After more than two years spent skirting around the issue, Charlie Puth finally confirmed he dated Selena Gomez during a recent cover story interview with Billboard. The two first spurred rumors back in 2016 when they released "We Don't Talk Anymore," a breathy breakup duet from Puth's debut studio album, Nine Track Mind. The song quickly prompted fans to speculate if they'd been hooking up behind scenes, but both Gomez and Puth repeatedly denied they were anything more than friends.
UPDATE: A source told People on Thursday that Gomez "never dated" Puth, despite his comments to Billboard. Bustle reached out to Gomez's rep for clarification, but did not receive an immediate response.
EARLIER: "We're [not dating], that's for sure," Gomez told E! in January 2016 after she and Puth posted a SnapChat video of them party-hopping after the Golden Globes. A few months later, Puth said on 94.7 Fresh FM's The Tommy Show, "We did a song together and people think that there's more, but we just musically collaborated."
Now, however, the 26-year-old singer is changing his tune, and while it sounds like whatever they had together was brief, it had quite the impact on Puth. As he told Billboard,
"I don’t kiss and tell, but the only way a song like ['We Don't Talk Anymore'] can come across as real is if there’s something else going on behind the scenes. 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."
It's not entirely clear who Puth is referring to: In 2016, Gomez was linked to both then-recent NYU grad Samuel Krost, who later confirmed their relationship via Instagram, and Orlando Bloom, who she was reportedly spotted with during a night out in Las Vegas. And then, of course, there's the ever-present Justin Bieber, who she's been dating on and off since 2010, but seemed to have moved on from at the time.
Perhaps most notable, though, is that not only did Gomez and Puth share a short-lived romance, but she also apparently served as lyrical inspiration for two of his 2017 hits "Attention" and "How Long," both from his forthcoming sophomore record, Voicenotes. He continued to Billboard:
"['We Don't Talk Anymore' is] about a particular moment in my life, when someone very close to me wanted the attention of somebody else. 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?'"
His comments are direct references to the songs. "You just want attention, I knew from the start. You're just making sure I'm never gettin' over you," he sings in "Attention." And then, on "How Long": "How long has this been goin' on? You been creepin' 'round on me while you callin' me 'baby.'" In fact, he even dropped a reference to Gomez in the latter's accompanying video. Puth has only released one other track from Voicenotes — last month's Boyz II Men-featuring "If You Leave Me Now" — but at this rate, it seems a safe bet that there might be some other Gomez-inspired tunes.
It's not immediately apparent where the two stand today. They toured together during the summer of 2016, and based on what they said during interviews, seemed to be on good terms, but have since gone their separate ways. Gomez dated The Weeknd last year and has reportedly rekindled her romance with Bieber in recent months, while Puth is rumored to be with actor Danielle Campbell. Whatever the case may be, they clearly have a history, and Puth, for some reason, is now airing it out.