Everything That Came Out About Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s Breakup Before ‘Tortured Poets’

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Taylor Swift let her art speak for her for the majority of her six-year relationship with Joe Alwyn, and now, it appears she’s ready to let her art tell the story of its dissolution. But before there was a breakup album, there were many breakup reports, where sources close to Swift and Alwyn spoke about what happened to the couple. The news of their split first broke on April 8, 2023, a little over a year ago.

Ahead of the release of The Tortured Poets Department, here’s a roundup of all that the public learned about Alwyn and Swift’s breakup, from sources and Swift and Alwyn themselves. For a full recap of Alwyn and Swift’s history, see their complete relationship timeline here.

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The Tortured Poets Department by Taylor Swift



[table-of-contents] stripped

How the news broke

A year ago, Swift had just started her Eras tour, but Alwyn hadn’t been at any of her shows. On March 22, 2023, a source told People: “Joe will travel with her when he can. They are great together. Joe is super supportive of her career.”

Then on April 8, 2023, Entertainment Tonight dropped the bombshell: Swift and Alwyn had ended things a “few weeks ago.”

A source explained, “The relationship had just run its course. It’s why [Alwyn] hasn’t been spotted at any shows.” The split was initially reported as amicable.

Swift and Alwyn were more on-off than people knew.

Swift and Alwyn had some bumps they kept to themselves over their six years together. A source told People on April 10, 2023, “They’ve had rough patches before and always worked things out, so friends thought they would take some time apart [now] but eventually come back together. Ultimately [they] weren’t the right fit for one another.”

Alwyn struggled with Swift’s fame, which he came to understand more post-COVID.

Sources said part of Alwyn and Swift’s incompatibility stemmed from Alwyn not being able to handle the attention that came with dating the mega pop star. This spotlight was masked at first, because when they first started dating on Sept. 28, 2016, Swift was laying low after the Kanye West and Kim Kardashian Snapchat scandal. The COVID pandemic also initially shielded them from Swift’s standard level of fame.

Multiple sources touched on this in April 10, 2023, reports.

Regarding what made them flourish initially, a 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.”

Since the pandemic ended, “Joe has struggled with Taylor’s level of fame and the attention from the public,” that source shared. “The differences in their personalities have also become harder to ignore after years together. They’ve grown apart.”

That same day, a separate source claimed to Daily Mail that “ultimately, they both realized they were not on the same page anymore. It’s been hard for Joe trying to make it in Hollywood and not quite becoming leading man material while dating one of the most famous women in the world over the last six years. It was easier during the pandemic when it was just the two of them, but once things returned to normal, Taylor Swift the superstar emerged, and their differences were even more apparent. They really made a go of it and tried everything they could but ultimately were unable to save the relationship.”

Immediately after the breakup, Swift had nothing “bad to say” about Alwyn and intended to be friends.

On April 10, 2023, a source characterized Swift and Alwyn’s relationship to People as being “friendly.” The source continued: She doesn’t have anything bad to say about Joe. They just grew apart. Taylor is staying very focused on her tour right now. There is a lot of respect still between them.”

A source told CNN on April 9, 2023, “Taylor and Joe broke up a few weeks ago. They simply grew apart and plan to remain friends.”

Alwyn still follows Swift on Instagram to this day. Swift doesn’t follow anyone on the platform.

Alwyn never unfollowed Swift after their breakup, nor did she remove him from her followers. He is still following Swift’s account, as of April 16. Swift wasn’t following anyone when they broke up and still doesn’t. She did used to like Alwyn’s Instagrams though. The last one she liked was posted on April 26, 2022.

joe alwyn still following taylor swift on instagram as of april 16 2024
Joe Alwyn still following Taylor Swift on Instagram as of April 16, 2024, at 5:51 P.M.Instagram

Swift’s friends unfollowed Alwyn on Instagram toward the end of April 2023, signaling to fans there could be drama.

Fans noticed that shortly after Alwyn was photographed out for the first time post-breakup on April 20, 2023, Swift’s brother, Austin, and friends Ryan Reynolds, the Haim sisters, and Gigi Hadid all unfollowed Alwyn on Instagram. Hadid and the Haim sisters had been seen out with Swift before making the move.

Swift was the one who initiated the breakup in March 2023, because she had doubts about their relationship long-term.

On April 11, 2023, a source told Entertainment Tonight that it was Swift who started the breakup conversation, although it was ultimately mutual. The source added that Swift hoped she and Alwyn could be “friendly” in the future.

The source said, “Taylor and Joe are in totally different places in their lives right now. It was more of Taylor’s decision to break up, but both of them realized that they weren’t completely right for one another. They had been together for such a long time and were spending so much time together, but their personalities were just too different. Joe is more introverted, shy, and quiet.”

“She’s very focused on touring and her career right now,” the source added. “Taylor has nothing but respect for Joe and really loved and enjoyed all the time and memories she shared with him. They had a deep connection, and she really appreciated that. She hopes they can be friendly in the future.”

That report came one day after a separate source told People that Swift “didn’t see them working out in the long run,” which led to the breakup.

They had been discussing getting married prior to splitting.

In People’s April 10, 2023, report, multiple sources told the outlet that Swift and Alwyn had been talking about marriage as recently as a few months ago.”

Swift later hinted in her song “You’re Losing Me” that Alwyn not proposing was a sore point. In the bridge, she sang:

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 losing me)
And I wouldn’t marry me either
A pathological people pleaser
Who only wanted you to see her
And I’m fading, thinkin’
“Do something, babe, say something” (Say something)
“Lose something, babe, risk something” (You’re losing me)
“Choose something, babe, I got nothing” (I got nothing)
“To believe, unless you’re choosing me”

Alwyn previously played coy whenever he was asked whether he or Swift were engaged. He told WSJ in April 2022, “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. I mean, the truth is, if the answer was yes, I wouldn’t say, and if the answer was no, I wouldn’t say.”

Swift wrote “You’re Losing Me” on Dec. 5, 2021, months before Alwyn spoke about engagement rumors with the press. She began writing The Tortured Poets Department in early 2022.

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Photo credit: Michael Owens - Getty Images
Photo credit: Michael Owens - Getty Images

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Photo credit: Jamie McCarthy - Getty Images
Photo credit: Jamie McCarthy - Getty Images

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Photo credit: Robert Kamau - Getty Images
Photo credit: Robert Kamau - Getty Images

Swift spent six years dating Alwyn. Revisit the history that Tortured Poets is expected to explore.

Swift’s publicist later shut down DeuxMoi’s false claims that Swift and Alwyn were secretly married.

In November 2023, Swift’s publicist, Tree Paine, made a rare post on X, formerly known as Twitter, to call out unverified celebrity gossip Instagram DeuxMoi’s harmful posts about Swift’s relationship with her ex. DeuxMoi repeatedly claimed they had been married in secret.

“Enough is enough with these fabricated lies about Taylor from Deuxmoi,” Paine wrote. “There was NEVER a marriage or ceremony of ANY kind. This is an insane thing to post. It’s time for you to be held accountable for the pain and trauma you cause with posts like these.”

Neither Alwyn nor Swift have spoken publicly about their breakup.

Swift has kept her comments constrained to “You’re Losing Me.” She gave a thumbs up to a fan who held up an “you ok?” sign shortly after her breakup during one of her Tampa concerts. It was the first city she performed in after the breakup news came out (Tortured Poets track “Florida!!!” likely alludes to this).

Later, in her December 2023 interview with Time, Swift made a subtle comment about Alwyn and her previous boyfriends who were more private with her while discussing her new romance with Travis Kelce. “When you say a relationship is public, that means I’m going to see him do what he loves, we’re showing up for each other, other people are there and we don’t care,” she said of Kelce. “The opposite of that is you have to go to an extreme amount of effort to make sure no one knows that you’re seeing someone. And we’re just proud of each other.”

Alwyn spoke in May 2022 about how he hoped people would ignore their relationship someday. “I think because the precedent was set—that our choice is to be private and not feed that side of things—the more you do that, hopefully, the more that intrusiveness or intrigue drops off,” he told GQ.

A source claimed that Alwyn isn’t planning on speaking out about Tortured Poets or their breakup.

Shortly after Swift announced the album in February, an Alwyn source told Daily Mail, “Joe has not said one word about Taylor or their breakup and has been completely respectful of her. It’s undeniable that the name of her upcoming album is in reference to Joe’s WhatsApp group chat [The Tortured Man Club, which he shared with Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott]. 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 [in a December 2022 Variety interview], she was, of course, bothered.”

“Joe has no reason to believe yet that she is going to diss him or their relationship,” the source continued. “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 [under pseudonym William Bowery on Folklore and Evermore] 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. Regardless of what she does, he will still not respond because he has removed himself from her narrative and is very glad he did.”

After the breakup, Swift decided to live her life more publicly.

A source told Us Weekly in October 2023 that following her March breakup from Alwyn, “Taylor has decided she’s not going to hide anymore. She’s going to be her authentic self and enjoy life.”

Swift touched on that decision during her December Time interview. She said, “Over the years, I’ve learned I don’t have the time or bandwidth to get pressed about things that don’t matter. Yes, if I go out to dinner, there’s going to be a whole chaotic situation outside the restaurant. But I still want to go to dinner with my friends.”

“Life is short,” she continued. “Have adventures. Me locking myself away in my house for a lot of years—I’ll never get that time back. I’m more trusting now than I was six years ago.”

Swift now has a very public romance with Kelce—the opposite of her time spent with Alwyn. A source spoke to Page Six in December 2023 about how this is actually Swift’s preferred dating style.

The insider said, “Taylor is so in love. She just hasn’t been with a guy who is so excited and proud to be with her in so long. She’d gotten used to having to hide away and lay low whenever she’s been in a relationship.”

“Calvin [Harris, the DJ Swift dated in 2015 and 2016] and Joe were BIG on hiding. So she followed their lead,” they continued. “But now she’s finally with someone who is appropriately like, ‘Holy shit, I’m with Taylor Swift! Awesome!’ and she’s so delighted that she gets to be out in the world. Don’t forget, this is a girl who made out with Harry Styles in Times Square [on New Year’s Eve 2012] and posted pictures of her fling [actor Tom Hiddleston, in 2016] wearing an ‘I heart TS’ T-shirt. Low key isn’t actually her preferred vibe. But when it’s been at the insistence of the guy she’s with, she’s gone along with it.”

Swift now considers many of her most romantic love songs about Alwyn to represent the “denial” stage of a breakup.

Earlier this month, Swift released five playlists on Apple Music representing the five stages of heartbreak and grief. Fans noticed that the majority of songs on Swift’s denial playlist were love songs about Alwyn, written during their relationship, including “Lavender Haze,” “Sweet Nothing,” “Lover,” “Cruel Summer,” and “Glitch.”

She said of the denial stage, “This is a list of songs about getting so caught up in the idea of something that you have a hard time seeing the red flags, possibly resulting in moments of denial and maybe a little bit of delusion. Results may vary.”

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