Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)

Content warning: The article below discusses distressing topics that some readers may find upsetting. Reader discretion is advised.

In the early 2000s, Britney Spears was painted out to be a villain who caused the demise of her relationship with Justin Timberlake after he alleged she was unfaithful to him. Her reputation as a “cheater” proceeded her, with the zeitgeist—including tabloid gossip publications and Diane Sawyer—framing the then 21-year-old Spears as some sort of a contemporary harlot who caused Timberlake irreparable harm.

Now, in Spears’ upcoming memoir The Woman In Me, the 41-year-old is reclaiming the narrative, alleging that Timberlake wasn’t entirely innocent in their relationship and had an adulterous tryst of his own.

As reported by TMZSpears allegedly accuses the NSYNC singer of cheating on her during their three-year relationship, which spanned 1999-2002.

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 7: Singers Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears at the MTV Music Video Awards held at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY on September 7, 2000. Timberlake’s band ‘Nsync won awards for Best Pop Video and Viewer’s Choice. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

As per an unreleased excerpt, the publication writes that “Britney doesn’t name the person with whom Justin allegedly stepped out,” adding that the rationale behind omitting the alleged “other woman” as she “now has a family Brit doesn’t want to embarrass”.

Though Timberlake’s cheating claims were never confirmed, Spears’ reputation suffered greatly at the hands of his allegation. Yet, the memoir seems to be providing the songstress the tools to address the difficult moments in her life in her own words, including substantiating Timberlake’s claims of an affair.

In the book, Spears admits to “making out” with dancer Wade Robson while dating Timberlake. Spears writes that she and Timberlake “agreed to move past” the tryst given she was “loyal to Justin” and “only had eyes for him”. It’s not revealed when the infidelity took place, but given Spears took the brunt of the breakup there’s clearly more to this story.

Though the book won’t hit shelves until later this month, The Woman In Me is already promising to be the unflinching personal account of Spears’ mega-stardom and tumultuous conservatorship that we’ve promised since the star broke her silence and revealed the “abusive” details of her 13-year long legal guardianship.

The contents of the memoir detail the real reason why Spears shaved her head in 2007—an instance her father, Jamie Spears, cited required her to be placed under conservatorship due to an alleged unstable mental state—and the bombshell claim that she aborted a pregnancy at 19 while dating Timberlake.

Spears writes:

“For me, [the pregnancy] wasn’t a tragedy. I loved Justin so much. 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 … I don’t know if that was the right decision. 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.”

Neither Timberlake nor Spears had addressed the alleged abortion until now. Given the allegation that Timberlake cheated on Spears, netizens have reflected on the fallout of their relationship with a closer eye, including the lyrics to their respective post-breakup singles “Cry Me A River” and “Everytime”.

The music video for the latter single has been cited as a “clue” left by Spears to her fans, with the explicit contents of the video showing Spears attempting to self-harm and mournfully singing as a woman in a hospital bed is handed a newborn baby.

Watch the music video for “Everytime” below. 

Timberlake hasn’t publicly addressed Spears’ allegations, however, his silence has prompted people to also revisit an apology he issued in 2021 following the wake of the #FreeBritney movement and the conclusion of her conservatorship.

“I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny,” he wrote.

The Woman In Me by Britney Spears will be released worldwide on October 24, with Michelle Williams set to narrate the audio version.