What Taylor Swift Reveals About Matty Healy on Tortured Poets Department

Taylor Swift doesn’t kiss and tell — but the lyrics of her new album The Tortured Poets Department may offer fans some insight into her relationship with Matty Healy.

On Tortured Poets, which came out April 19, Swift chronicles various stages of love, from the excitement of new romance to the devastating end of a relationship that had forever potential.

While the Grammy winner, 34, doesn’t name-check The 1975 frontman, a number of songs on the record seem to reference the star, whom Swift dated for several months in the spring of 2023, nearly a decade after they first sparked romance rumors.

On “Guilty as Sin?” Swift — who dated actor Joe Alwyn for six years before their breakup went public in April 2023 — sings about having strong romantic feelings and “fatal fantasies” for someone from her past while in a relationship with someone else.

The song contains several overt references to Healy; in the opening line, Swift sings about the object of her affections sending her the 1989 synth-pop song “The Downtown Lights” by the Scottish band The Blue Nile.

Healy, 35, has called The Blue Nile his “favorite band of all time,” and has said in multiple interviews that The 1975’s song “Love It If We Made It” was inspired by “The Downtown Lights.”

“‘Love If We Made It’ is based on a song by the Blue Nile called ‘Downtown Lights.’ That’s another one where I wanted to reference that song; I didn’t want to hide away from referencing it,” Healy told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “I wanted it to be f—ing obvious to people that know.”

Later, on “The Black Dog,” Swift shouts out another favorite band of Healy’s in the pop-punk group The Starting Line. The 1975 covered the band’s 2002 song “The Best of Me” in concert in April and May 2023, days before Swift and Healy were first seen holding hands. “The Best of Me” tells the story of two lovers who spent time apart, but eventually found their way back to one another after “missing each other too much to have had to let go.”

“I just don’t understand how you don’t miss me / In The Black Dog when someone plays The Starting Line / And you jump up, but she’s too young / To know this song / That was intertwined in the magic fabric of our dreaming,” Swift sings.

On “Guilty as Sin?” Swift sings about “recalling things we never did” and “long[ing] for our trysts,” questioning whether she can be considered guilty of cheating if she’s never physically been with the person she’s thinking about.

Then on “Fresh Out the Slammer,” Swift — who is currently dating NFL star Travis Kelce — sings about feeling ready and able to dive into a long-simmering bond with someone after exiting a different relationship that was holding her back and making her feel trapped.

The song contains lyrics about “runnin’ back home” to someone, and being “at the starting line” of something new — and also hints that her new love is not American, as she sings that she’s returning “to the one who says I’m the girl of his American dreams.” (Both Healy and Alwyn are British.)

Taylor Swift and Matty Healy leaving a New York City recording studio in May 2023.

Robert Kamau/GC Images


Healy and Swift first met in the fall of 2014, and rumors that they were an item swirled after Swift attended several 1975 concerts and rocked band merch (Healy also wore a shirt on stage that featured her 1989 album cover). They struck up a romance that went public in May 2023 — and though they were broken up by June, the fling was not well-received by some of Swift’s fans due to controversial comments Healy made and laughed at, and later apologized for, on a podcast.

Swift appears to address criticisms from fans on songs like “I Can Fix Him (No Really I Can)” (on which she convinces herself that she can change the ways of the man she loves in spite of his “revolting” jokes and the world’s certainty that he’s bad news) and “But Daddy I Love Him,” on which she says she’s paying no mind to haters amid her “true love” with a “wild boy.”

The title track, “The Tortured Poets Department,” also seems to reference Healy, and its title appears to be a joke aimed at him for bringing a typewriter to her apartment in the vein of famed poets like Dylan Thomas.

“You left your typewriter at my apartment / Straight from the Tortured Poets Department / I think some things I never say / Like, ‘Who uses typewriters anyway?’” she sings.

The fact that Healy has previously spoken of his affinity for typewriters lends credence to the theory that the song is in fact about him; in 2018, he told GQ that he “really” likes working on typewriters and putting pen to paper — and even hinted at having crushes on unnamed “pop stars.”

Matty Healy performing during Phoebe Bridgers’ opening set at the Eras Tour.
Lisa Lake/TAS23/Getty Images

“The thing is with typewriters, and writing with pen to paper, there’s a kind of an element of commitment that goes with the ceremony of it… It requires you to concentrate a bit better,” he said. “So I think it’s important to have a [note]book. So it’s mainly like, stories that I write about my dreams of being in love with other pop stars.”

On the song, Swift sings about her partner smoking, then eating “seven bars of chocolate,” which could be a reference to The 1975’s breakthrough 2013 hit “Chocolate.” She also refers to him as a “tattooed golden retriever,” and Healy is heavily tattooed.

The song hints that the relationship is not without its drawbacks, but that ultimately, Swift would be thrilled if it ended in marriage (“[You] awaken with dread, pounding nails in your head / But I’ve read this one where you come undone / I chose this cyclone with you,” she sings). 

Later, she sings of a moment where the object of her affections told a mutual friend named Lucy that “you’d kill yourself if I ever leave” — and Swift had said that to another mutual friend named Jack, which made her felt “seen.”

It’s unclear if the names were chosen at random, but Jack Antonoff cowrote the song with Swift and also produced The 1975’s fifth album Being Funny in a Foreign Language. Lucy Dacus, meanwhile, is a member of the trio Boygenius with Phoebe Bridgers, and Bridgers opened for Swift on the Eras Tour and is also a close friend of Healy’s.

Taylor Swift performing at the Eras Tour in August.

John Shearer/Getty


“At dinner you take my ring off my middle finger and put it on the one people put wedding rings on / And that’s the closest I’ve come to my heart exploding,” Swift sings on the track.

The joy felt in the lyrics of “The Tortured Poets Department” appears to be short-lived, however. On “loml,” Swift sings about rekindling an old flame, only to see the relationship disintegrate as quickly as it began.

The song’s lyrics tell the story of someone “waltzing back” into her life after first meeting as “kids,” and how he told her she “reformed” him and was the love of his life. The promises were empty, though, and she calls the song’s subject a “con man” who sold “a fool a get-love-quick scheme” with a “counterfeit” love.

“It was legendary / It was momentary / It was unnecessary / Should’ve let it stay buried,” she sings of returning to the former flame. “Oh what a valiant roar / What a bland goodbye / The coward claimed he was a lion / I’m combing through the braids of lies / ‘I’ll never leave’ / ‘Nevermind.’”

In “Down Bad,” she sings about feeling “stranded” by the person she loves, and on “I Can Do It with a Broken Heart,” Swift tells the world how difficult it was to perform each night of the Eras Tour with a smile on her face despite her heartbreak.

On “The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived,” Swift rips into a romantic partner for leading her on and making her believe they were in love, then leaving without a trace and ruining her summer.

Taylor Swift and Matty Healy.

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic, Samir Hussein/WireImage


“It wasn’t sexy once it wasn’t forbidden / I would’ve died for your sins / Instead I just died inside,” she sings. “And you deserve prison but you won’t get time / You’ll slide into inboxes and slip through the bars / You crashed my party and your rental car / You said normal girls were ‘boring’ / But you were gone by the morning.”

The song makes references to a man in a “Jehovah’s Witness suit” who “tried to buy some pills from a friend of friends of mine”; while on tour with The 1975, Healy wears a suit onstage, and he’s also been open about his past struggles with substance abuse. Healy has said in interviews that he went to rehab to treat a heroin addiction in 2017.

On “The Alchemy,” Swift seemingly makes reference to those past struggles with the lyrics, “He jokes that it’s heroin / But this time with an ‘e.’”

In June, a source told PEOPLE that Swift and Healy were “no longer romantically involved,” and that while their relationship was “a good time,” it “ran its course.” Swift started dating Kelce, 34, in the summer of 2023, while Healy has been dating model Gabbriette Bechtel since September.

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