Have you turned on the radio recently and heard the lilting lyrics sung by an Australian man bemoaning a sad breakup? You know, the one where he sings, “I know you love her, but it’s over, mate” / It doesn't matter, put the phone away? That’s Dean Lewis, the 31-year-old singer from Sydney, whose first album A Place We Knew, was just released March 22. Lewis’s breakup ballad, “Be Alright,” has gone platinum six times in Australia since its release in 2018. It now enjoys the twenty-fifth spot on the Hot 100 Billboard chart.
The song, detailing a guy friend helping another guy friend with advice on how to get over a bad breakup seems to be striking a chord with listeners. I think this is in part because the song hits a number of insightful notes on the topic of broken relationships.
Put the phone away.
In his catchy tune, Lewis is smart to include lyrics that couldn’t be more apt for our generation. Sometimes we need to just put the phone away. Stop looking at the social-media feed, stop looking through old photos, and stop re-listening to messages. While phones were created to facilitate useful communication, too often we employ our smartphones to get lost in a dizzying cycle of lonely and unproductive thoughts.
Lewis sings, “So I still look back at all the messages you'd sent / And I know it wasn't right, but it was f—ng with my head / And everything deleted like the past, it was gone.”
There’s something smart about deleting communications from, or reminders of, a chapter of our lives that’s now over, especially if it’s presence risks unhealthy obsession.
When there’s infidelity, secrets kept can hurt more than the actual cheating.
In “Be Alright,” the relationship Dean Lewis is describing is one that ended in what many of us imagine would be the worst possible way—he found out his significant other was cheating on him. But his lyrics tell us something interesting about what exactly hurts him the most.
“You look away from me / And I see there's something you're trying to hide / . . . I wonder what's on your mind . . . It's not the fact that you kissed him yesterday / It's the feeling of betrayal, that I just can't seem to shake.”
A host of research is now showing that, while infidelity is unfortunately common, a main factor that indicates whether unfaithful relationships are repairable or not is whether the betraying party comes clean. As relationship counselor Darlene Lancer wrote at Psychology Today, secrets and lies “block real intimacy with a partner. . . . For everyone involved, the pain of the secrecy compounds the pain over the initial event, and the longer the deception continues, the more damaging it is to self-esteem.”
Breakups are hard . . . and that’s normal.
Perhaps the most relatable part of “Be Alright” is the aspect that captures how the end of relationships are. Just. Always. Hard. As Lewis sings:
“And everything I know tells me that I should walk away / But I just want to stay / . . . It's never easy to walk away, let her go / It'll be alright.”
There can be self-doubt, grief for lost time and heart, or wishful thinking that you could go back to how things were, or seemed, before. It’s fair to say breakups create mixed emotions. What’s important is that you surround yourself with reliable loved ones besides your ex, to remember you are worthy of love, while decreasing the chance you’ll rebound when feeling lonely. This is why Lewis was insightful to make his song a dialogue between two guy friends, one supporting the other.
In time, you will feel better.
His friend might not have all the best advice (he suggests at one point, “so bottoms up, let's forget tonight”), but at the end of the song, Lewis sings perhaps the best part of his friend’s advice: “They can't steal / The love you're born to find . . . It'll be alright.”
Whatever hurt a breakup brings in the moment, if you process it healthily, it doesn’t have to last forever. We can learn from what went wrong so as not to repeat the past, and we can gain some space from the hurtful parties in order to recover. Then with time, hope will return for a brighter path ahead.