So far in 2023, Taylor Swift could do no wrong. She became the first woman ever to have three songs from different albums on the Hot 100 Top 10 simultaneously, reach 100 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and have the most No. 1 albums (with 12). In May, she broke Madonna’s record for the most-attended concert by a female artist in the U.S. — on the Eras Tour, which is poised to rake in $1 billion while boosting the global economy by $5 billion. “They’re shining a light on the choices I made that worked out,” the singer told the crowd after her accolades were listed at this year’s iHeart Radio Awards. “But I really, really want everyone to know that the thousands of dumb ideas I’ve had are what led me to my good ideas. You have to give yourself permission to fail.”

Taylor truly believes in learning — and drawing inspiration — from her failures. “My mistakes led to the best things in my life,” she’s said. “I need to be able to forgive myself for making the wrong choice, trusting the wrong person, or figuratively falling on my face in front of everyone.” Over the years that includes business setbacks (losing her music rights to Scooter Braun, which sparked her to rerecord her first six albums), PR snafus (culminating in a messy Twitter war with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West) and, of course, her tumultuous romantic life, which took another hit this year when she split with longtime beau Joe Alwyn and rebounded with bad boy Matty Healy. “With each obstacle, she’s only grown stronger,” says a source. “Especially this year, she’s been reflecting on what’s happened and what she really wants out of her life.”

Her goals have crystallized, especially after attending good pal Jack Antonoff’s wedding to Margaret Qualley in August. “It was such a beautiful, joyous occasion that anyone would think about their own happily-ever-after,” says the source. “Taylor doesn’t apologize for wanting to be in love, and ultimately being happily married with kids is the dream. She craves the stability that comes with a strong partnership.”

Taylor Swift Is ‘Only Growing Stronger’ Following Failed Romances: ‘She’s Still a Hopeless Romantic’
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

She thought she had that with Joe. “But after six years together, they realized they were just too different,” the source says of why Taylor, 33, really ended things with the ultra-private actor, 32. “There’s no way he would have made it through this tour. She was heartbroken but happy that things ended before she went on the road so she could give 100 percent to her fans. She needed to enjoy herself.”

As for Matty, “he was a great distraction — and musical inspiration — but probably not the best idea,” the source acknowledges of the controversial 1975 frontman, 34. “Still, she hasn’t been too hard on herself about it. It’s certainly not the first time she’s chosen the wrong man!”

And she’s in no rush to find Mr. Right. “Taylor’s OK being single for now,” the source says of the singer, who made headlines for shutting down Super Bowl champ Travis Kelce’s attempt to connect at her Kansas City, Mo., concert in July. “She’s also made it clear that she wants her fans to know heartbreak can be healing and beautiful, and it’s perfectly normal and healthy to date a lot of different people.”

Taylor knows she’s a role model. “Fans are always asking for advice,” the source points out, “or turning to her life and lyrics for guidance.” (She’s even offered up heartfelt counsel, once telling a fan that “unrequited love is just as valid as any other kind” and promising another that she would eventually get over her heartbreak and be glad to “live life on her own terms.”)

Her best tip? Don’t settle. “She’s still a hopeless romantic, but music and her career will always be her first love, and whoever she dates next needs to accept that,” says the source. “It’s been a hell of a year for Taylor, and she’s truly thriving — even without a man by her side.”

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