Time for a Deep Dive on Taylor Swift’s New Song “Exile” and Its Revealing Toxic Relationship Lyrics

It’s a beautiful day to be a Taylor Swift fan, isn’t it? TBH, it’s always a good day to be a Taylor Swift fan, especially during these past few months because Taylor blessed us all with not one, but two albums—that is the powerhouse duo of Folklore and Evermore—in a five-month span. And BOY, are those albums full of songs to put you in your MF feels.

Perhaps the most tears-inducing, ugly-sob-underneath-the-covers song between the Folklore and Evermore? Yep, that’ll be “Exile” featuring Bon Iver (aka the dude who won big at the Grammys in 2012). It’s made me cry at least five times since it came out, and yet the internet is still mulling over the lyrics to get a clearer understanding of what it’s truly about…probably because it’s up for a Grammy Award this year in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category.

But fear not—let’s break down what this sad banger is all about.

Any OG Swifties here? This line seemingly references a verse from Fearless’s “You’re Not Sorry,” which says:

All this time I was wasting
Hoping you would come around
I’ve been giving out chances every time
And all you do is let me down

This line from “Exile” also shows some parallels with “The Last Time” from Taylor’s Red album, in which she explores a failing relationship where she gives her partner one final chance to fix the damage that was done. Our girl Taylor loves consistency.

At this point, it’s clear that the relationship has turned sour, because they’re both likening their toxic behaviors to the end of a predictable movie. Instead of trying to work out their issues, Taylor chooses to “leave out the side door” (leaving their relationship behind her) because she’s had enough of trying (and failing) to make it work.

Oh, and that “side door” reference? Yep, that’s another throwback to an old gem. Remember the masterpiece that is 2010’s “Speak Now”? In that song, Taylor asks a groom to leave his bride to come run away with her and meets him at the “back door” so no one will seem them leaving together.

But now, Taylor is much more mature—she’s not settling for less. She’s done chasing down an emotionally unavailable man who can’t fully be there for her, hence “leaving through the side door,” aka wisely bowing out before things get messier.

In conclusion:

exile isn’t just a song by taylor swift, it’s a lifestyle, a reason to breathe, an escape from this cruel world filled with thieves. it’s art, the first gift you open on christmas, a hug from a loved one, everything you’ve ever wanted, everything you need. #folklore pic.twitter.com/JEElxclQYP

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