Ever since news of Taylor Swift’s reported split from long-time boyfriend Joe Alwyn surfaced last month, people appear to be working overtime to try to romantically link the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter to several male celebs. First, it was rumored to be F1 racing driver Fernando Alonso. Then, reports hinted that the “Midnights” singer had moved on with a different famous man, this time potentially Bradley Cooper. By May 4, outlets were reporting it could actually be The 1975 frontman Matty Healy that Swift is dating.

As I scroll past this wild onslaught of “bombshell” speculations every few days, I can’t help but wonder: is it really that unfathomable that a brilliant, self-made successful woman may just be . . . single?

It’s especially disappointing to see these stories centering on Swift’s love life rather than on the astonishing, Ticketmaster-crashing stadium shows of her long-anticipated “The Eras Tour.” Hot off her critically and commercially acclaimed tenth studio album, “Midnights,” which held all top 10 spots on the US Billboard Hot 100, the 33-year-old artist is also currently in the process of reclaiming the masters of her first six albums in a fearless attempt to own her music. These are all incredible feats. So why is it that rumors about who she’s dating have become the headline grabbers — a reductive centerpiece for her multifaceted life? The problem comes back to our toxic media culture and everyone who plays into the oversize speculation around Swift’s love life.

Swift has called out our society’s sexist treatment of women numerous times in her life and music. Most recently, she addressed it in her track “Lavender Haze,” perfectly deeming it “the 1950s sh*t” that we expect from women. “All they keep asking me is if I’m gonna be your bride / The only kind of girl they see is a one-night or a wife,” she laments in the second verse, which just about says it all. Even during her relationship with Alwyn, the gossipmongers didn’t exactly leave Swift in peace. While the couple largely kept details of their relationship under wraps, enjoying their time together privately and out of the spotlight, their relationship was often the subject of all sorts of bizarre rumors. If the two weren’t spotted together for months, reports would claim they’d broken up. If they were seen so much as taking a casual stroll together, they were either engaged, married, or planning to have kids. There really were no in-betweens. And that’s the dangerous binary media constantly tries to pigeonhole successful women into — and either way, God forbid we simply let a woman be on her own!

To say that tabloids’ fixation on women’s relationship status is unhealthy is an understatement. One need not go back further than 2016 to remember how brutally and incessantly Swift’s craft, as well as personal and love life, was picked apart and weaponized against her just for the sake of gossip — to the point that she had to completely step away from the public eye for more than a year before she returned with “Reputation.”

Whether Swift is dating anyone at the moment is completely beside the point. Not only is that her personal life, which no one is entitled to finding out about besides what she willingly offers up, but focusing on her love life rather than her artistry continues to set a detrimental precedent. It tells young people that not having a life partner somehow threatens to cancel out all other accomplishments, no matter how successful they are.

Swift is far from the only woman who’s been on the receiving end of this type of vile speculation, but I think it’s safe to say that she’s weathered more storms than most other women in this industry. And even though she — and her fans — have learned to tune out the problematic media coverage for the most part, it shouldn’t be entertained in the first place. While male celebs can simply exist apart from rumors about their personal life, a magnified interest in women’s love lives diminishes their talent, success, and hard work, reducing their extraordinary feats to mere extracurricular status.

As a woman who grew up in Asian culture, it was always indirectly indoctrinated into my psyche that I needed to be successful and find a suitable life partner, all before I hit my 30s. It wasn’t exactly up for negotiation. For the longest time, I resisted the idea of needing to find my other half, but at times, I’d catch myself chasing that perfect package, if only subconsciously. I never stopped to think that a partner wasn’t necessarily what I wanted but rather what was expected of me to want. Sure, it would be nice if I could find someone supportive and great, but is it the be-all and end-all of my existence? Not by a long shot.

So I still remember very distinctly when I stumbled across Cher’s iconic 1996 interview with Jane Pauley in my young adult years, where she matter-of-factly stated, “A man is not a necessity; a man is a luxury.” Watching that clip was the closest I’ve ever come to experiencing a spiritual awakening. It’s why witnessing the ongoing problematic treatment of women like Swift baffles and saddens me. It shouldn’t be a case of wonder if a woman does it all on her own, with no one but themselves to be credited for all their hard work. Women have long proved that we don’t need a partner to thrive in life, so when exactly will the rest of society catch up? It’s high time women be celebrated — for our triumphs alone.

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