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Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn broke up in early 2023, after six years together, right around the time Swift began the Eras Tour. The end to their relationship came as a shock to Swifties worldwide who thought Alwyn was "The 1" for Swift, but it turns out the writing may have been on the wall for a while, if Swift's music — including her 11th album, Tortured Poets Department — is any indication.
Throughout their time together, Swift and Alwyn kept a pretty low profile; the pair rarely stepped out together or made public appearances, and rarely spoke about their relationship to the press. Even still, fans fell in love with their love story and how they navigated fame and partnership in the spotlight, not to mention the many songs that were likely inspired by Alwyn. ("Gorgeous," "Delicate," "Invisible String," and many more come to mind.) While we nurse our own broken hearts, let's take a trip down memory lane with a full, comprehensive timeline of Taylor and Joe's relationship.
February 2024: Swift announces her 11th album, Tortured Poets Department, and fans found a connection. Plus, Alwyn himself may have had some thoughts.
At the 2024 Grammys, Swift announced her 11th album The Tortured Poets Department and revealed she started working on it two years ago, so potentially just after “You're Losing Me” was written. A day later, we had a TTPD tracklist with titles like “So Long, London” (a potential nod to “London Boy”) and “But Daddy I Love Him.”
Simultaneously, fans dug up an old story about how Joe Alwyn, Paul Mescal, and Andrew Scott are in a groupchat together called “The Tortured Man Club.”
Meanwhile — and, grain of salt here — an anonymous insider told The Daily Mail that Alwyn noted the connection and wasn't thrilled by it. “Joe has not said one word about Taylor or their breakup and has been completely respectful of her,” the source said. “It's undeniable that the name of her upcoming album is in reference to Joe's WhatsApp group chat. Taylor knocked him for the name of this when they were together. She didn't want people to think that it had anything to do with her, so when he spoke out about it, she was, of course, bothered.”
And continued: “Joe has no reason to believe yet that she is going to diss him or their relationship. She writes about her past using code and points of reference. It may just be that she is reflecting on their time together and he is hoping it is nothing more. If it is a diss album, that is shady. He helped her with song writing on her past album so it will really come as a shock to him if she talks about their breakup, as it is something he has not spoken of at all.”
May 2023-November 2023: Swift releases another Midnights bonus track, “You're Losing Me.”
The pared-down, heartbeat-driven song reads like a plaintive recapping of an end to a relationship, and fans couldn't help but read into lyrics like:
"How long could we be a sad song
'Til we were too far gone to bring back to life?
I gave you all my best me's, my endless empathy
And all I did was bleed as I tried to be the bravest soldier
Fighting in only your army
Frontlines, don't you ignore me
I'm the best thing at this party
(You're losin' me)
And I wouldn't marry me either
A pathological people pleaser
Who only wanted you to see her"
It was also around this time that fans began seeing Midnights as a breakup album, tracking the ends of Taylor Swift/Joe Alwyn as a couple.
When the song finally hit streaming services in November 23, 2023, producer Jack Antonoff shared a photo of Swift, writing that the song was recorded way back in December 2021 — which in turn caused speculation that the Alwyn/Swift breakup was a long time coming.
April 2023: The Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn split is confirmed.
Entertainment Tonight first reported the breakup on April 8, stating that Taylor and Joe's relationship had simply run its course. (We haven't heard anything from Taylor or Joe's official camps yet.) CNN reported an additional statement from a source close to the pair who said, “Taylor and Joe broke up a few weeks ago. They simply grew apart and plan to remain friends.”
In a new report from People on April 10, another source close to the former couple revealed that their breakup was mostly caused by “differences in their personalities," noting that Taylor and Joe just “weren't the right fit for one another.”
"They've had rough patches before and always worked things out, so friends thought they would take some time apart but eventually come back together," the source told People. "They had plenty in common and fell in love in a safe bubble while she was retreating from the world during Reputation. Then the pandemic hit, and they were locked down together and able to continue growing their relationship in this insulated way. But he didn't really 'know' her yet outside of that bubble."
The source also shared that Joe “struggled” with the massive level of Taylor's fame and the prying attention of the public. “The differences in their personalities have also become harder to ignore after years together. They've grown apart,” said the source. “Taylor didn't see them working out in the long run.” Apparently, the breakup was amicable — the source described the split as “not dramatic" and emphasized that Taylor and Joe are “friendly.”
"She doesn't have anything bad to say about Joe," added the source. "Taylor is staying very focused on her tour right now… There is a lot of respect still between them."
March 31, 2023: Swift puts "The 1" on the Eras Tour setlist.
As noted by People, Taylor swapped her love song "Invisible String," which many fans believe to be about Alwyn, with the reflective breakup-adjacent song "The 1" off of Folklore, a potential hint that the split was on the horizon — or had already happened.
October 2022: Swift confirms "Lavender Haze" is about Alwyn.
During the Midnights rollout, Taylor confirmed that lead single "Lavender Haze" was inspired by her relationship. “I guess, theoretically, when you're in the lavender haze you'll do anything to stay there and not let people bring you down off of that cloud,” Taylor said on Instagram. “Like my relationship for six years, we've had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff and we just ignore it. This song is sort of about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff.”
April 2022: Alwyn addresses the engagement rumors.
While promoting Conversations with Friends, Joe acknowledged the many, many, many engagement rumors that have floated around the couple since they started dating. "If I had a pound for every time I think I've been told I've been engaged, then I'd have a lot of pound coins," Joe told WSJ Magazine at the time. “I mean, the truth is, if the answer was yes, I wouldn’t say, and if the answer was no, I wouldn’t say.”
November 2020: Swift offers rare insight into her love life.
Taylor opened up about trying to control the narrative around her relationship in conversation with Paul McCartney for Rolling Stone. “I think that in knowing him and being in the relationship I am in now, I have definitely made decisions that have made my life feel more like a real life and less like just a storyline to be commented on in tabloids,” she explained. “Whether that's deciding where to live, who to hang out with, when to not take a picture — the idea of privacy feels so strange to try to explain, but it's really just trying to find bits of normalcy.”
November 2020: "William Bowery" is (sort of) revealed to be... Joe Alwyn.
The couple made beautiful music together... literally. During the folklore: long pond studio sessions, Taylor shared that William Bowery was actually her boyfriend, who helped her write "exile" and "betty." Taylor apparently heard Joe singing "an entirely fully-formed chorus" and asked him to work with her. "I came in and I was like, 'Hey, this could be really weird, and we could hate this, so because we're in quarantine and there’s nothing else going on, could we just try to see what it's like if we write this song together?'"
December 2019: Alwyn says he's “flattered” to be the subject of so many of Swift's songs.
In a rare nod to his girlfriend, the notoriously tight-lipped Joe told The Sunday Times that he was "flattered" to inspire Taylor's music. "I just don’t pay attention to what I don’t want to pay attention to. I turn everything else down on a dial. I don’t have any interest in tabloids," he said of the press attention. "I know what I want to do, and that’s this, and that’s what I am doing.”
August 2019: Swift releases diary entries from the first months of their relationship.
Taylor did give fans a small peek into the early days of their courtship in the deluxe edition of her album Lover, which featured snippets of diary entries from her life. “I’m essentially based in London, hiding out trying to protect us from the nasty world that just wants to ruin things,” she wrote of Joe in January 2017. “We have been together and no one has found out for 3 months now. I want it to stay that way because I don’t want anything about this to change or become too complicated or intruded upon. But it’s senseless to worry about someday not being happy when I am happy now."
February 2019: Swift and Alwyn attend the BAFTAs together.
Joe and Taylor made a very, very rare public appearance when they attended the 2019 BAFTAs together, though they didn't walk the carpet as a couple. Taylor, who was filming Cats in London at the time, wore a gorgeous seafoam Stella McCartney gown and matching coat.
December 2018: Alwyn sets his boundaries when talking about Swift.
The actor has never been shy about shutting down prying questions regarding Taylor. In 2018, he said he didn't ask any of his friends and coworkers for advice when dating a super famous pop star. “I didn’t seek out advice on that,” he shared with Esquire at the time. “Because I know what I feel about it. I think there’s a very clear line as to what somebody should share, or feel like they have to share, and what they don’t want to and shouldn’t have to.”
July 2018: The couple takes a trip to Turks and Caicos.
March 2018: Swift wears a "J" necklace in the "Delicate" music video.
The musician, who never met an easter egg she didn't like, slyly shouted out her boyfriend in the "Delicate" music video with a Tiffany & Co. "J" necklace. Much of the album Reputation is thought to be about the early days of her relationship with the actor, including a lyric about how he "likes me for me."
December 2017: Swift and Alwyn slow dance to Ed Sheeran.
The new couple shared some very rare PDA at the Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball in London, where they were spotted slow dancing to Taylor's friend Ed Sheeran's song “Perfect.”
December 2017: Swift and Alwyn go public in New York City.
In the early days of their relationship, Tay and Joe were all about coordinating outfits, as evidenced by a few sidewalk paparazzi shots of them. In 2017, the new-ish couple were photographed in New York City in cozy winter looks, shortly after being spotted heading into Taylor's Tribeca apartment together.
November 2017: Swift starts wearing that Pisces zodiac ring.
Tay paid tribute to her boyfriend's astrological sign with a Pisces ring, which she wore next to a Reputation snake ring in 2017.
June 2017: Selena Gomez weighs in.
Tay's bestie Selena Gomez clearly approved of Joe, even saying so during an appearance on SiriusXM's Morning Mash Up. When asked whether she and Taylor had double-dated with their respective beaus (Selena was dating The Weeknd at the time), Selena shared that they hadn't, but that she was happy for her pal. "Honestly, if my friends are happy, that makes me happy. That's all I care about," she said at the time. "So, I'm super stoked, too. It's been a good time."
May 2017: Swift and Alwyn are officially linked.
After Taylor's split from Tom Hiddleston, she was officially linked with Joe, with The Sun claiming the musician was incognito in London wearing a wig to keep a low profile with her new boo. At the time, Taylor was taking some time off from the limelight and was rarely spotted in public. The couple could have been introduced by Tay's friends Emma Stone and Gigi Hadid; Emma worked with him on The Favourite and he previously shot with Gigi for Vogue.
October 2016: Swift and Alwyn reportedly start dating.
According to Taylor's diaries (see more on that below), the pair started dating in late 2016 and kept things as secret as possible. Taylor split with Loki actor Tom Hiddleston in September 2016 and connected with Joe shortly thereafter.
May 2016: Swift and Alwyn both attend the Met Gala.
Did the couple meet at the Met Gala? It's a big maybe. They were both in attendance at the high-profile event; Taylor may have commemorated the occasion in her song "Dress," which references her bleached bob and Joe's buzzcut. However, we don't fully know for sure how the pair met or a concrete timeline of their early days, given Taylor was mostly out of the spotlight at this time in her career.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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