- Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn have been dating for four years but have kept their relationship private.
- Fans have speculated that the British actor has inspired several of Swift's tracks.
- Swift also revealed that he cowrote two of her "Folklore" songs and three "Evermore" tracks.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn have successfully kept their relationship clouded in mystery for four years.
Unlike the 31-year-old singer's past relationships with stars like Joe Jonas, Calvin Harris, and Tom Hiddleston, Swift's romance with Alwyn, 30, has evolved behind closed doors and far away from cameras.
From wearing disguises to dodging press questions about each other, the "Love Story" singer and the "Mary Queen of Scots" actor have put forth a valiant effort to keep their romance out of the spotlight, which has only further fascinated outsiders.
Fans have clung to each lyric, appearance, and photograph of the couple in the hopes of gaining insight into their relationship. Several of Swift's tracks including "Gorgeous" and "Dress" have ignited speculation about the songs' subject matter and led to theories about the relationship.
However, Swift revealed that Alwyn did more than just inspire her music in "Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions." The musician confirmed that he cowrote two of her "Folklore" songs under the alias "William Bowery." He's also credited as a cowriter on three of her "Evermore tracks."
Here's a timeline of Swift and Alwyn's romance.
Fans speculate that they first met at the 2016 Met Gala.
Both Alwyn and Swift attended the 2016 Met Gala, which was themed "Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology."
Swift hasn't confirmed that the lyrics are about Alwyn.
Swift and Alwyn separately attended the same private Kings of Leon concert in New York City in October 2016.
One month after her breakup with Hiddleston, Swift and her friends attended a private Kings of Leon concert at The Bowery Hotel in New York. A fan website released a video revealing that Alwyn was at the concert as well, although it remains unclear if the pair interacted inside the closed-door event.
The "Delicate" singer reportedly wore disguises to remain incognito during the early stages of their relationship.
A source told The Sun that the singer flew to see her British beau in London "via private jets and her security has made it a military-like mission to prevent her from being seen."
The outlet also reported that, "She's been walking around with Joe in London using disguises, like scarves and hats, to keep her identity under wraps."
From the time that the couple met, fans have speculated that the "Boy Erased" actor has served as a muse for Swift's work.
For example, the number "91" appeared in the "...Ready For It?" music video. Speculations arose that the number stood for 1991, which is the year Alwyn was born. She also types "21" into the keypad, and many viewers pointed out that her boyfriend's birthday is February 21.
Swift has also appeared to express her admiration for Alwyn in the lyrics of multiple songs.
In her track "Gorgeous," the singer wrote about falling in love with someone while already in a relationship. She sings, "You should take it as a compliment / That I got drunk and made fun of the way you talk," potentially referring to the British actor's accent.
She also gave rise to allegations that the song was about the blue-eyed "Harriet" actor, singing, "Ocean-blue eyes lookin' in mine / I feel like I might sink and drown and die."
Ed Sheeran, who's close friends with Swift, expressed his approval of the relationship in October 2017.
The "Shape of You" singer called the fellow Brit a "really, really friendly, really good dude" on Capital London's Breakfast Show in October 2017. "They are very much in love, they have quite a low-key relationship, which Taylor likes. It's normal, and no one really knows about it right now."
Her 2018 cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's song "September" dropped a hint about their romance.
Swift performed a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's classic song "September" in April 2018. However, she changed the lyrics from "September 21" to "September 28," and fans speculated that the new date was the day Alwyn professed his love to Swift.
Swift endorsed a Tumblr post explaining the theory.
Swift promoted Alwyn's movie "The Favourite" in a November 2018 Instagram post.
Alwyn played the role of Baron Masham in the 2018 period piece drama "The Favourite," and Swift called the film "absolutely phenomenal" the day before its release.
She also supported Alwyn leading up to the premiere and accompanied him to the showing at the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center in September 2018.
Alwyn told The Sunday Times that he found it "flattering" that Swift used him as inspiration for her music.
Swift has drawn lyrical inspiration from her romantic relationships in the past, and her recent work has followed suit. Fans speculated that tracks on albums such as "Reputation" and "Lover" were coded with messaging about Alwyn. However, Swift hasn't confirmed that the songs are about her current partner.
In a December 2018 interview with The Sunday Times, the actor was asked if being the subject of his girlfriend's songs bothered him.
"No, not at all. No. It's flattering," he replied, which was more than he had said in past interviews about the singer.
Earlier that month, he defended his stance on privacy in an interview with Esquire. When asked if he was aware of the challenges that come with dating the superstar, Alwyn said the following:
"I didn't seek out advice on that. Because I know what I feel about it. I think there's a very clear line as to what somebody should share, or feel like they have to share, and what they don't want to and shouldn't have to."
Swift's 2019 song "Cruel Summer" hinted that she grappled with feelings for the actor before they started dating — when she was still with Tom Hiddleston.
"I don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you / And I snuck in through the garden gate / Every night that summer just to seal my fate," the lyrics read.
Swift included a journal entry about their relationship with one of the deluxe editions of her 2019 album "Lover."
The singer included photocopied pages of her journal entries in deluxe versions of her 2019 album "Lover." One excerpt emphasized the importance of privacy to her and Alwyn.
Dated January 3, 2017, Swift wrote, "I'm essentially based in London, hiding out trying to protect us from the nasty world that just wants to ruin things."
She also divulged that they had been successful in keeping their relationship a secret and continued, "We have been together and no one has found out for 3 months now. I want it to stay that way because I don't want anything about this to change."
The "Cats" actress strolled into a BAFTA after-party with Alwyn instead of attending the 2019 Grammys.
The singer skipped the 2019 Grammys, despite receiving a nomination for best pop vocal album for her album "Reputation," to attend a BAFTA after-party with Alwyn. "The Favourite" garnered seven BAFTA wins.
Swift congratulated the film's cast, which included Olivia Colman and Emma Stone, in an Instagram post, but Alwyn wasn't pictured.
In an August 2019 interview with The Guardian, Swift refused to open up about Alwyn, saying "our relationship isn't up for discussion."
Swift steered clear of addressing her relationship with Alwyn during an August 2019 interview with The Guardian.
"I've learned that if I do, people think it's up for discussion, and our relationship isn't up for discussion," she said.
The singer continued, "If you and I were having a glass of wine right now, we'd be talking about it – but it's just that it goes out into the world. That's where the boundary is, and that's where my life has become manageable. I really want to keep it feeling manageable."
The couple made a rare public appearance together at the 2020 Golden Globes.
The couple walked the red carpet separately but sat together at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards. Swift presented the award for best animated feature film and was nominated for best original song for her song "Beautiful Ghosts," which was featured in the movie "Cats."
Photos of the duo surfaced from inside of the event and the after-party, and they appeared smitten.
Swift's Netflix documentary was released in January 2020, and Alwyn shows his face in one scene.
The pop star'sdocumentary "Taylor Swift: Miss Americana" doesn't focus on her relationship, however Alwyn does appear briefly. At one point, she opens up about falling in love with him.
"I also was falling in love with someone who had a really wonderfully normal, balanced, grounded life and we decided together that we wanted our relationship to be private," she says.
The actor is also featured when Swift runs backstage to hug him after a concert on her Reputation Stadium Tour.
During a surprise appearance at the 2020 NME Awards, Swift publicly kissed Alwyn.
The two didn't walk the 2020 NME Awards carpet together, but they did sit next to each other at the show, which took place at the O2 Academy Brixton in London.
A fan seated above Swift and Alwyn recorded several videos of the couple kissing and hugging. When the pop star won the award for best solo act in the world, she embraced the actor and kissed him once again.
Swift dropped her eighth studio album "Folklore," and people worried that the lyrics hinted at her breakup with Alwyn.
Swift shocked fans by announcing that she'd release her eighth studio album "Folklore" on July 24.
Not only was the 16-track album much different than her previous discography, but the lyrics weren't all autobiographical.
Instead, Swift said she took the perspective of people "I've never met, people I've known, or those I wish I hadn't."
Despite her precautionary message to fans, they grew concerned that tracks like "The 1" and "Exile" hinted at a real-life breakup with Alwyn. However, the singer reportedly began writing the album in April, weeks before Alwyn posted an Instagram showing that they were isolating together during the pandemic.
Swift's love song "Invisible String," the 11th track on the album, seems to confirm that she's still in a relationship with Alwyn.
Like she did in past tracks that are rumored to be about the British actor, she filled "Invisible String" with gold imagery and even mentioned his teenage gig working at a yogurt shop.
Fans also began wondering if Alwyn played a larger role than merely serving as romantic inspiration for the surprise album after Swift listed one of her collaborators as William Bowery — a name that some people suspected to serve as a pseudonym for Alwyn.
However, Swift hasn't confirmed whether or not Alwyn assisted her in writing tracks on "Folklore," and this is just one of many theories about who Bowery could be.
Alwyn and Swift reportedly traveled to Utah together.
Although she wasn't in the picture, a source told E! News that the songstress was with Alwyn on the trip.
"Taylor has been based in Nashville, but she just went to Park City, Utah for a few days with Joe," the source said. "They're back in LA."
Swift talked about her relationship with Alwyn in her Rolling Stone cover story.
The artist spoke about how her private relationship with Alwyn has affected her life and allowed her to feel more "bits of normalcy" in her November 2020 Rolling Stone cover story with Paul McCartney.
"In knowing him and being in the relationship I am in now, I have definitely made decisions that have made my life feel more like a real life and less like just a storyline to be commented on in tabloids," she told McCartney.
Swift added, "Whether that's deciding where to live, who to hang out with, when to not take a picture — the idea of privacy feels so strange to try to explain, but it's really just trying to find bits of normalcy."
When the "Hey Jude" artist asked if Alwyn sympathizes with the inescapable reality that she exists in the spotlight, Swift responded, "Oh, absolutely."
She also confirmed that "Peace," the 15th "Folklore" track, is "rooted" in her personal life and relationship with the British actor. The song was inspired by "how scary" it can be to carve out a "human life within a public life," especially when the other person has a "grounded, normal way of living."
"I, oftentimes, in my anxieties, can control how I am as a person and how normal I act and rationalize things, but I cannot control if there are 20 photographers outside in the bushes and what they do and if they follow our car and if they interrupt our lives," she said.
Swift continued: "I can't control if there's going to be a fake weird headline about us in the news tomorrow."
In her film "Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions," Swift revealed that her cowriter William Bowery is a pseudonym for Alwyn.
Following numerous theories about William Bowery, the mysterious cowriter credited on "Folklore" tracks "Exile" and "Betty," Swift revealed the moniker was a pseudonym for Alwyn.
"There's been a lot of discussion about William Bowery and his identity 'cause it's not a real person," she told her collaborators Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff in "Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions."
"William Bowery is Joe," she said, continuing, "Joe plays piano beautifully, and he's always just playing and making things up and kind of creating things."
The musician explained that the British actor wrote the piano portion and first verse of "Exile" on his own.
After Swift heard Alwyn singing the fourth track, she knew it should be a duet.
"I was entranced and asked if we could keep writing that one. It was pretty obvious that it should be a duet 'cause he's got such a low voice and it sounded really good sung down there and in that register," she said.
Alwyn had also already written the entire chorus of "Betty" by the time Swift heard it for the first time.
"I just heard Joe singing the entire fully formed chorus of 'Betty' from another room. And I just was like, 'Hello,'" she recalled.
Because the couple was quarantined together during the pandemic, Swift suggested they try writing music together. And when they worked on "Betty," she realized that she "thought it sounded really good from a man's voice, from a masculine perspective."
"I've written so many songs from a female's perspective of wanting a male's apology that we decided to make it a teenage boy's perspective apologizing after he loses the love of his life because he's been foolish," she explained.
Alwyn, again using the alias William Bowery, cowrote three songs on "Evermore," Swift's ninth studio album.
When Swift announced that she was dropping her second surprise album of 2020, she told fans that many of the same collaborators from "Folklore" helped craft "Evermore" — one of them being Alwyn.
Again using the pseudonym William Bowery, the actor is credited as a cowriter on three "Evermore" tracks: "Champagne Problems," "Coney Island," and "Evermore."
Two of the songs, "Champagne Problems" and "Coney Island," are about breakups, which led fans to joke about what it was like for the couple to write them.
The couple was seen holding hands while on a walk with Alwyn's mother in London.
Swift and Alwyn made a rare public outing together in early January 2021, taking a stroll through North London Public Park with the actor's mother, Elizabeth Alwyn.
The couple held hands, and all three individuals wore masks, as seen in a photograph published by E! News.
An anonymous source told the outlet that Swift has been splitting her time between England and Nashville during the pandemic.
"She is back and forth between Nashville and England spending time with her family and with Joe's family. They take walks in the neighborhood and go on hikes to get fresh air," they said, adding that Alwyn often "comes along."
After Swift called out "Ginny & Georgia" writers for making a sexist joke about her dating life, Alwyn returned to Twitter to "like" the tweet.
On the Netflix show "Ginny & Georgia," a teenager tells her mother that she goes "through men faster than Taylor Swift."
As fans took notice of the line, which many considered misogynistic, "RESPECT TAYLOR SWIFT" began trending on Twitter, Insider's Callie Ahlgrim reported.
The musician responded directly, slamming the joke as "lazy" and "deeply sexist" on Twitter.
"How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse s--- as FuNnY. Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn't look cute on you Happy Women's History Month I guess," she wrote.
The "Folklore" singer thanked Alwyn during her 2021 Grammys acceptance speech.
"Joe, who is the first person that I play every single song that I write, and I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine," she said into the microphone.