The summer of 2016 has been quite a time to be a Taylor Swift fan. Things definitely look different this year than they did in 2015; now, Tom Hiddleston can be found in the spot on the inflatable swan that used to belong exclusively to Calvin Harris, after all. If you have a Twitter account, you already know that people are freaking out, me included. Are Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston actually dating? Whether you love them or hate them as a couple, it really doesn't matter, because they're not actually dating. In fact, I'm pretty sure that Hiddleswift is staged for Taylor Swift's next album, and it's going to be a lot like Lemonade.
Being that I (regretfully) do not belong to Swift's inner circle, I can't actually confirm that they're not together, but it's my theory, and I feel like I can say that with a certain amount of authority. I've been a Swift fan since the days of cowboy boots and faked country accents, and after a decade of the 1989 singer being my imaginary BFF, something is definitely off here. The way she's going about her relationship with Hiddleston does not correspond with the way she's handled relationships in the public eye in the past, and the only logical explanation for what's going on here is that their dates exist purely for Swift's next record. In fact, I think that the paparazzi photos we're seeing are actually just evidence that they've been filming for her soon to be released visual album, Queen Bey style. Bustle has reached out to her rep regarding this idea, but we have not yet heard back.
In the short month that they've been "dating," Swift and Hiddleston have played out an entire relationship, from the first time they were seen in public together, celebrating a holiday as a couple, meeting the parents, and everything in between. Of course, there's always that chance that Swift just moved on from Harris really quickly and got comfortable with Hiddleston even faster, I don't think that's what's happening. What makes more sense to me is that she's about to release a series of music videos that chronicle a relationship from beginning to breakup, and Hiddleston is simply her costar.
I know what you're thinking: Swift said she's taking a break from music. There's no way an album is coming! But I totally think there is. And if Beyoncé could pull off a secret album (twice), I know Swift could do the same.
It's Time For A New Album Anyway
Since Swift seemed so adamant about taking time off to actually enjoy her life instead of working all the time, I have gotten used to the fact that she may not release any new music for awhile — until now. Now, I'm pretty sure that she's going to follow tradition. Every year, since the release of her first self-titled album, Swift has dropped an album every two years like clockwork. She always follows a pattern. Her first single always hits iTunes in late summer, followed by the full album in the fall. So if she's going to be in keeping with the schedule she's made for herself, we can expect a first single (or more) anytime between the end of July and the beginning of September. That's soon — and if she and Hiddleston really are filming music videos, this is exactly when that filming would need to happen.
She Needs To Top 1989
I love all of Swift's albums for different reasons, and she keeps making sure each one is better than the last. Example? She's always written her own music, but once she gained her footing in her third album, Speak Now, she wrote every single song by herself for the first time ever. Then, for Red, she made almost every song a different genre. Then, she went totally pop in 1989. So what's next?
After the massive success that was 1989, Swift is going to have to come up with something amazing to top it. But of course, she wouldn't do exactly what Beyoncé did, because where's the fun in that? But staging an over the top, super serious relationship with a well known actor to keep everyone talking and trying to guess before revealing that it was all part of a plan for a surprise visual album? Yeah, that sounds like exactly what she would do.
She Relies On Surprising Her Fans
In her 2014 op-ed written for The Wall Street Journal , Swift said:
"I think forming a bond with fans in the future will come in the form of constantly providing them with the element of surprise. No, I did not say ‘shock’; I said ‘surprise.’ I believe couples can stay in love for decades if they just continue to surprise each other, so why can’t this love affair exist between an artist and their fans?”
That's why she brings special guests on stage at her concerts and performs different versions of her singles every tour: Surprise. So for this next album, a surprise is definitely in the works. What could be more surprising than an elaborate plan like a secret visual album?
This Relationship Is So Freaking Staged
I mean, no one can definitively say whether or not Hiddleston and Swift are really dating besides the people who are actually in the relationship themselves, but from what I know about Swift, it doesn't seem legit. She has always cultivated her image very, very carefully — especially when it comes to her relationships. Usually, she keeps things on the DL before she takes them public, and she made a lot of changes after she was the victim of insane slut-shaming. She didn't date for two years because of it, and when she and Harris were first together, she was super careful about the way she talked about her relationship. Now, we have Hiddleston wearing a t-shirt that says "I [heart] T.S." in full view of the paparazzi? Yeah, OK. That would never happen if this relationship was legit.
And speaking of the paparazzi photos... have you noticed they're all really, really good? Like, too good. There are plenty of ways to hide PDA (like, you know, wait 'til you're in a room with a door that closes) and Swift and Hiddleston don't seem to be trying to hide anything. They're always in a range that ensures a clear shot of them walking hand in hand or kissing. Paparazzi are good, but they're not magicians. And something tells me they've been tipped off to Swift and Hiddleston's outings.
In fact, Swift & Harris Might Even Still Be Together
Let's take it back to the way Swift usually treats her relationships. Harris was really the first boyfriend she ever spoke publicly about, even calling their relationship "magical" in her cover interview with Vogue earlier this year. In Swift's career, she's never spoken with so much assurance in a relationship, so for her to say those things about Harris — and to share bits and pieces of their life together on social media — she had to be 100 percent sure of him and what they had. Because of this, I was totally shocked to find out that they split in May. But maybe they're still together?
Think about it: How does a couple go from a strong unit to broken up that quickly? Usually, there would have been rumors about trouble in paradise before their breakup became official. And if they really were over, I can't see Swift flaunting her next relationship like this. Even if they're not together, they obviously cared for each other, and to me, Swift seems like the kind of person who wouldn't want to hurt Harris, together or apart. Like I said earlier, she carefully cultivates her image. I don't think that this is something she'd choose to let the world see.
This part of my theory seems far fetched, yes, but let's remember that we only see what Swift wants us to see, when she wants us to see it. Just like it's totally possible that Beyoncé and Jay-Z never had marital problems despite what Lemonade told us, I'm willing to believe that she and Harris are still together and will resume their relationship publicly after the surprise is over. She's controlling her own narrative, and if she really is getting creative with it, it's going to be awesome to see how all this plays out.
While the rest of you are freaking out about whether or not Swift and Hiddleston will be headed down the aisle sometime in the next week, I'll just sit back and enjoy the show. I'm fully prepared to eat my words if I'm wrong, but I'm also pretty sure that Swift is about to drop the best, most unexpected visual album experience on us ever. Take your time, Swift. I'm ready to hear my new favorite songs when you're ready to share them.
Images: Giphy (5)