According to Shawn Mendes. When Shawn and Hailey Baldwin made their red-carpet debut at the Met Gala, I wrote that the move seemed strategic, considering he’s got an album to promote. Not to quote myself but that’s exactly what I’m going to do: 

The album drops on May 25th. Shawn has been in heavy promotion mode. That is only going to pick up steam in the next couple weeks and he’s just opened himself up to questions about his relationship. 

I predicted that we’d hear more from Shawn about Hailey leading up to his album release but I did not predict he’d try to backtrack on the existence of their relationship. Shawn told PEOPLE that we all misinterpreted what was happening on the Met steps. 

“No, we were not making our big debut. We were both asked to walk by Tommy Hilfiger… Obviously Hailey and I are friends, and it was just really cool for me to be able to walk with her because she’s a vet and it was my first year, so it kind of took the pressure off a little bit.”

There are a few possible scenarios going on here and none of them make Shawn Mendes look great. One, he and Hailey are in fact just friends and he used her to make himself feel less awkward on the Met Gala red carpet like he basically admitted to above. Two, he and Hailey are friends with benefits and he’s trying to keep his options open. I mean, his mentor is John Mayer. In that scenario, he still used her to cause a stir on the red carpet and drum up press for his new album. Classic John Mayer. Finally, the third scenario is that Shawn Mendes and Hailey Baldwin ARE dating officially and this is Shawn’s horrible attempt at keeping it private. 

IF Shawn and Hailey really weren’t “making [their] big debut” and only walked the red carpet because they were both asked by Tommy Hilfiger, they would know how fans would react. They’ve held hands in public and gone Instagram official. The Mendes Army has receipts. Plus, Shawn’s body language on the Met carpet was pure “she’s my girlfriend and all my love songs are about her.” He’s either playing us or her or both. 

One big thing to note: Shawn said he and Hailey are friends, not “just friends.” That’s the classic celebrity wording for “we’re f-cking and I don’t want y’all to know” originated by Sandra Bullock and currently being perfected by Zomdaya. You know who else used the “friends” line early in their relationships? Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez AND Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. It’s like Shawn Mendes is following a How to Be a Popstar handbook