What does "I Forgot That You Existed" by Taylor Swift mean?
“I Forgot That You Existed” Lyrics Meaning
On the Piano Demo for “I Forgot That You Existed”, Taylor Swift says, “I had this idea called “I Forgot That You Existed,” and I wanted it to be really simple. I thought it might be a really fun way to open the album, like, basically kind of shrugging off a lot of things that you’ve been through that have been causing a lot of struggle and pain. And just, one day you wake up and you realize you’re indifferent to whatever caused you that pain.”
“It isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference”
“I Forgot That You Existed” is about the first time freedom from a heartbreak is experienced. It could be a romantic relationship, or a friendship that ended poorly because of the other person’s behavior. Taylor Swift describes the relief that comes from the first time you realize the person who caused you that pain hasn’t crossed your mind today, and the happiness that comes with realizing you’re okay with that person and that pain not being a part of your life anymore.
While a lot of Taylor Swift’s songs are autobiographical, there’s never a certainty of it until she confirms the meaning. For simplicity’s sake, this analysis will refer to Taylor as the narrator, but it doesn’t mean that the song is written about her life or from her perspective. Either way, the lyrics tell an encouraging story of moving on from heartbreak and betrayal.
How many days did I spend thinking
'Bout how you did me wrong, wrong, wrong?
Lived in the shade you were throwing
'Til all of my sunshine was gone, gone, gone
And I couldn't get away from ya
In my feelings more than Drake, so yeah
Your name on my lips, tongue-tied
Free rent, living in my mind
But then something happened one magical night
Someone hurt her to the point where she was living “in the shade” and negativity they were throwing at her. It stole her joy. The time following their treatment of her she was deeply in pain and their “name [was] on [her] lips” all the time. The pain was a constant reminder of their former presence in her life.
I forgot that you existed
And I thought that it would kill me, but it didn't
And it was so nice
So peaceful and quiet
I forgot that you existed
It isn't love, it isn't hate, it's just indifference
I forgot that you
One “magical night” she realizes that she hasn’t thought of them at all. The pain that was so constant she “thought it would kill” her to forget the person, and that maybe she would even be a different person without the grief from the former relationship haunting her. But “it didn’t.” She loves the feeling of forgetting their existence. The bitterness is gone and she finds peace in forgetting the pain. Her new view of them “isn’t love, it isn’t hate, it’s just indifference.”
Got out some popcorn
As soon as my rep started going down, down, down
Laughed on the school yard
As soon as I tripped up and hit the ground, ground, ground
And I would've stuck around for ya
Would've fought the whole town, so yeah
Would've been right there, front row
Even if nobody came to your show
But you showed who you are, then one magical night
Taylor recalls the fading memories of her relationship with this person. They laughed at her “as soon as [she] tripped up” and her “rep started going down.” Despite the way she was treated, she “would’ve fought the whole town” for them and supported them even if no one else would. While she would have defied the crowd to be there for them, they were eager to join the crowd in mocking her. She’s grateful that they showed who they were so she could get out of the relationship.
Sent me a clear message
Taught me some hard lessons
I just forget what they were
It's all just a blur
The lessons the painful relationship taught her were valuable, but she “just forget[s] what they were” as the whole relationship fades into irrelevance. She likely hasn’t lost the lessons and growth from that time, but is becoming foggy on the specifics of what taught her which lessons. While the growth and maturity remains, the origin of that growth has become less important to her as she moves on from grieving the pain inflicted on her.
Deeper Meaning of “I Forgot That You Existed” by Taylor Swift
“I Forgot That You Existed” is a fun song, and empowering to anyone who has gone through or is going through the pain of a past relationship. It’s a reminder that even a major heartbreak doesn’t last forever, even if it can consume our minds and hearts for days, weeks, months, or even years. It also shows us that once that pain is gone, we’re still here. Though the lessons stay with us, the person will eventually fade away, as will the power they had to hurt us. I’m glad to hear that Taylor is in a better place with the songs on Lover, and that she’s recovering from a lot of the pain that she talked about on Reputation. She’s a reminder that the pain people cause us doesn’t last forever, and we can move on when the time comes.