Rumours are circulating around Taylor Swift and American football star Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. Gossip has been circulating amongst us Swifties since July, when Kelce reportedly expressed disappointment that he couldn’t give her a friendship bracelet (a Swiftie tradition) that bore his phone number at one of her Eras Tour concerts.
Our excitement really went into overdrive when our Queen seemingly accepted an invitation to attend the Kansas City Chiefs home game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday; sitting next to Kelce’s mother, no less, at Arrowhead Stadium.
Are they actually dating? I have no idea; but I have a sneaking feeling that – if it’s true – Travis could – just maybe – be the one.
Why? Well, you only have to look at her string of failed relationships with famous exes to know why this feels so different. I mean, look at who she’s left behind: Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joe Alwyn (and nobody, please, mention Matty Healy). Nothing’s yet been confirmed by either Swift or Kelce – but something about it just fits.
And I’m not the only one who thinks so. There’s a tireless Swiftie optimism circling around her love life. We just want her to be happy. That’s why there was so much celebration when Entertainment Tonight posted a series of photos and videos capturing Taylor’s responses to Sunday’s game on its Instagram account. “She looks insanely happy and I’m here for it”, commented one user; while another wrote, “So cute she’s with his mom,” and a third enthused: “Taylor just so deserves to be happy!!!!”
But the real beauty of this maybe-romance was encapsulated by a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) which said: “i love that taylor herself is living in a taylor-swift-coded fantasy like this is the stuff she would dream about when she was a teenager writing love songs in her bedroom [sic]”.
I couldn’t agree more. Yes, for Swifties like me there is joy in even the vaguest possibility that Taylor – whose heart has been broken time and time again by people who didn’t deserve it (here’s looking at Healy) – is prepared to risk being vulnerable. There’s delight, too, in her fanbase rallying to her side to cheer her on if there’s even the slightest chance that, this time, she might find everlasting love.
And there’s beauty in the idea of someone actually treating Swift well; of giving her a love story as close to a modern-day fairytale as it’s possible to get. The friendship bracelet story – if it’s true – is deeply romantic, not because it shows Kelce’s keen interest in Swift, but because he wanted to be part of a recent Swiftie tradition that has its roots in “You’re on Your Own, Kid” from Midnights.
Respecting someone else’s life and work is possibly one of the most romantic gestures of all. (And for context, just remind yourself of all the times she wasn’t even offered the bare minimum – Jake Gyllenhaal allegedly missing her 21st birthday, for example, then reportedly dumping her out of the blue).
We all want Swift to have a fairytale ending – because it’s so clear that’s what she’s been dreaming of, ever since she was a teenager. Her seminal song of 2008, “Love Story”, is fairytale-101: “You’ll be the prince and I’ll be the princess.” In the same album, Fearless, fairytale references are front and centre: “Forever & Always” begins with the classic fairytale opener, “Once upon a time”; and Fearless (Taylor’s Version) actually features a song titled “Today Was A Fairytale”.
The idea of teenage Swift writing songs about fairytale love stories – but never quite finding them, until now – makes my heart simultaneously break and swell. Because once I actually started dating, I realised it wasn’t the smooth sailing that watching romcoms at an all-girls boarding school had assured me it would be.
Whether it was brutal break-ups that saw me doubled over with a pain in my abdomen from crying so much, or the more mundane reality of texts with strangers from dating apps getting steadily shorter before slowly fizzling out, I realised fairly soon – as Swift already knew when writing songs for Fearless – that romances often don’t have a happy ending.
And no, we don’t need to be coupled up in order to be happy. But Swift clearly hasn’t given up on the love she wrote about when she was younger. And neither should we.
I’ve given up on dating plenty of times. I’ve called my mum in tears, gasping “I just can’t do that to myself again”. I know how much bravery it takes to even put yourself out there – it feels like peeling an outer layer of yourself away. It can hurt – really hurt.
I’m with someone now, and when we first started dating, even saying the words “I really like you” would catch in my throat. It wasn’t because I didn’t like him; it was because the idea of making myself vulnerable – especially with someone I was teetering on the edge of really, really liking – was so terrifying. But I did it, because I knew this one was worth it. And that’s the reason Swifties like me are so hopeful that the Kelce rumours are true.
It shows huge bravery on Swift’s part. It shows us all that it is possible, actually, to remove our hearts from the secure glass boxes we’ve carefully locked them inside; that it’s possible to dust them off before presenting them to someone else for safekeeping, because we’ve decided this person is worth it. It shows that we can be hurt, over and over, but we can pick ourselves up and try again.
I sincerely hope Kelce is “the one”; that he is her modern-day fairytale. Because what it shows, above all things, is that it pays to be Fearless.