Taylor Swift Hints at the End of Her Relationship With Joe Alwyn on “The Tortured Poets Department”

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Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s Relationship TimelineJackson Lee - Getty Images
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Taylor Swift’s romance with actor Joe Alwyn has been her most serious yet secretive relationship to date. Starting in 2016, the pair’s private romance made headlines and managed to keep the public hooked. In April 2023, however, as Swift’s Eras Tour began, their split was confirmed.

Throughout their six years together, Swift and Alwyn mostly kept the intimate details of their relationship under wraps—a departure from Swift's infamously critiqued and very well-publicized romantic history.

Still, the singer managed to sprinkle aspects of the romance throughout her discography over the years, referencing the actor in a slew of songs dating as far back as 2017's Reputation and up until her latest studio album, Midnights.

Ahead, look back on the full timeline of their romance—including engagement rumors, fan theories surrounding all of Swift's Easter eggs about Alwyn, and the rare public comments the pair have made about one another.

April 19, 2024: Taylor hints at their split in The Tortured Poets Department.

The singer's eleventh studio album alludes to the end of her romance with Alwyn on several tracks like “So Long, London,” “Fresh Out the Slammer,” “I Can Do It with a Broken Heart,” and “The Black Dog.”

In “So Long, London,” Swift seems to imply that their relationship gave out due to a “quiet resentment.” She sings, “And you say I abandoned the ship / But I was going down with it / My white-knuckle dyin' grip / Holding tight to your quiet resentment / And my friends said it isn't right to be scared / Every day of a love affair / Every breath feels like rarest air / When you're not sure if he wants to be there.”

April 8, 2023: Sources confirm their amicable split.

The two have reportedly called it quits after six years, a source confirms to Entertainment Tonight. "It was not dramatic," the source tells the outlet. "The relationship had just run its course. It's why [Alwyn] hasn't been spotted at any shows."

Following the reports, Swift is seen getting emotional while performing "Champagne Problems" during her Eras Tour.

March 22, 2023: Joe supports Taylor amid her Eras Tour.

As Swift kicks off her Eras Tour, a source close to hers tells People that Alwyn "will travel with her when he can." The insider adds, "They are great together. Joe is super supportive of her career."

March 16, 2023: Taylor drops a previously unreleased song about Joe.

Swift finally drops “All of the Girls You Loved Before,” her highly anticipated previously unreleased track dedicated to Alwyn from her July 2019 album, Lovers. (Swift had still opted to keep her romance a secret during the time of the album’s release.)

Throughout the song, Swift praises the women Joe loved before her and how they have helped shape him into the man he is today.

January 2023: Taylor leaves an Easter egg about Joe in the music video for "Lavender Haze."

Eagle-eyed fans spotted a hint that Swift left about her longtime beau in the "Lavender Haze" music video.

The video includes a shot of a vinyl album cover featuring the constellations for Sagittarius and Pisces, which happens to be Swift and Alwyn's respective zodiac signs.

October 2022: Taylor reveals a new song about Joe.

In a clip on Instagram, the singer shares an analysis on the meaning behind her upcoming song "Lavender Haze"from her soon-to-be-released album, Midnights, that surrounds the nature of her romance with Alwyn.

"Like my relationship for six years, we've had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff, and we just ignore it," Swift says in the video. "And so, this song is sort of about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff."

She also expands on the inspiration behind the song's title, saying, "If you were in the lavender haze, then that meant that you were in that all-encompassing love glow, and I thought that was really beautiful."

August 2022: They go out for dinner in New York City.

The pair are photographed heading to a dinner date with Lena Dunham in New York City ahead of the MTV Video Music Awards.

June 2022: They pack on the PDA in the Bahamas.

The pair are spotted kissing and embracing in the waters of the Bahamas in a series of rare paparazzi photos shared by TMZ.

May 2022: Joe implores fans to respect their privacy.

In a GQ Hype cover interview for the magazine's June issue, the actor expresses his desire for fans to stop "caring so much" about his and Swift's relationship out of respect for both their privacy, and says that he hopes that setting clear and open boundaries will help minimize the prying and commentary.

"The precedent was set—that our choice is to be private and not feed that side of things," Alwyn tells the magazine, adding, "the more you do that, hopefully, the more that intrusiveness or intrigue drops off."

April 2022: Joe offers rare commentary on his relationship with Taylor.

In a series of interviews throughout the month, Alwyn opens up about his relationship with Swift—from their strict boundaries around privacy to all the recent rumors surrounding their engagement.

In a conversation with ELLE UK, Alwyn clarifies why he rarely discusses his relationship with Swift in interviews, saying it's less about preserving himself than it is about pushing back against a culture that has been increasingly invasive and greedy for information.

"It's not really [because I] want to be guarded and private, it's more a response to something else," he tells the magazine. "The more you give—and frankly, even if you don't give it—something will be taken."

He also coyly addresses the engagement rumors from recent months during a profile interview with WSJ. Magazine, while expanding further on his and Swift's desire to maintain privacy.

"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," Alwyn says, adding, "I mean, the truth is, if the answer was yes, I wouldn't say, and if the answer was no, I wouldn't say."

And speaking with The Guardian, he shared more.

"It's just not something I particularly care about, or have much interest in feeding," Alwyn says of their relationship's heavy publicity. "The more it's fed, the more you are opening a gate for intrusion. I think that's just my response to a culture that has this increasing expectation that everything is going to be given. If you don't post about the way you make your coffee in the morning, or if you don’t let someone take a picture when you walk out of your front door, is that being private? I don’t know if it is. So I just don’t really feed that. If you and I were having a conversation, and having a shandy in my house, and it wasn’t being recorded, then, of course, other things would be said."

March 26, 2022: They attend a pre-Oscars party.

In a rare joint public outing, the two arrive at CAA's pre-Oscars party in the San Vicente Bungalows appearing happy and affectionate, according to sources.

"Taylor was introducing Joe to many people around her," an onlooker tells E! News. "She looked smitten and proud to be there with him."

Swift and Alwyn were also "very coupley and cute and seemed happy to be there together," another source tells the outlet. "Taylor and Joe were together all night. He was leading her around introducing her to people, and Taylor also introducing people to Joe. When Joe was leading Taylor around he held his arm around her back."

February 17, 2022: They look ahead to the future together, sources report.

A Life & Style insider reports that the two have secretly gotten engaged—though further insight is offered neither from additional outlets nor from Swift or Alwyn's representatives.

Still, an Entertainment Tonight source says that Swift and Alwyn have had their sights set on a long-term future together for a while now and that they have been supportive of each other's careers.

"Both of them have been busy with work and they completely understand how to balance hectic schedules and still make time for each other," the insider says. "It's part of why their relationship really works."

February 9, 2022: Joe clarifies his exclusive relationship status with Taylor.

For the first time in several years, Alwyn publicly references Swift during an exclusive E! interview based around his lead role in the May 2022 film adaptation of Sally Rooney's best-selling adult-fiction romance novel, Conversations with Friends.

"I'm obviously happy in a monogamous relationship," he tells the outlet, while clarifying, "I think people can do what they want and makes them happy."

November 2021: Taylor tags along with Joe on set.

The singer visits Alwyn in Panama during the outset of filming for his upcoming movie, The Stars at Noon, an E! source reports.

May 20, 2021: More engagement rumors swirl.

Entertainment Tonight cites additional rumors surrounding the pair's engagement.

"They've discussed future plans and Taylor can see herself marrying Joe one day," says a source, who adds that living together during lockdown has strengthened the couple's bond. "They grew closer than ever during the quarantine and she really trusts him," the insider says. "They've been continuing to be pretty low-key about their relationship to the outside world to continue to protect it."

May 11, 2021: Taylor includes Joe in a shout-out during the BRIT Awards.

The singer gives a heartfelt shout-out to Alwyn and others while commemorating her historical win as the first-ever female recipient of the British Record Industry's Global Icon Award.

"Thank you, Aaron Dessner, thank you, Jack Antonoff, Joe [Alwyn], Justin Vernon, The National, Marcus Mumford, Jon Low, Serban Ghenea, Laura Sisk, and HAIM," she says onstage during her acceptance speech. "I want to thank my friends and family who know exactly who they are, whose opinion of me never changed whether my stock was up or down."

February 17, 2021: Taylor says Joe helped her find her political voice.

In a conversation with Vanity Fair, Swift opens up about the ways in which Alwyn has singlehandedly influenced her political views and helped her grow more comfortable and confident speaking out politically in the wake of the 2018 midterm elections.

“As a country musician, I was always told it’s better to stay out of [politics],” the singer tells the magazine via email. “The Trump presidency forced me to lean in and educate myself. I found myself talking about government and the presidency and policy with my boyfriend [Alwyn], who supported me in speaking out.”

She continues, “I’m proud to have moved past fear and self-doubt, and to endorse and support leadership that moves us beyond this divisive, heartbreaking moment in time."

Swift's newly outspoken voice in politics (in part thanks to Alwyn's influence) is also made evident in “Only the Young," a song exclusively featured in her 2020 Netflix documentary, Miss Americana. The track reflects her feelings of heartbreak following the outcome of the 2018 midterms, in which Phil Breseden—the Tennessee Senate’s Democratic candidate whom the singer had endorsed—ultimately lost to Republican rival Marsha Blackburn.

“There were so many young people who rallied for their candidate, whether it was a senator or congressman or congresswoman,” the singer previously told Variety. “It was hard to see so many people feel like they had canvassed and done everything and tried so hard. I saw a lot of young people’s hopes dashed.”

January 14, 2021: They are ready to go more public, a source reports.

A source tells Entertainment Tonight that Swift is finally ready to share more of her famously private romance with the world.

"Taylor has gotten more and more comfortable being public with Joe and letting fans in on their romance in a way that she feels is still protecting it," the insider says. "She loves Joe so much and, of course, is not trying to hide their relationship, but she prefers to keep specific details private."

January 11, 2021: They are spotted out in London.

For the first time in nearly a year, the two are spotted out and about for a cozy winter stroll in London with Alwyn's mother, Elizabeth. According to sources, Swift has been dividing her time between Nashville and London to spend time with her and Alwyn's family.

December 3, 2020: Engagement rumors resurface.

A second wave of engagement rumors begin to swirl after Swift releases a preview on Instagram of her rerecorded version of "Love Story" from her 2008 album, Fearless. Hours following the release, fan theories break out on Twitter speculating that the song's original lyrics, "Baby just say, 'Yes,'" have been updated to the past tense—to "Baby just said, 'Yes'"—in Swift's new version, potentially hinting at an engagement.

Though, several sources later tell E! that despite how it sounded, the lyrics have not changed.

Swift also doesn't affirm these theories—though she refers to Alwyn in passing as just her "boyfriend" during a conversation with Entertainment Weekly.

November 25, 2020: Taylor reveals that Joe co-wrote several of her songs.

Swift confirms longtime fan speculation that the name, William Bowery—an accredited songwriter on select tracks from Swift's 2020 albums, folklore and evermore—is the alias for Alwyn.

The singer explicitly states that Alwyn co-wrote the songs "betty" and "exile" on folklore during a conversation with the album's producers, Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, on the Disney+ film, folklore: the long pond studio sessions. "So, William Bowery is Joe … as we know," Swift teases.

"Joe plays piano beautifully and he's always just playing and making things up and kind of creating things," she also says.

"And 'exile' was crazy because Joe had written that entire piano part," Swift continues. "He was singing the Bon Iver part, the 'I can see you standing honey, with his arms around your body, laughing but the joke's not funny at all.' He was just singing it. And I was entranced and asked if we could keep writing that one."

Later, in April 2022, Alwyn talks about his experience collaborating with Swift—as well his reaction upon first hearing the news that the album won a Grammy—in a conversation with The Guardian.

"It wasn’t like, 'It’s five o’clock, it’s time to try and write a song together,'" he tells the magazine. "It came about from messing around on a piano, and singing badly, then being overheard, and being, like, 'Let’s see what happens if we get to the end of it together.' I mean fun is such a stupid word, but it was a lot of fun. And it was never a work thing, or a 'Let’s try and do this because we’re going to put this out' thing. It was just like baking sourdough in lockdown. The Grammy was obviously this ridiculous bonus."

November 13, 2020: Taylor talks her album inspiration surrounding Joe.

While speaking with Paul McCartney for Rolling Stone, the singer reveals that the actor helped inspire her folklore song, "peace," which is heavily rooted in her personal life.

Per Swift, the song reflects the ways in which her relationship with Alwyn has influenced her views surrounding privacy in dating, particularly while navigating a separate public persona.

"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 says. "Whether that's deciding where to live, who to hang out with, when to not take a picture... it's really just trying to find bits of normalcy. That's what that song 'Peace' is talking about. Like, would it be enough if I could never fully achieve the normalcy that we both crave?"

She also tells McCartney, "I know you have done a really excellent job of this in your personal life—carving out a human life within a public life, and how scary that can be when you do fall in love and you meet someone, especially if you've met someone who has a very grounded, normal way of living. I, oftentimes, in my anxieties, can control how I am as a person and how normal I act and rationalize things, but I cannot control if there are 20 photographers outside in the bushes and what they do and if they follow our car and if they interrupt our lives. I can't control if there's going to be a fake weird headline about us in the news tomorrow."

April 29, 2020: They quarantine together.

Alwyn indirectly confirms that he and Swift are spending lockdown together when he reveals glimpses of quarantine life on his Instagram Stories with photos featuring Swift's cat Benjamin Button underneath a rug, surrounded in the singer's familiar antique-style home decor.

March 24, 2020: Sources report that the two have discussed marriage.

Us Weekly reports that the two have at this point already discussed marriage—though they are in no rush to tie the knot.

"[They] have talked about their future and marriage," the source tells the outlet. "They don't have a set deadline in place, but they're very much in love."

The insider adds, "Taylor considers Joe one of the only safe constants in her life. He has always been a huge support and stuck by her."

February 21, 2020: They celebrate Joe's birthday.

The pair celebrate Alwyn's birthday with a sweet date alongside Ed Sheeran and his wife, Cherry Seaborn, at the Bob Bob Ricard restaurant in Soho, London.

"They had fun drinking champagne at the table," an insider at the restaurant tells E!, adding, "They were there for several hours enjoying the night."

February 12, 2020: They take the NME Awards.

The two get close during the New Musical Express Awards in London, just ahead of Valentine's Day. In a video captured by a fellow audience member, Swift gives Alwyn a kiss and a hug as she's named winner of Best Solo Act in the World.

January 5, 2020: They take the Golden Globes.

For their first major public outing, Swift and Alwyn attend the 2020 film awards ceremony, where Swift is a nominee for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture for her and Andrew Lloyd Webber's co-written number, “Beautiful Ghosts,” from the 2019 musical fantasy film, Cats. The two share the same table and stick closely by one another throughout the night, onlookers note.

October 6, 2019: They go on a sweet dinner date.

Following Swift’s performance on Saturday Night Live, she and Alwyn are spotted hand-in-hand later in the evening while on their way to dinner at Zuma restaurant in New York City.

celebrity sightings in new york city october 6, 2019
Robert Kamau - Getty Images

May 8, 2018: They go (somewhat) Instagram official.

The pair unintentionally soft-launch their relationship online when they make evident on Instagram their joint trip to the desert via photos of themselves individually posing by the same cactus.

Alwyn later admits that he didn't realize how similar and coordinated their photos looked at the time. “I didn’t even think of that until I was in New York and someone else mentioned it,” he tells ET days later. "It wasn’t purposeful at all!”

June 7, 2017: They hang out with Taylor's parents.

People reports that Swift has taken the step to include Alwyn in special, quality family time. “They arrived in Nashville on Friday and spent the weekend there together,” a source tells the outlet. “Joe hasn’t spent very much time with her family before, so it does seem they are getting more serious.”

The insider notes that the singer seems “relaxed and very happy" with Alwyn, and adds, "She’s enjoying being more low-key and Joe makes her laugh. They had a great weekend together.”

May 16, 2017: A source reports that they’re dating.

An insider close to the pair confirms rumors that Swift and Alwyn are together, and alleges that the two have been dating for several months at this point.

“This isn’t a new couple alert or a secret relationship,” says the source to The Sun. “he only people this has been a secret to is the media because all of us—Taylor and Joe’s closest friends and their families—were aware they have been together for several months and have known each other for a long time.”

The insider notes that Swift is opting to keep this relationship especially private. “After her 1989 tour and all the attention Taylor received, she learned she had to be more protective of her personal life and she and Joe decided early on to keep their private life private,” the source adds.

May 2016: They meet at the Met Gala.

The two are rumored to have met for the first time at the 2016 Met Gala, based on a line of lyrics in "Dress," a track from Swift's 2017 album, reputation. Fans speculate that the lyrics from the song's bridge, "Flashback when you met me, your buzz cut and my hair bleached," reference Swift and Alwyn's looks from the 2016 Met Gala, where—indeed—they had those hairstyles.

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Neilson Barnard - Getty Images

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