Rumors flew in 2016 that Puth and Gomez’s friendship turned romantic after they released their hit song “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” but neither confirmed nor denied the alleged romance at the time.
“I don’t kiss and tell, but the only way a song like that can come across as real is if there’s something else going on behind the scenes,” Puth, 26, says of the song in the latest Billboard cover story.
“And that’s what was happening [with Gomez]. Very short-lived, very small, but very impactful. And it really messed me up,” he continued. “I’m trying to put this the best way possible: It wasn’t like I was the only person on her mind. And I think I knew that going in — what I was getting myself into.”
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Their duet details the wind-down of a romance, and Puth told the outlet he channeled his feelings into art.
“You gather up a bunch of emotion with the life shovel, throw it in the life bucket, mix it up. And she evoked such good emotion on that song, it was a pleasure working with her. That’s why I’m always happy to sing it, even though it came from a dark point in my life.”
On Thursday, a source confirmed to PEOPLE the “Wolves” singer recently sought treatment for her emotional health in New York City.
“She felt like she needed to get away and focus on herself with no distractions,” said the source. “She came back feeling very empowered.”