Joe Alwyn Wanted to Keep His Relationship with Taylor Swift 'Personal' During 6-Year Romance: Source (Exclusive)

The British actor and the pop superstar — who dropped her latest album 'The Tortured Poets Department' on April 19 — dated for six years until early 2023

<p>Emma McIntyre/WireImage;Jon Kopaloff/WireImage</p> Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn

Emma McIntyre/WireImage;Jon Kopaloff/WireImage

Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn

Joe Alwyn was thrust into the spotlight when he started dating Taylor Swift back in 2016.

The couple’s breakup was confirmed by PEOPLE in April 2023, and a year on from their split an Alwyn source tells PEOPLE that the British actor, 33, intentionally kept his relationship with the pop superstar — who just released her latest album The Tortured Poets Department — out of the public eye.

When friends learned he was dating Swift, 34, "[the relationship] took a lot of people by surprise," says the source, adding, "but he wasn’t showing off in some way.”

Despite the intense public interest in the relationship, Alwyn wanted the romance to remain "his own personal story," says the source.

Related: Taylor Swift’s Tortured Poets Lyrics Detail Fury and Heartbreak in Joe Alwyn, Matty Healy Relationships

On her latest body of work, Swift sings about feeling caged and lonely amid a failing romance. "I stopped trying to make him laugh / Stopped trying to drill the safe," she details on "So Long, London," which appears to have been inspired by her breakup with Alwyn. "And I'm pissed off you let me give you all that youth for free."

And on "Fresh Out the Slammer," the pop star further shares how isolated she felt: "Another summer taking cover / Rolling thunder, he don't understand me / Splintered back in winter / Silent dinner, bitter he was with her in dreams."

<p>Emma McIntyre/WireImage;Jon Kopaloff/WireImage</p> Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn

Emma McIntyre/WireImage;Jon Kopaloff/WireImage

Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn

Related: What Has Joe Alwyn Been Up to Since Taylor Swift Breakup? Inside His Past Year as He Heads to Cannes with New Movie

During their six-year romance, Alwyn and Swift both remained very private about their relationship, often deflecting about engagement rumors.

"If I had a pound for every time I think I've been told I've been engaged, then I'd have a lot of pound coins," the Conversations with Friends star told WSJ. Magazine in April 2022.

<p>Jon Kopaloff/Getty</p> Joe Alwyn

Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Joe Alwyn

"I mean, the truth is, if the answer was yes, I wouldn't say, and if the answer was no, I wouldn't say," he added.

Related: Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn's Relationship Timeline

The actor was first publicly linked to the "Karma" singer in May 2017 when it was revealed that they had been quietly dating for months. Fans have speculated that the duo first crossed paths at the 2016 Met Gala.

<p>Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank</p> Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn at the 2020 Golden Globes

Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn at the 2020 Golden Globes

While the former couple kept their cards close to their chest during their years together, they did attend several events, including the premiere of Alwyn’s movie The Favourite at the New York Film Festival in 2018, the 2019 BAFTAs and the 2020 Golden Globes.

At the time of their split, a source close to the pair told PEOPLE that the breakup was largely due to the "differences in their personalities" and that they "ultimately weren't the right fit for one another."

<p>John Shearer/Getty</p> Taylor Swift performs in Arizona in March 2023

John Shearer/Getty

Taylor Swift performs in Arizona in March 2023

Since their breakup, Swift — who has moved on with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce — has been performing around the world for her record-breaking Eras Tour and recording her new studio album.

Meanwhile, Alwyn is gearing up for the release of his latest film, Kinds of Kindness.

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Starring Swift’s pal Emma Stone, who Alwyn appeared opposite in 2018’s The Favourite, the movie is “a triptych fable, following a man without choice who tries to take control of his own life; a policeman who is alarmed that his wife who was missing at sea has returned and seems a different person; and a woman determined to find a specific someone with a special ability, who is destined to become a prodigious spiritual leader," an official synopsis reads.

The film also stars Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, Hong Chau, Mamoudou Athie and Hunter Schaefer and it is set to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, with a U.S. release date of June 21.

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