It has been said that by coming home late a man risks his marriage — and by coming home early can bring it in even greater danger. Justin Bieber insists his late nights and their ruthlessly recorded excesses are behind him, even though he turns 25 next month. The uncounted, unpredictable hours of marriage spread out in their place at this moment, a red carpet hanging like a tightrope.
It's just before Christmas, and it's the hotel lobby where Bieber has been living for years when he's in Los Angeles. His suite is not entirely in keeping with the holiday spirit, filled instead with the massive suitcases that are hardly worth unpacking just to pack again, and there is nothing to eat but potato chips and grapes (as he reveals later). Bieber has just returned from an abortive attempt at the Hoffman Method, a week-long intensive group therapy retreat followed by committed Hollywood. He says he's not ready. He hurried through the questionnaire of the pre-process and was not happy with the exercises. "These meetings were going on," he says. "Or these rituals, not really sessions. They light candles, and I was freaked out of it kind of. You're lying on a mat, putting down a blanket, and you're pounding it out of your memory. I beat the fact that a lot of my childhood had been troubled by my mom and my dad had issues with rage. Stuff they passed on that they gave me, I'm kind of nuts.
So Bieber left the Napa Valley campus of Hoffman and moved to Seattle where he joined his friend, Hailey Bieber (born Baldwin), the model and television presenter. They had a meeting suggested by their good friend and minister Judah Smith with a marriage counselor and then went to Suncadia, the forest retreat where the Smiths had a weekend home. "The thing is, it's very difficult to date," Hailey says. "That's the word you're going to use. The pair, who married in a lower court in Manhattan last September after a twelve-week relationship in the sense of an almost ten-year friendship, and who are still finalizing arrangements for a real wedding, are sitting side by side in the oversized and costly sweat outfits that reflect their mutual style on the living room sofa. But the arrangement changes according to Justin's energetic maneuvers: no sooner has he settled in than he jumps up to do a little jig; he leaps over the couch, squeezes between Hailey and the bolster and enfolds it in his arms; he flips his body around and puts his head in her lap, then jumps up again, bathes her neck in kisses, and whispers endearments ("Guess what? You're amazing") before j. "It's hard for me to do one thing at a time," he says, smiling like a beacon with his tooth-filled.
Justin wants me to know at a particularly vulnerable moment that I'm watching him, and he's anxious. It's been over two years since he was sitting around the release of his fourth (and latest) studio album, Intent, for a long interview. At the time he was in the midst of what many considered an apology tour— a time when he seemed to say that he had put his now famously bad behavior behind him, coinciding with a collection of songs that hit with critics, millennials, and people, not just the teenage girls who had pushed him to a decade of pop supremacy. But in sixteen months for Purpose, after performing more than 150 concerts in 40 countries, he cancelled the final fourteen shows in the summer of 2017. "On stage, I was really sad," he remembers. "I haven't spoken of this, and I'm still processing so much that I haven't spoken of. I've been lonely. This took me some time.
Throughout Justin's presence, it is impossible not to feel that he is still suffering from something— the celebrity whose price was his childhood, the mortification of a thousand magnified teenage peccadilloes, an accumulated confusion about those in his orbit— and these marks are crowding the surface like his endless tattoos. Smith told me that he felt called to love and protect him when he first met Justin as a young teenager. I heard some approximation to this call after an hour in his company. Journalists have frequently described Justin as hard to talk to, a criticism that seems unfair. The often interviewed are deft at pivots and obfuscations, so that by contrast the guilelessness of Justin can be disarming. He says what comes to mind, no filters: "I like you," "You stress me out, bro." He creates long, tense exhalations, he gets the giggles, he reasons if he makes me nervous. "To trust people, it was so hard for me," he says. "I've been dealing with the impression that people are using me or not really there for me, and that authors are trying to get something out of me and use it against me. To me, one of the big things is to believe myself. Actually, and in relationships, I made some bad decisions. My confidence in my judgment has been impaired by these errors. Just trusting Hailey has been hard for me. "He turns to her. "We worked through things. And this is perfect, isn't it?”
Justin and Hailey, who is 22, go far back — all the way back to a 2009 appearance at Today-show that her dad, actor Alec Baldwin, had given her tickets. Her father, Stephen, and Justin's mother, Pattie Mallette, both born-again Christians, developed a friendship that, if not initially with a lot of enthusiasm, bound their children. Hailey refutes the version of their tale of origin which casts her as the ultimate Belieber (the name of the fangirls ' army of Justin). "I've never been a superfan, either of him or anyone," she says. "It's never been the crazy thing, yelling. I thought about it in no way but because he was cute. Everyone was having a crush on him. But we had a curious age gap for the first few years. "They did not develop a real friendship until a few years later, when Hailey began attending services at Hillsong, the Australian megachurch whose branch at the time was meeting at Irving Plaza in New York. "Justin came into Hillsong one day and was like,' Hey, you're getting older.' I was like,' Hmm, what's up?He's been my best friend over time. I played around with him as his homie, but[ romantically] we weren't hanging out.
They dated three years ago, briefly, and while at the time she was not under any illusions about her desire to be exclusive, things did not end well. Everyone confess that there was a misunderstanding. "We still need to think about difficult things and work through them," Hailey says. "The right word wouldn't be Fizzled— it was more like a really dramatic excommunication. There was a time when if I walked into a room, he'd walk out. "But in June 2018, they bumped into each other at a conference in Miami organized by Rich Wilkerson Jr., You Church's pastor, who was in charge of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's marriage. "I assure you that the common denominator is always a church. We've been through the drama by then. I've just given him a kiss. He was like,' We're not going to be friends' at the end of the meeting. I was like,' We're not?He'd slipped a massive oval-shaped diamond ring on her finger within a month.
To understand the relationship between the Biebers, it is necessary to understand their conviction in the fundamental difference between them and their attraction. He's her superego's I d, the crazy thing she'd never allowed herself to do. Hailey spent twelve years in dance, highly trained. She was mostly taught at home in New York City. She never took a drug, convinced of her susceptibility to addiction in genetics. (Before she was raised, her father had a serious cocaine problem and had been sober for almost 30 years.) By her own accounts and by others, she is a careful and deliberate person, reasonable to a fault. Friends describe her as calm, steady, and powerful with words. Justin's friends call him gentle, fragile, all-hearted, dominated by emotions so strong that he often had to adorn them with drugs or risk them not on meaningful relationships.
"Justin is someone who cares too much," says Drew House, Ryan Good, who spent years as his stylist and road manager and creatively guides his new clothing collection. The theme is a house in the San Fernando Valley where everyone is welcome: corduroy, primary colours, grunge and skater influences. Justin and Ryan are designing all themselves and started last December with a cheap hotel slipper appliqué with Drew House's logo, a smiley face, launching products on the website as they are available. (Justin likes hotel slippers.) They've sold them for $5 a pair, and now they're hundreds of dollars on eBay. "The love," continues Ryan, "is what makes a great performer like Justin. He really can sense a crowd's mood. But it's hard for him to feel safe in his country, where there's so much take-up. Hailey is this soothing force. It's perfect.
Hailey finds her own temperament to require his correction. "I'm going to say, ' I thought, ' and I'm going to say, ' I think, ' she says." I really have to dig deeply and have a hard time getting in contact with my emotions. He's getting there right away.
"I am the one that is emotionally unstable," Justin says. "I'm struggling to find calm. I just want things to be so good and I just want people to like me. Hailey, who I like, is very rational and organized. I've always wanted safety — sometimes when I was a kid, when my dad was out on the drive. Everything is so unpredictable with the lifestyle I deal in. I need one thing for sure. And that "it's my baby boo," he takes up his hand.
On a rainy night in Beverly Hills, a thousand or so 20-somethings in leather jackets, hoodies, skater t-shirts, and stoner pajama bottoms flood into the Saban Theater for Churchome's weekly Wednesday service, the Seattle-based ministry of Judah Smith, which is part of a new wave of evangelical congregations that attract young Angelenos. The auditorium is rippled with high fives and bro embraces. Tonight Smith, in a raw denim jacket with a shearling collar and black skinny jeans, created a sermon about the stories of brothers in the Old and New Testament: Cain and Abel, the Prodigal Son. He weaves in the story of a recent trip in which the TSA accidentally confused his ear-hair trimmer with a vibrator. He is praying for his beloved Seattle Seahawks (the official chaplain of the team). Then he preaches the importance of answering the question, "I am the keeper of my brother?"With a firm, resounding Yes. Justin, Hailey, and their friends listen to cartoon silhouettes attentively from a dozen reserved seats in the first two rows.
"I wouldn't call myself religious," Justin tells me. "A lot of people are confused because they're like that, yeah, you're going to church. I believe in Jesus ' story— that's the essence of what I think. But I don't believe in all the elitism and pretentiousness of faith, that people are better than you because they come to church, like you have to go to church and dress up in some way. If religion comes up, I feel emotional because it was so hurtful to many people. I don't want to be known as someone who portrays any of the injustices that religion has done and is doing.
Justin has recently been particularly focused on his own moral development, what he describes as "character stuff." Last fall, he decided to step back from music to concentrate on being the guy he feels nobody ever taught him how to be, and above all a good husband. "I'm just stressed out by thinking about music," he says. "Since I was thirteen, I have been successful, so I really didn't have a chance to figure out who I was apart from what I did. I really needed some time to examine myself: who I am, what I want from my life, my relationships, who I want to be — something that you lose sight of when you're so absorbed in the music business. "He looked at Smith as a role model, just as he turned to pastor Carl Lentz of Hillsong four years ago at what he saw as his personal low point. Justin was raised by a single mother in public housing in the small town of Ontario, and he exploded into fame at the age of thirteen when the man who was to become his manager, Scooter Braun, found a group of YouTube videos uploaded by his mother. He was brought to Atlanta by Braun, where he was introduced to Usher and given a new look and tone. Through hip-hop, he worshiped his parents, learned their vernacular, sang about shorties before he understood what the word meant. "At first, I was pure," says Justin, "and then I was rendered as they slowly took on more and more influence." It felt fantastic to be famous, to be adored by people. He honestly believed the hype at the age of sixteen. "I really started to feel too much about myself. People love me, I'm the bomb, that's what I think really. I was very cocky and arrogant. I was wearing indoor sunglasses. "(Inside at night, Hailey says.)
In 2013, the candy, prepubescent teen idol had been immolated. And he's been a train wreck in another year. From egging a neighbor's house to urinating in a mop bucket, from turning up in a Brazilian brothel to catching a DUI warrant after dragging his Lamborghini in Miami Beach, the cringing media cataloged his succession of crimes. Hey, and the poor capuchin monkey in Germany had been confiscated at customs. Justin tries to laugh at his teenage self, and he seems to be torn between self-flagellation and a desire to give himself the break that few others gave. "Many of the showchey stuff that I was doing gave people the right to be like, Oh, that's the douchey of frickin, bro. But it was like a lot of the stuff — I peeed in a bucket, people made so much of it. And I own a cat. It's like, why wouldn't you get a monkey if you had the money I had? You'd have a cat!"Justin was dissolving internally. He abused Xanax, which allowed him to sleepwalk through a social life that never quadrated his education. "I found myself doing things I was so shocked about, being super-promiscuous and everything, so I think I was using Xanax because I was so amazed. My mom always said respectfully treating women. While I was doing it, that was always in my head for me, so I could never enjoy it. Drugs put between me and what I was doing a computer. It was quite quiet. I believe my protection came late at night to check my pulse and see if I was still alive.
If Justin needed him, Smith had always been adamant that he was there, but he did not see it as his job to interfere. "I said earlier that I learned more from Justin than I thought he learned from me — about the state of man, about suffering," says Smith. "He gives the world a lot, and he has taken a lot from him, including a little bit of the natural progression of growth, the opportunity to grow relationally and socially. He can feel anything, and it's from those years that he's been asking who's real with him in the house. His sense of spider is amazing, but he's a little scared. He may note the eyebrow movements of people. I get upset now, seeing him make a huge effort to care for the people around him when he lived in a glass box for the last decade of his life.
Lentz has a tougher-love approach, and in 2014, when Justin was tanking, he encouraged the star to move for an informal detox to his home in New Jersey. They have been playing basketball, football, and soccer for several weeks. Justin interned at Hillsong for Lentz and turned his attention to his religious faith. Although socially drinking alcohol, Justin claims he hasn't been taking a drug yet. Hailey recalls the Lentzes ' trip as the end of a long, scary story. "I was very concerned about the whole thing," she says. "I just wanted him to be happy, to be good, to be safe, and to be happy. But I'm so proud of him. It's remarkable to do it without a plan and stick with it without a sober coach or AA or classes. He's a living hero, in ways.
"The next morning you're going to get it out of me," Hailey promises. She admits that she was profoundly depressed for the first weeks of marriage. He felt homesick for her parents, though in five years he hadn't been living with them. Perhaps most complicated of all was her perception that she instantly had a hundred million rivals when she married Justin. So many people appeared to be cheering on social media for them to fail. No one knew how seriously she took the decision to marry, how much she had thought about it. "I begged for the opportunity to experience love, and that's where I got to live," she says. "I just love him. For a long time, I loved him.
Justin was more than a year into a self-imposed period of celibacy when the pair reconnected last June. He had what he called "a real sex problem." It was his remaining habit, an addiction that had ceased to give him much satisfaction for a long time. He agreed not to have sex was a way to make him feel closer to God. "If he needs rules and stuff, he doesn't ask us not to have sex for him," Justin says. "I'm trying to protect you from pain and hurt. I think a lot of pain can be caused by sex. Women sometimes have sex because they're not feeling good enough. Because the self-worth is missing. Women are doing that, guys are doing that. That's how I decided to rededicate myself to God because I thought it was safer for my soul's state. And as a result, I believe God has blessed me with Hailey. There are benefits. You are rewarded for good behaviour. "People speculated that Justin and Hailey were marrying because she became pregnant, which is incorrect. (No children for at least a few years, Hailey says.) Justin acknowledges that while the overwhelming urge to have sex was one of the reasons why they raced into the courtroom, it was not the only reason. "When I saw her last June, I just remembered how much I loved her, how much I missed her, and how much she made a positive impact on my life. I was like that, holy cow, that's what I was looking for.
They've found one thing is that they're pretty happy homebodies. They enjoy lounging around the house, watching movies, listening in their kitchen to music and dancing. Although there is work to be done, Justin needs Hailey to take off from herself just a little pressure. "She's pretending to be an adult," he says. "I think we can be married and enjoy our youth and still have fun. We are worried about that.
"It's just that I'm pursuing the right way to do this, creating a healthy relationship," Hailey says. "I want that to know people. We come from a sincere location. Yet as we go, we're two young people learning. I won't sit here pretending and say it's all a magic illusion. It will always be rough. It's an alternative. Every single day you don't notice it. Each day you don't wake up thinking,' I'm so utterly in love and you're amazing.' That's not what marriage is. But there is something beautiful about it anyway— about wanting to fight for something, working with someone to create. We are very young, and that's a terrifying thing. We will change a lot. But in these shifts, we are committed to growing together and loving one another. I look at it that way. He is also my best friend at the end of the day. I never get him sick. "Justin's laughing. "You're my child's boo."