The Real Meaning Behind Ariana Grande's Song Ghostin

Music allows us to express things we cannot easily say. "Ghostin" from Ariana Grande's "Thank U, Next" album is a perfect example of this. The lyrics of "Ghostin" chronicle mourning and missing a past love while in a new relationship, and understanding you hurt your partner by doing this.

In a since-deleted tweet, Grande said it wasn't a song she'd be able to sing live due to the emotional significance of it. Insider guessed the song is about Grande being engaged to Pete Davidson while still in love with Mac Miller. Contributors on Genius also mentioned how Miller passed away a few months before "Ghostin" released, so it could additionally be about Grande mourning his death while with Davidson.

The "Ghostin" lyrics begin with Grande telling her current partner that she knows he hears her crying at night. She admits, "If you were anybody else / probably wouldn't last a day," implying another man wouldn't be able to withstand Grande's emotions about her past partner, so this is a good man that she's with. Another interpretation is that Grande does love her current partner despite her feelings of the past one because she wouldn't stay with any other guy while feeling so conflicted. Next, Grande says, "You've been so understanding, you've been so good / And I'm puttin' you through more than one ever should." She then acknowledges her self-loathing over her own behavior, knowing that it bothers her partner though he won't say so.

The ghosting mentioned in the song has two interpretations

In the chorus of "Ghostin," Ariana Grande sings, "I know that it breaks your heart when I cry again / 'stead of ghostin' him." Grande's partner is sad that she can't cut ties with her past love — or, that she is focusing more on someone who has passed than on the man right in front of her. Grande is still adamant that she and her current partner will come out the other side stronger: "We'll get through this, we'll get past this, I'm a girl with / a whole lot of baggage / but I love you, we'll get past this [...]." 

However, if the current partner in the song is indeed meant to be Pete Davidson, their relationship did not make it — they broke off their engagement in October 2018, shortly after Mac Miller's death.

Despite the two songs being tonally different, the reference to baggage is reminiscent of another track on "Thank U, Next" — Grande's "7 Rings," when she sings, "Been through some bad s***, I should be a sad b***h / Who woulda thought it'd turn me to a savage?"

Which verse was the most challenging for Ariana Grande?

Fans thought they spotted Mac Miller references in Ariana Grande's "Positions" album, and "Ghostin" from "Thank U, Next" has references to the late rapper, as well. For example, in the second verse, Grande sings how she wishes her former partner was still around and that she sees him in dreams. Both Insider and Genius annotators noticed how that line is similar to a lyric in Miller's "Cinderella" when he sang, "You in my dreams, that's why I sleep all the time."

Grande continues to say she knows there's a lot of good in her future with her current partner, adding, "What was done and what was said / leave it all here in this bed with you (with you)." She then repeats the chorus, and the rest of the song is a minute-long outro of instrumentals and Grande vocalizing without any clear lyrics.

In her interview with Zach Sang, Grande said "Ghostin" was the most difficult song to do on the album. She wanted to cut it, but her former manager Scooter Braun encouraged her to keep it. When Sang asked what lyric was the most challenging to put into a song, Grande said the second verse. She admitted it's a beautiful song, but she cannot listen to it. She also refused to answer when Sang asked what the song was about, prompting the two of them to make a "Thank U, Next" joke and move to a new topic.