!" she says. Maybe she's closer to that than she lets on, even if it's just in the company of a good friend for now....

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Alyssa Bailey
Alyssa Bailey

Alyssa Bailey is the news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she's not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.