FALL­ING HARD

Late-night calls. Se­cret mee­tups. Shared pas­sions. In­side Se­lena Gomez and Justin Th­er­oux’s sur­pris­ing re­la­tion­ship

Life & Style Weekly - - Contents -

The friend­ship be­tween Se­lena Gomez and Justin Th­er­oux turns into some­thing more — and Jen­nifer Anis­ton is fu­ri­ous.

Se­lena Gomez looked ab­so­lutely thrilled. On May 6, she met up with a group of fa­mous friends at the Minetta Lane The­atre in NYC’S West Vil­lage to catch the off-broad­way play Harry Clarke. As she said good­bye to ev­ery­one out­side the the­ater that day — in­clud­ing ac­tress Rooney Mara, artist- model pal Pe­tra Collins and Paul Rudd and his wife — Se­lena saved an es­pe­cially en­thu­si­as­tic em­brace for the sexy sin­gle guy in the group: Justin Th­er­oux.

They started out as friends. Now, Life & Style has ex­clu­sively learned, Justin and Se­lena’s re- la­tion­ship has taken an un­ex­pected turn into some­thing more se­ri­ous. “They’ve known each other for years through their man­ager,” ex­plains a source. “Ini­tially, they leaned on each other for emo­tional sup­port af­ter go­ing through messy breakups.” Justin an­nounced his split from wife Jen­nifer Anis­ton in Fe­bru­ary while Se­lena parted ways — again — with pop star Justin Bieber in March. In re­cent weeks, though, “they’ve be­come closer than ever,” says the source. “It’s turned into some­thing more than friend­ship.” De­spite a 21-year

age dif­fer­ence (he’s 46, she’s 25!), says an in­sider, “Se­lena and Justin are fall­ing for each other.”

DRAWN TO­GETHER

Justin’s been hav­ing the time of his life since he and Jen, 49, ended their two-year mar­riage. The ac­tor, who loathed the LA scene, im­me­di­ately moved back to NYC, where’s he’s been rid­ing his bike around town, hit­ting hot par­ties like the Met Gala and spend­ing time with edgy, beau­ti­ful, younger women. “He’s not look­ing back or mourn­ing

the end of his mar­riage. He’s en­joy­ing his free­dom and liv­ing his best life,” the source close to him tells Life & Style. He was briefly linked to 33-yearold Parks and Re­cre­ation star Aubrey Plaza, the source says, and has also been spend­ing time with artist- model Pe­tra, 25, who di­rected one of Se­lena’s music videos, his Ma­niac co- star Emma Stone, 29, and model Erika Car­de­nas, 25, whom he met at his gym.

But when­ever he’s around Se­lena, notes the first source, “sparks fly.” They’ve been hav­ing a lot of one- on- one con­versa-

tions lately, and they talk about ev­ery­thing. “They Face­time and text late at night and have inti- mate con­ver­sa­tions about where they’re go­ing in life and their ca­reer goals,” says the source. “They’re ex­tremely hon­est, open and com­fort­able with each other. They’ve even

dis­cussed how they adore babies and how they’d each love to be­come a par­ent one day.” They’ve also con­fessed a mu­tual ad­mi­ra­tion for one an­other’s work. “Se­lena’s praised Justin for his writ­ing and act­ing — she was a huge fan of his HBO series The Leftovers,” says the in­sid- er, “and Justin’s en­cour­aged her to use her gifts as a singer more and given her tips on how to ne­go­ti­ate the act­ing world.”

ODD COU­PLE

At first glance, they seem like a bizarre pair­ing. For one thing, there’s that enor­mous age gap (awk­wardly enough, Se­lena’s al­most ex­actly half Jen’s age). And edgy New Yorker Justin and the former Dis­ney Chan­nel star­let seem to be from to­tally dif­fer­ent worlds. But Justin’s been spend­ing time ex­clu­sively with cre­ative, funny younger women since split­ting from

They will keep their love life to them­selves. – an in­sider, on how Justin and Se­lena would handle a ro­mance

Jen. And Justin’s ex­actly the kind of guy Se­lena’s been look­ing for. “I’d be so stoked with a writer or pro­ducer or ac­tor who is low-key,” she said in 2016, a de­scrip­tion that fits Justin per­fectly. Se­lena thinks he’s “ma­ture” and “cool,” the source adds. They’ve dis­cov­ered a shared pas­sion for shel­ter dogs as well as fash­ion and ac­ces­sories, ex­plains the in­sider, who says they’ve hung out to­gether in LA and NYC. Though the source be­lieves noth­ing phys­i­cal has hap­pened, “judg­ing from the amount of flirt­ing that goes on, it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore they take things to the next level.”

THE UL­TI­MATE BETRAYAL

Friends think that’s a mis­take — and warn that if Justin and Se­lena be­come a full-fledged cou­ple, it will end badly. Af­ter all, Se­lena, Justin and Jen all share the same man­ager, Aleen Keshishian — and Jen, who views Se­lena as a friend (see box, op­po­site page), is al­ready aware that her ex and the pop star- ac­tress have been hang­ing out. “Jen,” says the source, “is not happy about it.”

She took Se­lena, who she’s called “a lit­tle cherub that I feel like I want to take care of,” un­der her wing years ago af­ter they were in­tro­duced by their man­age­ment team. She felt flat­tered af­ter learn­ing Se­lena was one of her great­est ad­mir­ers. But Se­lena’s fas­ci­na­tion with Jen bor­dered on creepy. “The whole rea­son I started my show [ Wizards of Waverly Place] and man­ner­isms, they were af­ter Jen­nifer Anis­ton,” Se­lena con­fessed in 2009, adding that she’d been study­ing Jen’s ca­reer since she was 8 and also viewed her as her per­sonal style icon. At 16, Se­lena ad­mit­ted that pals had ac­cused her of be­ing “ob­sessed” with the Friends star af­ter she re­cited di­a­logue from Jen’s TV and film work dur­ing an awards show hon­or­ing her.

If Se­lena goes pub­lic with a ro­mance with Justin, friends worry it’ll seem like she wasn’t just ob­sessed with Jen’s life, but ac­tu­ally stole it. “Part of her at­trac­tion to Justin is know­ing how much Jen loved him,” re­veals the in­sider. “The fact that the woman she idol­ized so much prized him only makes Justin all that more ap­peal­ing.” If Jen knew how close Se­lena and Justin re­ally are now, adds the in­sider, “she’d be hor­ri­fied. She’d think of it as a com­plete betrayal on both their parts.”

HEAT­ING UP

The “Hands to My­self” singer can’t help her­self. “She finds Justin to be a breath of fresh air af­ter go­ing through such tur­bu­lent times with her other Justin [Bieber, whom she dated on and off since 2011],” says the source. “Se­lena will al­ways carry a torch for her ex, but right now, Justin [Th­er­oux] is help­ing her take her mind off things.”

Next up for Se­lena and Justin 2.0? The pair have dis­cussed meet­ing up in se­cret, where they won’t be pho­tographed to­gether and put un­der the mi- cro­scope, says the source. It’s an­other sign, says the in­sider, that what started out as a gen­uine friend­ship “is pro­gress­ing into some­thing far more sig­nif­i­cant.”

Ma­ture Ap­peal “Se­lena calls Justin the coolest and best­look­ing older man she knows,” says an in­sider.

Mov­ing Fast Since their re­spec­tive splits from Jen­nifer Anis­ton and Justin Bieber, says an in­sider, “Justin and Se­lena have got­ten closer.”

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