MIA FREEDMAN: 'My deeply serious theory about Taylor Swift’s new boyfriend.'

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Sometimes, you have to pause on the news cycle to think about things that are not sad. Right now is one of those times so I have been doing a lot of thinking — more than usual, even — about Taylor Swift.

Specifically, about her new relationship with NFL star Travis Kelce that has been the most high-profile celebrity love story of 2023. 

And that’s exactly what’s so unusual about this relationship; the high profile and highly public nature of it. It’s why Swifties are perplexed, the media is frothing and speculation about a PR stunt is rampant. This. Is. Not. Normal. Taylor. Behaviour.

What we are witnessing in real time, friends, is an entirely new thing.

In the extensive canon of Taylor Swift Relationships, being photographed at football games and outside locker rooms and at restaurants and parties and holding hands in the street while walking in and out of venues in front of photographers is not something we have seen before.

Until now, Taylor’s relationships have been conducted almost entirely in private which is pretty remarkable given that she’s been one of the most famous women in the world for 20 years.

The open FLAUNTING (a tabloid word, used with irony but also kind of fair in this instance) of the fact she is dating Travis Kelce has led to shadey speculation that it’s a stunt. A PR exercise. A collab between Brand Taylor and the NFL. A fake romance cooked up for mutually beneficial business reasons.


Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. Image: Supplied.

To this I say: lol.

The most successful female recording artist of our time who is at the creative and financial peak of her career does not need to be more famous. She does not need more coin.

Which brings me to my deeply serious theory.

Dating Taylor Swift in the past decade or so has been a brand-defining, life-altering experience for anyone, famous or not. It's even the case for those rumoured to have dated her, like model Karlie Kloss — their totally unsubstantiated fan-fic relationship is famous among Swifties. It has a portmanteau: 'Kaylor' and a website, forensically called Kaylor Evidence (fun fact: Karlie Kloss is married to the brother of Donald Trump's son-in-law and former advisor, Jared Kushner, and why do I even know this s**t please send help).


Most of Taylor's relationships during this time have been with men who work in the entertainment industry: actors and musicians. Now imagine you are that dude. Maybe you’re an actor like Joe Alwyn (her boyfriend of six years with whom she co-wrote some songs and who inspired many others during their time together) or an indie pop star like Matty Healy or a DJ like Calvin Haris.

When your girlfriend is so astonishingly famous and successful, how do you possibly avoid becoming Mr Taylor Swift? How do you grow your own career, build your own fame and recognition as an artist for your own work in that kind of shadow?

I imagine this is a challenge for anyone who dates a celebrity. I’d love to ask Deborah Lee Furness about it now that she’s no longer married to Hugh Jackman. She used to be an actor but early in their relationship, his fame and career eclipsed hers in an enormous way. For better or worse, only she can say.

For Taylor too, I imagine this has been challenging to navigate in her relationships. How not to emasculate the man you love?

But at the same time, how not to dim your own light because why the hell should she? 


Notably, during her long relationship with Joe Alwyn and her brief one with Matty Healy, neither man was knowingly or willingly photographed with Taylor. Not at her concerts or theirs. Not on red carpets or premieres. Not at awards shows where she won armfuls of accolades.

Which is totally understandable. No shade on these men.

Watch: Taylor Swift Slam Scooter Braun During Billboard Woman Of The Decade Speech. Post continues after video.

Video via: Billboard.

And I’m not going to presume that Taylor ever had a problem with all that. She has not spoken of it so we are left to imagine how she felt. One thing Taylor Swift is not, is a victim.

We’ve seen this in other celebrity couples. Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, was married to Gwyneth Paltrow for many years. They had two children together and they were both at the height of their fame during their marriage. And yet they too were never photographed together. Imagine the logistics of that.

Gwyneth had dated many famous men before Chris Martin and often walked red carpets with them but it was clear that he did not feel comfortable being publicly associated with his wife for reasons we can only imagine but I reckon Joe Alwyn would hard relate.


That’s gotta hurt a bit, the part where your partner won't be photographed with you. Even if you understand and agree with it. 

Travis Kelce is an entirely different fish. He was public about Taylor even before they were dating. He spoke on podcasts about how he fancied her, how he was a Swifty, how he went to her concert and wanted to meet her.

To have someone so famous in his own right and so secure in that fame to pursue you and delight in you so openly must hit different after all that hiding and secrecy. 

You can see that delight mirrored back in her own face. This is a woman who doesn’t currently have to protect the guy she's dating from the glare of the spotlight always shining on her.

He can hold his own because he’s not in her industry. He’s famous and successful at a similar level to her in his own industry. And that must be a new and I would guess, refreshing, experience for her.

So no, I don’t think it’s a PR exercise. Or publicity for her new album or her tour which will gross more than US$1 billion by the end of it. She doesn’t need it.

Clearly, she is enjoying herself.

And with the most extraordinary work ethic and creative output of any artist in living memory, Taylor Swift deserves to have some fun.

Featured Image: Getty.

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