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Meaning of ‘New Rules’ by ‘Dua Lipa’

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Released: 2017

Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” is a quintessential pop anthem of empowerment and self-preservation. In the track, Dua Lipa sets herself some fundamental rules to keep her heart intact, as she battles the temptation of a toxic ex-lover. It’s all about learning from past mistakes, taking control, and setting boundaries.

Starting with the lyrics, “Talkin’ in my sleep at night, makin’ myself crazy“, Dua Lipa paints a vivid picture of emotional turmoil. Here, the late-night conversations she’s having with herself signify obsessing over someone who’s no good for her. The repeated “One, One, One” at the beginning becomes the countdown to her self-imposed rules for dealing with this dysfunctional relationship.

Moving on to her rules, “One: Don’t pick up the phone. You know he’s only callin’ ’cause he’s drunk and alone“. In this line, Dua Lipa is telling herself not to cave to the draw of a late-night call from an ex who’s likely just feeling lonely or remorseful under alcohol influence. The second rule, “Two: Don’t let him in, you’ll have to kick him out again“, is a bold stand against letting the ex physically back into her life because she’s aware it’ll only lead to more heartbreak. Rule number three, “Don’t be his friend. You know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning“, is a defense against accepting an unfulfilling “just friends” scenario, which will probably result in her getting hurt again.

Dua Lipa repeats these rules like a mantra, a sign of her determination not to fall into the same emotional trap again: “I got new rules, I count ’em. I gotta tell them to myself.” The notion of “counting” her rules underlines the importance of each one, as though she’s ticking them off a physical list to ensure they each get the recognition they deserve.

As the song reaches its climax: “Practice makes perfect. I’m still tryna learn it by heart. Eat, sleep and breathe it, rehearse and repeat it“, the singer is further affirming her commitment to these rules, showing how serious she is about making a change. She acknowledges that breaking free from a toxic cycle is hard, but she’s determined to keep trying until the new rules come naturally.

Finally, the repeated lines “Don’t let him in, don’t let him in” and “Don’t be his friend, don’t be his friend“, serve as a final reminder to herself – and to the listeners – of her solidified stand to “not let him in” emotionally and physically. Dua Lipa’s closure “You gettin’ over him” affirms that with these new rules, it’s possible to move on from an unhealthy relationship.

The track “New Rules” is truly a pop self-empowerment manifesto, full of grievances from past relationships, yet wrapped in a catchy, danceable tune that has people singing along and, hopefully, learning from Dua Lipa’s wisdom.

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