Taylor Swift and Harry Styles Went on Their Iconic Central Park Date 10 Years Ago, Inspiring These Songs

We may be long "Out of the Woods," but Taylor Swift and Harry Styles' iconic 2012 date in New York City will never go out of "Style" for us: Look back on all of the songs their relationship inspired.

By Tierney Bricker Dec 02, 2022 4:00 PMTags
Watch: Taylor Swift Makes SURPRISE Appearance at 2022 AMAs

Exactly 10 years ago, when we were still at the height of Gossip Girl parlance, we had one of the greatest eyewitness sightings of our time. Spotted: Two of the world's biggest pop stars going on their second date in Central Park on Dec. 2, 2012.

Yes, it has been a decade since the official birth of "Haylor," a.k.a. the romance between Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. The "I Knew You Were Trouble" singer and the One Direction member's cute outing to the iconic New York City park threw two of the world's biggest fandoms into pure chaos and turned the young couple into one of the paparazzi's most popular subjects, photogs basically chasing their tails trying to track the pair down. 

While their romance was shortlived—spanning from October 2012 to January 2013—we remember it all too well, thanks to the infamous pictures from the first public outing, and, of course, all of the bops by their brief relationship. Not that either of the stars have actually admitted to gifting us with tracks about their romance, though Harry has directly addressed the images from their Central Park outing.

Taylor Swift's Midnights Easter Eggs

"When I see photos from that day, I think: Relationships are hard, at any age," he explained to Rolling Stone in 2017. "And adding in that you don't really understand exactly how it works when you're 18, trying to navigate all that stuff didn't make it easier."


Harry continued, "I mean, you're a little bit awkward to begin with. You're on a date with someone you really like. It should be that simple, right? It was a learning experience for sure. But at the heart of it, I just wanted it to be a normal date."

But, when you are a member of one of the biggest bands in the world, courting arguably the most well-known artists of her generation, privacy is nearly impossible. Though the couple did attempt to make it work. Taylor spent her 23rd birthday with Harry and the pair shared a public kiss on New Year's Eve, only for Taylor to famously be photographed alone on a boat after their breakup just days later.

A decade removed, however, there appears to be no lingering bad blood between the two Grammy winners. 

"Certain things don't work out," Harry said in 2017. "There's a lot of things that can be right, and it's still wrong. In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together. You're celebrating the fact it was powerful and made you feel something, rather than 'this didn't work out, and that's bad.' And if you run into that person, maybe it's awkward, maybe you have to get drunk...but you shared something."

Harry Styles' Best Looks

And the friendly exes were spotted chatting at the 2021 Grammys, where Taylor was one of the first people to stand up and applaud for Harry when he received his first award for Best Pop Solo Performance.

But, 10 years sober, we must admit, just because we're clean don't mean we don't occasionally miss it.

So, in honor of Haylor's iconic Central Park Zoo date, we're revisiting all of the songs Taylor and Harry have (allegedly!) released about their relationship. (Feel free to make a playlist to properly celebrate this historic moment):


Arguably the most infamous song to come out of Taylor Swift and Harry Styles' short-lived 2012 romance is this absolute banger off of her 2014 album 1989. While Taylor is infamous for not revealing the subject of her songs, this one is pretty obvious, beginning with, you know, the title, though she cheekily explained her decision-making behind the name in a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest.

"Because the hook is 'We never go out of style,'" she dryly said, "and I thought 'We never go out of style' was a long title." Moving on!

Taylor called "Style" her "secret favorite," admitting she always hoped people would take to it. "I love the way that the song sounds the way that that feeling felt," she said. "I love when the sound of a song matches up with the feeling that inspired it." 

While she didn't reveal her direct influence, she noted it was about "one of those relationships that's always a bit off" and that "never quite synced up right." She later added, "This song is about my life and I have never actually revealed who it's about, but the song speaks for itself. The way it sounds and feels is all I need people to know about that story."

As for the hidden message in the album's liner notes? "Her Heart Belonged To Someone Who Couldn't Stay." And a notable lyric—"I heard that you've been out and about with some other girl"—is nearly identical to the reason an "authorized source" gave Vanity Fair in 2013 about why Taylor and Harry broke up.

"Two Ghosts"

While Harry hasn't released as many songs allegedly inspired by his romance with Taylor, this track off his 2017 self-titled debut solo album is the most clear reference to it and is basically a counter-argument to "Style." Just read this lyrics: "Same lips red, same eyes blue. Same white shirt, couple more tattoos." Harry! Edward! Styles!

When asked by Nick Grimshaw on his Radio 1 show if the song was about Taylor, Harry said, "I mean I think it's pretty like self-explanatory. I think, y'know it's about sometimes things change and you can do all the same things… and sometimes it's just different, y'know."

Oh, we do know.

"Out of the Woods"

The liner note for the 2014 bop is "They Loved Each Other Recklessly," which makes sense, given that Taylor references a secret trip to the hospital after a snowmobile accident, a winter activity the two took part in during a trip to Utah with Justin Bieber. (A key theme in their relationship seems to be that Harry is not a good driver, by the way.)

"It just kind of conjured up all these feelings of anxiety I had in a relationship where everybody was watching, everybody was commenting on it," she explained to Billboard of "Out of the Woods"'s inspiration. "You're constantly just feeling like, 'Are we out of the woods yet? What's the next thing gonna be? What's the next hurdle we're gonna have to jump over? Are we gonna make it to next week?'"

She continued, "It was interesting to write about a relationship where you're just honestly like, 'This is probably not gonna last, but how long is it gonna last?' It doesn't mean they're not supposed to happen. The whole time we were having happy memories or crazy memories or ridiculously anxious times, in my head it was just like, 'Are we okay yet? Are we there yet? Are we out of this yet?'"

The biggest clue, however, is the mention of "paper airplanes" and a "necklace," which, any true One Direction fan knows, seems to be an indirect callout of the paper airplane necklace Harry often wore at the time. 

"Say Don't Go"

Similar to how Taylor previously described the relationship that inspired "Out of the Woods"—noting the "number one feeling" she felt in the romance was anxiety—the lyrics to this vault track off of 1989 (Taylor's Version) mirror that same scene.

"I've known it from the very start / We’re a shot in the darkest dark," Taylor sings. "Oh no, oh no, I'm unarmed / The waiting is a sadness / Fading into madness / Oh no, oh no, it won't stop."

"I’m standin' on a tightrope alone / I hold my breath a little bit longer," the lyrics continue. "Halfway out the door, but it won't close / I'm holdin' out hope for you to say, 'Don't go' / I would stay forever if you say, 'Don't go.'"

"Is It Over Now?"

In this vault song from 1989 (Taylor's Version), Taylor appears to make direct references to her romance with Harry.

In the second verse, she sings, "Whеn you lost control / Red blood, white snow." The lyrics match with the accident Taylor first mentioned in "Out of the Woods." (Remember when you hit the breaks too soon? Twenty stitches in the hospital room.)

Taylor goes on to reference a "blue dress on a boat," a nod to an infamous Jan. 2013 photo of her leaving a vacation with Harry after their rumored breakup.

Taylor also includes the cheeky lyric, "You search in every model's bed for somethin' greater, baby," an apparent acknowledgement of Harry's relationships that followed after their breakup. (He's been linked to models Kendall Jenner, Nadine Leopold and Camille Rowe over the years.)

"Now That We Don't Talk"

Another 1989 (Taylor's Version) vault song, another reference to Harry, this time about his hair, which he grew out in 2014 after their relationship ended.

"You grew your hair long / You got new icons," Taylor sings. "And from the outside / It looks like you're tryin' lives on / I miss the old ways / You didn't have to change / But I guess I don't have a say / Now that we don't talk."

"I Know Places"

So this 1989 sleeper is definitely about all the attention Taylor and Harry's relationship received from the public and, more specifically, the paparazzi. The liner note for this was "And everyone was watching," because, well, we were! (A key lyric: "They are the hunters, we are the foxes." A key wardrobe moment: Taylor wore a sweater with a fox on it during their infamous Central Park date.)

"I had this idea of when you're in love, along the lines of 'Out of the Woods,' it's very precious, it's fragile," Taylor explained to Billboard. "As soon as the world gets ahold of it, whether it's your friends or people around town hear about it...it's kind of like the first thing people want to do when they hear that people are in love is just kind of try to ruin it, if they're not the greatest human beings."

Taylor admitted the media frenzy around the relationship caused her to believe, "No one is gonna sign up for this. There are just too many cameras pointed at me. There are too many ridiculous elaborations on my life. It's just not ever gonna work."

But, she continued, "I decided to write a love song, just kind of like, 'What would I say if I met someone really awesome and they were like, hey, I'm worried about all this attention you get?'"

The result of that was "I Know Places," which is about, "'Hey, I know places we can hide. We could outrun them,'" Taylor said. "I'm so happy that it sounds like the urgency that it sings about."

"Wildest Dreams"

In an interview with NPR, Taylor explained she was writing about "more complex relationships" on 1989 than her previous albums, which were "mostly about heartbreak or pain that was caused by someone else and felt by me." 

On the 2014 album, however, "I'm writing about looking back on a relationship and feeling a sense of pride even though it didn't work out. And I think there's actually a bit of a realism to my new approach to relationships, which is a little more fatalistic than anything I used to think about them."

She pointed to "Wildest Dreams"—which had the liner clue "He only saw her in his dreams"—as a "good" example of that evolution. 

"I used to think that, you know, you find the one and it's happily ever after and it's never a struggle after that," Taylor said. "And you have a few experiences with love and relationships and you learn that that's not the case at all. Even if you find the right situation relationship-wise, it's always going to be a daily struggle to make it work."

She added, "If I meet someone who I feel like I have a connection with, the first thought I have is when this ends, I hope it ends well. I hope you remember me well, which is not anything close to the way I used to think about relationships."


The second single from One Direction's fifth and final studio album, Made in the A.M., "Perfect" was co-written by Harry and Louis Tomlinson and is widely believed to be about the pop star, with James Corden directly asking Harry about the song's inspiration in a 2015 interview. "

I'm reading the lyrics  and I happen upon a line and in the song it says, 'And if you're looking for someone to write your breakup songs about, baby I'm perfect,'" The Late Late Show host said. "Now listen, I don't want to have any bad blood about this. If you don't want to talk about this, we can shake it off...who's the song about?"

Harry's response? No words, just laughter.

 "I think people interpret songs in different ways," the singer later told People. "I'm never going to tell someone what a song's about because I feel like it's up to them."

Meanwhile, Louis hinted that "Perfect" was in fact about Taylor."I think everybody draws from personal experiences, so of course to a degree I'm sure that influenced some of it," Louis said. "Down to specifics to who that song is exactly about, that's fan's interpretation, I suppose."


The 13th and final song on 1989 is the pop ballad, which had the hidden message: "She lost him but she found herself and somehow that was everything."

Taylor revealed her inspiration for "Clean" in a 2015 interview with Elle, explaining she wrote it while "walking out of Liberty in London." We will give you exactly one guess as to which of her ex-boyfriends she was photographed holdings hands with in London.

"Someone I used to date—it hit me that I'd been in the same city as him for two weeks and I hadn't thought about it," Swift shared. "When it did hit me, it was like, 'Oh, I hope he's doing well.' And nothing else."

That unemotional reaction made her realize she was finally over the relationship. 

"A heartbroken person is unlike any other person. Their time moves at a completely different pace than ours," she explained. "It's this mental, physical, emotional ache and feeling so conflicted. Nothing distracts you from it. Then time passes, and the more you live your life and create new habits, you get used to not having a text message every morning saying, 'Hello, beautiful. Good morning.' You get used to not calling someone at night to tell them how your day was."


An additional track on the deluxe edition of 1989, "Wonderland" has several clues that point to being about Harry, including a reference to green eyes, which the "Watermelon Sugar" singer has, and the phrase "Cheshire cat." Guess where Harry is from? Cheshire, England. Sure, it's also from Alice in Wonderland, but it feels too specific to be coincidental for the "Mastermind" singer.


Though she's been in a relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn since 2016, Taylor revisited many of her previous relationships on her most recent album Midnights, with each of the 13 songs telling the story of sleepless nights throughout the course of her life

And fans are speculating "Question...?" is about her romance with Harry for two reasons: 1. It samples "Out of the Woods," and 2. The lyrics about all of her friends clapping as she is kissed in a crowded room could be about their infamous New Year's Eve kiss in 2013. So, does he wish that he could still touch her? Hey, it's just a question. 

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