Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez: Are they in a toxic relationship?

Actress Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber arrive at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2011. Credit: Getty Images
Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber in happier times at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2011. Credit: Getty Images

First there was Bennifer, then there was Brangelina, and today there is Jelena.

Justin Bieber, 20, and Selena Gomez, 21, make up one of the world’s most talked-about on-and-off couples (Chris Brown and Rihanna make up the other). But are they simply two lovebirds having a young, flighty romance or is their relationship more dangerous than that?

Dr. Sherrie Campbell, psychologist and author of “Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Own Person,” hasn’t treated either Bieber or Gomez, but she believes they are in a toxic relationship. She talked to Metro about why she thinks the two are engaging in a harmful romance.

How would you describe the relationship between Justin and Selena?
They have a pretty toxic love relationship, and it’s something I see all the time. She was the good girl and she sort of takes him back every time he shows up again. … She’s high on hope and he’s high on dope. Justin is out of control at the moment, and it just takes one toxic person to take a fleet of other people down. She’s trying to hang onto herself and also hang onto him. There’s a lot of pressure on them and she’s suffering as part of a couple and as an individual.

Is this more common with young people?
It happens with all people. This is your typical codependent relationship. I see it in my office daily. I see very strong women in codependent relationships where they never thought they’d end up there and they learn the bad boy hard lesson. They tend not to repeat it. There are some people who end up there for a lifetime, but I don’t think Selena will do that.

Do you think Justin will change?
I think he can have a comeback, but he’s not out of the woods yet.

Do you think he’s a narcissist?
Yes – 100 percent. But I don’t know anyone his age who isn’t, and if you give a guy that kind of money and parents who smoke pot with him on the plane, you really have a problem. I do think he worked really hard prior to what we see now and to be what he wanted to be, but he’s lost total sight of the love of music. He’s obsessed with himself at this point.

What causes that kind of behavior?
A lack of family structure. Parents get involved in the business and make their kid the business, and then the kid has too much authority and way too much money. Also, the people [celebrities] surround themselves with also have a lot to do with who they become. People in Hollywood aren’t always making the best decisions about who can support them. Selena says everyone’s telling her who to be, but she just wants to be herself. She doesn’t want to be all of these people.

What are some signature traits of a toxic relationship?
One person is dominant and one is passive. Justin is dominant and has all the control. It’s typically the male, and the woman waits around clinging onto any hope that he’ll be with her. I see this in domestic violence cases all the time, where the woman is staying and afraid to go and she thinks he’s going to change. People can hold onto this for years and years.

How can Selena get out of this?
These two need to mature and grow up, but if you’re an adult, you have to make a decision to love yourself enough to be happy and be brave enough to leave, and that’s what it comes down to: making that decision. A lot of people don’t get to that decision, unfortunately, but some do, and it comes to that decision-making and wanting to be better and wanting a happier life.

The ones who are codependent are kind of afraid to be alone, and so they tend not to make these decisions, and the person who’s abusive knows this and comes back to use and abuse. Aloneness for someone who’s codependent is like a disease; it’s terrifying for them.

What makes you think she hates being alone?
You never see Selena alone. And the fact that she continues to go back to Justin over and over after breaking up with him and isn’t taking her power back – she even went to rehab – shows that whatever she’s doing on her own isn’t working.

What do you think is the best option for Selena at this point?
I think she needs a little therapy to stay out of it and break that pattern. But you have to take into consideration that these kids are under 25 years old. They’re still growing up. And because they’re in the public eye, we have these expectations of them. I think Selena’s going to come out of this. She has a really good family who genuinely loves her – she’s not just their business.

Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark


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