The Anatomy Of A Taylor Swift Dating Story

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Here we are again, folks. Whether or not we’ve recovered from the three-month fury that was Hiddleswift, the Taylor Swift Romance Express is now leaving the station. And if you’re going to keep up, you need to know the classic phases to look out for when it comes to media coverage of a Taylor Swift relationship.
Yesterday, Phase One began. All over the tabloid landscape, anonymous sources whispered of a budding relationship between Swift and a mystery man, Joe Alwyn. Who’s Joe Alwyn, you ask? He’s a British actor, and the star of the 2015 Ang Lee film Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk. But right now, the priority is that he’s Taylor Swift’s new boyfriend. Like of her former beaus, it's a label that'll stay with him...forever.
What comes after Phase One? Here are the essential elements to media coverage of a Taylor Swift dating story, from photographic evidence to song lyric analysis.
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James Devaney / Contributor
But first, a refresher.

Just so you can keep track the characters we’ll be juggling in this story, here’s a brief rundown of Taylor Swift’s dating history, in reverse order.

Tom Hiddleston: June 2016 - September 2016

Calvin Harris: March 2015 - June 2016

Harry Styles: December 2012 - January 2013

Conor Kennedy: July 2012 - October 2012

Jake Gyllenhaal: October 2010 - January 2011

John Mayer: December 2009 - February 2010

Taylor Lautner: August 2009 - December 2009

Lucas Till: March 2009 - April 2009

Joe Jonas: July 2008 - October 2008
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Step One: Identify the starting point of the relationship.
Once the relationship is confirmed, the media scrambles to find the precise moment the first spark flew.

Swift and Styles allegedly met backstage at the 2012 Kids' Choice Awards. Swift danced with SelGo while Styles sang "What Makes You Beautiful" with 1D.

Ellie Goulding introduced Swift to her ex, Calvin Harris, when the three were standing together at the 2015 Brit Awards on February 25. The pair began dating a week later.

Hiddleston and Swift's first meeting was memorialized in a dance-off at the Met Gala, which went viral. Swift was dating Harris at the time.
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Jeff Kravitz/BMA2015 / Contributor
Step Two: Gather photographic evidence.
This one's a given. At the start, Swift's relationships are tracked through intense paparazzi stalking. How can we forget those photos snapped of Hiddleston and Swift making out on Rhode Island seaside rocks?

But with Harris and Hiddleston, Swift gained control of the narrative by posting carefully manicured photos on Instagram. Swift waited three months before she went public on Instagram with Harris; with Hiddleston, she posted right away.

Unfortunately, since their breakups, those photos have been taken down.
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@taylorswift @applemusic @21savage #SwiftGains #NoMercy #LightWork #Draylor

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Step Three: A nickname is born.
Since every Swiftian relationship is bound to be highly public, warranting ongoing coverage, the media saves breath by giving the relationship an abbreviated moniker. Even rumors get nicknames.

Taylor Swift + Calvin Harris = Tayvin

Taylor Swift + Tom Hiddleston = Hiddleswift

Taylor Swift + Harry Styles = Haylor

Taylor Swift + Drake (rumored) = Draylor
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Step Four: Swift scopes out real estate.
Even before Swift publicly comments on the relationship, she has a reputation for checking out conveniently located homes.

Swift poked fun at herself in a Vanity Fair interview, saying, "People say that about me, that I apparently buy houses near every boy I like — that’s a thing that I apparently do. If I like you I will apparently buy up the real-estate market just to freak you out so you leave me."

The tabloids are chock-full of these real estate rumors.

While dating Conor Kennedy, Swift bought a 13-room house in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, across the street from the Kennedy family compound. Seven months after purchasing the house, Swift flipped the property and made a $1 million profit.

With Harry Styles, rumors of her moving to London, or near his family's house in Cheshire, abounded.

When she was with Calvin Harris, Swift was rumored to be buying the Tower of Lethendy, a countryside manor in Harris' native Scotland.

Now that she's dating Brit Joe Alwyn, Swift is allegedly renting a house in North London.
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Rick Diamond/ACMA2013 / Contributor
Step Five: Swift's parents get involved.
There's nothing the rumor machine loves more than Swift getting domestic with her beaus.

In their three months as a pair, Hiddleston flew to Nashville to meet Swift's parents, and Swift flew to England to meet Hiddleston's mom.

Calvin Harris celebrated Swift's 26th birthday with her family and friends, and was spotted making a snowman with Swift's brother, Austin.

In 2011, Swift spent Thanksgiving with Jake Gyllenhaal and his sister, Maggie. Swift was spotted walking with Maggie Gyllenhaal and her daughter, Ramona.

Over the course of their short-lived relationship, Swift visited Harry Styles' mother in England. They also hung out with her mom in L.A.

Of course, we can't forget about the romance between Taylor Swift and Conor Kennedy's entire family. Ethel Kennedy raved about her nephew's girlfriend.
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Step Six: Analyze wry shout-outs.
Once the relationship is established, then it's time to close-read each of Swift's gestures, since she won't be publicly commenting.

While dating Styles, Swift emulated his trademark paper airplane necklace and wore one herself.

During a 1989 World Tour stop in Glasgow, Scotland, Swift proclaimed, "I happen to love Scottish people." She was dating Harris at the time. At another concert, she gestured to Harris during the song "I Know Places." This all culminated with Swift mouthing "I love you" to Harris at the end of her show.

When Swift won a Grammy in 2016, Harris posted on Twitter, "Congratulations to my beautiful girlfriend."

Harris and Swift wore matching clothing while shopping at a Whole Foods in Nashville.

Hiddleston donned an "I Love T.S." tank top in Rhode Island.
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Jeff Kravitz/BMA2015 / Contributor
Step Seven: Gather public statements from everyone but Swift.
Swift tends not to speak about her relationships, but her beaus and her friends sure do.

In a radio interview in July 2015, Calvin said his relationship is "going absolutely fantastic." He also remarked, "It's interesting because obviously there's different things written about it every day and even if we don't do anything publicly for a while, someone will make something up... For me, it could be a lot worse and I'd still be like insanely happy with her, so I'm good with it."

Friends also voiced their approval of Harris. Jaime King told E! News that Harris is a "wonderful man" and also a "beautiful man."

Ed Sheeran told ZM Online that Harris is a "good guy, a really, really good guy."
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Step Eight: The breakup prophecies begin.
Is it a lull in public outings? The deleting of social media posts? Any deviation from the couple's normal routine is considered a quake in their relationship.

Usually, the relationship fizzles out without public statement. But Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift took to Twitter to give an official wording to the breakup.

After a summer spent teasing the paparazzi on a grand tour of Europe, Swift and Hiddleston stopped making public appearances by August. Fans worried when they saw Swift in Rhode Island, and Hiddleston in L.A., promoting The Night Manager. Fans and the media were calling this the kiss of death.
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Step Nine: The men speak.
Following the breakup, the media can, at last, interrogate the exes.

Harris was very vocal during the breakup's aftermath, especially as Swift dated Hiddleston immediately after their dissolution.

In an interview with GQ, Hiddleston couldn't stop speaking about Swift. He waxed poetic, saying, “I have to be so psychologically strong about not letting other people’s interpretations about my life affect my life. A relationship exists between two people. We will always know what it was."

Even Lucas Till, whom Swift met while filming the "Young Belong With Me" video, spoke out. He told MTV, "I really just liked her as a friend. That's the only reason that didn't work out." Cold, Lucas, cold.

And, of course, we can't forget abut John Mayer. After Swift wrote a song about him, he told Rolling Stone, "It made me feel terrible, because I didn’t deserve it, I know she's the biggest thing in the world, and I'm not trying to sink anybody's ship, but I think it's abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, 'Wait till he gets a load of this!' That's bullshit."
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Step Ten: Taylor sings.
After the relationship's end, we wait for her next album to come out. While we may never know specific details, Swift's autobiographical lyrics provide an insight into her emotional experience.

There's enough to warrant its own story.