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 "boyfriend" by Ariana Grande and Social House mean?

What does "boyfriend" by Ariana Grande and Social House mean?

“Boyfriend” Lyrics Meaning

When asked on her twitter what inspired “boyfriend,” Ariana Grande replied with this explanation: “I feel like this song captures a common theme in the lives of so many people I know! People want to feel love but don’t want to define their relationship & have trouble fully committing or trusting or allowing themselves to fully love someone. Even though they want to. We wanted to make something uplifting that captures that feeling of being afraid to take the leap & trust, being afraid of being hurt or feeling like you won’t be enough for that person ... but also how it feels to have a crippling crush on someone.”

“I ain’t your girlfriend / But you don’t want me to see nobody else” 

“Boyfriend” follows two people who are in an ambiguous, non-exclusive, relationship. They are considering the possibility of making a commitment to becoming a couple, but are unsure if they are ready to take that step. 

Verse 1 [Ariana Grande]

I'm a motherf***in' train wreck

I don't wanna be too much

But I don't wanna miss your touch

And you don't seem to give a f**k

I don't wanna keep you waiting

But I do just what I have to do

And I might not be the one for you

But you ain't about to have no boo

She doesn’t want to burden the person she likes with her “train-wreck’ life, but removing herself from his life isn’t an option. While she “might not be the one for” him, she isn’t going to end the ambiguous relationship no matter how much she doubts their compatibility. 

Pre-Chorus [Ariana Grande]

'Cause I know we be so complicated

But we be so smitten, it's crazy

I can't have what I want, but neither can you

The attraction they feel towards one another is intense, and it’s for this reason she chooses to ignore the possibility they could be wrong for one another. Unfortunately, it also means that neither can have what they want in the relationship. 

Chorus [Ariana Grande]

You ain't my boyfriend

And I ain't your girlfriend

But you don't want me to see nobody else

And I don't want you to see nobody

But you ain't my boyfriend 

And I ain't your girlfriend 

But you don't want me to touch nobody else

Baby, we ain't gotta tell nobody

The relationship isn’t official, but she is beginning to think maybe they should commit. The confusing feeling of being “together” but not exclusively is arousing feelings of jealousy in both of them. 

Verse 2 [Mikey]

Even though you ain't mine, I promise the way we fight

Make me honestly feel like we just in love

'Cause, baby, when push comes to shove

D**n, baby, I'm a train wreck, too

I lose my mind when it comes to you

I take time with the ones I choose

And I don't want a smile if it ain't from you, yeah

Her almost-boyfriend admits with pride that they fight like a couple already. He also assures her that it doesn’t matter to him if she’s a mess because he’s “a train wreck too. It may take him time to commit, but he seems to be close to it, because he knows he doesn’t even “want a smile if it ain’t from” her. She is the only girl whose affections matter to him. 

Verse 3 [Scootie]

I wanna kiss you, don't wanna miss you

But I can't be with you 'cause I got issues

Yeah, on the surface, seem like it's easy

Careful with words, but it's still hard to read me

Stress high when the trust low 

Bad vibes, where'd the fun go?

Try to open up and love more

Try to open up and love more

He wants to be with her, but his own issues are preventing their connection from growing into something serious. Their current relationship is strained with high stress and low trust, but he wants to “open up” to her and “love more”.

Bridge [Scootie & Ariana Grande]

If you were my boyfriend

And you were my girlfriend

I prolly wouldn't see nobody else

But I can't guarantee that by myself

They decide that if they were to become an official couple, they probably would be faithful, but they can’t be sure until it happens. The ending is inconclusive, and leaves the potential pair still wondering if they are ready to commit to one another.

Deeper Meaning of “Boyfriend” by Ariana Grande

“boyfriend” is about trying to decide when it’s time to turn an intense mutual crush into a serious relationship. This can only happen successfully when both people are prepared to remain faithful and love the other selflessly. The couple in “boyfriend” is unsure if they’re there yet, and for that reason they still haven’t committed. 

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