Midnights (3am Edition) gave us amazing bonus songs in addition to the awesome ones on the main album. The best one it gave us, in my opinion, is “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve.”
It’s rumored to be a sequel to Speak Now’s “Dear John,” as the song is about an age-inappropriate relationship with a 19-year-old Taylor Swift and an older man (Swift was 19 when she dated 32-year-old John Mayer, who was also the subject of “Dear John”). There’s a lot to say about the emotional dangers of such a relationship, but these are the most heart-wrenching lyrics:
1. “If you tasted poison, you could’ve spit me out at the first chance.”
I love how self-deprecating and biting this line is, and how it comes as a painful reflection at the end of a relationship. All the “what if” scenarios fly through your head: What if I never looked your way? What if I realized you were bad for me from the start? It’s an endless thought loop that paralyzes you.
2. “The God’s-honest truth is that the pain was heaven.”
There’s a part of us that likes pain for many reasons. As much as it hurts, pain can make us feel alive. Intense pain can easily be confused with passion. Many relationships we’ve had that we thought were simply “passionate” due to this pain were actually toxic in nature.
3. “Memories feel like weapons.”
Memories can be so painful that you’d rather forget they ever happened. We’ve all had memories like that from various forms of trauma. This is a sharp reminder that physical blows aren’t the only ways to hurt someone—psychological hurt can do just as much, if not more, damage.
4. “Now that I know, I wish you left me wondering.”
Ignorance really is bliss sometimes. There are experiences that we would rather not live through, experiences that I don’t think anyone should have to live through or would never wish on someone.
5. “You made me feel important—and then you tried to erase us.”
There’s not much more in the world that hurts than realizing someone never really loved you and lied to you all along. There should be equality in relationships, but that unfortunately isn’t the case all the time. That can be especially true in relationships with significant age gaps due to vastly different life experiences.
6. “You’re a crisis of my faith.”
I love the religious imagery in this line and how it ties faith to relationships. When you realize someone wasn’t good for you, you can start to question your intuition. Can you trust your gut anymore after how badly things went? For so many of us our intuitive feelings are tied to religion, and this line connects the two beautifully.
7. “God rest my soul; I miss who I used to be.”
When you’ve been burned for too long, you lose who you become, even when the relationship is over. You want the old you back, the one who was confident and knew what they wanted, but you don’t know if that’s possible anymore.
8. “I regret you all the time.”
This is a perfect summarization of this toxic relationship. It also perfectly complements this “Dear John” line: “I’ll look back and regret how I ignored when they said ‘run as fast as you can.’” It’s never your fault if you have a toxic partner, but you can still feel immense regret from that experience—and regret that you went through the pain of it all.
9. “If clarity’s in death, then why won’t this die?”
We say that hindsight is 20/20, but that doesn’t mean you magically heal just because you can clearly view the experience now. Sometimes the pain remains, and it can even intensify in the aftermath. Grief is not linear, nor is any sort of hurt.
10. “Give me back my girlhood; it was mine first.”
This powerful line shows the emotional dangers of an older person taking advantage of a younger person in a relationship. There is a vast difference in life experiences for 19-year-olds and 32-year-olds, which is why these kinds of relationships can do so much damage.
This song expertly illustrates the heartbreak that comes with a toxic relationship. Its raw honesty perfectly complements other Taylor Swift songs like “Dear John” and “All Too Well.” It’s a horrible experience to go through, but her songwriting is one way Swift processes her feelings. And, for many listeners, it’s a way to help them process their pain, too.
Featured Video Via Taylor Swift YouTube