Tom Hiddleston Defends His Relationship With Taylor Swift: ‘Of Course It Was Real’

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Taylor Swift has dated her fair share of celebrity men, which is her god-given right as a celebrity woman. So is her propensity to build these experiences into near-perfect pop songs that skyrocket her albums to the top of the charts. And, well, along the way, her exes end up getting a fair share of attention about their relationship with her too, so much so that a new GQ cover story on one of Taylor’s most recent flings, Tom Hiddleston, ends up focusing quite a bit on his short-lived fling with the pop star.

In particular, there was a moment very early on in their relationship when Hiddleston was photographed wearing an “I ♥ T.S.” tanktop while their friend group cavorted in the water (ocean?) somewhere that summer. This was the tank that infamously launched a thousand thinkpieces about whether or not their relationship was “real.” It seemed too soon, a fan boy already? Why was he wearing the tank? That and more have been cleared up in his new cover, in which he first and foremost asserts: “Of course it was real.”

That comes after the writer probes him beyond the prepared press statement about their breakup last summer: “Taylor is an amazing woman. She’s generous and kind and lovely, and we had the best time.”

As for the tank top? It was all a matter of vacation clothes swapping:

“The truth is, it was the Fourth of July and a public holiday and we were playing a game and I slipped and hurt my back. And I wanted to protect the graze from the sun and said, ’Does anyone have a T-shirt?’ And one of her friends said, ’I’ve got this.’ ” The friend pulled out the “I ♥ T.S.” tank top that Taylor’s friends are contractually obligated to own. “And we all laughed about it. It was a joke. It was a joke. Among friends.”

But he has more to say about it, because let’s be honest, this was a lot of attention surrounding that moment:

“I have to be so psychologically strong about not letting other people’s interpretations about my life affect my life. A relationship exists between two people. We will always know what it was. The narratives that are out there altogether have been extrapolated from pictures that were taken without consent or permission, with no context. Nobody had the context for that story. And I’m still trying to work out a way of having a personal life and protecting it, but also without hiding. So the hardest thing is that that was a joke among friends on the Fourth of July. I don’t know. “I just, I was surprised. I was just surprised that it got so much attention. The tank top became an emblem of this thing.”

So there you have it. But don’t be surprised if a white tank top lyric shows up on the next Taylor album, in fact, you can almost bet on it. Still, Tom has nothing but praise for his ex:

“I only know the woman I met. She’s incredible. A relationship in the limelight… A relationship always takes work. A relationship in the limelight takes work. And it’s not just the limelight. It’s everything else. So we decided to go out for dinner, we decided to travel.”

Even if those things weren’t enough, they still seem to mean a lot to this man, and the piece ends with Tom still pretty torn up over the break up, which is hard not to empathize with if you’ve been there. Odds are, you’ve been there. Take a look at the whole story over at GQ.