Britney Spears‘ bombshell memoir The Woman in Me arrived in October with damning revelations about everything from her 13-year conservatorship to her complicated relationship with ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake. Though incomplete in some senses, the 275-page book was the most comprehensive overlook into the moments that she had previously kept locked away. Readers clamored for those details when it arrived, but Spears has been grappling with its ramifications ever since.
“I wanna apologize for some of the things I wrote about in my book,” the singer wrote on Instagram on Sunday evening. “If I offended any of the people I genuinely care about I am deeply sorry.” Spears has since made her Instagram account private, limiting access to the 42.5 million accounts that already follow her. The caption was shared beneath a video of Timberlake during a recent segment on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Timberlake has been on a promotional run over the past few days timed to the release of “Selfish,” the lead single from his upcoming album Everything I Thought It Was, out March 15. “I am in love with Justin Timberlake’s new song ‘Selfish’ it is soo good,” Spears added on Instagram, noting that whenever she sees Timberlake and Fallon together it makes her “laugh so hard.” The upcoming LP will mark his first in six years, but anticipation for his comeback was largely deflated when The Woman in Me arrived — even more so than it was when a string of documentaries about Spears were released in recent years.
One passage in the memoir revealed that when they were both 19 years old, Spears unexpectedly became pregnant and Timberlake pushed for her to end the pregnancy. “I always expected us to have a family together one day. This would just be much earlier than I’d anticipated,” Spears wrote. “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.”
That was one year into their relationship — more than 20 years ago now — and they stayed together for an additional two years after Spears had an abortion, something she says she’s still uncertain was the right decision. When they did break up, she revealed, it was initiated by Timberlake via text message. And yet, Spears was positioned as “a harlot who’d broken the heart of America’s golden boy” in both the video for “Cry Me a River” and in the press cycle that found Diane Sawyer interrogating her about what she could have done to cause Timberlake “so much pain.”
In the immediate aftermath of the memoir’s release, Timberlake’s long-time collaborator Timbaland attempted to defend him, but only made matters worse. “She going crazy, right?” the producer said in an interview with 9th Wonder at the Kennedy Center in late October. “I wanted to call JT, ‘Man, you gotta put a muzzle on that girl.’”
Timbaland later issued an apology via TikTok live, saying: “I’m sorry to all the Britney fans, even to her,” he said in the video. “I’m sorry, because muzzle was — no, you have a voice. You speak what you want to speak. Who am I to tell you what not to speak? And I was wrong for saying that. I was looking at it from a different lens and what I am is a reconcile person. I’m not a person who takes sides… I apologize to the Britney fans and her.”
When Timberlake performed “Cry Me a River” during a Las Vegas appearance in December, he prefaced it with a quick “no disrespect” disclaimer. The singer has not officially responded directly to Spears’ memoir since its release.
Before The Woman in Me arrived, Spears did try to get ahead of the narrative that was already bubbling in the anticipation around it. “Most of the book is from 20 years ago … I have moved on and it’s a beautiful clean slate from here,” she wrote on Instagram in October. “I am here to establish it that way for the rest of my entire life!!! Either way, that is the last of it and shit happens!!! This is actually a book I didn’t know needed to be written … although some might be offended, it has given me closure on all things for a better future!!”