After releasing Midnights on Oct. 21, Taylor Swift has fully taken over TikTok (and the Billboard Top 10, but I digress). One of the best things on Tay-Tok at the moment? Swift’s song “Mastermind” has inspired users to share their own examples of strategizing their way into a relationship. Now, this “Mastermind” TikTok trend is taking over FYPs, one overly-complicated love story at a time. These videos are equally poetic and dramatic, just like a Swift song.
ICYMI, the song “Mastermind” channels Swift’s “calculating” reputation in a sweet way, chronicling her own master plan to hook a potential partner. She sings, “What if I told you none of it was accidental? / And the first night that you saw me / Nothing was gonna stop me / I laid the groundwork, and then / Just like clockwork / The dominoes cascaded in a line / What if I told you I'm a mastermind? / And now you're mine / It was all by dеsign' / Cause I'm a mastermind.”
In other words, Swift’s relationship — or the dramatized version of it she’s singing about in the song — was a result of careful planning, not fate. Of course, TikTok took Swift’s lyrics as a cue to share their own romantic schemes. Behold, some examples:
What Experts Think Of The “Mastermind” TikTok Trend
Let’s clear one thing up right away: Manipulating your partner, or lying to them on a consistent basis, is never healthy. However, when it comes to mastermind-ing your love life, it seems to be less about tricking your SO (or crush) and more about giving you both an opportunity to get to know one another. And yes, that can involve some level of planning. According to experts, there’s nothing wrong with this — as long as you don’t go overboard.
“I think a strategy can be helpful,” Meredith Prescott, LCSW and couples therapist, tells Elite Daily. “It depends at what length people are going to ‘mastermind.’ Some cases seem cute and more playful, whereas some are more extreme.” In other words, pretending you’re into the same show as them? OK. Pretending you’re a completely different person to match their type? Not OK. Plus, if you’re not being yourself, the odds of your ending up in a healthy, long-term relationship are slim to none.
But, in an ideal world, is this level of strategy really necessary? Ariella Grosse, LMSW, explains why the “Mastermind” agenda can be so appealing. “This can feel like a safe way for people who typically aren’t as forward to establish contact or ‘plant the seed’ in a potential partner’s head,” she explains. “While this in and of itself is not problematic, I think it raises the larger questions of why people believe that they need to create a scenario in order to find a romantic partner.”
Sure, it’d be great if fate worked overtime, but that isn’t realistic. Swift sings, “Once upon a time, the planets and the fates / And all the stars aligned / You and I ended up in the same room / At the same time.” Then, she quickly quashes the notion, revealing her true plans. As the lyrics go, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail / Strategy sets the scene for the tale.” TL;DR: If you aren’t scheming, you’re already losing.
Again, if you’re hoping to try this out for yourself, it’s all about keeping that “strategy” in check. Planning out a meet-cute is one thing, but trying to plan out a whole relationship is another. Grosse continues, “We should not be romanticizing relationships which are based on individuals molding themselves into who they believe their partner wants them to be. This sets a really unhealthy precedent. In what other ways are you willing to withhold or make up information for your partner’s attention and approval?” Fair enough.
The overall consensus? There’s nothing wrong with exploring a new interest (or TV show or author) that might lead to a flirty conversation or a first date. So, go right on ahead and “mastermind” a starting point with your crush. But once you get past that first step, your best bet is to be yourself — sans any Machiavellian strategy.
Remember, you deserve someone who sees you — all of you — and still chooses you. As the song goes, “Saw a wide smirk on your face / You knew the entire time / You knew that I'm a mastermind.” I mean, don’t you want what Joe and Taylor have?