Taylor Swift once again has fans and haters talking after she suddenly teased a second song from her upcoming album, Reputation, during the Alabama-Florida State game that aired on ESPN Saturday night. She then released the full song online. In the song, Swift is clearly singing about a relationship, but what does the "I was a robber" line in "...Ready For It" mean? Judging by the lyrics surrounding it, this seems to be a commentary on Swift's dating life and the conversation that surrounded it.
"...Ready For It" starts with Swift describing a man she's into. She thinks he's probably loved a lot of women and left them "haunted" and says that he's "younger than my exes but he acts like such a man." (Harry Styles and the man Swift is reportedly seeing currently, Joe Alwyn, both come to mind. While Swift is 27, Styles is 23 and Alwyn is 26.)
In the second verse, Swift begins sing-rapping from her own perspective — or the woman's perspective if this is somehow not about her. She says,
Me, I was a robber
First time that he saw me
Stealing hearts and running off and never saying sorry
But if I’m a thief then
He can join the heist and
We’ll move into an island
These lyrics seem to be a comment on how Swift's love life has been viewed in the public eye. For years, her dating habits have been written about, and often in terms of how many men she had dated and how short the relationships were. While a normal person her age could go on dates with as many people as they wanted while seeing what worked for them, with Swift it was treated like an unusual spectacle.
This is something that Swift herself has commented on before. She told Esquire in 2014:
"I think with every celebrity story there has to be a 'Yeah, but …' Take Beyoncé: She's incredibly talented, gorgeous, perfect role model for girls, empowering women all over the world. Yeah, but … let's try to pick at her marriage. I think that every celebrity has that. And predominantly women, unfortunately ... I would date someone, figure out we weren't compatible or figure out we didn't work out, and then we'd break up. That seems like a very normal thing for a young 20-something to do, and that is my biggest scandal."
In "...Ready For It" Swift is singing about the way both parties were seen, not necessarily the way they both are. She sings about her assumptions about the guy — that he ghosted women, that he was someone who didn't try too hard — and then she sings about the assumptions people, the guy perhaps included, made about her. Swift might not actually have been a "robber" of hearts, but she definitely knew she was thought of that way.