While Rihanna is known for her awe-inspiring confidence, the 27-year-old singer nevertheless shows her vulnerable side when it comes to her controversial relationship with Chris Brown in a candid new interview with Vanity Fair.
After 26-year-old Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault and accepted a plea deal in 2009 after an altercation with Rihanna turned physical the night before the GRAMMYs that year, the singer resumed dating him in 2013, before splitting up again several months later.
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"I was that girl -- that girl who felt that as much pain as this relationship is, maybe some people are built stronger than others. Maybe I'm one of those people built to handle sh*t like this," Rihanna now shares about her state of mind at the time. "Maybe I’m the person who’s almost the guardian angel to this person, to be there when they're not strong enough, when they're not understanding the world, when they just need someone to encourage them in a positive way and say the right thing."
Rihanna says she "a hundred percent" thought she could change Brown.
"I was very protective of him," she stresses. "I felt that people didn’t understand him. Even after ... But you know, you realize after a while that in that situation you're the enemy. You want the best for them, but if you remind them of their failures, or if you remind them of bad moments in their life, or even if you say I’m willing to put up with something, they think less of you -- because they know you don't deserve what they’re going to give. And if you put up with it, maybe you are agreeing that you [deserve] this, and that's when I finally had to say, 'Uh-oh, I was stupid thinking I was built for this.' Sometimes you just have to walk away."
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These days, Rihanna reveals the two don't talk at all.
"I don't hate him," she shares. "I will care about him until the day I die. We're not friends, but it's not like we're enemies. We don't have much of a relationship now."
Rihanna says she's currently single despite recent pictures of her showing PDA with rapper Travis Scott. The "B*ch Better Have My Money" singer says her last official boyfriend was Brown, and before that, pro baseball player Matt Kemp. But she insists that she's not into hooking up for fun.
MORE: Chris Brown Wants to Raise Awareness About Domestic Violence in Australia
"If I wanted to I would completely do that," she says. "I am going to do what makes me feel happy, what I feel like doing. But that would be empty for me; that to me is a hollow move. I would wake up the next day feeling like sh*t."
"When you love somebody, that's different," she adds. "Even if you don't love them per se, when you care enough about somebody and you know that they care about you, then you know they don't disrespect you. And it's about my own respect for myself. A hundred percent."
Above all, RiRi is not willing to settle.
"I will wait forever if I have to ... but that's OK." she says. "You have to be screwed over enough times to know, but now I’m hoping for more than these guys can actually give."
Still, Rihanna isn't giving up home on finding true love.
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"A very extraordinary gentleman, with a lot of patience, will come along when I least expect it," she muses. "And I don't want it right now. I can't really be everything for someone. This is my reality right now."
Clearly, both Rihanna and Brown are still feeling the effects of their intense, highly publicized relationship to this day. Last September, ET's Kevin Frazier caught up with the controversial singer, when he talked openly about his not-so-stellar reputation.
"You have to forgive yourself," Brown said. "You can't beat yourself up over the years, because it'll just eat at you and you'll be stuck in the past. And for me, I just learned to be a more humble individual and more of a conscious person."
Just last week, he tweeted out his desire to help in the efforts against domestic violence, after reports surfaced that he might be denied entry into Australia. "I’m not the pink elephant in the room anymore," he tweeted. "My life mistakes should be a wake-up call for everyone. Showing the world that mistakes don't define you. Trying to prevent spousal abuse."
"The youth don't listen to parents nor do they listen to PSAs," he added. "The power that we have as Entertainers can change lives."
Here's more on Rihanna’s reported new relationship with 23-year-old Scott.