The Real Meaning Behind Taylor Swift's How You Get The Girl

Taylor Swift released the re-recorded version of her "1989" album — "1989 (Taylor's Version)" — in October 2023. We think we know what her "1989" vault track "Say Don't Go" really means, but what about the other songs on the album? "How You Get the Girl" was part of the original "1989" tracklist, and Swift has explained what the song means before. She also expressed her enjoyment of the song at an Eras Tour show in Atlanta. TikToker @claymdixon shared a video of Swift telling the crowd before she sang "How You Get the Girl" as a surprise song, "I really like this one." 

During the Yahoo! Live livestream of iHeartRadio's "1989" Secret Sessions, Swift mentioned the phenomenon of breaking up with a partner and then later on trying to win them back. On how that relates to "How You Get the Girl," Swift said, "This song is kind of an instructional manual for a guy who has broken up with his girlfriend and lets six months go by, and the lengths he'll need to go to, to get her back. And it's not gonna be as simple as sending a text message that's like, ”Sup? Miss you.' [...] You need to do all the things in this song."

The song's lyrics on Genius do read like a step-by-step guide. In the first verse, Swift says how the guy needs to show up at his ex-girlfriend's front door and sings, "Say, 'It's been a long six months.'" 

What does Swift tell guys to do in 'How You Get the Girl'?

The "How You Get the Girl" pre-chorus and chorus gives more of the script for the guy to win his girlfriend back. Taylor Swift sings that the guy needs to tell his ex-girlfriend, "I want you for worse or for better." That lyric, plus another line in the chorus — "I would wait forever and ever" — implies that the guy needs to make his commitment to the girl clear in order for her to forgive him and take him back.

In the second verse of "How You Get the Girl," Swift tells the guy to reminisce about the good times with his ex-girlfriend. Then, she sings: "Tell her how you must have lost your mind, ooh-ooh / When you left her all alone / and never told her why, why." In the pre-chorus, Swift explains, "That's how you lost the girl," before launching into the chorus.

The guy abandoned his girl and didn't communicate well before ending their relationship, which is similar to the lyric in "1989" track "I Wish You Would" when Swift sings, "You're thinking that I hate you now / 'Cause you still don't know what I never said."

Does the song have a happy ending?

Before the final chorus of "How You Get the Girl," Taylor Swift sings, "And say you want me, yeah, yeah." She's making it clear to anyone listening that all the guy has to do is be open and honest about how much he likes the girl. As Swift mentioned in the secret sessions, it takes more effort than a meaningless text.

The outro of the song is a triumphant one — "And that's how it works / that's how you got the girl." Written in past tense, that line implies a reunion between the former lovers, giving the story of "How You Get the Girl" a happy ending.

Although Swift's relationship with Harry Styles may have inspired some "1989" songs, the singer told Us Weekly in 2014 it was upsetting how people obsessed about who she was dating. In that interview, she also spoke about the meaning of "How You Get the Girl," but unsurprisingly, she didn't say if it was about anyone real. Whether it is about a specific person or purely hypothetical, "How You Get the Girl" is a catchy love anthem that Swifties won't soon forget.