When Olivia Rodrigo appeared on The Zach Sang Show
she said the song originated when someone sent her a text message, which included the titular phrase. "I've never heard somebody say something like that, so I thought it would be a cool way to describe this toxic, sort of manipulative relationship."
After coming up with the "one step forward" concept, Rodrigo wrote a verse and a chorus. Later, after returning home from a road trip, she had the idea to sing it over the chords of "New Year's Day."