Charlie Puth is opening up about his brief, tumultuous fling with Selena Gomez, and how it inspired their duet, "We Don't Talk Anymore"

By Jordan Runtagh
February 01, 2018 02:15 PM

Before her relationship with the Weeknd and prior to reuniting with Justin Bieber last fall, Selena Gomez had a rumored love connection with Charlie Puth in 2016. While both stayed mum at the time, Puth is opening up about their brief, tumultuous fling — specifically how it inspired their duet, “We Don’t Talk Anymore.”

“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. 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.”

Charlie Puth on the latest cover of Billboard
| Credit: Ramona Rosales

Though he doesn’t name names, it’s possible that the other guy on Gomez’s mind was Bieber, with whom she parted company in 2015. The song details the wind-down of a romance.

“It’s about a particular moment in my life, when someone very close to me wanted the attention of somebody else,” Puth says, before admitting that he wasn’t entirely blameless in the relationship’s dissolution. “When I found that out and we ended it, I might have done some shady things too, and she might have asked me, ‘How long has this been going on?'”

Credit: Ramona Rosales

To move forward, he channeled the feelings into his 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.”

Charlie Puth
| Credit: Ramona Rosales

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Puth also recalled another dark point: the time he ate “like, a pound of marijuana cookies” after “super-starring out a little too much” with “See You Again” partner Wiz Khalifa. The result was a prolonged, six-hour freakout that turned him off the drug indefinitely. “I should have been sedated,” he says. “I think I almost died. … I thought I had to party and date a lot of girls and just go crazy. I thought it was what was expected of me as a musician.”

Luckily, someone was looking out. Puth admits, “My mom was the one who was like, ‘You’re losing touch with why you got here.'”