I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "Cheating on You" by Charlie Puth mean?

What does "Cheating on You" by Charlie Puth mean?

Lyrics Meaning of "Cheating on You"

Upon first glance at this single’s cover art, it’s clear Charlie Puth wants his audience to know that the relationship described in this song is completely fictitious. In white all-caps text against a plain black background, the cover art reads, “THIS SONG IS NOT ABOUT A PERSON, IT’S ABOUT A FEELING I’VE NEVER HAD.” With the facts boldly on display, Puth dives into the story of a hypothetical relationship filled with arrogance, regret, and yearning.

"When I touch her, I feel like I’m cheatin’ on you"

This song is an explanation of inner emotions belonging to someone who has not moved on from a recently ended relationship. Puth sings from the first person perspective, reminiscing about the love he had and lost. Other than the first verse, this song doesn’t offer much storyline or plot development, which makes it more ideal for “vibing” than contemplation. This song has no conclusion, per se – it’s essentially an expression of feeling and thought set against good beats.

Verse 1

It started with a kiss on your momma’s couch
2012 was nothin’ serious
And then we caught the feels, it got really real
Too good to be true, I guess I thought you was

The first verse gives a brief explanation of the relationship’s history. As quickly as that history is explained, Puth describes taking the relationship and his girlfriend for granted, and they falter. Perhaps, since they relationship began in 2012, they grew uninspired with each other over time and let their “spark” go out. Maybe something happened between them that is not explained in the lyrics.


Why did I run away, run away, run away?
Your love was everything, everything, everything
I know it’s getting late, getting late, getting late
But can I still be on my way, on my way?

The pre-chorus opens with a moment of reflection where Puth thinks, “How could I have been so foolish to abandon this girl and this relationship (even though they’re both hypothetical)?” He says her love was “everything,” and then asks her if he is still able to visit her despite the late hour. It sounds like he is attempting to reconcile the relationship.


I know I said goodbye and baby, you said it too
But when I touch her, I feel like I’m cheatin’ on you
I thought that I’d be better when I found someone new
But when I touch her, I feel like I’m cheatin’ on you

It comes to light that both parties in the relationship called it quits. Since this song is written from Puth’s (again, hypothetical) perspective, he confesses in the title line of the song, “But when I touch her, I feel like I’m cheatin’ on you.” This implies that he is still connected to his ex. The next line, “I thought that I’d be better when I found someone new,” suggests that he might want to get back together with his ex since he now knows he was happier and more fulfilled while in a relationship with her in particular.

Verse 2

Thought I could get you back any time of day
Shouldn’t have been so cocky, shouldn’t have did you wrong
And now I miss you bad, really, really bad
Guess you don’t know what you got until it’s gone

The idea of possibly reconciling and getting back together with his ex is explored in the second verse. Puth admits to an indecency of his — cockiness — that possibly contributed to the relationship’s demise. He expresses missing his ex “really, really” bad, which leads the listeners to believe he is trying to earn back her love.


Baby, no
Bury my lips on your lips
And nobody else feels like this
There’s no moving on, I’ll admit
If you go away

In the bridge, Puth makes a final attempt to remind his ex of how their lips feel on each other and how “nobody else feels like this.” He says that he will not be able to move on from her or their relationship now that he realizes how good he had things while with her.

Deeper Meaning of "Cheating on You" by Charlie Puth

If Puth feels like he’s cheating on his ex (read: hypothetical ex — just trying to make sure the point of his cover art is made with these reminders) whenever he touches a woman, it’s fair play to assume that he is still in love with his ex and wants her to consider taking him back. This assumption is verified by various explanations of how no one compares to her and an admission that no one will ever make him feel the way she did. Outside of this hypothetical relationship, Puth does not give any information as to where the idea or inspiration for this song came from, but regardless it makes the listener ponder different possibilities of relationship dynamics.

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