Demi Lovato: I’m Focused on My Recovery, Not Dating

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The new X Factor judge tells iVillage that it doesn’t matter “how frickin’ good-looking” a guy is — she’s just not ready to date yet

Demi Lovato may be single, but she is not ready to mingle!

Over the past two years, the 20-year-old pop star has been open about her struggles with eating disorders and mental health issues. And though she says it’s been “smooth sailing” lately, she’s still too focused on her health to worry about dating. “It doesn’t matter how frickin’ good-looking you are, or funny, or how in love with them I am,” she tells iVillage exclusively. “Right now, there’s nobody more important to me than myself and my recovery.”

But just because she’s not going on dates doesn’t mean she’s not keeping busy. Lovato has a new seat on the X Factor judging panel, and she’s also a mentor for the Acuvue 1-Day Contest. When iVillage caught up with her, she dished about what it’s like to mentor young girls, why she doesn’t feel pressure to be a role model and what it’s really like to work with Britney Spears.

Why did you want to be a mentor for the Acuvue 1-Day Contest?
I wanted to be a mentor because it’s a great opportunity to help someone come out of their shell and make them feel more confident and comfortable with going after their dreams. It was a great opportunity to give back. I had a lot of fun doing it.

So many young girls look up to you. Does that ever feel like a lot of pressure?
It used to feel like a lot of pressure because I wasn’t really honest with everyone. I feel like it’s not a lot of pressure when you’re just being yourself and you’re telling the truth about things. I had issues that I was dealing with in privacy, and I was doing things that normal teenagers go through. But I definitely didn’t feel like a role model at the time. Now that I’ve talked about the issues that I’ve dealt with, I feel that I’ve been very honest and open. When people still call me an inspiration after that, I don’t feel pressured at all. I really am just being myself with everyone, and when people accept me for who I am, it feels really, really great.

Last month, you said you were on a dating hiatus. What would a guy have to do to change your mind?
There’s actually nothing that a guy can do to change my mind right now. It doesn’t matter how frickin’ good-looking you are, or funny, or how in love with them I am. Right now, there’s nobody more important to me than myself and my recovery. I think that’s a thing that a lot of young girls need to remember. There’s no one more important than themselves, especially when it comes to girls that are in their late teens or early teens and are trying to figure out who they are. It’s really easy to be influenced by a guy that you like, and this is a period of time when you need to figure out yourself. That’s what I’m doing right now.

You’ve been really open about your health issues in the past. Are you feeling good now?
It’s been an up-and-down roller coaster. It hasn’t been totally perfect since I got out of treatment, and I’d be lying if I told you that it has. But at this moment right now, and for a while now, it’s been smooth sailing. I feel like I’m just cruising and having a really amazing time in life. I wouldn’t have been able to make it through a summer tour while hosting the Teen Choice Awards and doing X Factor at the same time if I wasn’t in a healthy state of mind. I don’t really necessarily have an update, but I think that kind of proves itself.

The new season of The X Factor premieres on Sept. 12. How has your experience been so far?
The experience so far has been so much fun. It doesn’t feel like work at all, and I just have had so much fun working with Britney and Simon and L.A. We all get along really, really great, and it’s a lot of fun getting to see new talent and people with a lot of potential to be superstars.

There was a clip of Britney doling out some criticism on the show, and Simon recently called her mean. Is she really a mean judge?
He’s totally joking! With this show, there’s not really the mean one, the nice one, the funny one — we don’t have the typical panel of judges. I think we’re all really honest and sometimes it can come off as mean. We also joke around, and we like to have a lot of fun. There’s definitely been times when me and Britney have said no to people when Simon and L.A. say yes. We just have a different view on pop stars and celebrities because we’re in the pop industry ourselves. Simon and L.A. know a lot, for sure — but from an artist’s point of view, I feel maybe I’m more critical of the people on stage. For instance, if they say, “Oh, I didn’t have time to practice enough” or “I only got two hours of sleep,” I think I’m a little bit more critical. I’m like, “If you want to make it in this industry, you sometimes don’t even get to sleep at night.” There are no excuses.

Is it ever hard to reject people?
Of course. You’re kind of shattering someone’s dreams. When they’ve made it that far and you’re telling them no, it’s really difficult to watch. And I’ve had to let go of some really great people because there’s been a huge amount of really talented people and only a specific number could get through. We are very excited with the talent that we have, but of course it’s difficult to let people go — especially when they’re older and this is their last chance to make it.

Would you say it helps or hurts a contestant when they sing one of your songs?
I think that it doesn’t really hurt or help. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it’s my song or somebody else’s. If they do a great job on it then they deserve to go through, and if they don’t then it’s not meant to be. I think it hurts a lot of the contestants when they sing a Britney song, though. You just can’t do a Britney song. You won’t do it justice. There’s only one Britney Spears and she has a very unique voice. You can’t top her.

As the two female judges, have you and Britney been bonding?
When we’re sitting on the panel and passing notes, we have a lot of fun. So I guess, yeah, a little bit. But I’m still getting to know her and hopefully someday we can hang out off-camera. But I know that we’re both super, super busy.

If you had to be a contestant on a reality show, which one would you choose? 
I always wanted to be on Survivor. Out in the wild, stripped down to barely any food, having to work for everything and trying to survive with your basic instincts. I think that’d be a really cool experience.

School is starting again. Do you have any embarrassing back-to-school memories from when you were a kid?
I do! I have a back-to-school memory when I was running in the hallway, which, you know, you should never do. But I was running in the hallway and I was trying to get to second period or something like that, and I just completely busted ass. Like, fell in front of everybody. Obviously I’m a really clumsy person. I fall all the time on stage, and I feel like it’s not an official tour unless I fall during one concert. So, yes, I totally wiped out and it was really funny. And I just made a pose and threw my hands up in the air and said, “Ta-da!” People kind of just laughed instead of making fun of me, which was cool.

So you’re off men for now, but have you ever had a celebrity crush?
My first celebrity crush… I guess I’ve always just liked older guys, because my first celebrity crush was Leonardo DiCaprio when I was 5.


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