What Taylor Swift's Exes Have Said About Her Songs

Taylor Swift has become quite the powerhouse and influence since her debut as a country artist in 2006. Swift's music is the epitome of love, heartbreak, and empowerment — but what she's most known for in her songwriting is into holding back when it comes to personal details about her past relationships. During an interview (via YouTube), Swift was asked if she was worried this may deter men away from her. Her answer? "If guys don't want me to write bad songs about them, then they shouldn't do bad things."

The running joke has gone on so long that she's even incorporated it into her songs — one being "Blank Space" which describes how she has a completed song ready to go with a blank space waiting to be filled with her future ex's name. Unsurprisingly, Swift has had quite the roster of A-list boyfriends. From John Mayer, and Jake Gyllenhaal, to Harry Styles, most women would die to be in her shoes. However, from her perspective, it seems that the more desirable men only come with more heartbreak.

Without ever naming names, Swift has painted vivid imagery of her own personal heartbreak in her lyrics allowing listeners to feel and experience her pain with her. Over the years, Swifties have taken on serious detective roles using small details to figure out which songs match up to who — putting some exes in the hot seat. While some exes haven't taken so kindly to being a part of Swift's songs, some found it quite flattering.

John Mayer

Taylor Swift has written a number of tracks about her relationship with John Mayer — one standout being her song, "Dear John," which describes the dynamic of their tumultuous relationship with a major imbalance of power given their 11-year age gap. 

With lyrics like, "I lived in your chess game, but you changed the rules every day. Wondering which version of you I might get on the phone tonight," it implies there was indeed some form of emotional abuse and manipulation occurring from Mayer's end. The lyrics, "Dear John, I see it all now that you're gone. Don't you think I was too young to be messed with? The girl in the dress, cried the whole way home," also indicate how Mayer took advantage of Swift or attempted to because of her young age and naivety to relationships, hence her crying all the way home.

Mayer responded to Swift's song in an interview with Rolling Stone, calling it "cheap songwriting," and saying she "humiliated" him. Mayer added, "I was really caught off guard ... [That's] abusing your talent to rub your hands together and go, 'Wait 'til he gets a load of this!' That's bulls***."

Jake Gyllenhaal

Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal had an on-again-off-again relationship in 2011-2012 with a notable 10-year age difference. Swift wrote a few songs referencing her relationship with the actor — one being "The Moment I Knew" which reveals the time Gyllenhaal stood her up on her 21st birthday. Another track, which is considered one of Swift's best and is most famously synonymous with Gyllenhaal is "All Too Well."

In 2021, after re-recording her 2012 album, "Red," Swift released a 10-minute version of the song with unreleased lyrics accompanied by a heartbreaking video of Swift and Gyllenhaal's relationship In 2022, after the 10-minute version and accompanied video was released, "All Too Well" resurged in popularity prompting Esquire to ask what Gyllenhaal's take on the song was. The Hollywood star responded, "It has nothing to do with me. It's about her relationship with her fans. It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don't begrudge anyone that."

The song led fans to bully Gyllenhaal on social media which prompted him to turn off his Instagram comments, telling Esquire, "At some point, I think it's important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one's name."

Joe Jonas

Joe Jonas inspired many of the tracks on Taylor Swift's 2008 "Fearless" album. Swift and Jonas' breakup became memorable after Swift revealed Jonas ended things over a 27-second phone call. Swift subtly referenced the breakup in the intro of her song, "Last Kiss," by adding a moment of silence for exactly 27 seconds.

Although Swift was understandably bitter about the breakup initially, she ended up apologizing to Jonas on "The Ellen Show" in 2019. Jonas responded to the apology in an interview with Lorraine. "It did feel nice it's something that I probably was feeling pretty bad about when I was younger but at the end of the day, I've moved on," he said. "I'm sure Taylor's moved on, and it feels nice and we're all friends. it's all good." The two have since remained friends and are on good terms.

In 2023 when Swift re-recorded "Fearless," she also released a single from the vault specifically about Joe Jonas called "Mr. Perfectly Fine." Jonas' wife, Sophie Turner even responded to the song (via Elle) about Jonas by giving her a sign of approval in her Instagram story which read, "It's not NOT a bop."

Taylor Lautner

Taylor Lautner is probably one of the rare few who has dated Taylor Swift and has had nothing but great things to say about the multiple Grammy Award winner — despite her writing a song about him. Lautner is referenced in Swift's song, "Back to December," which is basically a heartfelt apology to Lautner showing Swift's remorse for breaking his heart. Although Swift describes him as a warm, caring, and great guy on the track, things just didn't work out.

While promoting the show, "Scream Queens," in a Facebook live with costars Lea Michelle and John Stamos, Lautner was asked about his relationship with Swift. "It was a good time. It was a fun few months there," Lautner said. He then joked to Michelle and Stamos, "I don't know why you guys want to talk about it. That's what she does. She writes songs. It's good music. I listen to it."

In May 2023, Lautner said he was "praying" for Swift's ex, John Mayer, following news that her "Speak Now" album was next on her list of albums to be re-recorded — a record which focused heavily on her tumultuous relationship with Mayer.

Harry Styles

Harry Styles is rumored to have inspired Taylor Swift's "1989" album during a time when the two briefly dated. Most songs about Styles are very complementary and show their attraction toward each other. For example, although somewhat subtle, in the single, "Style," Swift describes Styles' good looks and charm: "You've got that James Dean, daydream look in your eye." Other lyrics in the song touch on how their busy schedules made being together difficult.

Although the two only dated for a month, they split ways amicably and remained good friends. In response to Swift's music about him, Styles gave praise to Swift and basically said it was an honor to have a song written about him; good or bad. "I think about what it means to me to write a song about somebody else and for somebody else to do that, it's like flattering, even if the song isn't that flattering, you still spent time on it and ultimately, using Taylor as an example, she's a great songwriter. So at least they're good songs," Styles told Howard Stern on his Sirius XM radio show in 2020.

Since their breakup, the two have maintained a supportive friendship and still manage to congratulate each other's successes. During the 2023 Grammys, after Styles won album of the year, Swift gave him a standing ovation while grinning from ear to ear.

Calvin Harris

One of Taylor Swift's long-term relationships was with DJ and producer, Calvin Harris, which lasted a little over a year. Harris took matters into his own hands when it came to being a theme in Swift's music and even asked her not to write songs about him noting that he felt it "demeans" her (per azcentral).

Although Swift mostly kept her promise to Harris, she didn't write songs directly about him but noted how she felt unhappy in the relationship and had a wandering eye which may have led to infidelity. In her song, "Getaway Car," Swift sings, "I wanted to leave him. I needed a reason" and "He was running after us. I was screaming go, go, go, but with three of us honey, it's a sideshow."

"Bejeweled" is another track rumored to be about Harris where Swift reveals feeling invisible due to Harris' frequent absences during their relationship which made her feel like they weren't in a relationship at all. "And when I meet the band. They ask, 'Do you have a man?' I can still say, 'I don't remember.'" Another lyric points out how the two differed in their priorities and how Swift didn't feel she was high on Harris' list. "Puttin' someone first only works when you're in their top five. And by the way, I'm going out tonight."

Joe Alwyn

Joe Alwyn was Taylor Swift's muse for a ton of her hit love songs and albums during their six-year relationship which ended in April 2023 — marking what has been Swift's longest relationship. Swift's first song about Alwyn, called "Gorgeous," came about upon first meeting Alwyn and having a crush on him while she was still with Calvin Harris. "I've got a boyfriend he's older than us. He's in the club doing I don't know what" and "you've ruined my life by not being mine" alluding to her falling in love at first sight despite already being taken.

Fans have speculated that Alywn has inspired most of the tracks on Swift's albums going as far back as her "Reputation" record which fits the timeline of their relationship. While their relationship was primarily kept private, Swift's songs gave a great insight into what their long-term relationship was like together. In an interview with The Sunday Times, when asked if Alwyn cared that Swift was writing songs about him, he said, "No, not at all. No. It's flattering."