Behind the Meaning of “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” by Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande previewed her album, Eternal Sunshine, with “we can’t be friends (wait for your love).” While the beat of this song is dance-able, the lyrics are thought provoking and introspective. Check out the meaning (or two) behind this song, below.

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Behind the Meaning of “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)”

I didn’t think you’d understand me
How could you ever even try?
I don’t wanna tiptoe, but I don’t wanna hide
But I don’t wanna feed this monstrous fire

There are several ways to take this song. On one hand, Grande seems to be addressing a lover. Given that she went through a public divorce shortly before this song came out, we can assume that it is about her former husband, Dalton Gomez. On the other hand, there are elements of this song that feel addressed to the public. Her divorce and subsequent relationship were fervently dissected online. Could Grande be trying to send us a message?

Starting with the first theory, we can tell Grande is mourning the loss of her relationship. We can’t be friends / But I’d like to just pretend, she sings in the chorus. It feels as if Grande is tying to bargain her way into keeping her former partner in her life, albeit in a different way.

The latter half of the chorus seems to be chiding the press and social media for changing up their opinion of her based on rumors. You cling to your papers and pens / Wait until you like me again, she sings.

Me and my truth, we sit in silence
Baby girl, it’s just me and you
‘Cause I don’t wanna argue, but I don’t wanna bite
My tongue, yeah, I think I’d rather die

In the same vein, the second verse is open to interpretation. If we’re looking through the intimate relationship lens, it seems Grande is stuck between trying not to argue with her partner and needing to speak her truth. On the other hand, it could be a commentary on her staying out of her public drama. She doesn’t want to hit back at the rumors, but she struggles to say silent.

It’s hard to pull off a balancing act like this. Music is always up to interpretation, but to write a song with two iron-clad meanings attached to it is no easy feat. Grande pulls that off tenfold here. Revisit the track, below.

(Photo by Aliah Anderson/Getty Images)

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