Taylor Swift Fulfilled Every Jilted Woman’s Revenge Fantasy

And we, the women, vicariously exhaled.

Taylor Swift, as she looks from the outside, appears to have it all. She is wildly successful, a once in a generation talent, the millennial Stevie Knicks (minus the ass cocaine, I’m assuming), she is stunning and has infuriatingly symmetrical features. On top of that, her outward persona and her fans alike suggest she’s actually a very nice person. But just like boring, more ugly and less successful people, Taylor Swift has been jerked around by asshat men who think so much of themselves that even Taylor Swift isn’t good enough for them.

The constant theme of heartbreak is part of what makes Taylor Swift so relatable. Who among us have not sobbed our broken hearts out like Sadie Sink, who expertly conveyed the cold, bereft, sweaty-sob grief of heartbreak in the “All Too Well” short film which accompanied the 10-minute long musical excoriation of Taylor’s ex (presumed to be Jake Gyllenhall).

Sadie Sink ripping my heart out in “All Too Well”

The entire reimagined Red album is like an exorcism of a relationship — from the joy of being two people who happen upon an intense attraction to one another, the kind that makes your body vibrate and gives you superhuman amounts of energy, to the bottom of the well when it ends for seemingly arbitrary reasons, to finding your dignity again.

Now, admittedly, I have not been part of the Taylor Swift cult — though when Evermore and Folklore came out I vibed — but when the 10 minute version of All Too Well dropped I couldn’t help but relate on a deep emotional level, for I, too, have lived this cycle. Though the man that love bombed, rejected, gaslighted, and eventually forced me to break up with him as an act of self love was nowhere near as hot or famous as a Gyllenhal, I felt a kinship with Taylor’s pain.

It is a common theme that many of my friends, including my best friend who even looks a little like Swift, have encountered when dating men who are not comfortable enough with themselves to be in love with someone else. There is probably a clinical definition for what happens in these situations, but I like to call it “Why the fuck are you ruining this perfectly good thing?” It goes like this: People meet, they have an innate attraction to one another and its like two streams join to form a rushing river of feeling. Suddenly your life looks different because you are imagining this person in it. You love, you fuck, you hold hands, you take walks outside and marvel or everyday stupid shit like a leaf or a bumblebee as though you had never seen either before. You spend two weeks breathing in each other’s faces. Maybe he introduces to you to his best friend, or his sister. You fit so perfectly into his life, you feel as though you have always been there, that your soul maybe visited these places before your physical body. Words are spoken in the dead of night, when you both can’t sleep because you are so jazzed to be next to one another, “How are you real? Are you even here right now? This feels like a dream. Did I make you up?”

You reluctantly peel yourselves out of bed every so often so that you can make public displays of affection at the farmer’s market, or the coffee shop, or the Whole Foods hot bar or wherever you go for sustenance in the middle of a two week emotionally charged fuckfest. You impress him with your home-delivery Times subscription and you are delighted when he can help you finish the Saturday crossword puzzle.

Then, reality creeps in. He remembers he has an image of himself that he is betraying by being his real self with you. His friends want to meet you. They make jokes about him being whipped, they ask why he’s hiding you from them. So he decides to have a get together so they can all appraise you. They will discuss topics you have no knowledge about, and he laughs extra hard at the jokes he knows you don’t understand. They all have a shorthand that is like currency, and you’re broke. In a moment of feeling self-conscious you reach for his hand, which he rejects like a parent pushing away a needy child while the grown-ups talk. Later his friends search for something nice to say about you, then provide him feedback like “wouldn’t have pictured you with someone like that, but good for you man!” and “I mean she didn’t say much but she seemed nice?”

Later, when he is experiencing the cognitive dissonance of having to reckon his true self with the image of the self he has created for the rest of the world, he blames you for being antisocial and needy. You tell him you felt rejected because he barely acknowledged you all night. He tells you that you’re being ridiculous, that you shouldn’t expect to be the center of attention when he’s with his friends, who, by the way, you made zero effort to get to know. When you point out they were talking about plays you haven’t seen and books you haven’t read, he suggests you are just too young/basic/uneducated/different to understand. Perhaps he beings up the difference in your upbringings, your wealth, your careers. Maybe you cry. Maybe he leaves because you are being emotional over “nothing.”

You don’t want to believe it, because everything felt so perfect, so natural, so inevitable before. You still feel the intense attraction, which maybe you’re calling love, but you’ve thrown yourself out of the plane headfirst and you are hurtling toward the earth. He isn’t going pick you. He isn’t going to open the parachute. You know it now, but you don’t want to admit it. He faces a choice of between admitting that you are what he wants, which forces him to examine parts of himself that he prefers to hide, or admitting that he has not been his true self with everyone else in his life, himself included. He stops returning your texts in any reasonable amount of time, finds reasons to be too busy for you, gets annoyed when you point out that it’s been weeks since you saw each other. Why can’t you just be chill? Why are you being so selfish, he has to come up for air and live his life. Maybe you’re acting just like his ex, which is why he broke up with her, by the way.

If you are a coward like me you will let this continue until it is absolutely untenable. You let him continue to treat you like a nuisance, to be casually cruel in the name of being honest, to exclude you and ensure that you understand that everything that made you fall in love with him is what makes him better than you. That you are just too “different.” That his friends don’t like you all that much, and he wishes you could be like anyone other than yourself.

When you finally dig out that little shred of dignity you have been holding on to, that wisp of your inner child that you know deserves better, you tell him you can’t do this any more, that you want to be with him but not like this. Finally, you pulled the release hatch for him. You opened that door that he has been banging his head against. He’s so quick to end things once you’ve given him the permission you wonder how long he’s been waiting.

Then, you cry, and cry, and cry. You cry so hard you throw up a little (or a lot, if you are of weak constitution like me). If you are like me you call your friend and tell her you are so overcome with pain that you might make a bad decision to make it stop. He takes your descent into uncontrollable grief as further proof that he dodged a bullet. You friend fills your house with food that you don’t touch, watching it spoil and making analogies between the rotting spinach and your relationship.

You torment yourself endlessly interrogating how he walked away so easily if you both felt the same thing at the beginning. How he continued to make plans with friends and see shows and laugh on Instagram when you couldn’t get out of bed. You wondered if he meant it the first time he told you he loved you, and you are certain he did not the last time he said it. You wonder what he told his sister, if she consoled him, told him she didn’t think you were right for him anyway.

If you are anything like me you stay in a grief coma for months, subsisting on bodega ice cream and red wine and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you are anything like Taylor Swift, you make a 30-track album and accompanying short film about it, release it when you are at the top of your game, and enjoy the beginning of your 30’s while that ex shifts his weight uncomfortably every time your name comes up. But since most of us are not like Taylor Swift, we will have settle for enjoying the vicarious revenge of ostentatiously living well, without him.

Personally, I can’t wait for the next video to drop.

Midwestern New Yorker. Dog Hugger. Bacon Eater. Bird Watcher.