My initial reaction?
I liked them together! And I was happy for Taylor.nooooooooo :( https://t.co/M1oPcJ4xe1— Kirbie Johnson (@kirbiejohnson) June 1, 2016
But then I started thinking about her. As in her well-being. I know, I will probably never meet Taylor Swift. I enjoy her music, I like her personality, and frankly I'm inspired by her. I like that she's inclusive of others and that some of her best friends initially didn't like her. (I'm sure some of you would like to argue both of those points, but give it a rest, please?)
Maybe I am juvenile for going to this place, but all I could think about after I heard the news was if she was okay, emotionally. (And you know what? I don't know why I'm defending myself for being empathetic of another human being. Good lord.) I work in online publishing, an industry that I love, but that often conflicts with this mentality. I spend a lot of my day crafting the perfect angle for videos and posts, hoping to get clicks. Granted, I'm not reporting on celebrity news. (Yet.) But I start thinking about myself in these headline situations, and I have to admit that I take breakups really hard. Even if I'm the person doing the breaking up, it tears me to pieces. (Even if it's for the better!) She's 26. This was her first real relationship. Not say her other relationships weren't real, but we all know that hitting the other side of 25 brings more maturity to a relationship.
These aren't the people you're taking to mixers just for fun anymore, or people you have summer flings with, that will inevitably pick back up the next summer. These are the relationships that are meaningful. For her, this isn't the high-profile boy band relationship. This isn't the infant relationship that elicits an angry response in the studio. This person could end up being your "happily ever after," your spouse, your life partner. Or they might not. When those relationships end, it hurts on a deeper level. Because you can handle it, and you'll be okay, but it still doesn't stop the sting of the dead relationship.
That's why I've been a bit disappointed (disgusted?) with the coverage of the end of this particular relationship. She is Taylor Swift, pop superstar. Her life is carried out in the headlines, yes. But regardless of the excuses given, she is a human being. I can't help but feel hurt for her when I scroll through my Instagram feed and there are six photos in a row of the couple holding hands, a relationship trivialized by a caption regarding the end of a "15 month" relationship with a broken heart emoji. I'm sure she is at the point where she has stopped reading anything online and that fodder like this means nothing to her, but if it were me, I'd be miserable.
I am an emotional being. Before my current relationship, I was single for six years! The last real relationship I had was the end of college, that lasted about a year and a half. Before, when you broke up, it just ended. People who you wanted to tell would be the ones to know; at school, it could spread through gossip. But you didn't have the additional hurt of dealing with social media. (Unless it was your ex logging on to AIM, not messaging you and putting a love quote about their new beau in their profile.) And even without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, breaking up was hard to do!
Breaking up on Facebook is messy and horrifying: having to remember sweet moments of an otherwise terrible relationship, or watching a person you weren't quite over move on like they're happier without you isn't exactly helpful in the transition to single life. So that's why I can't imagine having people, who didn't know anything about my relationship, pick apart "what went wrong," and say things about my ex that aren't true — or worse, are true. It feels viscous, unwarranted and inconsiderate, doesn't it?
I know a lot of people have been excited about the prospect of new music due to this breakup. Yes, I love Taylor Swift for her ability to perfectly encapsulate the feelings I had during, before or after a breakup. But why should a time for her to heal and find happiness turn into a celebration of a stereotype people have about her? Only 3 of the 16 tracks on 1989 were about a breakup or toxic relationship; the rest were about friendships, new life adventures and falling in love. On the other hand, why use her talent against her during time where she probably feels heartbroken? It's like telling your best friend, "Sorry you broke up, but now you can party with the girls!"
Something one of my best friends told me when my very first relationship ended? "I won't shove sunshine up your ass. Come here." She handed me a Java Chip Frappacino (ah, teenage metabolism) and gave me a hug while I cried on her shoulder. And that's what I needed. I didn't need her lifting me up and telling me I was better off without him. (That would come later.) I didn't need her to talk about all the awesome things that lie ahead. I just needed her to be there for me, and she was.
And at the very least, that's what we should be doing for Taylor. Don't shove sunshine up her ass, don't remind her of all the special moments that are now gone, don't tell her it's going to be fine because she's going to make an album out of it. Don't pick apart her relationship. She's going to have to deal with the reminders because of her public status, but we don't have to rub it in. We might not know her, we might not be her friends, but we can see her as she is: another person, with feelings, whose relationship ended.