IN A POP CULTURE riddled with Lindsay Lohans and Britney Spearses and various and sundry Kardashian, Hilton, and Olsen sisters, Taylor Swift is a breath of willowy fresh air. Whatever you think of her music, she’s managed to forge an enduring career in an industry that chews up and spits out young women like so many rancid bites of horse-meat Whopper. President George Bush père, not one given to kind words, praised her as “unspoiled” and “very nice.” Michelle Obama lauded her as a role model who “has rocketed to the top of the music industry but still keeps her feet on the ground, someone who has shattered every expectation of what a 22-year old can accomplish.” Our own James Greer summed it up nicely: “She’s hugely talented and hard-working and seems to be handling the fruits of her labors with uncommon grace.”
The geeky, downtrodden everygirl identity she cultivates in her videos makes her easy for teenagers to identify with, despite the fact that Swift, by any conventional measure, is as far from geeky, downtrodden, or everygirl as it’s possible to get. At 23, she has blossomed into a beauty so egregious she might have been engineered by the Terrell Corporation. If she ever starts watching Fellini films and channeling the style of Claudia Cardinale and Anouk Aimee, like she did in that Harper’s Bazaar shoot last year, we may have to avert our eyes, lest we burst into flames like Semele.
But for all her stratospheric accomplishments, Taylor Swift has not succeeded in one arena: romance. Since becoming a celebrity, she has dated fellow musicians Joe Jonas, John Mayer, and One Direction’s Harry Styles; actors Taylor Lautner and Jake Gyllenhaal; and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s son Conor. None of these relationships lasted longer than a few months—indeed, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” charted longer than her relationship with Mayer lasted. Some observers speculate that Swift does this on purpose. To wit:
I don’t know that I’d go that far, although she did seem to revel in revenge during the Grammys. But to be fair, most 23-year-olds have similar dating patterns. Rare is the couple that hooks up at that tender age and remains together until the golden years. Whatever her motives, Swift would have better luck fishing in a different pool entirely. If you want to find a quality man, Taylor dear, what you need to do is date a writer. A real writer, I might add, not James Franco.
Here are eight reasons why:
1. Our work schedule is easily adaptable to yours.
If you’re dating a rock star, teen hearthrob, actor, or Kennedy scion, your boyfriend has a demanding schedule that requires him to spend many nights of the year away from home. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, as the old saw goes, but that burgeoning fondness is usually for the cute chick who’s where your boyfriend is, and not you. Writers, conversely, can work anywhere. We’re happy to chill in Nashville, or zip to your manse in Beverly Hills at a moment’s notice, and we’re totally fine accompanying you on the European tour or the video shoot in Toronto. This is because…
2. We don’t go on tour.
“Book tour” is really a euphemism for “handful of readings at bookstores within an hour’s drive of where we live, spread out over a few weekends the month the novel releases.” We’re home. A lot. And we’re all too happy to procrastinate by hanging out with you and slinging gossip about Emma Stone and Selena Gomez. Furthermore, because we don’t go on tour…
3. We don’t have groupies.
Some of us may have middle-aged housewives who have had a few too many glasses of chardonnay at the Wednesday book club meeting, true, and God bless them. But they can’t hold a candle (or a Kindle) to you.
4. We’re not constantly looking to upgrade.
If we’re your beau, we’re going to teach you the meaning of the word uxorious (and probably a few other big words, too). We’re not going to worry about your Q rating, or what your next single is, or how being with you affects our “brand,” and we’re certainly not going to leave you for Minka Kelly. Now, if Minka came calling, we’d at least be tempted; we’re not made of stone. But she won’t come calling, because…
5. Our job doesn’t involve getting naked and having simulated sex with beautiful naked women.
A good actor whose character is supposed to fall in love with Anne Hathaway may well fall in obsessive love with her in real life, especially if he spends a few days lying in bed with her, not even wearing flesh-colored briefs, nibbling at her earlobes and neck, tweaking her nipples, and plunging his tongue down her quivering throat. When a writer gets naked and has simulated sex with Anne Hathaway, he does not employ as a prop the actual person of Anne Hathaway.
6. We’re not materialistic.
According to Forbes, you raked in $57 million last year, meaning that your income combined with ours works out to something like $57 million. Unless we are Stephen King or Tom Clancy or the guy who wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events, we do not have, and will never have, more dough than you. (We’re not net-worthy!) The only portfolios we own are stuffed with pages of old manuscripts. But we’re not gold-diggers, either. And we add something to the equation that money can’t buy, namely…
7. We provide gravitas.
Put it this way: What makes you sound more like a woman of substance when you introduce your beau at a dinner party? Choose one: a) “This is my boyfriend, who played a werewolf in the Twilight movies and is best known for removing his shirt,” or, b) “This is my boyfriend, the National Book Award winner who used to be the president of PEN. He has a new novel out.” Harry Styles is cute and all, and for all I know can calculate long division in his well-coiffed head, but if you want to be taken seriously, date someone serious.
But the most compelling reason is…
8. We’re loyal.
We may know drama, but we want to write about it, not live with it. We won’t be hiding away to find some piece of mind in some bullshit indie record, that’s for sure. Your dog will leave before we will.
So there you have it, Taylor. If you’re content to parlay broken hearts into chart scorchers, more power to you. But if you genuinely want to find true love, here’s what you have to do: Subscribe to Tin House and the Paris Review. Underwrite a literary magazine (or, better yet, an up-and-coming cultural criticism website). Work the comment boards at The Nervous Breakdown. Bookmark The Millions and HTML Giant and Gina Frangello’s column at The Rumpus. Read Infinite Jest and Green Girl and Leaving Atocha Station and Stone Arabia and Jess Walter’s new short story collection and the complete works of Haruki Murakami. Learn to love story. Lobby for Tao Lin to name his next heroine “Taylor Swift” instead of “Dakota Fanning.” Stalk Miranda July. Or just spend a few days at Balthazar with Lauren Cerand, and do whatever she tells you.
Find the great American novelist of your generation, Taylor, and date him! It will be good for you. It will be good for the world of letters. Everyone wins—except that sleazebag Gyllenhaal.
And if it doesn’t work out, hey, you can always write another break-up song. We’ll even help out with the lyrics.