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Britney Spears Was ‘Triggered’ by Justin Timberlake Mocking Her Apology, Wanted to Move ‘Forward’ (Exclusive)

Britney Spears is still processing Justin Timberlake’s latest dig about their past ups and downs, a source exclusively tells Us Weekly.

“Britney was annoyed after his onstage statement,” the insider says, referring to Timberlake, 43, mocking Spears, 42, during a February concert.

At the time, Timberlake told his New York City fans that he wanted to “take this opportunity to apologize to absolutely f–king nobody.” He then proceeded to sing “Cry Me a River,” which was written about his split from Spears in the early 2000s.

The apparent dig came just days after an Spears made a social media apology on January 28 for “some of the things” she wrote in her book. “If I offended any of the people I genuinely care about I am deeply sorry,” she said via Instagram before praising his new single, “I am in love with Justin Timberlake’s new song ‘Selfish.’”

Britney Spears Justin Timberlake: A Timeline Their Ups Downs

Related: Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake: A Timeline of Their Ups and Downs

Timberlake’s remark was hurtful to Spears, according to the source, who tells Us that the pop star’s “turning point for her mental issues started when [Timberlake] broke up with her so many years ago.”

Britney Spears Was Triggered by Justin Timberlake Mocking Her Apology Wanted to Move Forward
Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake Sara De Boer/INSTARimages/Cover Images;Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Spears “thought they’d be together forever and have children,” the insider explains. “So when he broke up with her, it shook her world,” the source claims, noting “things shifted with her and she started having problems” soon after their breakup.

Spears and Timberlake “seemed [like] they were both moving forward,” in recent months, “but when he made fun of her apology it triggered her,” the insider says.

Timberlake’s public quips about Spears have become difficult for her inner circle to hear. “Those close to her wish Justin was more of a stand-up guy and would have just moved on because what he did really hinders her recovery,” the source tells Us.

Britney Spears' Love Life

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Spears and Timberlake met as kids on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. In 1999, they began dating while at the height of both ‘NSync and Spears’ fame. The twosome called it quits in 2002, and reports soon claimed that Spears had been unfaithful.

Timberlake’s 2002 hit “Cry Me a River” seemed to confirm rumors that Spears cheated on him. “You don’t have to say what you did / I already know, I found out from him / Now there’s just no chance / For you and me / There’ll never be / And don’t it make you sad about it?” he sings in the second verse.

A decade later, Timberlake brought his and Spears’ drama back to the forefront when he told a 2013 concert crowd, “Sometimes in life, you think you found The One. But then one day you find out that she is just some bitch.”

He later denied the remark was about his ex-girlfriend, writing via X, “OK. I see you. Wouldn’t disrespect ANYONE personally. Ever. #Relax #ItsBritneyBitch I do love that saying though *with accent* #Respect.”

Britney Spears’ Ups and Downs gallery

Related: Britney Spears’ Ups and Downs Over the Years

Timberlake and Spears appeared to be on better terms in 2021 when the “Sexy Back” singer publicly apologized to Spears for the times that his “actions contributed to the problem” of sexism or misogyny.

Spears reignited tension with Timberlake in October 2023 when she released her memoir, The Woman in Me, and said she had an abortion while dating Timberlake, claiming he wasn’t ready to be a father. Spears also alleged that both she and Timberlake had affairs during their romance.

Two months later, Timberlake added fuel to the fire during a concert in Las Vegas when he said he meant “no disrespect” before singing “Cry Me a River.” Spears reacted to the jab via Instagram, writing, “Psss … I never mentioned how I beat him in basketball 🏀 and he would cry … no disrespect 🤷🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️!!!”

When Spears learned that Timberlake poked fun at her latest apology during his New York City concert last month, she had another message for him. “Someone told me someone was talking s–t about me on the streets !!!” she wrote via Instagram last month. “Do you want to bring it to the court or will you go home crying to your mom like you did last time ??? I’m not sorry !!!”

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