Gomez has set her young fan base into a tizzy during the past tumultuous year, given her on-and-off relationship with the "Baby" singer, her concert cancellations, a brief stint in rehab in January, some erratic behavior and rumored feuds with her high-profile friends. Now the Disney Channel alum is back in the spotlight for her music, but the return is still colored by her association with the embattled Bieber.
"Everybody wants to form their own opinions anyway," she told the radio host, referencing her capricious relationship. "I think the biggest problem I had this year — even with [Justin] and on his side — is identity."
Their romance, which was made official in 2011, made total sense at the time and continued to until the now 20-year-old YouTube sensation's outlandish behavior got people wondering if the former Disney darling could do better in the boyfriend department.
"I was trying to figure out what I'm doing, and that was the first time I was constantly being kicked down for doing that," Gomez said. "When I didn't know, I just wanted to say, 'This is what I want, this is where I am in my professional life, things changed in my personal life, things changed in my heart — everything.'
"And people just thought, 'All right, this is what we think.' And yeah, I made some decisions that weren't great as well, and so did he, and that's why we went through all that to only make us better."
It turns out that the emotionally raw voiceover in the video's opening -- in which she cries over a relationship low -- actually happened. Everyone can hear it, actually, thanks to a mic that was taped under a table in the room where Gomez went to collect herself.
"[I learned] how to love myself first. And not just in a relationship, just my everyday life," the singer-actress said. "I give myself so much, I let people pull at me in every direction, and I want everybody to be happy. Eventually I would be in my bathroom sobbing right before I go onstage."
Gomez never took time for herself, she said.
"I kept pushing myself, and I think the biggest thing I learned is, it's OK. I'm going to stop when I need to stop, I'm going to feel when I need to feel, and I don't care what comes with that or what people want to say. It's normal."
The "Rudderless" star said that when Bieber heard the new track and saw the video, "He thought it was beautiful."
"I think it was really hard. I think he was a little jealous of the video guy at first," Gomez joked.
The "Wizards of Waverly Place" alum wouldn't disclose the current status of her relationship with Bieber, but indicated that they were still very close -- if not totally on again.
"I support him. I think I always will. I'm upset when he's upset, I'm happy when he's happy. I don't want anything bad ever to happen to him. It hurts me. That's all," she said.
Top-selling bestie Taylor Swift also listened to the track before it made its debut, which was delayed several times because, Gomez said, she was trying to get it just right. And it sounds like Swift gave it her stamp of approval.
"She loved it. She's very dramatic and I love her so much," Gomez said of the "Shake It Off" singer. "So she came over to the house, and I played it. She had headphones in, and she watched the video, and then she just looked at me, then she looked back, and then played it three times over and over again. And I'm like, 'I want to know,' and she was like, 'Oh my God. This is amazing. I'm so excited for you.'"