A source told ET Online at the time that the split was amicable and “not dramatic,” adding that the romance had simply “run its course.”
Neither Taylor nor Joe has publicly commented on the breakup, which is unsurprising considering Joe’s fiercely private approach to fame and Taylor’s tendency to share her side of the story almost exclusively through her music.
After spending almost two decades in the spotlight, Taylor has memorialized every aspect of her relationships, friendships, and everything in-between through her songs — offering fans an intimate insight into her personal life.
Which is probably why so many people shared their excitement for Taylor’s inevitable “breakup album” following the news of her and Joe’s split.
“taylor how could you do this how could you break up with him how why what is wrong with you have you started writing new songs? when will you release them? when is the tour for this album? what is the album name?” one person tweeted.
Another person acknowledged the famously autobiographical nature of Taylor’s music as they wrote: “You're not saying you're looking forward to the next album because taylor makes good songs when she's heartbroken because yk she also makes good songs when she's not. You want an album because you want the ins and outs of the break up.”
But as time has gone on, some Swifties have started to theorize that Taylor has actually already released music about her and Joe’s relationship ending as they noticed some strikingly telling lyrics from her most recent album, Midnights, and the bonus 3am Edition tracks.
When Taylor announced Midnights in August, she described it as “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” And when it was released in October, many listeners attributed the heartbreak songs to her past romances on the assumption that she and Joe were still happily in love.
However, the new context of their split has put many of the songs in a whole new light — especially when coupled with the source quotes about why their relationship didn’t work.
“Taylor Swift’s album Midnights is a breakup album in disguise and no one can convince me otherwise,” one fan tweeted.
Taylor added fuel to the theory during her Eras Tour show in Florida on Saturday, when she told the crowd that she currently feels “really connected” to Midnights because it’s “the most accurate picture” of her life to date.
And while People vaguely revealed that Taylor and Joe’s breakup happened a “few weeks ago,” fans are speculating that they may have actually been on the rocks for a much longer period — or that some of the songs were written about a previous breakup before this final split.
“Joe and taylor breaking up is less surprising when you realize that every song on midnights sounds like it’s from the perspective of a girl grieving the end of a relationship shes still in…” one fan wrote.
In short, it seems as though Taylor secretly chronicled the slow demise of her and Joe’s relationship on her latest album — and here are all the clues in her lyrics that support this theory.
Before we get into the breakup, it’s worth mentioning that there are many love songs on Midnights that are assumed to be about Joe. On “Mastermind,” Taylor sings about their relationship being “all by design” after she decided that she was going to date him from the moment they first met back in 2016.
In “Lavender Haze,” she acknowledges how well Joe handled the “scrutiny” that she was under in the early days of their relationship.
In the latter, Taylor highlights how she was able to find excitement in things that are far from luxurious when she was with the British actor. In the former, Taylor revels in the way that she was able to drop her superstar persona around him.
After detailing all of the drama that she faces from the outside world, Taylor sings: “To you, I can admit that I'm just too soft for all of it.”
But in “Bejeweled,” Taylor appears to express her exasperation and resentment at the comfortable life that they have forged with one another.
Earlier this month, a source told People that Taylor and Joe had split because after falling in love “in a safe bubble while she was retreating from the world” and in an “insulated way” thanks to lockdown, Joe struggled with her recent return to the mainstream as a pop superstar.
“He didn't really 'know' her yet outside of that bubble,” the insider explained.
And this is seemingly referenced in “Bejeweled,” where Taylor admits to actively dulling her sparkle because she was so focused on her relationship.
Interestingly, Taylor refers to the subject of the song as "baby boy" in the second verse. This is a very specific term of endearment she's only ever used once before in her discography — in 2019's "Paper Rings," which is also about Joe.
She goes on to starkly warn her boyfriend that even though she was happy to reject the spotlight for a time, he shouldn’t underestimate her ability to “reclaim” the popularity that she once had.
“Best believe I'm still bejeweled / When I walk in the room / I can still make the whole place shimmer,” she sings.
Making it apparent that she is no longer willing to sacrifice the glitz of being a celebrity and a performer for the sake of her relationship, Taylor leaves no question over what her decision would be if she were forced to choose between them.
“When I meet the band / They ask, ‘Do you have a man?’ / I can still say, ‘I don't remember,’” she says.
Taylor reiterates her decision to chase superstardom over her boyfriend in the song “Midnight Rain,” where she literally sings: “He wanted a bride / I was making my own name / Chasing that fame.”
Likewise, in “Lavender Haze,” Taylor shares her annoyance at being reduced to Joe’s wife, singing: “All they keep asking me / Is if I'm gonna be your bride / The only kind of girl they see / Is a one-night or a wife.”
These lyrics are particularly interesting considering the reports that Taylor and Joe were “talking about marriage as recently as a few months ago.”
It appears that, as “Midnight Rain” suggests, Taylor opted to prioritize her career instead of settling down.
Elsewhere in this song, Taylor makes it clear that she holds no bitterness toward her ex as she admits that she only “broke his heart ‘cause he was nice,” and this connects to other quotes from insiders since her and Joe's split.
One source told People: “They are friendly. She doesn’t have anything bad to say about Joe.”
“Midnight Rain” also sees Taylor reference her ex-lover’s “picture perfect shiny family” that she “gave away,” and it is arguably no coincidence that this comes after she’d repeatedly mentioned how close she is to Joe’s family in her previous songs.
In fact, in her 2020 track “Peace,” Taylor goes so far as to say “I see your brother as my brother,” and she even documented taking part in Joe’s longstanding family traditions all the way back in 2019.
Meanwhile, the theory that Taylor’s recent breakup songs could be about Joe have added some clarity to the mystery surrounding one of the most gut-wrenching tracks on Midnights, “Maroon.”
This song arguably sparked the most confusion among listeners when it was released in October as they scrambled to work out which of Taylor’s rich and famous ex-boyfriends would have had the "roommate" who bought the "cheap-ass screw top rosé" referenced in the song.
The mention of New York largely whittled the potential inspirations behind “Maroon” down to Tom Hiddleston and Harry Styles, but considering both were already multimillionaires when they dated Taylor, they are not thought to have had a roommate.
On the other hand, Joe was an up-and-coming actor in the United States from Britain when he and Taylor first met, and their romance is known to have blossomed in New York.
Cheap alcohol is also a common theme in Taylor’s love songs to Joe, with the star mentioning “drinking beer out of plastic cups,” “cheap wine,” and being “drunk on something stronger than the drinks in the bar” in these tracks, so it tallies that she would also reference it in their breakup song.
Taylor reportedly having nothing bad to say about Joe in light of their breakup is also supported in “Maroon,” where she calls her ex “the rubies that I gave up.” In addition, the song makes it clear that this is not the first time that Taylor and her lover had been on the rocks.
“How the hell did we lose sight of us again? / Sobbin' with your head in your hands / Ain't that the way shit always ends?” she asks, which links to some more quotes that we’ve had about her and Joe’s split.
A source told People that the former couple “had rough patches before and always worked things out, so friends thought they would take some time apart but eventually come back together.”
This vulnerability in Taylor and Joe’s relationship is at its most exposed in Midnights (3am Edition)’s “The Great War,” which sees Taylor admit to mistreating Joe because she misguidedly believed that he had “betrayed” her.
This song was initially viewed as a beacon of hope on the album, with Taylor revealing that Joe had remained by her side throughout her rage and tried to talk sense into her about their relationship.
At the end of the song, Taylor realizes that if she doesn’t change then she would lose Joe, and there is a sense of triumph as she repeats that they had “survived the Great War.”
With the benefit of hindsight, how volatile their relationship is represented to be in this song could now be seen as more of a red flag than symbolic of hope and perseverance.
The theme of a relationship suffering many close calls over the years is also apparent in another Midnights breakup song, “Labyrinth.”
This track is perhaps the most apt example of Taylor “grieving the end of a relationship shes still in,” with the song referencing the complicated nature of a romance seemingly coming to an end before somehow being salvaged.
Suggesting that she and her partner had split, Taylor sings: “I’ll be getting over you my whole life,” and “Break up, break free, break through, break down.”
But elsewhere, there’s a flicker of hope as the star asks: “I thought the plane was going down / How’d you turn it right around?”
The insight into the nature of the relationship that is being represented in “Labyrinth” is also incredibly poignant, with Taylor saying: “You know how much I hate that everybody just expects me to bounce back / Just like that.”
This is a stark parallel to her acknowledgment of how intimately Joe knows the real her in “Sweet Nothing,” which suggests that the love song and the heartbreak song are both about him.
Meanwhile, the song “Glitch” initially appears to be Taylor’s admission that she didn’t think that she and Joe would ever be anything serious, with the star suggesting that they had a very casual arrangement at the start of their relationship in previous songs.
She doubles down on this in the Midnights track, singing: “I was supposed to sweat you out” before implying that them being together was some kind of disruption to the status quo.
But there are also hints of the demise of their relationship in this song that weren’t picked up on.
At one point, Taylor sings: “It's been two thousand, one hundred, and ninety days of our love blackout,” with 2,190 days coming to exactly six years — how long she and Joe had been together when Midnights was released.
The very next lyric in the song is: “The system’s breaking down,” implying that after six years, their romance was coming to an end.
Finally, Midnights (3am Edition)’s closing track, “Dear Reader,” is incredibly telling as Taylor’s desperate caution to her fans that her life is not as it seems.
The song starts with the star offering listeners advice before taking a melancholy turn partway through.
“You wouldn't take my word for it / If you knew who was talking,” Taylor sings, later adding: “You should find another guiding light.”
It is in this part of the song that Taylor suggests that nobody knows the reality of her love life, telling her fans: “If you knew where I was walking / To a house, not a home, all alone 'cause nobody's there.”
“My friends found friends who care,” she adds, before confirming her solitude with the lyrics: “No one sees when you lose / When you're playing solitaire.”
And while the jury may still be out on whether or not these songs were about her recent split, Taylor’s endless love songs that were written during the peak of her and Joe’s relationship have struck a chord with her fans.
Taylor previously made it clear that she would struggle if the romance were to end, so there has understandably been concern for the star’s well-being ever since news of the split broke.