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Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn
Photo By Steven Ferdman/Getty Images + Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Culture > Entertainment

The TLDR Version Of Taylor Swift & Joe Alwyn’s Relationship Timeline

Updated Published

The Tortured Poets Department may be all about one of Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends — Joe Alwyn. Swift and Alwyn were together for roughly six years before they split in 2023. They split right when Swift embarked on the Eras Tour, which drew even more attention to their relationship. Swift and Alwyn did a good job at keeping their relationship pretty private, but it’s believed that Swift’s level of fame ultimately drove them apart. 

With the release of The Tortured Poets Department, Swifties are all but sure the entire project is a breakup album that will be full of disses towards Alwyn. Though their relationship ended in a split, Swift and Alwyn had some great times together. Their relationship endured the COVID-19 pandemic and even saw Alwyn write a few of Swift’s tracks. 

Alwyn earned a Grammy win for his work on Swift’s Folklore, though he wasn’t even originally credited as a writer on the album. Swift and Alwyn both hesitated to comment on their relationship, making the couple even more intriguing for fans.

Since The Tortured Poets Department is all the talk right now, the former relationship between Swift and Alwyn has become a hot topic. Let’s take a look at Swift and Alwyn’s relationship timeline, including when rumors of their relationship began and their eventual split. 

May 2016: Taylor and Joe meet at the Met Gala.

It’s all but confirmed that Swift and Alwyn met at the 2016 Met Gala. Most of the speculation comes from the lyrics of Swift’s song “Dress” off off Reputation. “Flashback to when you met me, your buzzed cut and my hair bleached,” is the lyric that many think references the beginning of her relationship with Joe, as she had bleached hair and Alwyn’s hair was buzzed at the 2016 Met.

May 2017: Rumors about the couple start.

On May 16, 2017, a source told The Sun that Swift and Alwyn were together, but were keeping their relationship private. “This isn’t a new couple alert or a secret relationship – the only people this has been a secret to is the media,” the source said.

June 2017: The couple is caught by the paparazzi.

Swift and Alwyn were caught by the paparazzi for the first time. They were in Nashville, and Alwyn was allegedly meeting Swift’s parents when they were photographed on a balcony together. They were spotted together a few more times during the summer of 2017 before making their relationship official.

May 2018: Swift & Alwyn accidentally make their relationship Instagram official.

On May 8, 2018, Swift and Alwyn posted almost identical photos on Instagram. In their posts, they both stood next to an extra-large cactus. Swift wrote about how excited she was to be starting the Reputation tour, while Alwyn simply captioned his post with a cactus emoji. 

September 2018: Joe talks about Taylor with British Vogue.

In a September 2018 interview with British Vogue, Alwyn discussed why his relationship with Swift was so private. Alwyn wasn’t keen on talking about his private life and wanted to keep the conversation more about work.

“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.”

November 2018: Taylor promotes Joe’s movie on Instagram.

On Nov. 23, 2018, Swift posted a trailer for Alwyn’s movie, The Favourite, to her Instagram feed. She called the new movie “absolutely phenomenal,” and tagged Alwyn’s Instagram account in the caption. 

February 2019: The couple steps out for their first party together.

Swift and Alwyn went to the 2019 BAFTA after party together, their first official and public appearance together. Moreover, Swift didn’t attend the Grammys that year to be with Alwyn. 

January 2020: Joe is featured in Taylor’s documentary.

Alwyn was in a few moments of Swift’s Netflix documentary Miss Americana. While the couple had been very intent on keeping the privacy of their relationship, the documentary was a rare occasion where they were showcased together.

November 2020: Taylor says Joe co-wrote two songs on Folklore.

After Swift released her 2020 album Folklore, Swifties speculated that Alwyn had helped co-write a few songs. Swift noted “William Bowery” as a writer on the album, but fans quickly found out that this mystery man didn’t exist. 

Swift confirmed that William Bowery was Alwyn’s alias on Disney+’s Folklore: The Long Pong Studio Sessions, and that he wrote on “betty” and “exile.” “There’s been a lot of discussion about William Bowery and his identity, ’cause it’s not a real person,” she said. “William Bowery is Joe, as we know.”

March 2021: The couple wins a Grammy for Folklore.

Folklore won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2021, which was Alwyn’s first Academy Award win as a contributor. Alwyn didn’t go on-stage with Swift to accept the award, but she shouted him out in her acceptance speech.

“Joe 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,” she said.

April 2023: Swift & Awlyn break up.

In April 2023, Swift and Alwyn broke up. Swift was on the Eras Tour at the time of the split, and a source told PEOPLE their break up was due to “differences in their personalities.” Allegedly, Alwyn wasn’t keen “with Taylor’s level of fame and the attention from the public,” which contributed to the downfall of their relationship.

“They had plenty in common and fell in love in a safe bubble while she was retreating from the world during Reputation,” the source said. “Then, the pandemic hit, and they were locked down together and able to continue growing their relationship in this insulated way. But he didn’t really ‘know’ her yet outside of that bubble.”

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