It’s easy to get caught up in the steaminess of it all, so you might have overlooked a particularly poignant moment within Positions in which Grande directly addresses a great love: the late rapper Mac Miller.
In "off the table" featuring The Weeknd, Grande sings worries that she might not be able to love again after Miller's death. She begins the song by directly addressing him: "Will I ever love the same way again? / Will I ever love somebody like the way I did you? / Never thought you'd be so damn hard to replace / [...] If I can't have you, is love completely off the table?"
She then continues to doubt herself in the chorus: "Might not be quite yet healed or ready / Should I be goin' too steady? / But I just wanna know is love complеtely off the table?"
Grande and Miller dated for two and a half years before breaking up in 2018. The two had been friends first, but while they were together the rapper's struggle with substance abuse made their relationship "toxic" and "scary". Grande then dated comedian Pete Davidson in May 2018, got engaged in June 2018 and called it off in October 2018, a month after Miller died from an accidental overdose.
When Grande opened up a year later about his death, she described her mourning as “all-consuming." "By no means was what we had perfect, but, like, fuck. He was the best person ever, and he didn’t deserve the demons he had," she said. "I was the glue for such a long time, and I found myself becoming...less and less sticky. The pieces just started to float away.”
The mark that Miller left on Grande's heart has been noticeable for a long time. This isn't the first time that the singer has written a song about her ex love. In thank u, next, "ghostin" is widely assumed to be about how she was never really able to let go of Miller, even when she was with Davidson: Though I wish he were here instead / Don't want that living in your head / He just comes to visit me / When I'm dreaming every now and then." But "off the table" comes from a more hopeful place. She acknowledges her heartbreak, but seems to have found someone who might finally help her move on.
In his verse, The Weeknd sings from this perspective (Gomez, it seems), and tries to assure Grande that no, if she lets him in, love could definitely be in their future. "I'll wait for you / Even though it always feels like I'll be number two / To someone you can't hold anymore / If you let me in, I'm ready to give you what I couldn't before' / Cause I got you, girl, let me help you through it," he sings.