Country-pop songstress Taylor Swift is playing two sold-out shows in Edmonton on June 25 and 26, where she’ll delight fans with her catchy, confessional songs like “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “Red.” Though Swift has earned accolades and attention for her own lyrics, musical abilities, and record-breaking album sales, her erratic love life has been the foundation of much of her celebrity reputation.
Swift’s love life has been the target of much parody and scrutiny as critics mock the fact that she always seems to be dating someone new and suggest she is a serial dater by choice to get ideas for songs. After all, there’s no way she would have been able to produce such successful albums if it weren’t for her brief relationships and tumultuous breakups that include the likes of Joe Jonas, John Mayer, Jake Gyllenhaal, and the rest — right? However, it seems to me that Swift’s so-called “serial dating” love life is typical of (or, at least, not unheard of for) a woman her age and so the fact that she is regularly patronized is unsettling.
For instance, her tour opener Ed Sheeran has been asked to comment on Swift’s love life, and various media reports describe his tone as “defensive” as he explains that “the rumour that she dates a lot of people is a misconception . . . [i]n the time that I’ve known her, which has been almost two years now, she has dated two people.”
Why is there a need to defend Swift’s dating behaviour? Why are Sheeran’s comments being used to excuse and justify Swift’s (alleged) numerous romantic partners? This implies that it’s abhorrent and wrong to date multiple people without ever settling into a serious relationship with one of them. This seems like an odd opinion to have — dating is what you do when you’re single, right? And, if none of those dates are worth pursuing a long-term commitment you remain single and continue to date. Right? RIGHT? A critique of (inadvertent) serial dating seems to condemn regular dating rituals, and suggest a preference for the alternative: settle for one of those people you dated, and force a relationship that may not be ideal but will be good enough.
While I have no way of knowing whether Swift’s many dates have been sincere attempts at relationships or whether they’ve just been “research” material for new music, I will say that, on the surface, her dating habits appear not to be atypical in the contemporary dating game. Normal women (aka: those without celebrity status) shouldn’t feel bad that they’ve had multiple — two or ten or twenty or more — first dates.
Admittedly, I couldn’t stop laughing at the tweets that accompanied the Twitter hashtag #haylorbreakupsongs that was trending for days after she broke up with One Direction’s Harry Styles. I am eagerly awaiting Swift to debut her Harry-Styles-breakup-inspired-song, “I Went in the Wrong Direction.” Still, I feel that the overall mockery of Swift’s dating life is misguided. I’ve heard Swift’s dating habits been negatively described as “slutty” and “foolish” and “a bad role model.” But you know what? Settling for some guy just because you’re sick of dating is not cool. Likewise, don’t settle just because you want to prove something to your friends. I know you’re tired of being judged every time you say “but THIS time it’s different! We’ve only gone out twice, but I have a feeling he’s the one!” and then, inevitably, that relationship doesn’t work out. I know. But still — it’s not worth settling just to “prove” something.
While some of Swift’s habits appear annoying (does she really need to keep making that surprised face at awards shows?) it’s not her dating “habits” that should be the subject of any scrutiny. Let’s say that Swift really isn’t dating these boys just for publicity or inspiration — what if she really believed that Connor Kennedy was the one? Then, when that didn’t work, what if she really believed Harry Styles was the one?
Well, she’d be like me when I thought my last romantic prospect had lasting potential… and then ended things as I learned more and more (and liked less and less) about him. Or she’d be just like you when you went out with that really funny barista and he turned out to be actually quite creepy and listened to an uncomfortable amount of dubstep. Sometimes, you’re just not that into him. Or he’s just not that into you. Why would you continue to pursue a relationship that clearly isn’t going anywhere and that is more of a hindrance than a benefit to you? There shouldn’t be pressure to make a relationship “official” quickly, in an attempt to make it last longer. I know some couples that have been together years and are just the most miserable human beings because they’re not happy with their partner, but they feel like being together for a long time or being each other’s first “love” or first “real relationship” is somehow more important than it is to be with someone who makes you more happy than anyone else you’ve met (or, you know, whatever way you like to feel when you’re in love.)
So: don’t be afraid to be like Taylor — go on dates. Lots of them. You’ll eventually find someone that you don’t want to stop going on dates with, and then your Taylor Swift-like love life will change from the tone of “Red” to “Love Story”.
Image courtesy of rwoan on Flickr