On Saturday, ET Online reported that Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn had ended their relationship after more than six years together. A source told the publication that the split was amicable and “not dramatic.”
“The relationship had just run its course,” the insider added, explaining that this is the reason why Joe had not been seen at any of Taylor’s concerts after her Eras Tour kicked off last month.
While neither Taylor nor Joe have confirmed the news, an insider close to the singer later told People that the breakup happened a few weeks ago and was largely triggered by “differences in their personalities.”
They also said that because the long-term romance had bloomed in an incredibly insulated fashion, it struggled to survive amid Taylor’s recent pop superstar comeback that saw the release of her 10th studio album, Midnights, and a sold-out stadium tour.
In case you didn’t know, Taylor and Joe first started dating after she’d retreated from the public eye back in 2016 following her very public feud with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who legally changed his name to Ye in 2021.
The subsequent demise of her reputation saw Taylor reject the limelight for over a year, during which she and Joe fell in love.
And while Taylor did return to the spotlight in 2018 with a new album and accompanying tour, she and Joe then spent lockdown together when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
The insider also told People that, for these reasons, Joe didn’t really “know” Taylor outside of this bubble, and the drastic change in their circumstances has led to them growing apart.
“They are friendly. She doesn’t have anything bad to say about Joe,” they said of Taylor. “They just grew apart. Taylor is staying very focused on her tour right now.”
The source also revealed that Taylor and Joe have “had rough patches before and always worked things out, so friends thought they would take some time apart but eventually come back together.”
However, this time around it became clear that they weren’t “the right fit for one another” despite the fact that they were “talking about marriage as recently as a few months ago.”
When news of Taylor and Joe’s split first broke, many of her fans were both shocked and devastated by the news, while those who were more casual listeners of Taylor’s were mostly just confused.
“Tik tok is melting over the Taylor swift and her boyfriend breaking up but like….I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend,” one person tweeted. Another asked: “Am I the only person who didn’t know Taylor Swift was dating somebody for the last SIX years?”
And the stark difference in reactions can probably be explained by the fact that Taylor and Joe have always been incredibly private about their relationship when it came to press and social media.
In fact, during their relationship, there were just a handful of photos of the two together. Joe has maintained a low profile by largely avoiding red carpets and events with his famous girlfriend.
But in true Taylor Swift style, she has memorialized their entire relationship in her music, giving her most dedicated fans a seriously intimate insight into the couple’s private life.
In addition to her rerecordings, Taylor has released five albums in the years since she and Joe first met, and she has seemingly chronicled everything from the first moment that she saw him to her intense paranoia that he would one day betray her.
As a result, listeners can create an intricate and fiercely personal breakdown of Taylor and Joe’s six-year romance by piecing together multiple songs.
At this point, it’s worth mentioning that lyrical interpretation is, of course, entirely subjective, and Taylor very rarely reveals who her songs are about. However, she does actively encourage fans to connect clues and Easter eggs about the subjects of her music.
So, with a combination of thorough research, fan theories, and widespread conclusions, here is everything you need to know about Taylor and Joe’s love story as told by Taylor herself — and buckle up, because you are in for a seriously emotional ride.
Up until the release of Taylor’s most recent album, Midnights, in October, it was widely believed that she and Joe first met at the Met Gala on May 2, 2016.
However, in her song “High Infidelity,” Taylor implies that she actually met Joe three days prior to the event, saying that she was immediately attracted to him despite still being in a relationship with Calvin Harris at the time.
“Do you really want to know where I was April 29th? / Do I really have to chart the constellations in his eyes?” she sings in the track, prompting Swiftie sleuths to theorize that Joe had attended her friend Gigi Hadid’s 21st birthday party in LA on April 28, which could have easily gone on until after midnight and into April 29.
Later in the song, she credits Joe with bringing her “back to life" after feeling unloved and unheard in her previous relationship.
But while the location of their first meeting may be up for debate, something much more evident is the huge crush that Taylor had on Joe before she’d even spoken to him.
In “London Boy,” Taylor reveals that it was the sound of Joe’s laughter followed by his dimpled smile and English accent that initially caught her attention. In “Gorgeous,” she admits that she purposefully avoided him because she was so overwhelmed by how “cool” and “gorgeous” he was.
In fact, Taylor wrote that she got drunk and poked fun at Joe’s accent as her way of handling her attraction — one so intense that it made her “furious” and gave her complicated feelings about whether she even wanted Joe to be available.
After all, if he’d had a girlfriend then Taylor would be “jealous” of her, but if he was single, then she would have to make a decision about whether she should end her romance with Calvin and pursue him instead.
While Taylor desperately tried to play it cool when she was around Joe, she confesses in “Paper Rings” that on the night that they first met, she went home and tried to “stalk” him online.
But despite Taylor clearly being secretly obsessed with Joe from day one, she actually decided to date Tom Hiddleston — who she also met at the 2016 Met Gala — after her split from Calvin.
She addresses the fact that Tom was “the wrong guy” in her song “Long Story Short,” where she admits that she simply “clung to the nearest lips” as a knee-jerk reaction to the drama publicly unfolding in her personal life.
If you need reminding, it was just weeks after the Met Gala that Kim leaked the audio of Taylor seemingly approving Ye’s controversial song “Famous,” which led to Taylor being branded a “snake” by critics and retreating from the public eye.
She and Tom dated until September, but it seems Joe was on her mind the entire time. In “Mastermind,” released just six months ago, Taylor says that from the moment that she saw Joe, she knew that she would end up with him.
“What if I told you none of it was accidental / And the first night that you saw me, nothing was gonna stop me?” she asks. “I laid the groundwork and then, just like clockwork / The dominoes cascaded in a line.”
She goes on to say that her and Joe’s relationship was “all by design” as by the time she met him she had mastered the art of effortlessly making people fall in love with her.
It isn’t clear whether Taylor’s relationship with Joe overlapped with her relationship with Tom in any way, but she has revealed that she and Joe played “cat and mouse” for a few months before making their romance official and detailed how they desperately tried to keep the setup a secret.
When they were dating, Taylor would take back entrances into dive bars that Joe had scoped out to avoid being spotted. When it was time to take the romance to the next level, Taylor “casually” invited Joe back to the home that she rented on Cornelia Street in New York City after a drunken night out.
Their relationship being so private and low-key at the start was what made it so “sacred” to Taylor, with a reminder that all of this was unfolding during the star’s lowest point.
Her public image had taken a hit thanks to the Kimye drama, and she trusted Joe so much because he didn’t seem to care about what everyone else was saying about her.
“I’ve been under scrutiny / You handle it beautifully / All this shit is new to me,” she says of the early days in their relationship in “Lavender Haze,” adding: “They’re bringing up my history / But you aren’t even listening.”
“My reputation’s never been worse, so / You must like me for me,” Taylor reiterates in “Delicate.” In “Call It What You Want,” Taylor contrasts the “worst times” of her professional career with the fact that she was “doing better" than ever in her personal life.
And according to her music, just one month after Taylor and Joe officially started dating, she invited him to escape to a cabin, where she was able to privately process and come to terms with her public downfall.
While she wanted to be in Joe’s company at this time, she also made it clear that she didn’t need him to be her savior and he was more than happy to oblige with these conditions.
The trip away helped her through the darkness, and as a result, she recalls that period in her life as the time that she met Joe, instead of the time that she was at her lowest.
In fact, it’s undeniable that Joe was the wake-up call that Taylor desperately needed after spending close to a decade in the spotlight. In stark contrast to the glitz and glamour of her career and past relationships with super-famous celebrities, Taylor’s relationship with Joe was built on normalcy and embracing the little things in life.
This is particularly clear in Taylor’s 2018 song “King of My Heart,” where she finds joy in “drinking beer out of plastic cups” and realizes that she no longer has a need for “fancy stuff.”
“Change my priorities / The taste of your lips is my idea of luxury,” she sings after admitting that “all the boys and their expensive cars / With their Range Rovers and their Jaguars / Never took me quite where you do.”
This is echoed in her song “Paris,” where she says that being with Joe helped her find excitement in things that are far from luxurious, like make-believing “cheap wine” is champagne or that their everyday environment was actually the city of love, Paris.
With Joe, Taylor found romance in the mundane intimacy of cleaning up after hosting a party with the person that you love, painting a wall for his younger brother together, and spending quality time with each other’s friends and family.
“Lover” also highlights domesticity as a key factor in their relationship, with affection expressed through things like having friends stay over and making new traditions in their shared home.
In fact, in “Invisible String,” Taylor reveals that she and Joe blended into the humdrum of everyday life so well that when they marked their third anniversary with a special lunch, the server didn’t realize who she was and instead thought that she simply bore a striking resemblance to “an American singer.”
And Taylor’s 2022 song “Sweet Nothing” is all about the joy and fulfillment that she finds in exactly that — nothingness. Here she shares her appreciation for the fact that she can run home to Joe’s “sweet nothings” and how he never had any expectations of her.
This is especially poignant after she seemingly called out her exes Calvin and Tom in Reputation’s “I Did Something Bad,” where she recalls men who were with her for money and clout.
And Joe’s normalcy allowed Taylor to be vulnerable with him and drop her superstar, business-minded persona in favor of her true, stripped-back self. After detailing all of the drama and intensity that she faces from the outside world, Taylor says to Joe: “To you, I can admit that I'm just too soft for all of it.”
But as picture-perfect as their relationship has sounded so far, Taylor and Joe’s romance definitely wasn’t always plain sailing. In fact, Taylor’s music has chronicled some seriously messy times where they almost broke up, largely due to her own insecurities.
This initially stemmed from the fact that Taylor seemingly didn’t ever think that she and Joe would be anything serious.
Her 2019 song “Cruel Summer” suggests that they had an incredibly casual arrangement when they first started dating, and in her 2022 track “Glitch” Taylor admits: “I was supposed to sweat you out,” implying that them staying together was some kind of malfunction.
“It's been two thousand, one hundred, and ninety days of our love blackout / The system's breaking down,” she sings before confessing: “I thought we had no chance.”
The moment she realized that she’d caught deep feelings for Joe is chronicled in “Cruel Summer,” where she recalls drunkenly crying in the back of a car.
“And I screamed for whatever it's worth / ‘I love you,’ ain't that the worst thing you ever heard?” she adds.
Taylor shares some more detail of this time in “Cornelia Street,” where she reveals that she was so concerned that Joe was just leading her on that she very nearly ended things.
It seems that Joe was pretty blasé about how their relationship was progressing up until she packed a bag and left him in her New York home. At this point, he called her up and laid all his cards on the table — so Taylor took the plunge and jumped into a relationship with him.
But Taylor’s past experiences in her love life have left her wary and paranoid, and in “The Archer” she takes responsibility for deliberately sabotaging her relationships as a defense mechanism.
She admits that she has a tendency to obsessively search for someone’s “dark side” and always assumes the worst-case scenario — even envisioning that a “room is on fire” with “invisible smoke.”
Ultimately, Taylor accepts that this mindset leads to her cutting off her nose to spite her face, but despite having this level of awareness she still struggles to overcome it. Later in the song, she asks Joe to "help" her "hold onto" him.
She is even more specific about the conflict in their relationship in “Afterglow,” where she recalls upsetting Joe by blowing things “out of proportion” and putting him “in jail for something” he “didn’t do.”
Here Taylor candidly admits that she thought she had a reason to “attack” him, but she later admits that it was all in her head as she asks: “Why’d I have to break what I love so much?”
Taylor also says that she struggles to let people in and instead chooses to live “like an island” and punish Joe with “silence” rather than risk getting hurt again.
In “False God,” Taylor says that she purposefully acted out and dared Joe to leave her in a bid to “scare” him.
And this vulnerability in her and Joe’s relationship is at its most exposed in “The Great War,” which was released on Midnights in October.
Once again, Taylor takes accountability for the way that she treated Joe, which includes her “sucker punching walls” and cursing him in her sleep after she misguidedly believed that he had “betrayed” her.
Taylor accepts that she probably behaved this way because of her “past,” which is what made her want to “punish” him for things that he didn’t do. And despite how irrationally she was behaving, Joe remained by her side and tried to reason with her — drawing up "good faith treaties" and telling her that she needed to "trust more freely."
Ultimately, Taylor ended up realizing that the way she was treating her boyfriend was wearing him down. She recalls him looking up at her with “honor and truth, broken and blue,” understanding that if she didn’t change then she would lose him.
This clarity is also highlighted in “Daylight,” where she admits that she’d crossed “many lines” but had realized that she needs to get rid of her “cloaks and daggers” and accept Joe’s love.
It’s in this song that she entertains the idea that Joe is different from her ex-lovers and that he has altered her entire concept of what love is. She admits that she used to think love was “burning red,” but it’s actually “golden, like daylight.”
But even after she’d accepted that Joe isn’t like her past boyfriends and that she could trust him not to break her heart, Taylor reveals in other songs that she was unable to shake the “bad feeling” that he would not be able to withstand the scrutiny that comes with dating her.
In “False God,” Taylor questions whether they were “stupid” and “crazy” to think that their relationship would work; after they were ambushed by paparazzi, all of those fears escalated.
“People started talking, putting us through our paces / I knew there was no one in the world who could take it,” she sings in “Dancing With Our Hands Tied.” In the same song, Taylor says that she loved Joe in spite of the constant “deep fears that the world would divide” them.
These fears of Taylor’s have become all the more gut-wrenching in light of their recent split, and her 2020 song “Peace” is arguably the most poignant following her and Joe’s breakup.
In the emotional track, Taylor says “the rain is always gonna come if you're standing with me” as she warns her partner that she will never be able to give him a peaceful life due to the publicity that surrounds her.
Taylor asks whether the devotion and love she is able to provide someone would be enough when there is so much outside of her control.
“All these people think love's for show / But I would die for you in secret / The devil's in the details, but you got a friend in me / Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?” she sings.
And it’s thought that this fear is why Taylor had worked so hard to try and keep her relationship with Joe out of the public eye. In “Paris,” she highlights the importance of privacy in maintaining their relationship by stating: “Romance is not dead if you keep it just yours.”
Elsewhere in “Peace,” Taylor reiterates how serious her and Joe’s relationship was as she says she would “give [him] a child,” suggesting she truly did believe he was The One.
This is also hinted at in the bridge of “Lover,” which literally consists of wedding vows, "New Year's Day," where she sings about being with him "forevermore," and “Paper Rings,” which once again acknowledges how Joe made Taylor appreciate the simple things in life as she asserts that she would marry him with a paper ring.
Proving she is in it for the long haul, the star goes on to insist: “I want your complications too / I want your dreary Mondays.”
And marriage is referenced once again in “I Think He Knows,” where Taylor warns that “he better lock it down, or [she] won’t stick around.”
But although a wedding was seemingly Taylor’s end goal with Joe, she recently expressed her exasperation at being reduced to his wife on her Midnights album.
“All they keep asking me / Is if I'm gonna be your bride,” she sings. “The only kind of girl they see / Is a one-night or a wife.”
And while Taylor was always open about her grievances and fears in her relationship with Joe, her biggest fear of all had always been losing him — which is why their breakup has been so hard for her fans to swallow.
In “New Year’s Day,” Taylor practically begs Joe to stay with her forever, telling him: “Please don't ever become a stranger / Whose laugh I could recognize anywhere.”
And in “Cornelia Street” she says that losing Joe would be “the kind of heartbreak time could never mend” as she confesses that she is “so terrified” of him ever walking away from her.
“I hope I never lose you, hope it never ends / I’d never walk Cornelia Street again,” she admits.
But it’s ultimately “Peace” that has had the most long-lasting impact on fans, particularly in light of the reports that the split happened because Joe struggled with Taylor’s superstar personality outside of their private bubble.
After all, almost three years later, it looks as though Joe has finally given Taylor an answer to her question:
Would it be enough if I could never give you peace?