Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn Split: Reactions Reveal Public Attitudes Toward Female Artists

by Kendall Headley '26 on May 29, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Just weeks ago, Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn reportedly called it quits after six private years together. An insider shared that “they had been together for such a long time and were spending so much time together, but their personalities were just too different,” stating that Alwyn is more introverted than Swift, who initiated the breakup. 

Many speculate that the seemingly arbitrary timing may be due to Swift’s recent burst of fame—when the couple got together, she had been out of the spotlight for nearly two years after releasing her album 1989 in 2014, and would continue to lead an exclusively personal life until she dropped Reputation in 2017. Currently, Swift is living amidst multiple re-releases of her previous albums, the popularity of her new album, Midnights, released in October 2022, and her ongoing Eras Tour across the United States’ largest venues. This surge of action by Swift elevated her current celebrity status, which may have driven the couple apart. 

Fans were taken aback at the split, due to the duration of the relationship and their collaboration on deeply emotional projects, such as her albums folklore and evermore. Public reactions have varied widely, with some looking to her lyrics as a source of mutual mourning and emotional insight and others adopting critical opinions about her character. 

Many social media posts have  praised Swift for her ability to continue performing after the end of a six-year relationship. Others have recognized Swift’s journey through love as influencing their own—one  TikTok user expressed that the breakup affected her significantly because “when [Swift] found the one she made us believe that we will find our Reputation and Lover after we went through Red. She helped us realize that love was supposed to be golden.” 

Despite the support and spotlight on her artistic intelligence, some reactions reflect the thinking that followed Swift for the majority of her young adulthood. Before her step back from the stage in 2015 and subsequent relationship with Alwyn, many judged Swift’s character by the men with whom she was involved. Interview questions inquired about her dating life rather than her projects: On The Ellen Show in 2011, DeGeneres prompted her to answer, “I am Taylor Swift, and I am dating ‘blank,’” after she had repeatedly said nobody. In a red carpet interview at the 2015 Grammy Awards, a reporter told her, “you’re going to walk home with more than maybe just a trophy tonight, I think lots of men.” Both of these instances exemplify the misogynistic treatment she has faced: a disregard of her artistic accomplishments and focus on the men in her life. Similar approaches have emerged after the split. One Twitter user wrote, “Taylor Swift fans after she breaks up for the 100th time and proceeds to release yet another album blaming her bf for the breakup.” This response, instead of understanding emotional turmoil as the source of inspiration for her music, boiled her career down to albums “blaming her boyfriends.” 

Reactions to Swift and Alwyn’s split signifies societal progress past the standard of judging women’s careers and character based on their relationship status, leaving the public with a sense of appreciation for the complexity of female art. While these advancements are eminent, glaring inconsistencies mirroring aged ways of thinking still permeate. Swift has always been transparent on her stance. In the closing statements of her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, she says, “I want to still have a sharp pen and a thin skin and an open heart.”