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Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s relationship timeline, in their own words

Fans predict Swift’s upcoming album, “The Tortured Poets Department” will detail the end of her six-year relationship with Alwyn.
/ Source: TODAY

Taylor Swift fans were shocked in April 2023 when reports circulated that she and British actor Joe Alwyn had broken up after six years together.

After hearing the news of her split with Alwyn, who has long been thought of as the inspiration behind some of Swift's sweetest love songs, including the aptly titled album "Lover," some fans placed flowers on Cornelia Street in New York. The Greenwich Village site was both an old residence and the title of a touching song from her seventh album.

At the time, fans were heartbroken.

Swift — who has since moved on and is happily dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce — has never publicly commented on her reported split from Alwyn. A month after the news, she released the "Midnights" vault track "You're Losing Me," a devastating song about a breakup, with lyrics like, “I wouldn’t marry me either/ A pathological people pleaser."

But Swift may now be divulging new details via her music upon the release of her 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.” The record, which many fans believe will be about her breakup with Alwyn, includes titles like "So Long, London" and "I Can Do It With A Broken Heart."

Swift has said that she's more keen to sing about her personal life or dating history than to talk about it in public.

“I don’t talk about my personal life in great detail. I write about it in my songs, and I feel like you can share enough about your life in your music to let people know what you’re going through,” she told Glamour in 2012.

Here's a look back at Joe Alwyn and Taylor Swift's relationship timeline

Fans speculate Swift and Alwyn met at the 2016 Met Gala because of this song

Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn at the Met Gala in 2016.
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn at the Met Gala in 2016.WireImage, Getty Images

Swifties have long believed that Swift and Alwyn met at the 2016 Met Gala due to a lyric off her 2017 song "Dress," featured on the album "Reputation."

Swift sings, “Flashback to when you met me/ Your buzz cut/ And my hair bleached.”

Look back at photos from the 2016 Met Gala, and — behold — Swift showed up to the event with a bleached blond bob and Alwyn sported a buzz cut.

2016: Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn reportedly start dating

While they never confirmed where they met, Alwyn and Swift were dating as of late 2016, according to Billboard. Earlier that year, Swift had been linked to Tom Hiddleston and Calvin Harris.

On the 2019 album "Lover," Swift shared photocopies from her diary entries — including one from Jan. 3, 2017, which discusses her new relationship. While Alwyn isn't named, the timelines of the diary entries align with her relationship.

“I’m essentially based in London, hiding out trying to protect us from the nasty world that just wants to ruin things.

“We have been together and no one has found out for three months now. I want it to stay that way because I don’t want anything about this to change.

“It’s senseless to worry about someday not being happy when I am happy now,” she continued.

May 2018: Swift and Alwyn are Instagram official

About a year-and-a-half after they started dating, Swift and Alwyn nodded to their relationship online.

They shared similar photos on their Instagram accounts of themselves standing next to a tall cactus.

In the caption, Swift revealed how excited she was to be going on her "Reputation" tour.

"Fact: I’ve never been more excited about a tour than I am about this one," she said. "And it starts TOMORROW. Also, not even remotely tour related, but today I met a cactus. 🌵."

As for Alwyn's post? The actor shared a cactus emoji in the caption.

May 2018: Alwyn said he would 'prefer to talk about work' over relationships

During a May 2018 interview with British Vogue — not long after the aforementioned cactus photos — Alwyn was asked about his relationship with Swift and said that he would rather not discuss it with the publication.

“I’m aware people want to know about that side of things,” he said. “I think we have been successfully very private and that has now sunk in for people. But I really prefer to talk about work."

That year also marked Alwyn's breakout following his 2016 movie "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk." The English actor was cast in four movies: "The Favourite," "Mary Queen of Scots," "Boy Erased" and "Operation Finale."

Joe Alwyn
“I understand people’s curiosity in the world we live in, about people’s private lives. Well, I don’t understand it, but I know it exists,” Joe Alwyn said.Joe Maher / Getty Images

When asked about Swift again in a September 2018 interview with Total Film, according to People, Alywn explained why he's reluctant to open up about his relationship to the press.

“I understand people’s curiosity in the world we live in, about people’s private lives. Well, I don’t understand it, but I know it exists,” he said. “For me, I just don’t feel it’s something I want to offer up to be picked apart by people who don’t know about it, and it’s just not theirs to have.”

January 2020: Alwyn appears in Swift's documentary

In January 2020, Swift released her highly-anticipated documentary, "Miss Americana," which is titled after her song of the same name.

In her documentary, Swift showed two cute moments of PDA with Alwyn. In one scene, she ran up and hugged him backstage at one of her concerts, and in another scene, she was seen kissing his hand while they rode together in a car.

November 2020: Swift says Alwyn 'absolutely' understands what she's going through

While speaking with Paul McCartney for the cover of Rolling Stone in November 2020, Swift opened up about the challenges of dating as an A-Lister. She said it can be "scary" as a public figure, to fall in love with 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," she said. "I can’t control if there’s going to be a fake weird headline about us in the news tomorrow."

"But 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," Swift continued.

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - August 29, 2022
Taylor Swift said it can be "scary" to date as a public figure.Gotham / GC Images

When asked if her partner sympathizes with what she has to deal with as a singer, she responded, "Absolutely."

November 2020: Swift reveals that Alwyn was a co-writer on 'Folklore' and 'Evermore' albums

When Swift released her eighth studio album, "Folklore," in July 2020, fans clocked the name William Bowery in the writing credits for "Betty" and "Exile." And on "Evermore," released later that same year, Bowery was listed as one of the writers on “Coney Island,” “Champagne Problems” and the album's title track.

Amid speculation about William Bowery's identity, Swift spilled the beans in the 2020 Disney+ project "Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about William Bowery and his identity because it’s not a real person,” Swift said in the film. “William Bowery is Joe, as we know.”

During an appearance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show" in 2022, Alwyn explained why they decided to use a pseudonym.

“We chose to do it so that people, first and foremost, would listen to the music first before dissecting the fact that we did it together,” Alwyn said.

The name has a special meaning: “It was a combination of William, my great-grandfather, who I never actually met, (who) was a composer,” Alwyn said. “He wrote a lot of classical music and he wrote a lot of film scores. And then Bowery is the area in New York that I spent a lot of time in when I first went over there.”

Joe Alwyn
Joe Alwyn — or should we say, William Bowery.Mike Marsland / WireImage

Alwyn later took home a Grammy for his contributions on Swift's "Folklore" album. In March 2021, he won his first Grammy alongside his girlfriend, who won her third album of the year award.

In her acceptance speech, Swift gave Alwyn a sweet shoutout. She said, “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."

In an April 2022 interview with The Guardian, Alwyn opened up about working with Swift and revealed how he became a collaborator on some of Swift’s songs.

“It wasn’t like, ‘It’s five o’clock, it’s time to try and write a song together,’” he said. “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.’”

February 2021: Swift reveals Alwyn helped her become vocal about politics

In a February 2021 interview with Vanity Fair, Swift opened up about her stance on politics and revealed Alwyn was the one who helped her find her political voice.

“As a country musician, I was always told it’s better to stay out of (politics),” Swift shared. “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, who supported me in speaking out."

"I started talking to my family and friends about politics and learning as much as I could about where I stand," she continued. "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.”

October 2022: Alwyn is credited as a co-writer on Swift's album 'Midnights'

William Bowery reemerged for Swift's song "Sweet Nothings," about finding refuge in a relationship. The song is a track off Swift's 10th album, "Midnights."

"I found myself a-running home to your sweet nothings/ Outside they’re push and shoving/ You’re in the kitchen humming/ All that you ever wanted from me was sweet nothing," Swift sings.

April 2022: Alwyn addresses engagement rumors

In April 2022, Alwyn kept true to his promise that he wouldn't talk to the press about his relationship when he was asked by the Wall Street Journal if the rumors about him and Swift being engaged are true.

“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,” he joked.

“I mean, the truth is, if the answer was yes, I wouldn’t say, and if the answer was no, I wouldn’t say," Alwyn added.

Engagement rumors persisted, with fans wondering if the "chaotic surprise" Swift has promised the evening "Midnights" dropped was related to Alwyn.

October 2022: Swift hints that 'Lavender Haze' and more 'Midnights' songs are about Alwyn

On Instagram, Swift hinted her relationship with Alwyn inspired the "Midnights" song "Lavender Haze." Previewing the album, Swift said the song was inspired by her relationship. “Lavender haze,” she said, “means the ‘all-encompassing love glow.’”

“If the world finds out that you’re in love with somebody, they’re going to weigh in on it. My relationship for six years, we’ve had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff — and we just ignore it,” she said. “This song is sort of about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff.”

On the song, she also appears to weigh in on engagement rumors. “All they keep asking me/ Is if I’m gonna be your bride/ The only kinda girl they see/ Is a one-night or a wife.”

He's also thought to have inspired other songs. Alwyn and Swift were rumored to be dating when her "Reputation" album came out in 2017, and were established as a reported couple in the time of 2019's "Lover," spurring one of her most romantic eras.

In 2020's "Invisible String," she sings about two people's paths to meeting each other: "Teal was the color of your shirt/ When you were sixteen at the yogurt shop/ You used to work at to make a little money." Alwyn previously spoke about working at a fro-yo establishment.

"London Boy" might be about their pond-jumping romance: "You know I love a London boy," she sings. "He likes my American smile."

Or in "Daylight," Swift references how her idea of love has changed since the album "Red" came out when she was 22: "I once believed love would be burning red/ but it's golden."

If one of these love songs is your favorite, then you can probably thank Alwyn.

April 2023: Rumors surface that Swift and Alwyn have split

On April 8, multiple outlets reported Swift and Alwyn had split after six years together, including People magazine, which cited “a source close to the couple.” 

At the time of the reports, Swift was on break from her “Eras Tour” and was set to next head to Tampa, Florida. (Of note: “The Tortured Poets Department” features a song called “Florida!!!”)

Swift never publicly commented on the news. She announced the deluxe edition of "Midnights" on May 24, and fans who purchased the physical copy of the album received a first listen of "You're Losing Me."

November 2023: Swift's publicist firmly shuts down rumors that she and Alwyn ever married

Months after Swift and Alwyn's reported split, rumors still swirled about the couple — specifically, that they at one point got married or had a marriage ceremony.

Swift's publicist, Tree Paine, shut down the rumors in November 2023 by sharing a screenshot from the gossip account Deuxmoi's Instagram story. The post alleged that Swift had a “ceremony in either 2020 or 2021 in the UK and it was described to me as a ‘marriage’ by more than one person.”

Paine made a rare post to her X account, writing, “Enough is enough with these fabricated lies about Taylor from Deuxmoi. 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.”

2023: Swift strikes up a romance with Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce, a football star, publicly declared interest in Swift on his podcast in July 2023 — and the rest is history.

Swift reached out, and they started quietly dating, she told Time in December.

She broke the internet when she attended her first Chiefs game on Sept. 24. She attended her 13th game at none other than the Super Bowl, and after Kelce and the Chiefs won, she kissed her boyfriend on the field.

Swift spoke about their relationship for the first time in an interview for her 2023 Person of the Year cover story.

“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. “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.”

April 2024: Fans resurface old clip of Swift talking about her love life

An old clip of Swift talking about her love life has resurfaced and gone viral on TikTok. In it, the singer appears to be on a talk show in the U.K. and is discussing the difficulties of dating as a public figure.

“To me, it all depends on who you’re with. If they have a serious issue with it, then you, I guess, hide or whatever,” she said. “I don’t really like that because it makes me feel like I’m running from the law or something. I don’t want to feel like I’m like a fugitive, like, ‘Oh, my God, we’re having a relationship. Better put on a mask and stuff.’”

“But, you know, the privacy thing, I think for me, I would just rather live my life,” she added. “I feel like if you can be in a relationship and have it seem normal then that would be good.”

As Swift speaks in the video, photos of her hiding her romance with Alwyn appear, as well as pictures of her showing off her new relationship with Kelce.

“She knows her love should be celebrated,” one person commented on the clip.


A third wrote, “Travis understood what it meant to start this and wanted it anyways. That’s love.”