7 “Dear John” Lyrics That Accurately Describe Toxic Relationships

Before Midnights gave us the gut-wrenching “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve,” Speak Now gave us “Dear John.” This song highlights a heartbroken letter outlining a toxic relationship with lingering hurt. These lyrics hit hard if you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship or know someone else who has. As we revisit the album with Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), it’s time to explore some of the most powerful lines from the “Dear John” song: 

1. “You paint me a blue sky and go back and turn it to rain.”

Manipulative people love to do this. They give you the world or seemingly offer it to you, only to take it away—and make it worse by ruining it in front of your eyes. Toxic people want to control you and be the source of your happiness, which means they can take it away too. But realizing it is the first step to getting out of a toxic relationship. 

2. “I lived in your chess game, but you changed the rules every day.”

For toxic people, life is a game in many ways. They are the chess master, and you’re one of the many pieces they move around to their liking. You have to walk on eggshells because these people make it seem like it’s your fault when anything goes wrong. But you realize that they have no consistency in their “rules” except that nothing is ever their fault (which is a lie).

3. “Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with?”

Toxic people can invade anyone’s life, but young people are particularly vulnerable. There are too many stories of men taking advantage of younger women, toying with their emotions, and tossing them aside when they grow tired of them. It’s especially cruel when done to those still in their teens or barely in their twenties. But it’s never their fault—it’s always the fault of the abuser.

4. “You’ll add my name to your long list of traitors who don’t understand.”

With toxic people, nothing is ever their fault, and everything is someone else’s fault. It takes two people to work through a relationship, so it makes sense that each person messes up from time to time. But to insist that other people are in the wrong is a classic move a toxic person will pull. They refuse to look in the mirror and realize that they’re the problem and instead insist everyone else is to blame. 

5. “You are an expert at sorry and keeping lines blurry.”

Something that toxic people often do is insincerely apologize. Nothing is their fault in their mind. So when they apologize, it’s always artificial. They don’t actually feel sorry for what they did but are trying to appease you to hold onto the relationship. And they are terrible communicators on purpose, gaslighting you and blurring the lines of communication for their own benefit. But if you get the wipes, you can clear away the blur and see the toxicity for what it truly is. 

6. “You’re never impressed by me acing your tests.”

Toxic people hate it when you figure out their game. They can no longer control you, and their manipulation tactics fail before their eyes. But the truth is, you shouldn’t have to go through a “test” to be on solid ground with someone. This is the stage where you can hopefully start to see how bad the relationship is and make the move to leave for good.

7. “I took your matches before fire could catch me.”

In spite of a toxic person’s harm, you can break away from them. You can discover their patterns, how everything is your fault and not theirs, and how they make you feel worse about yourself. Then, you can realize that you deserve better and don’t have to put up with the person anymore. You can finally break free and surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you. 

While “Dear John” outlines a toxic romantic relationship, these lines can apply to any toxic relationship. This song offers powerful lyrics about realizing someone is toxic and finally breaking away. There’s something inspiring about knowing someone else has been where you are and is telling you that you can be free, too.

Featured video via Taylor Swift YouTube


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