Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn’s Relationship: A Complete Timeline

a group of people standing next to a wine glass © Robert Kamau/Getty Images

We know that Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn are definitely a couple (and possibly about to get engaged, if you pay attention to fan theories), but so much of their relationship is shrouded in secrecy. Think about her time with Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tom Hiddleston, for example. There were tabloid stories, Instagram posts, and overt song lyrics that gave the public so much information to analyze. Swift’s relationship with Alwyn is a different story.

In 2018, however, the couple started stepping out at public events together a bit more. “Keeping it private from the beginning really helped their relationship,” a source told People. “They were able to get to know each other in peace.” The source also adds, “Their personalities are very compatible, and they’re respectful of each other’s careers.”

Sounds like a great match, so let’s break down how their relationship formed in the first place.

May 2016

Swift and Alwyn each attend the 2016 Met Gala. Did they meet then? It’s unclear exactly when the pair were introduced, but people think it was at the event based on lyrics in Swift’s song “Dress”: “Flashback when you met me / Your buzz cut and my hair bleached.” They did indeed have those hairstyles at the time. Swift broke up with boyfriend Calvin Harris soon after the gala and started dating Hiddleston. That relationship ended by September 2016.

Taylor Swift in a red dress © Getty Images

October 2016 

Eagle-eyed fans figure out that Swift and Alwyn attended the same Kings of Leon concert and after-party at the Bowery Hotel in New York City.

May 2017 

Stories break that Swift has a new British boyfriend: Joe Alwyn. At the time he was not well known, especially to Swift’s American fans, with the biggest credit on his IMDB being Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Longtime Walk. But he was a rising star with a number of high-profile movies in the works, including The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots.

“Taylor and Joe are the real deal, this is a very serious relationship,” The Sun reported at the time. “But after what happened with Tom Hiddleston, they were determined to keep it quiet.” The Sun also reported that Swift was renting a house in North London, near Alwyn.

June 2017 

Photographic evidence of the relationship emerges as the paparazzi finally catch Swift and Alwyn together—having coffee on a balcony in Nashville. They’re snapped again in New York City the following month.

October 2017 

When Swift releases the single “Gorgeous,” fans immediately try to decipher who it is about. A fan who attended one of Swift’s famous album-listening sessions takes to Tumblr to inform us that it was (allegedly) about Alwyn: “Basically Taylor made us all promise that if anyone made any accusations of who this song is about, we tell them it is 100 percent about her angel boyfriend of one year. This isn’t a secret. She wanted us to tell people.” It all makes sense when you hear the lyrics: “You should take it as a compliment / That I got drunk and made fun of the way you talk,” she sings. “And I got a boyfriend, he’s older than us / He’s in the club doing I don’t know what.” (Harris and Hiddleston were both older than Swift and Alwyn.)

Later that month Swift’s pal Ed Sheeran says of Alwyn, “He’s really nice. Really, really friendly; really good dude.”

December 2017 

Fans go nuts when attendees at iHeartRadio’s Jingle Ball in New York City claim they saw Swift and Alwyn showing some PDA during Ed Sheeran’s set.

February 2018 

The couple reportedly moves in together. We broke down how the lyrics from various songs on the Reputation album told us this was coming.

May 2018

The couple that Instas together, stays together, right? Swift and Alwyn both post photos of themselves next to the same cactus while apparently on vacation together.

September 2018 

Public date night alert! Swift hits up a screening of Alwyn’s film The Favourite and joins him for the after-party. There were even photos! Alwyn also speaks publicly about Swift for the first time, telling British Vogue, “I’m aware people want to know about that side of things. I think we have been successfully very private and that has now sunk in for people…but I really prefer to talk about work.”

a man standing next to a woman © Getty Images

November 2018 

Alwyn finally makes an appearance on Swift’s social media via a clip from The Favourite. “The Favourite is absolutely phenomenal, and it opens in NY and LA tomorrow—Swipe to see cities and dates! @thefavouritemovie @joe.alwyn @nicholashoult.” she wrote in the caption.

January 2019 

Swift attends the Golden Globes, for which Alwyn and his Favourite costars had racked up five nominations. The couple hits up several after-parties together.

February 2019 

Swift skips the Grammys and instead attends some BAFTAs parties with Alwyn. They’re photographed holding hands. Later that month the couple reportedly attend some Oscars after-parties. According to Perez Hilton, there was some PDA.

a man and a woman posing for a picture © Getty Images

March 2019 

Rumors swirl the couple is headed toward an engagement. “Taylor’s friends are all talking about a proposal and how she really wants to marry Joe,” a source told Us Weekly.

August 2019 

Swift releases a new song, “Lover.” Lyrics like “I’ve loved you three summers now, honey, but I want ’em all” appear to be about her relationship with Alwyn. Fans even go so far as to theorize that the song’s bridge—“Ladies and gentlemen, will you please stand? / With every guitar string scar on my hand / I take this magnetic force of a man to be my lover”—are a nod to future or existing wedding vows between Swift and Alwyn.

December 2019 

Alwyn made a rare public reference to his relationship with Swift in an interview with London’s Sunday Times. When asked whether he’s bothered by being an inspiration for his girlfriend’s music, he said, “No, not at all. No. It’s flattering.” He also called “99.9%” of the tabloid stories about him and Swift untrue—but he doesn’t let it bother him. “I just don’t pay attention to what I don’t want to pay attention to,” he said. “I turn everything else down on a dial. I don’t have any interest in tabloids. I know what I want to do, and that’s this, and that’s what I am doing.”

January 2020 

Swift’s documentary Taylor Swift: Miss Americana finally gives fans a peek into the singer’s relationship with Alwyn. Swift explains in the Netflix special that it was the actor’s “wonderful, normal, balanced kind of life” that drew her to him. There are also reportedly brief moments of PDA between the private couple during the documentary. In one moment, Swift gives Alwyn a warm embrace, and in another scene Swift kisses Alwyn’s hand during a car ride.

They were spotted together earlier this month at the Golden Globes. While they didn’t walk the red carpet hand-in-hand, it was the first awards show they both attended where they sat together, giving fans plenty of cute content to tide them over until Swift’s documentary premiered on January 31.

February 2020 

Swift and Alwyn attend the NME Awards (founded by New Musical Express magazine) together on February 12 in London—and they were spotted showing some PDA by another person in the audience. Awwwwww.

Check out this tweet, showing a video of the sweet kiss:

And a tweet showing their hug when Swift won best solo act:

August 2020 

In July, Swift surprised fans with the arrival of her eighth studio album, Folklore. Some even think William Bowery, one of the co-writers listed on two songs, might be a pen name for Alwyn

As with all Swift music, the world has been digging for clues into her relationship with Alwyn and in the bonus track, “The Lakes,” they sure seem to have found some. Though the song is not yet streaming, the lyrics are available online. In the chorus, Swift sings, “Take me to the lakes, where all the poets went to die,” which some believe is reference to the Lake District in northwest England. And guess who’s a Brit? Joe Alwyn, of course. 

Some even think he’s teasing the song’s release with a recent Instagram post.

November 2020

After a quiet fall, Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn made headlines again when the singer finally revealed that her boyfriend did indeed co-write two songs with her. In Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, a concert movie Swift released on Disney+ on November 24, she confirmed the popular fan theory that Alwyn is the mysterious William Bowery listed as a writer on “Betty” and “Exile.”

In reference to the song “Exile,” she says in the film, “Joe plays piano beautifully. He's always just playing and making things up and kind of creating things. Joe had written that entire piano part.”

She continued, “He was singing the Bon Iver part, the ‘I can see you standing honey, with his arms around your body, laughing but the joke's not funny at all.’ He was just singing it. And I was entranced and asked if we could keep writing that one.”

As for “Betty,” it came about after Swift heard him singing “the entire fully formed chorus from another room.” She added, “This was the first time we had a conversation where I came in and I was like, ‘Hey, this could be really weird, and we could hate this, so because we're in quarantine and there’s nothing else going on, could we just try to see what it's like if we write this song together?’”

December 2020

Because Taylor Swift is apparently not human like the rest of us, she announced she would be dropping her ninth studio album, Evermore, on December 11 at midnight, calling it a sister album to July's Folklore

Like Folklore, Evermore was written and produced with Jack Antonoff, The National's Aaron Dessner, and one William Bowery, who we now know is Alwyn thanks to Swift's reveal in her Disney+ special. 

Bowery/Alwyn has writing credits on three tracks: “Champagne Problems,” “Coney Island,” and “Evermore.” While “Champagne Problems” tells the story of a rejected proposal, Swift made it clear when introducing the album on social media that many of the stories, including that one, are fictional. It's “the one where longtime college sweethearts had very different plans for the same night, one to end it and one who brought a ring.” He also plays piano on “Evermore.” 

However, wedding rumors are still swirling around Swift and Alwyn thanks to a very bridal-looking dress in the “Willow” video and the fact that in her re-recording of “Love Story,” the singer changed the lyrics from “Baby, just say yes” to “Baby just said yes.” 

Joe and I really love sad songs. We've always bonded over music. We write the saddest [songs]. We just really love sad songs. What can I say?…It was a surprise that we started writing together," Swift told Apple Music's Zane Lowe in an interview. "But in a way it wasn’t, because we have always bonded over music and had the same musical tastes.”

Swift added, “He’s always just playing instruments and he doesn’t do it in a strategic, ‘I’m writing a song right now’ thing. He’s always done that. But do I think we would have taken the step of ‘Hey, let's see if there's a song in here. Let's write a song together?’ if we hadn't been in lockdown? I don’t think that would have happened, but I’m so glad that it did. We’re so proud of that one.”

January 2021

In early January, the happy couple was spotted holding hands while taking a stroll in North London Public Park with Alwyn's mom, Elizabeth Alwyn. The pair usually avoid paparazzi, so it's rare to get a glimpse of their relationship—much less PDA. According to E!, Swift was staying with Alwyn's family in England at the time. “She is back and forth between Nashville and England spending time with her family and with Joe's family,” the source said. “They take walks in the neighborhood and go on hikes to get fresh air.” 

Per this source, Swift, Alwyn, and their families “all seem very close and very happy…. They both know each other's families well and have spent a lot of time getting to know each other.”

May 2021

According to a source who spoke to Entertainment Tonight, Swift and Alwyn are thinking about their future. “They grew closer than ever during the quarantine and she really trusts him,” the source says. “They've been continuing to be pretty low-key about their relationship to the outside world to continue to protect it.”

The source continued, “They’ve discussed future plans and Taylor can see herself marrying Joe one day.”

We'll update this post as more information comes in.

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