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Six years ago I felt like it is impossible to love any more ‘ But you prove me wrong. ” Since the time I’ve met you, I cry a little less, laugh a little harder, and smile all the more, just because I have you, my life is a better place”

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These details are based on the many fan accounts attempting (with mixed success) to confirm exactly what happened when Taylor Swift embraced Travis Kelce after the Kansas City Chiefs qualified for the Super Bowl. Whether it’s a lip-reading of the couple’s whispers or a movielike montage of tender moments, every second of the few minutes Swift and Kelce spent together on the field has been analyzed — and romanticized.

SIX YEARS. six years this woman felt she had to hide her relationship. and now she is able to love THIS loudly, and be loved back even louder. watching this change has been the most heartened thing i have experienced as a fan of her. im so fucking happy for taylor swift. pic.twitter.com/GIuESEhqj3

If you feel like we, as a society, have eyes only for Taylor and Travis right now, you’re not alone. But this love story is part of a much bigger trend. There’sa collective thirst for pure, uncomplicated, vulnerable love.

For one, rom-coms are coming back. In recent weeks, the modern-day “Much Ado About Nothing” adaptation”Anyone but You” was transformed from a box-office flop to a resounding hit, seemingly thanks to TikTok; one clip from the movie has racked up 15 million views and counting. In 2023, Amazon found success with the film adaptation of “Red, White & Royal Blue,” based on a novel about the son of the US president falling in love with the “spare” prince of England. And when the “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe recently joked about shooting a rom-com with Quinta Brunson of “Abbott Elementary,” people on the internet got to casting them in their dream book adaptations.

The publishing world is experiencing the same phenomenon. Fantasy-romance (or “romantasy”) books such as “A Court of Thorns and Roses” and “Fourth Wing” dominate both BookTok and Amazon bestseller lists. They focus on passionate love stories and are known for spicy sex scenes against the backdrops of faerie cities or dragon-riding colleges.

Love is so lucrative that romance-only bookstores have opened in cities like New York and Los Angeles, stacked with enemies-to-lovers cult favorites and corset-ripping historical fiction.

But Swift and Kelce’s relationship seems to dominate all other mainstream love stories right now, particularly because it’s unscripted. While romance movies and books evolve and draw inspiration from unlikely sources, even the dreamiest, most outlandish plotlines don’t involve two star-crossed superstars getting together — and actually having a good time.

“This is an unambiguously happy couple that people can cling to as kind of cultural comfort food,” Brian Donovan, a professor at the University of Kansas who teaches a class called The Sociology of Taylor Swift, told Business Insider.

Donovan believes the resurgence of fluffy, gooey love stories isn’t coincidental.”I think a lot of the cultural forces that explain the recent popularity of romance novels can help explain why people are so enthusiastic about Taylor and Travis,” he said.

It speaks to people’s longing for love — not just in their dating lives, but as a way to feel more optimistic about the world.

Uncertain times call for comfort

While TikTok may be full of “The Notebook” compilations and romance-novel fan casts, the world outside smartphones feels particularly precarious.

“A lot of the world right now is in chaos,” Donovan said. “We’re coming out of a pandemic. There are two major wars going on. There’s deepening political polarization and violence.”

The desire for romance, comedy, and overall lightness in entertainment can be linked totimes of crisis and strife. Donovan pointed out that many movies made during the Great Depression were romantic in nature, offering a sense of escape and hope for the future, while the 2008 recession brought on the trend of straightforward superhero movies.

Fast-forward to the pandemic: People turned to comforting sitcoms like “Friends” and childhood hobbies like tie-dyeing at the height of sheltering in place. It’s human nature to crave comfort, such as nostalgia, in difficult times. Rooting for romance can be another way to cope with uncertainty.

This love story comes at the height of dating-app fatigue
Another explanation for the #Traylor enthusiasm is that Swift’s new relationship with Kelce may be inspiring at a time when people are frankly losing hope about finding an incredible partner.

Swift’s at times tumultuous dating experiencesare part of her colossal appeal as an artist. “Her songs about her bad prior relationships resonate with people, and they feel they’ve gone through similar things,” Isabelle Morley, a licensed clinical psychologist, told Business Insider.

One doesn’t have to go through an “I Knew You Were Trouble”-level breakup to feel disillusioned by dating culture, particularly when it comes to dating-app fatigue. Morley said the cycle of looking for “icks” or red flags in potential dates can lead to cynicism and insecurity.

major cultural moments.

For years critics have described a loss of monoculture and a political divide between popular TV shows’ viewership (“Yellowstone,” for example, is seen as catering to conservatives, while “Succession” is for liberals). The return of romance, be it through a superstar couple, blockbuster rom-coms, or best-selling romantasy novels, can be a unifying force.

Swift and Kelce are providing a “cultural glue,” Donovan said. “This sort of shared excitement about them cuts across different demographic positions that would normally divide us.”

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