Who Is Taylor Swift’s “I Can See You” Is About?

While the Swiftiverse was busy obsessively wondering if the Speak Now vault was full of scathing John Mayer diss tracks, Taylor Swift was quietly prepping for the rollout of “I Can See You,” perhaps the least Speak Now-y song on Speak Now (Taylor’s Version). We all thought she was going to zig, so Taylor zagged.

“I Can See You” lacks many of the hallmarks of Taylor’s Speak Now era songwriting and it does so conspicuously and consciously. In 2010, “I Can See You” would have been a great song. In 2023, with the benefit of hindsight, it feels like a kind of crystal ball that was forecasting her future. Yes, the sound is edgier and hard to imagine blasting on 2010 country radio, but it’s the lyrics that feel most out of their Era.

To put it bluntly, “I Can See You” is a sexy song. It lives with songs like “Style” and “Dress” in a special, cherished playlist of horny Taylor songs that wouldn’t be written in glitter gel pen or with an old-timey quill, but with red lipstick on a bathroom mirror. And all this begs the question: Who did Taylor Swift write “I Can See You” about?

The song isn’t full of the kind of winkingly obvious (see: the title of “Dear John”) or objectively-Googleable clues (see: the April 29th reference in “High Infidelity”) that Swift often includes in her songs, but if you think that will stop Swifties from analyzing the lyrics like they’re working on a Ph.D thesis, then you clearly don’t know this fandom. So, without further ado, here are some of the best theories about who might have inspired “I Can See You.”

John Mayer

new york december 11 john mayer and taylor swift performs onstage during z100s jingle ball 2009 presented by hm at madison square garden on december 11, 2009 in new york city photo by kevin mazurwireimage for clear channel radio new york

Kevin Mazur//Getty Images

While the general vibe from the fandom toward this one is mostly “ugh, pls no,” there are still plenty of Swifities whose guts immediately told them the song was about John Mayer.

The evidence: The overall sexiness of the song + the established intensity of the Taylor/John relationship, mostly. Some also point out that Taylor and John’s collaboration on his song “Half of My Heart” could account for the “I Can See You” lyric, “And we kept everything professional / But something’s changed, it’s somethin’ I, I like.”

Taylor Lautner

los angeles, ca october 28 taylor swift and taylor lautner sighting at the aliceolivia boutique on robertson blvd on october 28, 2009 in los angeles, california photo by jean baptiste lacroixwireimage

Jean Baptiste Lacroix//Getty Images

As another known Speak Now era muse, Taylor Lautner is also on some Swifties’ short lists for the “I Can See You” muse.

The evidence: The general timing of their relationship and when the song was (presumably) written and, as with John Mayer, the fact that he and Taylor worked together, making him a viable candidate for the possibly-telling, “we kept everything professional” lyric. Oh, and the fact that he literally costars in the song’s music video, of course.

Martin Johnson

new york december 11 martin johnson of boys like girls performs onstage with taylor swift during z100s jingle ball 2009 presented by hm at madison square garden on december 11, 2009 in new york city photo by kevin mazurwireimage for clear channel radio new york

Kevin Mazur//Getty Images

Martin Johnson hasn’t come up much in “who’s this Taylor Swift song about” debates in recent years, but many fans have long suspected that the Boys Like Girls frontman is the inspiration behind iconic Fearless era songs “Love Story” and “White Horse.”

The evidence: The timing isn’t spot-on, but if fans are right about Taylor’s supposed relationship with Martin, it certainly happened early enough to have inspired a song written during the original Speak Now era. As with John Mayer and Taylor Lautner, there’s a professional link (she collaborated with Girls Like Boys on the song “Two Is Better Than One”). Proponents of this theory can also point to lyrics like “What would you do if they never found us out?” that could hint “I Can See You” is about a more secret relationship.

Jake Gyllenhaal

This one seems like a stretch, since the assumption is that, as a Speak Now vault track, “I Can See You” would probably have been written before Taylor got to know Jake all too well, but one Reddit user feels strongly enough about it that they took the time to lay out a five-point argument to prove the mystery muse *could be* Jake:

“Analyzing the themes and the possibilities, for me there is only one option: Jake Gyllenhaal. I know, I know, the dates would be seemingly off but hear me out.

1. The vault tracks aren’t necessarily things she composed before October 2010, as for example, Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield met in December 2010 and WEFIL is very possibly about them. It is very likely that these are songs that were also made DURING the Speak Now tour or era.

2. It seems Taylor and Jake obviously dated before the media first reported it (first paparazzi sighting September 2010), which, per various clues “get me with those green eyes” seems to me is the muse behind Sparks Fly (which also seems thematically similar). So it might’ve been composed as early as September 2010 as Sparks Fly was probably too.

3. The secrecy aspect of the song concurs with the whole “you kept me like a secret” theme that was ongoing throughout all their relationship.

4. It seems that after Jake it’s that we started seeing more “mature” themes in her songs as we all know about the “scarf” metaphor.

5. Let’s not forget that in the initial stages of their relationship, Taylor was very enthusiastic about it and it is only natural that there are several songs from this “state of grace” stage would’ve been written.”

    One of Taylor’s bodyguards

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    One of the more creative (and, frankly, awesome) theories comes from Reddit user Motor-Gain-5195, who suggested Taylor Swift might have written “I Can See You” about a member of her security team.

    The evidence: “The ‘suit and neck tie’ line hints to this (security personnel uniform) as well as the ‘secret mission’ line,” Motor-Gain-5195 wrote in their Reddit post. “But the biggest giveaway imo is her backing vocals during the bridge: If you listen with headphones, they only come through the left ear and are a little muffled, as if coming through a walkie-talkie/ earpiece. Thoughts?”

    Headshot of Kayleigh Roberts

    Kayleigh Roberts is the weekend editor at Cosmo, focused on celebrity news and royals. She’s a Ravenclaw who would do great things in Slytherin. To learn more about her, google “Leslie Knope eating salad GIF.”

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