The general consensus was that Joe Alwyn should be worried. When Taylor Swift, famous for her deeply personal lyrics concerning love and heartache, released her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, on April 19, fans expected most of the tracks to dissect her six-year relationship with the actor that ended in early 2023. “It was really a lifeline for me. Just the things I was going through, the things I was writing about, reminded me why songwriting actually gets me through my life,” Taylor told fans of the album, which she began working on in late 2022. “I’ve never had an album where I needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets.”

So it was a huge surprise, then, that the most emotional tracks on the album seem to be about another ex of hers: Matty Healy. “What looked at the time like a two-month rebound with a bad boy was so much more intense than anyone realized,” a source exclusively tells Life & Style of her fling with the controversial 1975 frontman, who has battled mental health issues and drug addiction and has been accused of racist, xenophobic and homophobic behavior. Though they only officially dated from April to June of 2023, the musicians had been circling each other for a decade, including during the time she was dating the mild-mannered actor. “Forget Joe,” adds the source. “Matty is the man who really broke Taylor’s heart.”

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The lyrics aren’t even very subtle. Swifties quickly deciphered lines that point to the 35-year-old rocker, such as his documented obsession with typewriters to his love of music by the Blue Nile, the Starting Line and Charlie Puth. Fans also noted how Taylor, 34, hints in several different songs at rekindling romance. “But it gets a lot darker and tormented,” says the source. “There are references to a lover’s many scandals, trying to score pills from her friends and even suggesting he would kill himself if she ever left.”

Taylor makes it clear she was equally devoted — regardless of the many red flags. On other songs, she sings about being with a provocateur who tells “revolting” jokes, and she excoriates fans who criticized her romance with a “wild boy,” making it clear she doesn’t care what they think. She also seems to indicate that after years of choosing stability with Joe, 33, “she finally opted for passion with Matty, but it quickly soured because of his lies about what he wanted for their future,” says the source, noting that Taylor sings about how the “love of my life” turned into “the loss of my life.”

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“The Smallest Man Who Ever Lived” is the most eviscerating track. “After all she put up with for him, Matty cruelly ghosted her,” says the source, “and left her devastated when she should have been basking in the success of the Eras Tour. All the drama over their split really tarnished last summer for her.”

Matty’s reaction? “He will not be surprised by the song. Him and her know what went on,” his aunt, Debbie Dedes, says. “We know a bit more about what went on than has been in the press. He’s very happy in his new relationship, so I’m sure he will be focusing on that.”
Taylor will do the same. “She has said that ‘chapter closed’ and ‘the wounds have healed,’ and she has definitely moved on,” the source says of Taylor’s 10-month romance with Travis Kelce, who gets besotted shout-outs in two of her new songs. “Some friends worry that the album makes it sound like she’s still not over Matty, but she’s madly in love with Travis. This time, she finally seems to have found the perfect guy.”