Taylor Swift and Matty Healy are reportedly dating, and the internet is exploding with speculation and excitement. Despite the fact that neither of them has confirmed the relationship, fans are leaping on apparent clues, such as their long friendship and Taylor’s cameo at one of The 1975’s recent shows. This kind of rampant speculation is nothing new, and there have been lots of eye-rolls and sarcastic responses to The Sun’s front page.
But why are people so obsessed with who Taylor is or isn’t dating? Rebecca Reid, a journalist who’s worked at national newspapers and women’s magazines, admits “the fascination with Taylor’s love life is pretty unique”. “There aren’t many people, even very famous people, whose new relationship would be the front page of a national paper,” she tells BBC Newsbeat. “I feel like it’s partially because we feel like we know her.”
Taylor’s Personal Music
Taylor Swift is famous for leaving Easter eggs and hidden messages about her life in her songs. Fans spend hours deciphering them and trying to figure out who she’s writing about. “She’s always leaving little clues,” says Isobel Hales, a member of Cardiff University’s Taylor Swift society. “Especially in her younger career, she used to leave secret messages in lyrics and song books.”
Sophie Singer, another member of the society, says it’s easy for fans to have “parasocial relationships” with celebrities, where they feel like friends. And this drives their obsession. “Her music is obviously so personal, and so a fan will listen and become so engaged in her life because the story she’s telling through her music is her life,” Sophie says.
Reid also thinks the fact that Taylor is a woman plays into the obsession with her love life. “We love to define women by who they’re dating, and regard their romantic situation as somehow more interesting or more important than anything else about them,” she says.
It can also be difficult to separate art from artist, and for someone as popular as Taylor, that’s especially true. Society president Sophie says Taylor “sort of trained us” to decode her songs and find out who she’s writing about. “Especially with some of her songs about famous celebrities, I feel like she does put references and stuff into the songs,” Isobel says. “And not in any kind of rude way – but I think Taylor enjoys a little bit of discussion, to be honest.”
Respect for Personal Lives
But do fans think it’s fair for Taylor’s personal life to be reported on? Society members Sophie and Isobel have slightly different opinions. “It should be reported if it’s stuff that she shared with us,” Sophie says. “But when you’re just documenting, like, ridiculous rumours, it’s kind of putting her life under the microscope.”
Isobel agrees that “there’s obviously a line” and a “need to be respectful of people as human beings”. “But I think Taylor is very aware that this is going to be up for discussion,” she says. “And I don’t think that she’s doing much to discourage it.”
In the end, it’s clear that Taylor Swift’s personal life will continue to fascinate fans and journalists alike. And whether or not she confirms her relationships, there will always be clues in her music and her public appearances that keep us guessing.