The Five Stages of An Affair (As Narrated by Taylor Swift)

My ranking and analysis of Taylor Swift’s five stages of an affair


Catherine Goodman , Editor-In-Chief

  1. Ivy 

First and foremost, Ivy should be revered as one of Swift’s most captivating literary works of all time. The language, the imagery, the figurative devices, and the overall melody combine to depict a woman caught on the precipice of an affair. Burdened with an ache for a life she cannot live, the woman “grieves for the living.” While against her better judgment, the woman forsakes her vows and succumbs to the all-encompassing passion of her lover. The song Ivy, while in contradiction to any promise of monogamy and holy matrimony, satisfies the vagrant mind with temptations and depictions of “war” and love. 


  1. Illicit Affairs 

In contrast to Ivy, Illicit Affairs exposes the emotional and physical turmoil of star-crossed lovers. Swift uses a 1st person narrative to describe the phases of entering and exiting an affair. The language suggests both monotony and inner conflict as the speaker suffers the repercussions of unrequited, or more specifically, unethical love. Swift uses blunt and candid language to depict the unforgiving path of infidelity, for “what started in beautiful rooms, ends with meetings in parking lots.”


  1. Cardigan 

In her 8th studio album, Swift curates three characters tangled in a love triangle. Cardigan is written from the perspective of Betty, who is the victim of James and Augustine’s affair. Cardigan is written like a poem, dominated by sensual imagery and brimming with symbolism. The verses of the song showcase Betty’s frustrations with James’ immaturity, stating “when you are young they assume you know nothing.” The song serves to compete with the justifications of James’ affair set forth in the song Betty


  1. Should’ve Said No 

Although not bound to receive any literary accolades, Swift’s track Should’ve Said No remains timeless in its ability to spur dangerously aggressive emotions. Written for her debut album, the track is vulnerable, upbeat, and unforgiving. Partnered with the famously fierce track, Picture To Burn, these two tracks truly capture the essence of teenage angst.


  1. Getaway Car

Gaslight, Gatekeep, Getaway car. From her iconic album Reputation, Getaway Car depicts an image of a love quadrilateral. Swift writes “I wanted to leave him, I needed a reason” then proceeds to narrate a story in which she leaves the “reason” for a new beau. While not directly a plot about cheating, the storyline follows a relationship bound to crash and burn, and one member switching cars before it’s too late.