If Styles hadn’t yet adapted to global social-media attention, he was tested in 2012, when he met Taylor Swift at an awards show. Their second date, a walk in Central Park, was caught by paparazzi. Suddenly the couple were global news. They broke up the next month, reportedly after a rocky Caribbean vacation; the romance was said to have ended with at least one broken heart.
The relationship is a subject he’s famously avoided discussing. “I gotta pee first. This might be a long one,” he says. He rises to head to the bathroom, then adds, “Actually, you can say, ‘He went for a pee and never came back.‘ ”
He returns a couple of minutes later. “Thought I’d let you stew for a while,” he says, laughing, then takes a gulp of green juice. He was surprised, he says, when photos from Central Park rocketed around the world. “When I see photos from that day,” he says, “I think: Relationships are hard, at any age. And adding in that you don’t really understand exactly how it works when you’re 18, trying to navigate all that stuff didn’t make it easier. I mean, you’re a little bit awkward to begin with. You’re on a date with someone you really like. It should be that simple, right? It was a learning experience for sure. But at the heart of it – I just wanted it to be a normal date.”
He’s well aware that at least two of Swift’s songs – “Out of the Woods” and “Style” – are considered to be about their romance. (“You’ve got that long hair slicked back, white T-shirt,” she sang in “Style.”) “I mean, I don’t know if they’re about me or not …” he says, attempting gallant discretion, “but the issue is, she’s so good, they’re bloody everywhere.” He smiles. “I write from my experiences; everyone does that. I’m lucky if everything [we went through] helped create those songs. That’s what hits your heart. That’s the stuff that’s hardest to say, and it’s the stuff I talk least about. That’s the part that’s about the two people. I’m never going to tell anybody everything.” (Fans wondered whether “Perfect,” a song Styles co-wrote for One Direction, might have been about Swift: “And if you like cameras flashing every time we go out/And if you’re looking for someone to write your breakup songs about/Baby, I’m perfect.”)
Was he able to tell her that he admired the songs? “Yes and no,” he says after a long pause. “She doesn’t need me to tell her they’re great. They’re great songs … It’s the most amazing unspoken dialogue ever.”
Is there anything he’d want to say to Swift today? “Maybe this is where you write down that I left!” He laughs, and looks off. “I don’t know,” he finally says. “Certain things don’t work out. There’s a lot of things that can be right, and it’s still wrong. In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together. You’re celebrating the fact it was powerful and made you feel something, rather than ‘this didn’t work out, and that’s bad.’ And if you run into that person, maybe it’s awkward, maybe you have to get drunk … but you shared something. Meeting someone new, sharing those experiences, it’s the best shit ever. So thank you.”
— Harry Styles talking about Taylor Swift - Rolling Stone May 2017 (x)