Delicate: A reflection on Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s split

Photo credit: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The days of saying “I found my Joe Alwyn!” have come to an end.

On April 8 around 7 p.m. EST, Entertainment Tonight broke the news that Taylor Swift split from Joe Alwyn, her boyfriend of six years.

Two days later, People Magazine published an exclusive with a source close to the couple, confirming their split. Swift was spotted that evening in New York City after (allegedly) filming a music video in Liverpool. Tabloids have reported she was on her way to dinner with her creative partner and friend, Jack Antonoff.

Since then, there have been several more sightings of Swift without Alwyn.

News of the breakup comes as a shock to many fans, as it was reported before the beginning of the Eras Tour that Joe had been happily supporting Taylor as she embarked on her first full tour since 2018.

“I was honestly very surprised by the break-up. After the songs on ‘Midnights,’ I thought they were still in a good place,” sophomore political science major Riley Simon said. “Obviously you never know what people are going through.”

The source for “People” stated that Alwyn was not used to Swift being out so publicly, which was one of the reasons for the split. Days after the news broke, she was seen in New York without Joe, a strategic move on Swift’s part to subtly confirm the statements.

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Changes to the Eras Tour setlist also point to the rumors being true. “Invisible String,” a love song about Joe and their time together, was recently changed to “The 1,” a song about losing the person you thought was “the one.”

The first piece of evidence on Swift and Alwyn’s relationship lies in Swift’s 2017 song “Dress.” While it’s not the first song on “Reputation” presumably about Alwyn, it’s definitely the most obvious.

In the bridge, Swift sings “Flashback / when you met me / your buzz cut and my hair bleached.” These lines refer to their possible meeting at the 2016 Met Gala, where Swift sported a bleach-blonde bob during her “Bleachella” era, marking her retreat from the public eye.

Fans believe she met Joe sometime during the party, which also slightly correlates to the lyrics in her song “Paper Rings”: “The night that we first met / went home and tried to stalk you on the internet.” Alwyn was not well known at the time.

Since they began dating, Alwyn and Swift kept their relationship private after Taylor pulled away from the public eye, ahead of her “Reputation” album release. The pair were spotted in public but mutually declined to share details of their relationship in interviews.

Their privacy was further cemented during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, where Swift wrote music for her surprise album “Folklore” while in quarantine. Alwyn was credited with writing a few songs with Taylor under the alias “William Bowery.”

Swift accepted a Grammy for “Folklore” and acknowledged Joe in her speech.

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“Joe, who is the first person that I play every single song that I write, and I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine,” Swift said during her 2021 Grammy acceptance speech after winning Album Of The Year for “Folklore.”

Since then, rumors have circulated about an engagement or a secret marriage between the two.

While Swifties are heartbroken about the loss of her “perfect love” and co-songwriter, many believe that Swift’s story is inspirational in terms of heartbreak and moving on. She is proof that you can “have everything” and things can still go wrong.

The breakup affected how Aris Montero, a sophomore communication studies major and self proclaimed “huge fan,” listens to Swift’s music.

“I love the songs she wrote specifically about Joe,” Montero said. “Songs like ‘peace,’ ‘Daylight,’ and ‘Call It What You Want’ won’t be the same. I thought they were going to get married.”

Although the relationship is over, Alwyn will leave a lasting effect on Swift’s fans and her music. Songs about Alwyn may appear on “Reputation (Taylor’s Version),” but Swift fans will listen to them with a fresh perspective.