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Demi Lovato Says "Gross" Relationships With Older Men Were About "Daddy Issues"

"It's just unhealthy and toxic," the singer said of dating older men at a young age.

While expressing excitement about her current "healthy" relationship, Demi Lovato looked back on her past relationships, including some with older men, which she described as "gross." Lovato appeared on The Howard Stern Show on Monday, Sept. 11 where they opened up about their love life—past and present—and shared that "daddy issues" are what led them to date older men. In hindsight, Lovato sees the relationships differently than she did at the time.

Today, Lovato is dating someone close to their own age, and while she shared that age gaps in relationships are fine, she thinks that large age gaps are "unhealthy and toxic" if one person in the relationship is still very young. Read on to see what the "I Love Me" singer had to say about their dating past.

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Lovato says dating older men was about "daddy issues."

As reported by Insider, in the interview with Howard Stern, Lovato said, "I think what I went through is that I had a phase of dating older men and dating older guys. I went through a phase when I was attracted to older guys because of my daddy issues, obviously."

Lovato has opened up about their strained relationship with their father, Patrick Lovato, over the years, including talking about their feelings regarding his 2013 death.

"I was very conflicted when he passed, because he was abusive," Lovato said in a 2015 YouTube video (via Entertainment Tonight). "He was mean, but he wanted to be a good person."

She said that her father suffered from mental health issues. "To know that it wasn't fully his fault really was saddening to me," she shared.

In 2020, Lovato talked about her father in an essay for Vogue. They wrote that the anniversary of Patrick's death is a "really hard time of year for me," and continued, "But this year, something happened. I wrote a gratitude letter to him, thanking him for all the things that I got from him. It was this beautiful release of all the resentments I had towards him. I realized, for the first time, that I wasn't going to have daddy issues for the rest of my life."

RELATED: John Mayer Said He Broke Up With Jennifer Aniston Over Their Age Gap.

Lovato called the relationships with older men "gross."

Demi Lovato at the Stella McCartney X Adidas Party in February 2023
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

In the Howard Stern interview, Lovato noted that age gaps are fine, depending on the ages of both people involved, but explained that she was a teenager during some of her relationships.

"For me, I was a teenager," they said. "And so to me, that's gross. If you are 50 and 60, you're fine. Even 30 and 40, that's not gross at all. But I think that when you're in those development years, you should absolutely not be with somebody that is older than you by that much. It's just unhealthy and toxic."

They added, "I can say with confidence that my daddy issues aren't anything that are inside of me anymore. And I think there's a few signs to that. I'm with a partner that is my age, essentially. I look back on the past and think, 'That's gross.'"

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Lovato dated one older man for six years.

Wilmer Valderrama and Demi Lovato at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Lovato's most notable and public relationship with an older man was with That '70s Show actor Wilmer Valderrama. When they met, Lovato was 17 and Valderrama was 29. As reported by Us Weekly, in her 2017 documentary Simply Complicated, Lovato said that she and Valderrama waited until she was 18 to start dating.

"When I met him and I laid eyes on him for the first time, I was in hair and makeup and he came in and sat down and I was like 'I love this man' and 'I have to have him,'" they recalled of meeting the actor while filming a PSA about the 2010 Census. "But I was only 17, so he was like, 'Get away from me.' After I turned 18, we began dating."

More recently, Lovato released their song "29" which many believe is about their relationship with Valderrama, though they have never confirmed this. Lyrics include, "Numbers told you not to, but that didn't stop you" and, "Finally 29 / Funny, just like you were at the time / Thought it was a teenage dream, just a fantasy / But was it yours or was it mine?"

RELATED: Cher Confirms 40-Year Age Gap Relationship: "Love Doesn't Know Math."

Today, Lovato is dating someone their age.

Jutes and Demi Lovato at Operation Smile's 11th annual Celebrity Ski & Smile Challenge in 2023
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images for Operation Smile

In the Howard Stern interview, Lovato opened up about her current relationship with musician Jutes, whom she has been dating publicly since Aug. 2022. She said that they met while working in a music studio together.

"Now I'm at a place where I'm in an amazing relationship and my boyfriend is a year older than me," the 31-year-old shared. "We're growing together and it feels so healthy."

Stern asked Lovato if they think they'll marry Jutes. "Yeah, I think so," they said. "We've talked about it."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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