Too Young To Be Messed With?

Taylor Swift and John Mayer performing “Half of My Heart” in 2009.


Taylor Swift and John Mayer performing “Half of My Heart” in 2009.

Giana Mejia, Photojournalist

Taylor Swift is often associated with being a “lyrical genius” and writing songs about her past relationships. In her new album Midnights, she includes a song, “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” in her “3 a.m edition” of the album. It is believed to be about her past relationship with John Mayer when she was 19, who was 32 at the time. However, this is not her first time writing about him. In her album, Speak Now, she includes the song “Dear John,” which is a direct attack on his relationship with her. Now Taylor Swift is the same age he was at the time, 32. So why after 13 years is she still writing about him?

Be aware of power differentials, reputations, and don’t think it’s your job to take on the challenge to fix ANYONE.”

— Melinda Heim (S)

Before John Mayer and Taylor Swift’s relationship, the two had some previous interactions with each other. John Mayer reached out to Taylor Swift through Twitter about recording a song with her. As a fan of his at the time, she was excited by this idea. Later led to their song, “Half of My Heart,” which was released in 2009, the same year they began dating. Although it was never confirmed when they officially became a couple, it is speculated to have begun a few months later in December 2009, and lasted a few months into 2010. After breaking off the relationship, Taylor Swift released “Dear John,” shocking fans and even John Mayer. Now 13 years later, she has released the latest song about him, “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.”

Although their relationship only reportedly lasted for a few months, the aftermath of the relationship has left a lasting effect on Taylor Swift. The age gap raised concern amongst many people at the time. Due to the age gap, the two had very different maturity levels. Taylor Swift writes, “Give me back my girlhood, it was mine first.” She implies that he took away her purity and youth. Having to carry such heavy emotional weight from someone older than her could lead to lasting psychological effects (NSPCC). Throughout the song, she mentions how she wishes she could take it back and criticizes the age gap within the relationship. 

The song appears to have many parallels to the 2010 track, “Dear John.” Clearly, this relationship was extremely toxic and affected her deeply. Despite having only been together a few months, the trauma she gained from the relationship had stayed with her. In the song “Dear John,” she seems to be more hurt by the relationship. She sings, “The girl in the dress, cried the whole way home.” Now, as she views the relationship later on, she seems more upset than sad, and wrote, “Living for the thrill of hitting you where it hurts.” The difference in tone reflects growth in character and maturity. 

Taylor Swift acknowledges that she allowed herself into this relationship. She expresses her frustration not only with John Mayer but with herself. Many teenagers blindly enter relationships thinking it’s love, but ultimately end up hurt and angry. Melinda Heim (S) explains, “The desire to want an all-encompassing love is strong in lots of teens (especially girls, let’s be honest)…someone who knows your mood by taking one look at your face, someone who can read between the lines of what you’re saying, someone who makes you feel unconditionally loved and treasured no matter what…is that a realistic expectation in a high school relationship? Be aware of power differentials, reputations, and don’t think it’s your job to take on the challenge to fix ANYONE.” Taylor Swift is not the only teenage girl to quickly enter a toxic relationship. Many girls may confuse the feeling of love vs. infatuation, where they believe what they have is great, but in hindsight it is toxic and they do not truly care for one another.

Even after all these years, the relationship still haunts her. She reveals the traumatic experiences she went through as a teenager. She blames John Mayer for having taken away her “girlhood” and wishes she could go back. Clearly, she is angry for having let him into her life. She shows a vulnerable side of herself, questioning how things would’ve been different if they had not dated. The song serves as an apology to her own self for having to carry the trauma from the relationship.