Pop star Taylor Swift released the single I Bet You Think About Me as part of her album Red (Taylor’s Version). The track was well-received by critics and fans, but the lyrics stirred up interest in her personal life from a decade earlier. Most particularly, fans formed theories that it was about her relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal, about whom she had written songs in the past.
When Was The Track Released?
Swift included the single I Bet You Think About Me on her 2021 album Red (Taylor’s Version). It was a more fleshed-out version of her 2012 album of the same name but without the “Taylor’s Version.” It included songs and verses that had been cut from the original LP.
Some of these tracks provided new perspectives on stories she had already shared, with new details that she had not been able to include during the album’s initial release.
The song was a nod back to her old country pop days. It featured guest vocals from country music star Chris Stapleton. But fans were quick to notice that the song seemed to reference some of her earlier tracks originally included on the album. These songs had long been rumored to be about the pop star’s short relationship with Gyllenhaal.
What is “I Bet You Think About Me” About?
Let’s be clear: she hasn’t explicitly outlined who inspired the track. But quick-eyed fans have pointed out that much of her rerelease of the album centers on her brief relationship with the actor, who was referenced several times in the original release as well.
These fans point to details in the lyrics as well as the timeline of when the album first came out—less than two years after her breakup with him.
There are a few clues in the lyrics that made fans think that the song might be about the actor.
One of the lines refers to an ex’s upbringing in a “silver-spoon gated community” in Beverly Hills, contrasting it to her own childhood on a farm in Pennsylvania. She grew up in West Reading, Pennsylvania, before moving to Tennessee at age 13 to pursue a career in country music.
Gyllenhaal, meanwhile, was born and raised in Los Angeles. His parents were a successful screenwriter and a director, putting him among Hollywood royalty. The contrast in the song highlights that Swift and her ex were just too different to make a relationship work.
The theme is consistent in showing the ways that she and her ex were not on even ground. She felt that they moved in different worlds, and she simply was not made for the upper crust that he felt at home in. Meanwhile, she also got the sense that he looked down on her for her background. This is evident in her jabs about his “silver spoon” upbringing, as well as his “million-dollar couch” and “organic shoes.”
Parallels With “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
I Bet You Think About Me also seems to hold several references to Swift’s 2012 single We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, one of the biggest hits on Red. The upbeat, sarcasm-fueled hit was popular due to its tongue-in-cheek, hard-hitting lyrics and catchy melody, but it was also rumored to be a dig at Gyllenhaal.
So it is hard not to draw a parallel between the two songs; they have a number of similar lines that fans couldn’t help but compare.
The track opens with the lines: “3 AM and I’m still awake, I bet you’re just fine, Fast asleep in your city that’s better than mine.” This seems to be a callback to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, where she sarcastically calls her ex out for listening to an “indie record that’s much cooler than mine.”
In an even more explicit reference to her earlier song, she later says “I bet you think about me when you’re out, At your cool indie music concerts every week.”
Another nod to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together may be in reference to her ex saying he needed space from their relationship. The original song included the lyrics: “Cause like we hadn’t seen each other in a month, When you, said you, needed space (what?)”
This motif is repeated in I Bet You Think About Me with the line: “Mr. Superior Thinkin’, Do you have all the space that you need?”
Though she hasn’t made any public comments about the background behind either of those tracks, the singer is known to draw heavily on inspiration from her personal life in her music. Fans frequently analyze her songs to connect the dots.
Swift & Gyllenhaal’s Relationship
The two dated for several months at the end of 2010. At the time, she was only 20 years old—she turned 21 in December 2010—meanwhile, Gyllenhaal was 29.
Though their romance was short-lived, it had a strong impact on Swift. He is rumored to have inspired songs such as I Knew You Were Trouble, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, Treacherous, and All Too Well.
Their relationship came back into the spotlight when she released Red (Taylor’s Version) in 2021. The album restored tracks “from the vault,” including a much longer, more detailed version of All Too Well.
The added details put fans in a fervor over the actor’s treatment of the musician, especially the fact that he reportedly missed her 21st birthday while she cried in the bathroom. Meanwhile, a line about him keeping her scarf led to his social media being flooded with demands about him giving her the scarf back.
The public doesn’t know exactly why their relationship ended, but lyrics from her songs have implied that their nine-year age gap may have had something to do with it. Both stars have December birthdays, making them 20 and 29, then 21 and 30, during their relationship.
After the release of Red (Taylor’s Version), public interest in Swift’s relationship with Gyllenhaal was relit. His social media accounts were flooded with passionate fans demanding answers, so much so that the actor temporarily turned comments off on his Instagram account. He later made a public post asking for people to refrain from cyberbullying or stalking him.
When asked directly about the impact of her music, he first said that he didn’t think that she had written a particular track about him. But he also acknowledged that his ex-girlfriend wrote songs from her personal experiences, and he respected her process as an artist.
The Music Video
Swift’s music video for I Bet You Think About Me was directed by actress Blake Lively, a personal friend. The music video depicts the singer crashing the wedding of a fictional ex-boyfriend, played by actor Miles Teller. Throughout the video, she upstages the wedding band and gives a toast, all while wearing a bright red ball gown. Meanwhile, the groom is having flashbacks to their relationship and realizing that he was a fool to let her go.
The music video was nominated for Video of The Year at both the Country Music Awards and the Annual Country Music Association Awards. It has also been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Song, a remarkable return for the singer, who left her musical country roots behind in the early 2010s.
The Legacy of “I Bet You Think About Me”
The track is far from Swift’s first single based on her love life. But the pop singer isn’t spelling out any of her secrets. It remains up to fans to piece together clues about what—or who—inspired the snark in I Bet You Think About Me.
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