It feels like I’ve been following Ariana Grande‘s love life closer than that of my own friends this year. When she broke things off with Mac Miller, I was sad, but understood. Then as she and Pete Davidson filled up my Instagram feed with an endless amount of BDE, adorable PDA, and matching tattoos, I couldn’t help but love everything about their unexpected relationship. But, unfortunately, not even adopting a cute little pig together could make their connection an everlasting one.
After I heard about Miller’s death, I was completely taken aback just like the rest of the world, and it was painful to watch the downward spiral Grande and Davidson entered afterward, calling off their engagement and quickly covering up those tattoos. But amidst all the drama that came in the aftermath of the breakup, the singer did what she does best. She released a total #girlpower anthem filled with the powerful words she needed to say—and the rest of the world needed to hear.
Anyone with a list of exes probably wants to forget they ever existed, but Grande used “Thank U, Next” as an opportunity to thank them for what they’ve taught her over the years—and reassure her fans she’s moving on in the best way. In the lyrics, she mentions her most talked-about relationships—Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, Pete Davidson, and Mac Miller—who each gave her valuable life lessons of love, patience, and pain. And while times have undoubtedly been tough, with lyrics like: “I know they say I move on too fast / But this one gon’ last / ‘Cause her name is Ari / And I’m so good with that,” she makes it clear that everything she’s been through has led her into a deeper relationship with herself.
“We can learn a lot about ourselves and what we want from our past relationships that didn’t work out, and then we can hopefully move forward to have an even better one next time.” —Paulette Sherman, PhD
Now, Grande isn’t the first to get an emotional weight lifted off her chest with a breakup song. In the past, that’s been the basis of some of the biggest hits, including Beyoncé‘s “Sorry,” Britney Spears’ “Stronger,” and Rihanna’s “Take a Bow.” And according to New York City-based psychologist and relationship expert Paulette Sherman, PhD, there really is some catharsis in the tracks for both the artist and those belting out the lyrics at home.
“Breakup anthems have the potential to be healing to artists and listeners by taking pain and creating something helpful of lasting beauty that contains the lessons they’ve learned and represents their transformation,” she says. “Grande talks about what she’s learned from past partners and emphasizes that we can all learn, grow, and become more of who we want to be from every love and experience, even when it involves heartbreak—something that’s especially good to keep in mind when you feel hurt and jaded. We can learn a lot about ourselves and what we want from our past relationships that didn’t work out, and then we can hopefully move forward to have an even better one next time.”
Take it from Grande: Everyone you’ve let into your life over the years has taught you something that’s turned you into the amazing person you are today, even if things didn’t go as planned. So, really, the only thing left to say? Thank u, next.
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