“I’d like to say I don’t care about it, but that’s not true,” the 20-year-old pop star explained in a cover story for Rolling Stone’s December issue.
After previously denying that he and Baldwin were more than just good friends — despite being seen holding hands at parties, cuddling in Canada and even attending the 2018 Met Gala together — the “Lost in Japan” singer is finally admitting there was something more going on.
“I don’t even wanna put a title on it. I think it was more of a zone of limbo,” he revealed, sharing that they were more than friends, but refusing to define their relationship.
Mendes went on to explain that he also understood why people assumed he had been upset by Baldwin’s whirlwind relationship with Justin Bieber, to whom she is now married to, as their rekindled romance became public shortly after Mendes and Baldwin’s big night out at the Met.
“I get it, you know,” he remarked, before making it clear that he still thinks warmly of the 22-year-old model. “I texted Hailey, ‘Congratulations,’ and I really am happy for them. She’s still one of the f—ing coolest people ever — she’s not just a beautiful person visually, but she’s one of the most beautiful hearts I’ve ever met.”
“I think I’m an idiot to not, you know…But you can’t control your heart,” he continued, without elaborating further.
Mendes, who has never publicly dated anyone since his career took off, went on to admit that another source of intrigue that’s been difficult to navigate has been speculation about his sexuality.
“In the back of my heart, I feel like I need to go be seen with someone — like a girl — in public, to prove to people that I’m not gay,” he remarked.
The singer added that “even though in my heart I know that it’s not a bad thing,” there is “still a piece of me that thinks that. And I hate that side of me.”
Elsewhere in the profile, Mendes again criticized himself for going into a tailspin one night after seeing so many young couples together online.
Mendes, who addressed his sexuality directly in a series of Snapchat videos recorded in 2016, went on to reveal to Rolling Stone that he made the decision to record the videos after reading a deluge of YouTube comments.
“I thought, ‘You f—ing guys are so lucky I’m not actually gay and terrified of coming out,’” he explained. “That’s something that kills people. That’s how sensitive it is. You like the songs? Do you like me? Who cares if I’m gay?”
However, while Mendes flat-out denied being gay in the videos — and added that “it shouldn’t make a difference if I was or wasn’t” — the Snapchat videos did nothing to end speculation about his sexuality.
Although Mendes shared that he hadn’t thought anything of Swift posting the photo at the time, he woke up that night in a cold sweat and “felt sick.”
“I was like, ‘F—, why did I let her post that?’ I just fed the fire that I’m terrified of,” he remarked, before adding that he eventually calmed down and now feels happy with the post, explaining that as a child who would don glittery makeup to entertain his parents.
Reflecting on his upbringing, Mendes added that he grew up “braiding hair and painting nails” with his 15 female cousins. “Maybe I am a little more feminine — but that’s the way it is. That’s why I am me.”
This article originally appeared in PEOPLE.