While a source told ET that the breakup was "not dramatic" and "the relationship had just run its course," ending a six-year-long romance is shocking to say the least.
From their reported meeting at the 2016 Met Gala to engagement rumors to becoming musical collaborators, Swift and Alwyn have been through a lot together.
While the couple kept things private along the way, they did offer several peeks into their romance. Keep reading to look back at Swift and Alwyn's full relationship timeline.
Though no one knew it at the time, it's likely that Swift and Alwyn met at the 2016 Met Gala. The singer was in a relationship with Tom Hiddleston when she stepped out for the event, but it may have also marked the first time she met Alwyn.
Fans speculated on that fact when Swift released her 2017 song, "Dress." The track includes the lines "Flashback when you met me / Your buzzcut and my hair bleached." The lyrics perfectly describe the couple's looks at the Met Gala.
Swift and Hiddleston called it quits in September, and the singer moved on with Alwyn the next month. That fact was only revealed years later, in August 2019, when Swift released her Lover diaries. In one entry from January 2017, Swift reflects on her then-publicly unknown relationship with Alwyn, whom she had been dating for three months.
"I'm essentially based in London hiding out trying to protect us from the nasty world that just wants to ruin things," Swift wrote with regard to her British beau. "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 or become complicated or intruded upon. But it's serveless to worry about someday not being happy when I am happy now."
One year after their rumored first meeting, Swift and Alwyn were publicly linked in the press for the first time, with The Sun reporting their relationship.
The month after Swift and Alwyn were first linked, they were photographed together for the first time. The duo was caught boarding a private plane together. Later, photographers captured the pair enjoying a cup of coffee in Nashville.
Fans got their first real insight into Swift and Alwyn's relationship on Nov. 10 when the singer released her sixth studio album, Reputation.
One lyric on the album referenced Alwyn's "ocean blue eyes," while lines including "My reputation's never been worse / So you must like me for me," "All eyes on us / You make everyone disappear," and "I want to wear his initial on a chain around my neck / Not because he owns me, but because he really knows me" seemed to hint at their relationship.
The same month that the couple was spotted holding hands during a hike, Swift got fans talking with two Alwyn-themed Easter eggs in her music video for "Delicate." In the video, Swift wears a J-initial necklace and Alwyn's first name is seen in a sign in the background.
Alwyn got fans talking when he made his Instagram account public. After the move, fans discovered a post from the actor that closely mirrored a picture Swift had previously shared.
Later in 2018, Alwyn opened up about the surprise fascination into that post, telling British GQ, "I didn't even think of that until I was in New York and someone else mentioned it. It wasn't purposeful at all!"
"[I] think there was a bit of a bait-and-switch that happened with his album when we put out 'Look What You Made Me Do' and we're like, 'Guys, this album is gonna be one thing.' And when the album came out, it's legitimately an album about finding love throughout all the noise," she said. "And so it starts with the noise and how that makes all you feel, and how it makes you feel when people are saying things about you that you feel aren't true and living your life sort of in defiance of that, in defiance of your reputation."
"I'm aware people want to know about that side of things," he said. "I think we have been successfully very private and that has now sunk in for people… but I really prefer to talk about work."
Alwyn's interview came the same month that Swift publicly supported the actor by attending the premiere of his movie, The Favourite. She continued the love two months later by posting about the film on Instagram.
"I found myself talking about government and the presidency and policy with my boyfriend [Alwyn], who supported me in speaking out," she told Vanity Fair in February 2021. "I started talking to my family and friends about politics and learning as much as I could about where I stand. I'm proud to have moved past fear and self-doubt, and to endorse and support leadership that moves us beyond this divisive, heartbreaking moment in time."
The month after the couple made headlines for stepping out with Alwyn's family, they were once again in the spotlight when the Golden Globes rolled around.
When ET spoke with Alwyn ahead of the ceremony, he weighed in on the possibility of an onscreen collaboration with Swift. "It's not planned at the moment, but who knows?" he said.
Later that night, the couple was spotted displaying PDA at an after-party.
Shortly thereafter, Alwyn told Mr. Porterwhy he didn't consider himself to be "strangely private" about his relationship with Swift.
"I don't think more than anyone else," he said. "I don't think anyone you meet on the streets would just spill their guts out to you, therefore why should I? And then that is defined as being 'strangely private.' Fine. But I don't think it is. I think it's normal."
Lines from the album hinted that the couple was living together, referenced Alwyn's dimples, and gushed over the couple's relationship. Though Swift was more than happy to musically refer to her beau, she continued to decline to speak about him in the press.
"I've learned that if I [talk about my relationship], people think it’s up for discussion, and our relationship isn’t up for discussion," she told The Guardian. "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."
"It's flattering," he told The Sunday Times of his girlfriend's musical odes, before revealing that "99.9 percent" of what is in the press about his relationship "is false."
"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."
In the film, Swift gave rare insight into her romance. She shared that, at the start of their relationship, she was "falling in love with someone who had a really wonderfully normal, balanced, grounded life," and said that "we decided together that we wanted our relationship to be private."
"It was happiness without anyone else's input," she added. "We were happy."
"There's been a lot of discussion about William Bowery and his identity. He's not a real person," Swift said in the film. "... William Bowery is Joe, as we know. And Joe, Joe plays piano beautifully, and he's always just playing and making things up and kind of creating things."
The couple first teamed up for "Betty," a song for which, Swift revealed, Alwyn wrote the chorus.
"I just heard Joe singing the entire, fully formed chorus of 'Betty' from another room. And I just was like, 'Hello,'" Swift recalled. "It was a step that we would never have taken because why would we have ever written a song together? 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 could we just, 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?'"
The partnership worked out well, with Alwyn inspiring the idea to tell the story of 'Betty' from a male perspective.
"He was singing the chorus of it and I thought it sounded really good from a man's voice, from a masculine perspective," Swift said. "I really liked that it seemed to be an apology... We decided to make it from a teenage boy's perspective, apologizing after he loses the love of his life because he's been foolish."
"'Exile' was crazy because Joe had written that entire piano part and he was singing the Bon Iver part... He was just singing it. And so, I was entranced and I asked if we could keep writing that one," she said. "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 in that register."
"We chose to do it so the people, first and foremost, would listen to the music first before dissecting the fact that we did it together," he explained. "We did it under the name William Bowery, very fancy. It sounds like a kind of Agatha Christie character that should be wearing a monocle with a big mustache."
"It was a combination of William, my great-grandfather -- who I actually never met -- [who] was a composer," he added. "He wrote a lot of classical music and he wrote a lot of film scores. And then Bowery is the area in New York that I spent a lot of time in when I first went over there. So, stick 'em together."
Swift gave a rare comment on her relationship while speaking to Paul McCartney for Rolling Stone. In the cover story, Swift opened up about her Folklore track, "Peace."
"'Peace' is actually more rooted in my personal life. I know you have done a really excellent job of this in your personal life: carving out a human life within a public life, and how scary that can be when you do fall in love and you meet someone, especially if you’ve met someone who has a very grounded, normal way of living," she said. "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. I can’t control if there’s going to be a fake weird headline about us in the news tomorrow."
The British music icon then asked Swift if her partner can "sympathize with that and understand."
"Oh, absolutely," she replied, before adding, "I think that 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."
"[Taylor] has been having a tough time with her mom’s health, but her mom is getting treatment and she and her family have been trying to stay optimistic," the source said. "She has been focusing on her music and spending a lot of time with Joe. Taylor wanted to take some time to herself and her family this year, so in that regard, the quarantine and break has been positive for her."
"Joe has provided such a great support system for Taylor. He is the one constant in her life that she can truly rely on," the source added. "Joe has helped Taylor with her music, inspiring it. She is so grateful for him and in love with him. He is her cheerleader and rock. They have spoken about their future together and they love celebrating the holidays together and are looking forward to that."
"Joe and I really love sad songs. We've always bonded over music," Swift said. "We write the saddest [songs]. We just really love sad songs. What can I say?... It was a surprise that we started writing together. But in a way, it wasn't because we have always bonded over music and had the same musical tastes. He's always the person who's showing me songs by artists and then they become my favorite songs."
"Taylor has gotten more and more comfortable being public with Joe and letting fans in on their romance in a way that she feels is still protecting it," the source said. "She loves Joe so much and, of course, is not trying to hide their relationship, but she prefers to keep specific details private."
"Taylor and Joe are in it for the long haul and totally see a future with each other," the source added. "They don’t need outside praise or attention and are so fulfilled just being with each other and growing together as a couple."
When Swift won the Album of the Year GRAMMY for Folklore, she gave Alwyn a shout-out during her acceptance speech, noting that he's "the first person that I play every single song that I write."
"I had the best time writing songs with you in quarantine," she added.
After the sweet moment, a source told ET that the couple is "very happy together," adding, "Taylor is so appreciative to have Joe in her life."
When Swift won the Global Icon Award at the BRIT Awards, she gave Alwyn another shout-out.
"Thank you, Aaron Dessner, Jack Antonoff, Joe," she said with a smile, after also thanking her friends and family, the NHS and her British fans. "If there's one thing I've learned, you have to look around you every day and take note of the people who have always believed in you."
Shortly thereafter, a source told ET that Swift and Alwyn have "discussed future plans and Taylor can see herself marrying Joe one day."
"They grew closer than ever during the quarantine and she really trusts him," the source said. "They've been continuing to be pretty low-key about their relationship to the outside world to continue to protect it."
While promoting his show, Conversations With Friends, Alwyn categorized his relationship as a "happy" and "monogamous" one.
"They've been enjoying their time as a couple. They have spoken about their future together and feel very secure about their relationship," a source later told ET. "They're supportive of each other's careers and of each other in general. Both of them have been busy with work and they completely understand how to balance hectic schedules and still make time for each other. It's part of why their relationship really works."
"It's not a plan of mine, no," Alwyn told Elle of continuing to write songs.
In a conversation with WSJ. Magazine later that month, Alwyn addressed long-running engagement rumors that had surrounded him and Swift.
"If I had a pound for every time I think I’ve been told I’ve been engaged, then I’d have a lot of pound coins," he quipped. "I mean, the truth is, if the answer was yes, I wouldn't say, and if the answer was no, I wouldn't say."
He also reflected on the public's fascination in his relationship, stating, "We live in a culture that people expect so much to be given. So that if you’re not posting all the time about what you’re doing, how you’re spending a day or how you made a breakfast, does that make you a recluse? I'd also like to feel slightly less guarded sometimes in interviews or in whatever kind of interactions, but it’s just a knee- jerk response to the culture we live in."
With a new album came new information about Swift and Alwyn's relationship. The singer revealed that Alwyn inspired "Lavender Haze," a track off of her 10th studio album, Midnights.
"I happened on the phrase 'lavender haze' when I was watching Mad Men, and I looked it up because I thought it sounded cool, and it turns out that it's a common phrase used in the '50s where they would just describe being in love," she said. "If you were in the lavender haze that meant you were in that all-encompassing love glow. I thought that was really beautiful."
"I guess, theoretically, when you're in the lavender haze you'll do anything to stay there and not let people bring you down off of that cloud. I think a lot of people have to deal with this now, not just 'public figures,' because we live in the era of social media, and if the world finds out that you're in love with somebody they're going to weigh in on it," Swift added. "Like my relationship for six years, we've had to dodge weird rumors, tabloid stuff and we just ignore it. This song is sort of about the act of ignoring that stuff to protect the real stuff."
"Taylor loves the fact that Joe unconditionally supports her" and that "they are there for each other through everything and feel so proud of each other," a source told ET. "They appreciate their time together, but also like that they can both do their own things, both in their professional careers or personal lives."
ET also learned that the split was amicable and "it was not dramatic." ET was told "the relationship had just run its course. It's why [Alwyn] hasn't been spotted" at Swift's Eras Tour.
Shows on that tour may have hinted at Swift and Alwyn's split before ET broke the news. Back in March, during the Arlington, Texas, stop of Swift's tour, the singer performed the breakup song "The 1" instead of the love song "Invisible String."