Why Did Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake Break Up? Inside Their Split, Her Cheating Claims and More

With the release of Justin Timberlake's new single "Selfish," Britney Spears' fans have helped one of her old songs with the same name hit the charts. Find out more about their split here.

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Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s past relationship is one of Hollywood’s most iconic yet highly publicized romances. After meeting on the set of The Mickey Mouse Club, the pair dated for nearly three years until calling it quits, so why did they break up?

With the release of Britney’s 2023 memoir The Woman In Me, it sparked new interest in the fans about the reasons behind their breakup. Months after the book hit shelves, Justin announced that his sixth album would be coming out, and released his first single “Selfish.” With his release, Britney fans led a campaign to push her 2011 song of the same name onto the charts. Keep reading to find out the reason why Britney and Justin split in 2002. 

Why Did Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake Break Up? 

Both the Princess of Pop and the “Mirrors” crooner have addressed their breakup in the past. Immediately after their romance ended in 2002, Justin told PEOPLE that he had a “broken heart” over it but “will always love” Britney. For her part, the “Gimme More” artist explained that they split because they were “climbing two different mountains,” according to the outlet. 

“Of course it’s gonna kind of hurt sometimes, and you wonder things,” Britney said at the time. “But you learn from it and grow. I’m trying to get to that point.”

In the years following their split, the exes made comments about each other, describing their relationship as immature. Justin called it “young love” and a “very intense relationship” during a 2002 interview on 20/20, whereas Britney acknowledged in her interview with Diane Sawyer that “it got way too serious, way too young.” 

Justin was the one who ended things with Britney, as music video director Chris Applebaum told Page Six about the moment the “Mirrors” artist broke up with her via text. She allegedly revealed a message from Justin to Chris on the set of her music video for “Overprotected: The Dark Child Remix.” The text allegedly read just two words from him: “It’s over!!!”

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Did Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake Cheat on Each Other? 

Despite ongoing fan speculation, there is no evidence pointing to whether Britney cheated on Justin. However, his were convinced he suggested that Britney was unfaithful when he released his “Cry Me a River” music video, which featured a woman who looked a lot like the “Till the World Ends” singer. 

In her 2023 The Woman in Me memoir, Britney claimed that Justin cheated on her with “another celebrity.” She did not disclose the person’s name because she “now has a family” and Britney “doesn’t want to embarrass” her, according to TMZ. However, Britney also owned up to her own infidelity in her book, revealing that she also cheated on Justin with dancer Wade Robson. So, ultimately, the exes were both unfaithful.

During her sit-down interview with Diane in 2003, the reporter grilled Britney on whether or not she cheated on Justin. “You broke his heart. You did something that caused him so much pain, so much suffering. What did you do?” Diane asked her. 

“I think everyone has a side of their story to make them feel a certain way,” she said. “I’m not technically saying he’s wrong, but I’m not technically saying he’s right either. It was a really weird time … I just felt very exploited and very weird.”

It appeared that the exes remained amicable two decades after their split. Britney gave Justin a shout-out via Instagram for being a “genius” in response to his song “Filthy” in 2020. One year later, the Social Network actor outwardly supported Britney when she worked to get her conservatorship terminated. Among the Grammy Award winner’s most shocking revelations about her conservatorship — which lasted from 2008 to 2021 — was that she was allegedly forced to get an IUD to avoid having more children. 

In response to Britney’s revelations, Justin tweeted that what was “happening to her [was] just not right” and that “no woman should ever be restricted from making decisions about her own body.” 

Britney Spears Revealed She Had an Abortion With Justin Timberlake

In her 2023 memoir, The Woman in Me, Britney revealed that she had an abortion when she and Justin were together. 

“It was a surprise, but for me, it wasn’t a tragedy. I loved Justin so much,” the “Hold Me Closer” artist wrote. “I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I’d anticipated. But Justin definitely wasn’t happy about the pregnancy. He said we weren’t ready to have a baby in our lives, that we were way too young. … If it had been left up to me alone, I never would have done it. And yet, Justin was so sure that he didn’t want to be a father.”

Justin has not directly commented on Britney’s claim nor her book. A source close to the singer did say that JT wasn’t pleased with the book. “Justin thought Britney might talk about their ups and downs in more general terms — not air out their very personal, dirty laundry,” they told Us Weekly.  He did appear to refer to the book and her thoughts about his song “Cry Me a River” during a surprise performance of the track in Las Vegas. He shortly said “No disrespect” before launching into the song.