After the fight, Swift leaves their apartment, and the scene quickly transitions into a playful, pastel dreamscape as the song begins. She strolls through a ballroom full of clouds and dances in a town full of suited-up women. As she perches on a unicorn-shaped rooftop, wearing a gorgeous pink gown that turns into a waterfall, Urie arrives via umbrella, Mary Poppins-style. He earns back Swift's affection with a new kitten, after she rejects a bouquet and an engagement ring.
A happy ending, right? Well, let’s look closer. Throughout the song, the lyrics describe a couple that fights... a lot. Some lines Swift sings include, “I know that I’m a handful, baby, uh / I know I never think before I jump,” “I know that I went psycho on the phone / I never leave well enough alone,” and “And when we had that fight out in the rain / You ran after me and called my name.”
Each chorus contains the line “I promise that you’ll never find another like me,” which, eventually, turns into, “I promise that nobody’s gonna love you like me.”
While we’ve been humming this song all day, let’s take a step back a minute and look at what those lyrics actually say about a relationship. If your friend had a boyfriend she argued with all the time, who convinced her to stay in the relationship by telling her that nobody else would ever love her in the same way and that relationships without fights were boring, what would you say to her? You'd go full Britney-Spears-DUMP-HIM-tee, right?
And while many fans are loving Swift’s new song, others have concerns. “I am a @taylorswift13 fan, but I am tired of hearing strong females apologise for their ‘psycho’ behaviours on the phone, and then act bubbly and nothing is wrong instantly continuing the stereotype of a loving relationship is filled w/ drama,” Allie McCarthy Platt tweeted.
Platt tells Refinery29, “Honestly, there have been numerous songs of Taylor’s I’ve loved and encouraged confidence, but ‘ME!’ is not one of them. Personally, I am finding myself and other 30-somethings are having to do a lot of work not bringing the drama (we are the ghosting and need-for-answers culture) we experienced in our teens and twenties into healthy relationships/marriages because media painted women’s emotions as ‘psycho’ or ‘over-the-top.'" She adds, "The scene at the beginning of her screaming, ‘I’m calm!’ was quite jarring and triggering and not something I want younger generations to experience or emulate.”
@Dalilahber found the "nobody's ever gonna love you like me" line particularly troubling. She tweeted, "ok the idea behind taylor swifts new song is nice and all - everyone appreciates a good pastel rainbow, but the implication that 'nobody will ever love you like me' is such a manipulative concept that keeps people in abusive relationships. 'ME!' isn’t pop anthem material srry."
She adds to Refinery29, "In general, I feel that telling a romantic partner 'I promise that nobody's gonna love you like me' might have good intentions, but the insinuation that their future partners won't be comparable is manipulative and could make one party feel trapped or afraid to end their relationship. It makes people feel obligated to settle in an unhealthy relationship."
Now, Taylor Swift can sing about an unhealthy relationship without the song being about her own life, and without the song being a guide for what fans should aim for in their own relationships. But this music video doesn’t have the tongue-in-cheek vibe that, for example, “Blank Space” does. So when it comes to “ME!", go ahead embrace the pastel butterfly aesthetic… but leave those unhealthy relationship dynamics alone.