Harry Styles’ teen-turned-adult heartthrob status has earned him thousands of fans, a minority of whom are extremely, vocally critical of whoever he dates on social media. Styles and his girlfriend of nearly two years, Don’t Worry Darling director Olivia Wilde, spoke a little to Rolling Stone about what it’s been like coping with this.
Styles didn’t mention Wilde directly, but he did explain why he has kept his love life private. “I’ve never talked about my life away from work publicly and found that it’s benefited me positively,” he said. “There’s always going to be a version of a narrative, and I think I just decided I wasn’t going to spend the time trying to correct it or redirect it in some way.”
Despite those boundaries he set, sometimes, “other people blur the lines for you,” he continued, adding that very early into dating someone, he has to talk about the fringe part of his fan base. “Can you imagine going on a second date with someone and being like, ‘Okay, there’s this corner of the thing, and they’re going to say this, and it’s going to be really crazy, and they’re going to be really mean, and it’s not real.… But anyway, what do you want to eat?’” he explained.
He said that he wonders himself how best to respond when the commentary gets too loud. “It’s obviously a difficult feeling to feel like being close to me means you’re at the ransom of a corner of Twitter or something,” he said. “I just wanted to sing. I didn’t want to get into it if I was going to hurt people like that.”
Wilde addressed her own experience with his fans diplomatically, describing them as “deeply loving people” on the whole. “What I don’t understand about the cruelty you’re referencing is that that kind of toxic negativity is the antithesis of Harry, and everything he puts out there,” she said. “I don’t personally believe the hateful energy defines his fan base at all. The majority of them are true champions of kindness.”
Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.