I'll give you careless amounts of out right
Acceptance if you want it. I'll give you
Encouragement to choose the path that you want if you need it.

You can speak of anger and doubts,
Your fears and freak-outs and I'll hold it.
You can share your so-called
Shame filled accounts of times in your life and I won't judge it.

And there are no strings attached,
You owe me nothing for giving the love that I give.
You owe me nothing for caring the way that I have.
I give you thanks for receiving, it's my privilege,
And you owe me nothing in return.

You can ask for space for yourself
And only yourself and I'll grant it.
You can ask for freedom as well
Or time to travel and you'll have it.

You can ask to live by yourself
Or love someone else and I'll support it.
You can ask for anything you want
Anything at all and I'll understand it.

I bet you're wondering when
The next payback shoe will eventually drop.
I bet you're wondering when my conditional police will force you to cough up.
I bet you're wondering how far you have now danced your way back into dead.

This is the only kind of love
As I understand it that there really is.
You can express your deepest of truths
Even if it means I'll lose you and I'll hear it.

You can fall into the abyss
On the way to your bliss
And I'll empathize with.
You can say that you'll have to skip town
To chase your passion and I'll hear it.
You can even hit rock bottom, have a mid-life crisis and I'll hold it.



Lyrics submitted by anacin

"You Owe Me Nothing in Return" as written by Alanis Morissette

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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You Owe Me Nothing In Return song meanings
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23 Comments

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  • +2
    Song Meaning:"You Owe Me Nothing in Return" is, in Morissette's words, "about the real definition of what love is ... wanting for someone that you love what they want for themselves. And at the same time not sacrificing my own life and my thoughts and my own beliefs. Supporting someone in their choices and at the same time being able to express what mine are, even if they differ, is the ultimate healthy, loving interaction."

    Source: msopr.com/mso/…
    deeniceon May 31, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Is it just me who thinks it's not as simple as people are saying? For me there is this slight air of cynicism, like 'You can do all these things that might hurt me and I'll just deal with it.'. Almost as in WHY would someone do that and the bit about 'I bet you're wondering when the next payback shoot will eventually drop' seems to me to be a bit odd. Surely an ideal relationship would be like that, as in he'd repay her in the same situation because of notions of equality. To me, equal grounding is more of a true love than doing everything for one person.

    I'm not sure, it just seems to me to be a kind of critique on people who bend over backwards for their lovers no matter what they might do and don't care if the other person reciprocates.
    Prisoner.I.Wason March 09, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I don't appreciate it being insinuated I'm selfish, wolfnrose. I'm not at all, my partner can tell you this so don't lump me in the same category with your ex. That's just rude and presumptuous. Relationships SHOULD be about equality and loving the other in return, it's not got anything to do with 'trade'.

    Anyway, aren't lyrics in many ways akin to poetry? Now call me crazy, but I believe that with poetry you can't actually be wrong. Perhaps Alanis did mean for this to be a song about the true definition of love, but if another interpretation makes just as much sense, why can't people view it in another way? Another reason people might take an interpretation like the one I took is because it's a stance Alanis takes in a lot of her songs. 'Hands Clean', 'You Oughta Know' etc. are all generally about lovers chewing their significant others up and spitting them out. Maybe that means 'You Owe Me...' is just an anomoly, I'm not throwing that theory away at all, but it could also be continuing the recurring theme in a lot of her songs.
    Prisoner.I.Wason September 01, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation:Not trying to be Mr. Wise Guy here, but to me there's a lot of satire and sarcasm in this song. The sad tone of her voice actually gives it away. As I understand the lyrics, this song is about unconditional love but not at all the good kind. I mean, just as an example: "You can ask to live by yourself or love someone else, and I'll support it"-- that has nothing to do with a healthy relationship.

    I think it is about being very much in love with somebody, to the point of obsession maybe, and that the other person owes you nothing in return for whatever you do for them. They can treat you in whatever way they want, because you'll always have their back, support them, be there for them. If they need space, support, love or acceptance, you will be the one they can call on. You will give all of your time and energy to make them feel loved, and deep in your heart that's what you really want to feel yourself. But it's not a matter of course that they will do the same things for you. It is not the type of love that is based on giving and taking, and there is really only one person who benefits from it. It is not equal or right, but the humble "giver" keeps hanging on because they have a tiny bit of hope that they will be loved fully in return. And if that doesn't happen, they'll just keep trying harder.
    happiness17on June 28, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:Love without expectation for it to be return and being content with that.
    FireFairy2005on May 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:This song is beautiful - how someone can love someone so much that they just want them to be happy, whether they're with them or someone else - 'this is the only kind of love, as I understand it, that there really is'.
    battered_angelon May 17, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:this lyric is completely wrong...
    "you can share your so-called SHAME filled accounts of times in your life and I won't judge it"
    "I bet you're wondering when the next payback SHOE will eventually drop"
    "I bet you're wondering how far you have NOW DANCED, you're way back into debt"
    "You CAN express your deepest of truths even if it means I'll lose you and i'll hear it"
    "You can say that you have to skip town to CHASE YOUR passion, and I'll hear it"
    aaanaon July 18, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:I quite like this. It's one of the best of the album, anyway.
    Golgothaon May 07, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:To me this song is about a mother's unconditional love. How she gives it and expecting nothing in return really, just having her kids there is enough..."I will give you encouragement to choose a path that you want if you need it...you can ask to live by yourself ,or love someone else and I'll support it
    " sounds like something a mother would do...
    suhaon December 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Comment:This is one of my fave Alanis songs. Wow, suha, I really liked hearing your indsight - I never thought of it as a parent-child thing before but now I see perfectly how it fits. I look at it from a relationship point of view mainly - it's the kind of love I'd love to be capable of giving but I just can't - it hurts me too much to give love away and have it not returned or not appreciated. It's a representation of such selfless love...it's beautiful.
    CakeAndSodomy69on August 19, 2005   Link

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