The new Taylor Swift song ‘Cruel Summer’ gives us a better sense of the timeline of her relationship with Joe Alwyn — and how she had feelings for him while she was with Tom Hiddleston!
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn didn’t start dating until the fall of 2016, but she reveals in her new song, “Cruel Summer,” that she was falling for him the entire summer before that — which is when she was in a highly-publicized romance with Tom Hiddleston! On Taylor’s last album, she revealed that she first met Joe at the 2016 Met Gala, while she was still with Calvin Harris. Now, on Lover, she’s sharing that she never stopped thinking about him in the months after, before they officially got together.
The most obvious reference to these feelings come in the bridge, when Taylor sings, “I’m drunk in the back of a car, and I cried like a baby coming home from the bar, said I’m fine but it wasn’t true, I don’t want to keep secrets just to keep you, snuck in through the garden gate every night that summer just to seal my fate.” Taylor hints that she was only able to be with Joe because she was keeping whatever relationship they had a “secret” during that summer together. She also insinuates that she may have been ‘sneaking out’ from her time with Tom to be with Joe, which is what ‘sealed her fate’ with the British actor. After that line, she sings, “I scream for whatever it’s worth, ‘I love you’ ain’t that the worst thing you ever heard.” If Taylor was saying ‘I Love You’ to Tom after she snuck back in, this would be the ‘worst thing’ Joe ‘ever heard….’ because he wanted to be with her. Ah!
Taylor also references her feelings for Joe during summer 2016 on the song “Paper Rings.” She sings, “I hate accidents, except when we went from friends to this,” in the chorus. It seems the two stayed friends after the Met Gala, but it eventually turned into something more. In the first verse of “Paper Rings,” Taylor also says, “The wine is cold like the shoulder I gave you in the street, cat and mouse for a month, or two, or three.” This appears to reference a time she ran into Joe while she was with Tom, but had to ignore him. The ‘cat and mouse’ lyric makes it seem like she and Joe were chasing each other for the summer, until she finally gave Tom up for him.
Then, on the song “Lover,” Taylor sings the lyric, “I’ve loved you for three summers now but honey, I want them all.” If Taylor and Joe started dating in the fall of 2016, and this song was written before the summer of 2019 (Taylor finished the album in Feb.), then that means the “three summers” must be 2016, 2017 and 2018! So, she seems to be hinting that she was already in love with Joe during that 2016 summer, even though she was with Tom at the time. Wow!