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Taylor Swift, Vanity Fair

Mario Testino

Taylor Swift is a real-life Cinderella.

Without the aid of a fairy godmother, she has transformed herself from a self-admittedly friendless teen to one of the most popular musicians of her generation. Since last year, the "Bad Blood" singer has been riding high off the success of her first-ever pop album, 1989. Swift is frequently surrounded by a close-knit group of girlfriends that includes Lena Dunham, Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, Lorde and Emma Stone. And lest we forget, she is also in a romantic relationship with Calvin Harris, a successful DJ and producer in his own right.

Yet Swift is waiting for the glass slipper other shoe to drop.

"I hope it doesn't turn into something weird, where people have to poke holes in me, which is what's happened every other time anything good has happened to me," she says. "You can't believe too much of your positive hype, and you can't believe too much of your negative press—you live somewhere in between."

It's easy to understand why Swift feels that way. As she explains in the September issue of Vanity Fair, after her high-profile breakups with Jake Gyllenhaal, Conor Kennedy and One Direction's Harry Styles, she resented her public persona. "For the better part of 2012 and 2013, I did not go online, because I didn't like what they were saying about me. And it was so overwhelmingly inaccurate that I knew there was nothing I could do to fight. When the media decides that they don't like you, there's nothing you can do that doesn't seem desperate and irritating to everyone when you try to defend yourself," she says. "So I just had to go into my little emotional bunker and pretend there weren't bombs going off outside."

Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris


"I think that I just decided if [the media] was going to say that about me, that I was boy-crazy and so dependent on men and all that, I wasn't going to give them a reason to say that anymore, and I wasn't going to be seen around any men for years—so that's what I did," Swift says of trying to change her image. "And what ended up happening was I became happier than I had ever been before. I swore I would never ever get in another relationship if it meant changing who I was, or taking me out of that mode where my friends are everything to me."

Swift never mentions her boyfriend by name in the Vanity Fair cover story, though she does allude to him. Before Harris came along, she says she was "not looking for anything, not necessarily being open to anything, and only being open to the idea that, if I found someone who would never try to change me, that would be the only person I could fall in love with. Because, you know, I was in love with my life."

Life with Harris is a little bit sweeter, of course.

Swift adds that it's "so important" for her boyfriend to get along with her girlfriends. "In every friendship group, you've got one or two girls where you hear people say, 'Oh, she's so different around her boyfriend!' I never wanted to be that girl," the "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" singer, 25, says. "So that was a huge goal of mine: never ever become someone else for the sake of a relationship."

"If you're a people pleaser, like most of us are, you try to adapt to what signals that person is giving off. It's not about changing the fact that you're a people pleaser; it's about finding someone who is not critical," she continues. "That can be the most painful thing, trying to love someone who is critical in their nature."

Swift confirms that "yes," that has happened to her with past boyfriends. "But usually I don't make the same mistake twice," she tells Vanity Fair. "I make new ones, but I don't usually repeat my old ones."