Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and ‘Hard Launch Summer’

Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and ‘Hard Launch Summer’


Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce are together-together. And by that, we mean she’s finally posting photos of him on her Instagram grid. They’ve never shied away from PDA before, but this is different.

This period is what’s commonly known as the “hard launch”: the moment when a couple says, “You know what? Yes, we’re together, and we don’t care who knows!” Of course, when it comes to celebrities, everyone is combing through dozens of breadcrumbs for evidence about their lives once a rumor hits the tabloids. So it’s all the more serious when a celebrity posts a message, or in Swift’s case, brings it on stage with her on her Eras tour.

And it’s not just Swift and Kelce—pop star Sabrina Carpenter decided to cast her rumored boyfriend (well, not so rumored) Barry Keoghan in her latest music video for the #1 hit “Please Please Please.” What’s more, Keoghan only follows one person on Instagram: Carpenter.

We’re in the era of the “hard launch summer,” and therapists say celebrities have a myriad of reasons to pull that proverbial trigger. But whether it’s a carefully orchestrated moment or an impulsive display of love, there’s no unringing that bell.

“Every aspect of the relationship can become fodder for public consumption and criticism, putting the couple in the spotlight and creating pressure to be seen as a healthy match,” says Jeff Guenther, a licensed professional counselor and author of “Big Dating Energy.” “You also open yourself up to increased criticism.”

Does Taylor Swift Feel Safer With Travis Kelce?

The butterflies in your stomach. The big lump in your throat. The unsexy sweat dripping down your forehead. Dating is hard no matter who you are, especially in the beginning, until you decide to tell people. Multiply that by a lot and you’ll find yourself empathizing with celebrities.

“When we introduce someone as our partner, we expect that we’ve checked them out,” says Kimberly Vered Shashoua, a licensed clinical social worker who often works with people in their first relationships. “It can be embarrassing to have to go back to friends, family, and Instagram and tell them about a breakup.” Think of all those couples, celebrity or not, who never announce anything. Often, it’s a matter of self-preservation.

“People with critical friends and family want to keep their relationships a secret,” Shashoua says. “Taylor Swift has written songs about her breakups, which has led to some media outlets making nasty comments. I can understand why Taylor didn’t want media outlets that claim she ‘can’t keep a man’ to comment on her latest relationship.”

Have her feelings changed about how much she wants to share on social media? Who can say for sure, but “it could be because she’s becoming more comfortable with fame, and/or more confident and less concerned about what people think,” says Cecille Ahrens, a licensed clinical social worker. “Or it could be because she feels more secure in this relationship.”

What is breadcrumbing? Paperclipping? Beware of these toxic viral dating trends.

Who controls the story? It depends

That said, it’s easy to see why celebrities still want to shout about their relationships. They’re just like everyone else. It feels good to be in love.

“When we have trust in our partner, it can feel amazing to show them,” Shashoua says. “It’s a lot easier to be honest with our friends and family than it is to sneak around. When we’re active on social media, it can feel weird to keep such a big part of your life hidden.” Keoghan merely following Carpenter is one explanation. For Carpenter — as she sings in “Please Please Please” — she’s just hoping her new beau (in the song, but come on) doesn’t embarrass her.

A hard launch works much better if you’re a public figure, so you can control how and when people find out about it – and, more importantly, before the tabloids know.

“Celebrities may have more control over the narrative, which can reduce speculation and gossip,” Guenther says. “While it’s probably more of an illusion of control, I imagine it still has a positive effect on their overall mental health.”

More about that video clip: Sabrina Carpenter and Barry Keoghan are chaotic lovers in the music video for ‘Please Please Please’

Risks and benefits of authenticity

People need to weigh the benefits and risks of authenticity, which “depend on what celebrities get out of it, the impact on their personal and professional lives, and whether their choices align with their personality and core values,” Ahrens says.

Whoever you are, you give up parts of yourself during a hard launch. Ahrens adds that you may receive “unwanted attention” or face “constant boundary violations.”

It could even be a business strategy: “By being open about their relationships, celebrities can build deeper connections with their fans, which strengthens their parasocial relationships and most likely leads to more sales or followers,” Guenther says.

It is a decision that requires care and conversation. And if and when today’s hard-launched couples fall, let’s hope for a smooth landing.