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Philosophy’s Answers to Taylor Swift’s Failed Relationships

Philosophy’s Answers to Taylor Swift’s Failed Relationships

By Katrina Tiu

Album after album, sitting by her pool of Grammys, Taylor Swift has captivated heartbroken audiences all around the world with her strangely specific song lyrics. But when the cameras are off, Taylor’s behavior seems to have flown out of the woods (sorry, we had to) and straight onto Hollywood tabloids. With her now seemingly-endless list of ex-lovers and cat fights over social media, we watched her grow from country darling to scandalous pop star.

Her songs are notorious for reportedly being diary entries, almost all inspired from true-to-life experiences. What exactly could be going on this American powerhouse’s head? Break down all those walls and Grammy awards—Taylor Swift is just, after all, just a regular modern woman going through life and (albeit, horribly) love.

With her most recent and highly-publicized break-up with Calvin Harris making the Hollywood media headlines, Scout takes to philosophy and Taylor’s very own lyrics to figure out why in the world Ms. Swift is simply too unlucky in the department of romance.

And hey, maybe you’ll get some good advice along the way too.


  1. “You Belong with Me”

Album: Fearless

I remember you driving to my house
In the middle of the night
I’m the one who makes you laugh
When you know you’re ’bout to cry
I know your favorite songs,
And you tell me about your dreams
Think I know where you belong,
Think I know it’s with me

TSwift says: This may be why Taylor is on a roll with her growing list of ex-boyfriends. They’re looking for people to share their lives with, not someone who wants them all to herself. Only mothers are licensed to do that.

Gabriel Marcel says: In The Mystery of Being, Marcel loosely defines individuality as the quality that differentiates a person from everyone else. We are all constantly growing, realizing our own individuality by interacting with other people. By stating that she is the “only one who makes you laugh,” Tay-tay is claiming ownership of her guy, hindering him from growing into their relationship as equals.

Situation-wise, Taylor assumes a position in her guy’s life as one where she is endgame. Gabriel Marcel argues this kind of thinking by explaining that we can never truly reach a final position from which to view the complete perspective of reality.


  1. “Better Than Revenge”

Album: Speak Now

She’s not a saint and she’s not what you think
She’s an actress, whoa
She’s better known for the things that she does
On the mattress, whoa
Soon she’s gonna find
Stealing other people’s toys on the playground
Won’t make you many friends
She should keep in mind,
She should keep in mind
There is nothing I do better than revenge

TSwift says: A true #StrongIndependentWoman, Taylor Swift is probably the ultimate White Girl of this generation. She low-key mentions pretty much every girl whom her army of ex-boyfriends has gotten with after her.

Iris Marion Young says: Reciprocity expresses moral respect and asymmetry arises from people’s greatly varying life histories and social positions. She argues in Assymetrical Reciprocity that we cannot understand others’ experiences by imaging ourselves in their place or in terms of symmetrical reciprocity.

Her lack of understanding and moral respect in this situation removes her from this realm of reciprocity, making any situation into one where it benefits her. For years, Taylor has been portraying herself as the formerly-bullied, oblivious sweetheart who wants nothing more than to find true love. Now with the trail of bad blood she’s left behind, it’s painfully apparent that Taylor will go through anything and everything that stands in her way—even if it means losing some people here and there.

She fights back the only way she can. Backed with shelves of award-winning albums, Taylor has charmed the media into making her image the way she wants it to be, ultimately solidifying her place in pop culture as a petty mean girl.


  1. “Picture to Burn”

Album: Taylor Swift

State the obvious, I didn’t get my perfect fantasy
I realize you love yourself more than you could ever love me

TSwift’s song says: She expected too much. Having just broken up from yet another relationship, she turns the tables this time by making herself look like the victim instead of the real reason why the entire relationship was left as a mere picture to burn.

Jean-Paul Sartre says: Choice is not given to an individual as a right but as a duty. We are all given the freedom to reinvent one’s self, a freedom which is both universal and necessary. Who you are is what you do. Actions are indispensable on the road to freedom.

Sartre explains this in one of his plays: “As humans, we first exist, with no preconceived expectations, purpose, or ideals to which we must live up. We then define our essence (i.e. who we are) through choice and action. The self is re-created every moment by a conscious choice, and only action dictates our essence and beliefs.”

First of all, why enter a relationship and expect them to love you more than they love themselves? Don’t fall in love with someone whom you want to complete you, fall in love with someone who’ll love you for everything you got.

Second, newsflash: no one gets his or her perfect fantasy. As cliché as it sounds, it comes to you when you least expect it and what you have is what you get. You can’t just be kilig one day and bored the next. Forever comes with choosing to love continuously and unconditionally.

Lastly, maybe he’s better off without you. Maybe the others were. Maybe they all would’ve been better off to start with. At least now they’re in one way or another immortalized in one of your songs. Ironically, it’s being single that gets her award- winning singles.


  1. Back to December

Album: Speak Now

It turns out freedom ain’t nothing but missing you
Realize what I had when you were mine

TSwift’s song says: Remember those friends that say they can live perfectly alone? Yeah.

Don’t believe them.

Despite her numerous breakups, there were moments back then when glimmers of hope sparked through her now infamous me, me, me personality. The Fearless and Speak Now eras of her career were undeniably the peak of it all, when Taylor made sense and she had the whole world fooled.

Jean-Paul Sartre says: The philosopher again notes, on the topic of freedom, “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”

Dr. Latif Hussain Kazmi later on acknowledges Sartre’s approach in Sartre on Human Freedom and Creativity, adding: “He says that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world and consequently defines himself afterwards.”

Taylor realizes that she is missing the motivation to keep on going and continuously fills in the gaps with her numerous relationships. Using her writing and strong vocal chords, she achieves a certain type of freedom. This freedom helps her assert the power that she gains as well.

These two lines specifically depict a point in Taylor’s life when she realized at that moment that even if she asserts her freedom, she cannot be free without previously having something to be free from, and this is what she is missing. With this, she continued surging her way up. She was given the freedom of doing so as there was nothing to stop her and she allowed nothing to stand in her way.

Love is not filling in the gaps; it’s making bridges to walk over them. Understanding and acceptance is the first step to making all this, and anything, work.

With her army of tall, beautiful, and powerful women by her side, Taylor Swift has risen to become the goddess of all heartbreak warfare (heh), ready to take on all those who stand in her way of finding that one true forever—or so long as her Grammys can keep her standing.


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