Iâ€™ll say it right out: I was an early Taylor Swift adopter. I liked her from the first song of hers I heard on the radioâ€”on the country station, which is where she started. It was a ballad called â€śTim McGraw,â€ť and to me, it captured perfectly the poignancy of love found and then lost. It was hard to believe the writer was only 16 years old.
Like Taylorâ€™s other fans, Iâ€™ve followed her ever since, and her musicâ€™s still impossibly catchyâ€”perfect pop popcorn. But I can no longer enjoy it the way I used to, because Iâ€™m so worried about Ms. Swift.
I was â€¦ well, letâ€™s just say concerned when she started pairing around with noted lothario John Mayer, whoâ€™s a dozen years older than she is. Her fling with Jake Gyllenhaal, also much older, gave a hint of a pattern; â€śWell, sheâ€™s got daddy issues,â€ť I figured. But then came high-schooler Conor Kennedy, four years younger than she was, which just seemed wrongâ€”what would the two of them talk about, gym class? She followed that up with fellow pop icon Harry Styles, of the British boy band One Direction. These â€śrelationships,â€ť plus earlier ones with Twilight Saga heartthrob Taylor Lautner and Jonas brother Joe, might be with a wide range of guys, but they had one striking thing in common: None of them lasted longer than a few months.
I have a daughter Taylorâ€™s age. Marcy isnâ€™t famous, and she hasnâ€™t had quite as extensive a dating history. Most of her relationships lasted about a year before she and her beaux broke up and moved on. I understand that a schedule that includes appearances at the Grammys, the American Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music Awards, not to mention the Oscars and singing with goats, makes for a hectic personal life. But the remarkably similar landscape of Swiftâ€™s hookupsâ€”meet sweet, become an insta-couple, then part after a hundred days or soâ€”arouse the suspicion that sheâ€™s, well, using these guys. That she needs the jolt of new romance, and the equally vital jolt of new romance dissolving, to fuel her creative fires.
Which poses a terrible dilemma for her: How do you dare to become settled? If your muse depends on reenactment of the verse-verse-bridge-verse pattern so familiar from your musicâ€”the tremulous beginnings, the tumultuous middles, the sad and bitter endsâ€”how do you ever find the guts to settle down and risk having that muse slip away forever, lost in the humdrum cycle of the everyday?
Iâ€™ve been thinking about this, I guess, because my daughter seems to have found a guy who just might be â€śthe one.â€ť Their relationship, compared to those sheâ€™s had before this, is pretty calm and settled. Marcy seems to have gotten past the need for constant drama that marked so many of her earlier match-ups; I get far fewer phone calls in which she moans that â€śwe never go anywhereâ€ť or sobs that he just doesnâ€™t understand. And I get more calls in which sheâ€™s clearly puzzling over how to work some snag in the relationship out; sheâ€™s willing to do that now, instead of just blowing stuff up and out of proportion. Itâ€™s been really neat to watch this growth, especially because her dad and I and her brother are all so fond of this particular young man.
And itâ€™s heartening because so much of the TV that Marcy watches encouragesâ€”no, relies onâ€”women erupting in tears and shouting and cursing and throwing wine and otherwise indulging in general bad behavior. Those dreadful Real Housewives harpies entertain her for hours on end; sheâ€™ll come home to visit and watch 12-hour marathons of their awfulness. For a long time, I was afraid theyâ€™d become her role models for relationships.
But sheâ€™s apparently decided that watching Sturm und Drang is preferable to living it. Thank God. Which frees me up from those emotion-laden phone calls and lets me worry about Taylor instead of her. I donâ€™t want the music to stop; I enjoy it too damned much, and I admire its creator enormously. But I hope she figures out a way to stay happy for more than a few months at a time.