Camila Cabello has not been subtle: Her album Romance is about her two big real-life romances, including her current relationship with Shawn Mendes.
As she told Ellen DeGeneres on her appearance on the Ellen Show that airs today, the album is “about being in love. I was basically completely single for 20 years, and it was like the intensity and adrenaline of my life was in the studio, writing about an emotion that I wanted whereas this time, it’s just been a lot that has happened and I’ve fallen in love and out of love and in love, and that’s basically what this album is about is just kind of falling in love and what that feels like.”
Cabello also told DeGeneres that she and Mendes had feelings for each other way back in 2015, 2016. “We were stupid,” she said. “I think we both had a crush, but we were being babies about it. But we’re grown now!”
Cabello dated relationship expert and dating coach Matthew Hussey for a year and a half before Mendes; news of their break-up came out in June, shortly before Mendes and Cabello really started their romance in July.
Here, the clearest Mendes-related lyrics Cabello’s album, along with the real-life details that inspired them.
Liar and Shameless
From “Liar”: You’re watching, I feel it (Hey) / I know I shouldn’t stay (Yeah, yeah) / I picture your hand on me (I think I wanna let it happen) / But what if you kiss me? (Yeah) / And what if I like it? / And no one sees it
From “Shameless”: It’s been a secret for the longest time / Don’t run (Oh), no, don’t hide / Been running from it for the longest time / So many mornings I woke up confused / In my dreams, I do anything I want to you / My emotions are naked, they’re taking me out of my mind
So we’re there, now it’s real / Now that you have me, do you want me still? / My kisses are history, they go back a long time, uh / And I’m tired of loving somebody that’s not mine, no
Cabello has spoken previously about how “Liar” and “Shameless,” which were released as singles before Romance came out, were inspired by accepting her own romantic feelings. “They’re both about the same situation… I was denying feelings for this person for a long time,” she said in an Instagram livestream. “And before I would see him, I’d be like, ‘I don’t like him, I don’t like him. What, I don’t like him.’ And then I would be like ‘I like him.'” This could be her way of saying it was her reconciling her actual feelings for Mendes, who she has been friends with since 2015.
“It’s almost more scary because you have more to lose,” she started. “When you first start dating a person and you know nothing about them, there’s less at risk there. I think when you fall in love with somebody you’ve known for a long time, there’s more at stake.”
“But it also feels more special because it feels like the love story you see in the movies of people who have known each other for a long time but been too stupid to realize it or say it and then it happens—and that’s beautiful too,” she added.
Should’ve Said It
So you want me now? That’s funny / ‘Cause you didn’t give a… back then / Comin’ back around, so sorry / ‘Cause there’s no room in my bed / And I’m all good now, someone else is gettin’ all of me (Ah) / If you wanted me so desperately, you shoulda said it
This song seems to be directed to Hussey, but that “someone else is gettin’ all of me” is likely Mendes. Mendes and Cabello started dating weeks after Hussey and Cabello’s split. Mendes said they started dating on July 4.
Bad Kind of Butterflies
What do I do when I love you and want somebody else? / What do I lose if I don’t choose and keep it to myself?
I know I said we were friends / And when I said that, I meant it (Swear I meant it) / Somewhere between now and then / It became more than just a friendship (Mm)
Cabello started working with Mendes on “Señorita” while she was still dating Hussey. As she told ELLE in October, “Shawn texted me the idea for the chorus for ‘Señorita.’ He was like, ‘Hey, what if we work on this and do it together?’ I was on the Taylor Swift tour [in 2018] and hadn’t been in the studio for a while. I didn’t want to do it, and then a few months later, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. I [ finally] told him, ‘I think we should do this.’ He was like, ‘I don’t want to do it anymore.’ It went back and forth for, like, eight months. Then we finally went into the studio and reworked it so we both felt good about it, without any pressure. I love working with him so much.” Cabello has also said she had feelings for Mendes the entire time she knew him. Given this, Cabello could be singing about her feelings for Mendes complicating her relationship with Hussey.
You really, really know me / The future and the old me / All of the mazes and the madness in my mind / You really, really love me / You know me and you love me / And it’s the kind of thing I always hoped I’d find, yeah
Cabello and Mendes were close friends before they were in a relationship. And as she pointed out in her The Sun interview, there’s more to risk and gain from dating a friend. “When you first start dating a person and you know nothing about them, there’s less at risk there,” she said. “I think when you fall in love with somebody you’ve known for a long time, there’s more at stake.”
Feel It Twice
I can feel you still staring at me when I look away / Can’t imagine the pain that you feel when I kiss his face
“Feel It Twice” is more of a breakup song, meaning the likely subject is Hussey. But Cabello and Mendes’ romance was very public over the summer, with tons of published photos of them kissing everywhere. This could be her nod to what Hussey aw when he encountered photos of her “kiss[ing Mendes’] face.”
Dream of You
He’s a bad dancer, he’s a right answer / He’s a shy singer most of the time
That’s just him and I / He’s an over-thinker, he’s a slow kisser / A confined sinner all of the time / When it’s him and I
Mendes, in the behind the scenes video of “Señorita,” spoke about how he wasn’t the biggest fan of dancing. “This is my worst nightmare… having to dance,” he said. And of course, Mendes is a singer with a more shy temperament.
Used to This
No, I never liked San Francisco / Never thought it was nothin’ special / ‘Til you kissed me there / No, I never liked windy cities / But I think maybe when you’re with me / I like everywhere (Oh)
I could get used to this (Seventeen when we started to fall, but we lost it all)
Cabello and Mendes’ first date was in San Francisco. She told the crowd at Apple Music’s New Music Daily performance in November, via an eyewitness, that the song “came together just one day after her trip to San Francisco, where she and Mendes shared their first date and kiss.” And of course, the two first developed feelings for each other as teenagers, when she was 17 in 2014/2015.
You can read a full lyric explainer for Used to This here.
Via Genius, Cabello said “First Man” was the first song she wrote for the album, before she started dating Mendes. “I remember walking to the studio that day. I had a bunch of lyrics and a bunch of ideas, but I started talking about my dad. And I started getting really emotional about it. I’ve heard that song—I don’t know how many times—every single time I picture my dad’s face and it makes me cry. I think it’s just going to be a song that I listen to when I’m 80 years old and it’ll make me sob in the same way because I’ve immortalized a memory of somebody that was one of the people that I love most in the entire world.”
At the time she wrote it, it may have been about Hussey, her first boyfriend. But Mendes liked the Instagram snippet of the song, hinting maybe its lyric “He makes me really happy / I think he might be the one, oh” may be directed at him.
You can read every single lyric from Cabello’s album Romance here on Genius.