Taylor remembers it all too well – as most women would.
Last week, Taylor Swift released her long-anticipated re-recorded album, Red. Alongside it came an unabridged 10-minute version of All Too Well, a 2012 song about heartbreak, loss, and remembering it all.
Swifties have long considered the track to be a direct reference to Taylor’s relationship with Jake Gyllenhaal, a three-month whirlwind romance that saw the pair flaunt their love on a Thanksgiving Day stroll.
The rereleased song and the accompanying video features the oftentimes brutal lyrics about ‘weeping in a party bathroom’ when the protagonist’s lover fails to attend her 21st, and leaving a scarf ‘at your sister’s house / and you’ve still got it in your drawer, even now.’
Although Taylor has never confirmed – or denied – that the song is about Jake, fans have long been convinced that it is in fact a re-imagining of that relationship, one that inevitably still creeps into Taylor’s thoughts from time to time.
And why shouldn’t it? Three months can be a long time at 21, and three months can be a long time at any age. Significant relationships aren’t marked by time passing, but by the relationships themselves; the people involved at the time, and who they go onto become.
Taylor and Jake’s relationship has long been criticised for the significant age gap between the two (she was 20 and he was nine years her senior). All Too Well seemingly references this gap with the line ‘I was never good at telling jokes but the punchline goes / I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age.’
The song’s rerelease has led to an abundance of women (on TikTok, nonetheless) considering their own past relationships with older men; how they viewed those relationships at the time, what they expected, and what was expected of them.
For many, hindsight grants a reassessment, a fresh perspective of a time where such relationships were seen as entirely normal, now mired by realisations, acute understanding, and of course, personal growth.
What’s more is that shorter relationships can often end suddenly. Some of them are grossly one-sided. Many of them end via text. A lot of the time, people are left without closure; an unexpected disappearance that probably makes total sense to one person and little to the other.
They can be ruthless, jarring, and immediate. One day you think everything is fine and the next you’re deleting Instagram grid posts and wondering where it all went wrong. You’re hurting, but you’re told you shouldn’t be. You’re grieving, but is three months really anything worth grieving for?
But three months is plenty of time to fall in love. It’s enough time to make memories, to meet each other’s friends, and to consider your future together. It’s also plenty of time to fight, to become frustrated with one another, and to ultimately break up.
And it’s definitely plenty of time to still be wondering where that red scarf really went.