What does Better Man mean?

Pearl Jam: Better Man Meaning

Album cover for Better Man album cover

Better Man Lyrics

Waitin', watchin' the clock
It's four o'clock, it's got to stop
Tell him, take no more
She practices her speech, as he opens the door
She rolls over
Pretends to sleep as he looks her over

1-She lies and says she's in love with him


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 23rd 2021 !⃝

    It's funny how this song means so many different things to people and that most think it's about an abusive relationship. It likely is just that.

    However, when I listen to it, I think of myself as a husband. After 35 year's my wife left me. Not because abuse or anything like that, she told me that I was a good man, husband, father and son. That it was not about me, she wanted to go her own way, without me.

    I think she felt trapped by the fact we took a vow together and even though she didn't love me anymore, she couldn't leave because of that vow and that we were really all we knew. I lives were always together.

    She felt trapped by a love she outgrew. Trapped by a man who still loved her and was a good man. I'm glad she finally choose to leave because her resentment toward me became abusive to me. The opposite of what 99% of people hear when they listen to this song.

    It is very hard to be told you are a good man but I am leaving anyway. It never will make sense to me.

    When I listen to it, I hear the women who wants out, and think if I were only a better man she might not have choose to throw me away.

    I was the one who could not leave and was home waiting, wondering.

    I have listened to it hundreds of times, to help me accept the loss. I know one thing that really brings it home to me, if I was not good enough I would want her to leave. And she did. I respect her choice, but I was left broken and abandoned and will always wonder why I was not a good enough man.

    Another odd thing is my Mom loved my Dad and when he passed she would say "why should I be sad, I was married to the best man in the world for 63 years, I should be grateful."

    I did everything he taught me, he was was a good man, I thought life for me would end like that for me. Leaving behind a wife who always thought I was the best man.

    The thing that is funny is that in the context of my parents, I thought my Mom was always happpy because she could not have found a better man, because she found the best one for her.

    Way back, then I would listen and think the same thing, there was no better man than my Dad. I would song along and think of that....

    As much as her leaving me hurt, I would listen to it over and over knowing I would not want my wife to stay if she felt trapped. She did the right thing.

    I'd rather live with the pain than the thought of her feeling trapped with me.

    I wish her the best, and I try to forget all the great memories. They just hurt to much. Had I been the abusive man in the song I would understand her leaving.
    Having been by her own account a good man has left me to always wonder what it was that changed the way she felt about me. Mabye she found a better man. I never asked.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    May 1st 2013 !⃝

    A woman is stuck in a loveless and abusive relationship.

    She lacks the courage, strength and self-respect to end the relationship.

    She dreams of killing him.

    She rationalizes her inaction by claiming there is no one better out there for her. That she needs him despite his abuse.

    She recalls back when she was young and ready to take on the world, but now she is broken, afraid and shuttered.

    A tragic song.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Feb 2nd 2018 !⃝

    The woman is laying in bed waiting for her man to come home.... and he comes in at 4:00 in the morning. As she’s laying there she’s practicing what she wants to say to him about how it’s got to stop and she’s not going to take this behavior anymore.... but when he comes in she tools over and pretends to be asleep ... probably because she’s afraid to say what she wishes she had the courage to say... He looks at her ....she lies to herself and tells herself she loves him because she doesn’t think she can find a better man ... her self esteem is low ... and she’s been with this “bastard” (as Eddie Vedder refers to him) and feels powerless.
    She keeps his abusiveness to herself saying that no one needs to know....
    She recalls a time when she was strong and and had the naive view of her world being perfect. But the damage of this relationship has left her broken/damaged and she believes she’s unable/unworthy.... can’t find a better man.

  4. anonymous
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    Mar 16th 2023 !⃝

    The song is about a woman that discovered she likes women - that's why she can't find a better MAN. He's the best one out there and she really likes him, but the truth is that she doesn't love him as a lover and he just won't fulfill her...


  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 7th 2021 !⃝

    The song is about a woman who longs for love however is with a man who doesn’t give it her. She wants to love him and keeps convincing herself he is the best man for her because of her incredible loyalty to him and her inability to move on with another man. She is trapped in an unhappy relationship because she has a good heart and deserves to be loved however is being taken advantage of.

  6. anonymous
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    Jun 10th 2021 !⃝

    A woman in an abusive relationship who is waiting for the world to come along...basically HOPING he will change. She lies to herself saying that she cant find a better man. She feeds him and that's why she will be back again..
    Yup, she cares for him like a slave...he needs her. Trauma bonding does that

  7. Anonymous1234
    click a star to vote
    Nov 23rd 2019 !⃝

    It’s about a woman who can’t find her way out of an abusive relationship. I have been through this and this song describes the psychology of it perfectly.

    “Waiting, watching the clock, it’s got to stop. Tell him, take no more, she practices her speech. As he opens the door, she rolls over. Pretends to sleep as he looks her over.” She’s told herself that this is it, she’s going to end it. She’s anxiously waiting for him to get home so she can tell him, but by the time he does she’s lost her nerve.

    “She lies and says she’s in love with him. Can’t find a better man.” She’s convinced herself she loves him because it hurts too much to accept the reality of what he is. “Can’t find a better man” is a lie that plays out in many ways. She lies to the outside world that she “can’t find a better man” and that he’s a good guy because she’s ashamed of the abuse. She lies to herself that he’s a good man because it’s the only way she can cope with being in this relationship. She’s also had her self worth so destroyed by him that she now believes she truly can’t find a better man because she feels worthless and that no one else would want such a damaged woman.

    “She dreams in color, she dreams in red. Can’t find a better man.” Her dreams are her subconscious showing her how bleak her life has become. Somewhere deep inside her she still has life in her, but he’s draining it out of her day by day.

    “Talking to herself. There’s no one else who needs to know, she tells herself.” She’s hiding the abuse from friends and family.

    “Memories back when she was bold and strong and waiting for the world to come along. Swears she knew him as she swears he’s gone.” She’s remembering who she was before him and she sees how different she is now. She can’t wrap her mind around how this man she thought she knew has become such a monster and turned her into this weak version of herself.

    “She lies and says she still loves him.” She truly did love him at one point but deep down she now knows there’s nothing lovable about this man. She’s still grasping onto the illusion of who she thought he was though and can’t quite let go yet.

    “She loved him. She don’t want to leave this way. She feeds him. That’s why she’ll be back again.” She’s put her whole soul into this relationship. It’s taken everything from her and it destroys her to think that if she leaves then it was all for nothing. “She feeds him” refers to him feeding off of her with his abuse. He is sucking the life out of her. He needs to have somebody to abuse in order to feel powerful, and she is there to fill that role for him. “That’s why she’ll be back again” refers to what’s known as a trauma bond. The abuse is so psychologically damaging that the person being abused can become addicted to their abuser and to the abuse cycle. This is why most women who leave abusive relationships will go back many times before they finally leave for good. The abuser has her fully convinced that she can’t live without him, even though she’s miserable being with him.

    I’ve always loved this song, but now it makes me cry when I listen to it because I know from personal experience how incredibly accurate it is of what it’s like to be in an abusive relationship. So well written.

  8. anonymous
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    Apr 13th 2018 !⃝

    My daughter is in a relationship with a guy that doesn't deserve her and is an addict. She is 20 and has been dealing with him on and off for 3 years. I kicked her out 3 weeks ago and she tells me she wants to leave him, but it just isn't that easy. She feels responsible for him, she worries about him.
    Truthfully, this bastabrd has crushed her self esteem and dreams. This song has her wrote all over it. I sent it to this morning, after I heard it. I hope and pray she can get away from him.
    Love this song.

  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 20th 2017 !⃝

    I take it as she's practicing her lies and she doesn't want him to move on and find someone else while she's doing her own thing and has interest in someone waiting for that to work out but until then she strings him along. And feed him lines that she loves him know and he'll come back again if I don't work out

  10. anonymous
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    Jul 1st 2017 !⃝

    Vedder has dedicated this to "The bastard who married my mother." songfacts

    Trying to be a better human

  11. anonymous
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    Jul 1st 2017 !⃝

    The guy is coming home at 4 - in the morning!! She's fed up with him staying out late, probably boozing and carrying on. She is thinking about what she's going to say this time that might get through to him, since anything she's said before doesn't seem to work. He's still doing the same damn thing. She pretends she's asleep so she doesn't have to deal with him or maybe say something that will start a fight. Because she knows only too well what will come of that.

  12. anonymous
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    Apr 15th 2017 !⃝

    Thank you Eddie Vedder for that song ! It has a lot of meaning of how man treats a woman and how weak a woman can be to abuse in all forms. I know from experience and the lyrics it's self can speak of what I experienced and now I'm happy to be out of that relationship & marriage!!!!

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 2nd 2014 !⃝

    I read that Eddie wrote this about his own mother, because she was in an abusive relationship and didn't really have power to do anything about it. When he first performed this song live, he was very emotional, so this song really means a lot to him.

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 3rd 2013 !⃝

    In my own humble opinion.... and this opinion coming from a fresh experience with "betterman"
    Watching the clock.. waiting for him to come home... the fear sets in..... does the house look perfect, just the way he wants it..."she practices her speech" expain every where I have been for the day... No I have not cheated on you today... she must explain every detail...In bed he looks you over... it's just that... he owns you with his fear that he has instilled in you.... This fear that if you don't lie and tell you that you love him ... he will take more from you and possibly your life..But the thing is she leaves and goes back because he works his charm... which explains the next line.."Talking to herself ,there is no one else..No one needs to know" I (the strong woman within) wants to say somethins but "she" the woman she has become... says nothing because she goes back and knows its wrong .. "Memories back when she was strong" the real woman (I) wants her strong idenity back again but she has been so mentally fucked by the abuser she goes back... I never knew the true definition of this song until I began walking through this very situation... He is in jail now... but I feed him because it has turned into a sick addiction.... Not a pretty truth... but there is no soft coating something like this...

  15. anonymous
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    Jan 20th 2013 !⃝

    This song reminds me of my ol girlfriend, she was so beautiful .shr looked like christina applegate.georgous. but she was in love with her old boyfriend..she used to listen to this song back in highschool over and over. An i know she was thinking of her boyfriend at the time...well lomg story short..she ended up marring him years later..now were all 35 years old..i look back at there relationship as somewhat abusive menally.i think its sad she had to settle for him..ehen she deserved so much better. Yea he's a federal agent now ,and contols her very much. Wish she knew how much shes worth..also she turned very bitter to the world..when i look back i remember her before the world turned her so cold.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 16th 2011 !⃝

    I broke it down:

    Waitin', watchin' the clock
    It's four o'clock, it's got to stop
    Tell him, take no more
    She practices her speech, as he opens the door
    She rolls over
    Pretends to sleep as he looks her over
    (The woman in the story is possibly being abused by her husband. She tells herself that she's finally going to tell him off. She practices what she'll say to him. But when he comes home she rolls over and is to afraid to tell him.)

    1-She lies and says she's in love with him
    Can't find a better man
    She dreams in color, she dreams in red
    Can't find a better man, can't find a better man
    (She tries to say that she loves him, and that maybe he still loves her even, but she can't keep kidding herself. She dreams of being strong and passionate enough to tell him off, but she just can't. She tries to tell herself that he really does love her.)

    Talkin', to herself there's no one else
    Who needs to know
    She, tells herself, oh...
    (She keeps the abuse to herself and can't even tell family or friends.)

    Memories back when she was bold and strong
    And waiting for the world to, come along
    Swears she knew it, now she swears he's gone
    (rpt 1)
    (She looks back and remembers when she was a strong woman and how the abuse has changed her for the worse. She finally tries to leave, tells her self that she's done with him and his abuse, but deep down she can't escape.)

    She lies and says she still loves him
    Can't find a better man...
    She dreams in color, she dreams in red
    Can't find a better man
    Can't find a better man
    (She's still trying to convince herself that he'll change and that she loves him..but she's holding on to a false hope.)

    She loved him, yeah...
    She don't want to leave this way
    She feeds him, yeah
    That's why she'll be back again
    (She remembers when she first met him, before the abuse. She recalls a time when their relationship was based on love and so she tries to hold on to that and say that he'll go back to how he used to be.)

    Can't find a better man...

  17. anonymous
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    May 17th 2011 !⃝

    Love this song. My favorite !!! My interpretation is that this woman has not had a good life and kind of fell in a situation with this man who is not terrible but certainly does not treat her well. She tells herself she is in love with him because it's just easier that way. When she dreams in red it's because she knows in her heart he has done her wrong in so many ways. She knows she deserves more yet feels obligated to her situation.... She can find a better man but her excuse is she just can't find a better man .

  18. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 26th 2011 !⃝

    Before I found out lead singer, Eddie Vedder wrote this song for his mother who was abused by her husband, his step father. I thought it was about a man who is having an affair with a woman who is unhappy in her relationship but can't find the courage to leave it. (Waitin',watchin' the clock It's four o'clock, it's got to stop Tell him, take no more She practices her speech, as he opens the door She rolls over Pretends to sleep as he looks her over...) The first part of the song is the girl waiting for the guy she is in the relationship with to come home. Then when he gets home and opens the door she pretends to sleep because she doesn't have the courage to tell him she wants out of the relationship. Then she goes back to the guy she's cheating with(guy singing song) and tells him that she's "in love" with the guy she is with and can't find a better man...hence doesn't leave the relationship. The guy singing the song is telling the story of how unhappy she is and how she keeps lying to herself by saying she can't find a better man...

    Then at the end of the song the singer says, "She lies and says she still loves him...She loved him, yeah...She don't want to leave this way. She feeds him, yeah/That's why she'll be back again...Can't find a better man...(meaning she can't leave him, but she still keeps coming back to cheat with the singer "That's why she'll be back again...Can't find a better man..." The singer is like "Yeah Right, If you can't find a better man, then why do you keep coming back to me...?

    I was drinking a lot late one night and that is how I interpreted this awesome song. Take it for what it's worth...

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