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Meaning of ‘we can’t be friends’ by ‘Ariana Grande’

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Released: 2024

In “We Can’t Be Friends (Wait For Your Love)” Ariana Grande delivers a tale of torment and longing wrapped in melancholic pop vibes. Can’t seem to reconcile the friendship and love, she’s stuck in a no-man’s land of the heart.

Starting off with “I didn’t think you’d understand me” and “How could you ever even try?”, Grande serves up a gut punch of emotional disconnect. She’s wrestling with a love that doesn’t quite see her for who she is, and she can’t stand pretending anymore. This repetitive grind has left her feeling trapped, hence the “monstrous fire.”

The chorus, “We can’t be friends. But I’d like to just pretend. You cling to your papers and pens. Wait until you like me again”, is Grande’s display of longing for an easier resolution. Papers and pens might be a slick shorthand for how romance can be stuck in theory, clauses, and conditions.

In the second verse, Ariana’s dialogue with truth and her own image reflects the power dynamics at play. She doesn’t want to remain silent (“I don’t wanna argue, but I don’t wanna bite my tongue”), but the cost of speaking her truth can be too high.

Holding onto “wait for your love” Grande expresses her stubborn hope. She’s waiting on the receding shorelines of affection, hoping her love will tide back. The last verse digs deeper into this push-and-pull relationship dynamic, with Ariana reflecting on how she is perceived by her love interest and how it makes her feel unappreciated.

She’s caught in a dance she didn’t sign up for, painted in colors “not what you made me.” That’s the frustrating reality: being caught in the spotlight of someone else’s narrative where you don’t feel seen. Still, she waits for love, but there’s that sting of acceptance: “So for now, it’s only me And maybe that’s all I need.” A brave face in the face of heartbreak, ending on a high note of self-affirmation.

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