The song was written in January 1984 when the band returned from a jaunt to New York City. It was recorded in March 1984 at Island Records' Fallout Shelter, with producer John Porter.
A version was recorded in April 1984 at Powerhouse Studios in London with unknown 'friend' Amanda Malone singing and the Smiths as back-up band. Rough Trade boss Geoff Travis acted as 'producer'. This would have served as a b-side on a collaboration single with the Smiths, but never ended up being released.
The song has been performed live 47 times by the Smiths, perhaps even up to 52 times if we take into account the fact that some setlists from that era have been lost. All performances are from 1984. The song seems to have been done every night when the band was in England, but on-and-off when they traveled to Ireland or the rest of Europe.
No demos or studio outtakes of this song have leaked to the general public at this point in time.
"I think 'Girl Afraid' simply implied that even within relationships, there's no real certainty and nobody knows how anybody feels. People feel that just simply because they're having this cemented communion with another person that the two of you will become whole, which is something I detested. I hate that, that implication. It's not true, anyway. Ultimately, you're on your own, whatever happens in life, however you go through life. You die on your own. You have to go to the dentist on your own. It's like all the serious things in life are things that you feel on your own."