The songwriters were linked in 2009 and 2010 after collaborating on Mayer’s single “Half of My Heart.” At the time, Swift told Elle that she’d “been such a big fan of John for such a long time” and was “really excited” about teaming up with the critically acclaimed artist.
Their duet was part of Mayer’s 2009 record, Battle Studies. By the following year, however, things appeared to turn sour.
In 2010, Swift penned “Dear John,” a not-so-subtle breakup anthem detailing a romance with an older man. (When they were rumored to be dating, the Pennsylvania native was 19 and Mayer was 32.)
“Dear John, I see it all, now it was wrong / Don’t you think 19 is too young / To be played by your dark twisted games, when I loved you so? / I should’ve known,” she sings, instantly causing dedicated Swifties to believe she was referencing the “Daughters” crooner.
Elsewhere in the track, Swift reflects, “Well maybe it’s me and my blind optimism to blame / Maybe it’s you and your sick need to give love then take it away / And you’ll add my name to your long list of traitors who don’t understand / And I’ll look back and regret how I ignored when they said ‘run as fast as you can.'”
Before his brief connection with the “Cardigan” songstress, Mayer was linked to Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson, Minka Kelly and Jennifer Aniston. He had also been the subject of a number of controversies, including comparing Simpson to “sexual napalm” and using the N-word in a 2010 Playboy interview. (He has since apologized.)
While Swift hasn’t frequently discussed her history with Mayer, the “Assassin” singer didn’t hold back about how “Dear John” made him feel. In 2012, he told Rolling Stone that he was “humiliated” by the lyrics, calling it “cheap songwriting” to directly reference an ex. The following year, however, he appeared to do something similar on his song “Paper Doll,” which fans assume is about the CMA Award winner.
Though he initially wasn’t happy with being used as Swift’s inspiration, Mayer later told pal Andy Cohen that he’d be “jazzed” if his exes still wrote about him.
“Sometimes, I hope it’s about me. Sometimes, it’s a really good song,” the “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” artist said in February 2021. “I don’t think it’s a dirty admission. Sometimes, a song is so good, I go, ‘Man, I hope that’s about me.’ … I’ll check everyone’s music out. I’m a fan.”
Swift, for her part, doesn’t particularly care how her music makes her former flames feel. While promoting Red (Taylor’s Version) in November 2021, she told Seth Meyers, “I haven’t thought about their experience, to be honest.”
Scroll down for a look back at the musicians’ messy history: