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Why Taylor Swift Fans Are Convinced ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Is About Joe Alwyn

Why Taylor Swift Fans Are Convinced ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Is About Joe Alwyn
  • Taylor Swift announced her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, at the Grammys on Sunday.

  • Fans quickly linked the title of the album to a 2022 interview of Joe Alwyn.

  • This connection led Swifties to believe the new album is about her ex-boyfriend.


It didn’t take long after Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department announcement for fans to find proof that the upcoming album might be about her ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn. Taylor and Joe dated for six years before they broke up last March.

Given the title, fans did some digging and found a discussion Joe and Paul Mescal had for Variety in December 2022, during which they revealed they had a WhatsApp group chat with Andrew Scott called “The Tortured Man Club.” They joked they weren’t using it as much anymore since they were less tortured. Joe and Taylor’s breakup happened less than four months later.

Fans also noted Taylor was photographed smirking with Mescal’s ex Phoebe Bridgers at the Grammys:

taylor swift and phoebe bridgers
Monica Schipper - Getty Images

Taylor and Joe split in March. News of their breakup came out on April 8, 2023.

Interestingly, The Tortured Poets Department comes out on April 19, 2024, 11 days after the one-year anniversary of the news.

Context-wise, a source initially told Entertainment Tonight on April 8, 2023 that Taylor and Joe’s breakup was “not dramatic.” The source added that “the relationship had just run its course. It’s why [Alwyn] hasn’t been spotted at any [Eras tour] shows.”

A source additionally told People on April 10 that the couple was more on-off than people knew. “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 said. They realized “ultimately, [they] weren't the right fit for one another.”

Joe “has struggled with Taylor's level of fame and the attention from the public. The differences in their personalities have also become harder to ignore after years together. They've grown apart,” the insider added. Multiple sources also revealed to People that “[they had been] talking about marriage as recently as a few months ago.”

taylor swift and joe alwyn
Christopher Polk/NBC - Getty Images

Fans speculated that Taylor released her first breakup song about Joe in May, “You’re Losing Me,” particularly due to its devastating bridge.

Those lyrics went: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 / And I’m fadin’, thinkin’.”

In November, Jack Antonoff revealed when Taylor wrote the song: Dec. 5, 2021—another hint that Taylor and Joe’s private love story might have been a little more “tortured” than it appeared.

The couple was very, very private about their relationship during their six years dating, hardly ever going out publicly. In mid-December, a source spoke to Page Six about how much Joe hated the spotlight: “Joe would rather cut off his arm than go to [Swift-frequented, members-only club] Zero Bond,” that source said.

A separate Taylor insider told the outlet, “Taylor is so in love [with her current boyfriend Travis Kelce]. 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. 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.”

Taylor took a little jab at Joe and those more private partners when speaking to Time in December about her new, far more public relationship 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. Then she contrasted it to her past relationships: “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.”

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