I am pleased to inform you that your massive crush on Sabrina Carpenter is justified

Your crush on Sabrina Carpenter is justifiedPhotographed by Brendan Wixted. Fashion by Cassie Anderson

Forgive me for starting this story off on such a deeply woo-woo note, but there’s really no other way to say it: When Sabrina Carpenter and I part ways after a two-hour breakfast at Sant Ambroeus in the West Village, New York, her taking off into a black car in a big furry leopard-print bucket hat, my first thought is that she operates with the knowing self-awareness of someone who’s been here before. It’s not enough to call the 25-year-old “mature” or an “old soul” — although both of those things are true, micro-miniskirts and platform boots be damned.

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It’s more that she walks through the world already embodying some of the lessons that take many of us decades or even a lifetime to learn: how to trust her gut, never take herself too seriously (while still working really freaking hard), and the magic of staying present in the moment. Then there’s this insight, which she dropped between bites of toast: “I feel like I have a very, very strong relationship with the universe and not even in an astrology-type or spiritual way. I think I’ve always just been very good at knowing the things that I want to do and that I can make them happen.” You walk away from a conversation with Sabrina thinking, 'Damn, she’s really got this figured out.'

And it’s a good thing she does, because with the kind of year she’s had — including the fever dream of opening for one-of-her-longtime-idols-turned-friends Taylor Swift on a tour that’s become a once-in-a-generation culturally-defining moment — it would be all too easy to lose touch with your sense of reality.

Of course, Sabrina does have more than a decade of experience navigating a career in the spotlight, having landed her first role at age 11 on NBC’s Law and Order: SVU and then, in almost rapid succession, starring in Disney’s Girl Meets World and Netflix’s Work It, putting out five albums with her addictively feminine, extremely layered pop sound and all too relatable relationship-centric lyrics, touring the world, and building an Instagram following that is 33-million-fans strong. And the thing is, she seems to be having fun with it all. Exhibit A: The way she custom-writes and belts out delightfully raunchy new outros to her hit song 'Nonsense' throughout The Eras Tour (and during her Emails I Can’t Send Tour too), tweaked specifically to whatever city she happens to be performing in.1

1. The version on her album is “Woke up this morning thought I’d write a pop hit / How quickly can you take your clothes off? Pop quiz.” A few favorite alternatives: “I’ve got a personality but no tits / This song is not about Joshua Bassett / Los Angeles your energy is big dick” and “When you go down under, do you miss me? / He’s so big I felt it in my kidney / Screamed so loud they heard it here in Sydney.” 10/10 recommend training your TikTok algo to serve these outros to you as often as possible.

Stella McCartney coat, bra, and shorts. Prota Fiori boots. Marlo Laz necklace and ring. Ippolita earrings. Photographs by Brendan Wixted. Styling by Cassie Anderson.

Meanwhile, not unlike the megastar she’s been opening for, parts of her personal life play out for public consumption via a self-feeding loop of lyrics and gossip and headlines and then lyrics again, sending fans into detective mode as they sing along to every verse. The latest round of headlines, in case you’ve somehow missed them, pertains to a certain internet-breaking rumoured suitor.

Over the course of our candid heart-to-heart, we got into all of it. But first, I had to call her out on something she’d said…

Late last year, in your acceptance speech for the Variety Hitmakers Rising Artist Award, you mentioned how your mum would reference The Tortoise and The Hare story when you were a kid and how it helped you get comfortable with “the mindset of a slow rise.” At first I was like, 'Oh, I totally relate to that.' And then I thought, 'But wait. She’s only 24 [at the time]. She got her first acting job at 11. She had this major role at 15.' It made me think about the ways in which ambitious women continue to move the goalposts for ourselves.

I was really nervous when I gave that speech, to be super frank. That award was such an honour, but it was one of the first speeches I’ve ever given, in this room of all these people I admire.

Poster Girl top and shorts. Tiffany & Co. necklace and earrings. Ippolita ring (index). Maison Raksha ring (middle, worn throughout). Louis Vuitton bag.Photographs by Brendan Wixted. Styling by Cassie Anderson.

I was a kid when I saw that Miley Cyrus was 16 and touring arenas. And so my mind went, 'At 16, you’re going to tour arenas.' And then when that didn’t happen, I was like, 'Oh.' I think if you really look at how long I’ve been singing and acting, it’s a long time compared to the instant gratification that some people have. I never had the instant thing, which now I feel very lucky about because I have a lot of experience. Even if I’m light-years ahead, I would rather feel that I’m behind and have the ambition to think, 'Oh, I can always work a little bit harder. I can always try something new.' There are things I haven’t done yet that I really want to do.

What kinds of things?

Well, I feel so grateful that I’ve been able to tour an album that I really care about for almost two years and that my fans have given it a life longer than I ever could have asked for. I put two and a half years into making this album, and it’s a shitty feeling when you put so much time into something and people want something new in two months. So I’m trying to really take this experience in before moving on to the next thing… but I’ve been working on the next thing for a minute. I’m starting to feel like I’ve outgrown the songs I’m singing, which is always an exciting feeling because I think that means the next chapter is right around the corner.

Does a next chapter look like more music or a return to acting or…?

I go to the movies and I get really jealous of the people in the movies. I’m like, 'Oh, I want to be in a movie.' And then I go to concerts and I get jealous of people onstage. I’m like, 'Oh, I want to be onstage.' I think that’s a good sign. The hardest thing for me to do sometimes is to stop and take a moment to recognise how much I grew in the last year. I didn’t think 24 was going to be special at all. When I turned 24, I was like, 'What is this year even made for?' Because 21 is always very pronounced, 25 is always very pronounced. But the middle ages, oof. Even with songs, there’s 'Nobody likes you when you’re 23.' But shit about 24.

So has 24 been different than you expected?

You still feel very youthful, you can still wear very short skirts, but you also feel more insightful and have a bit more knowledge and experience. You’re better able to know the people that you want to invite into your life, whereas before you are just nice to everybody and want to be everyone’s friend. I think that’s what’s happened to me in the last year and a half. Instead of being like, 'Do people like me?' it’s 'Oh, do I actually like you?' Not in a mean way, but in a sense of, do I want this energy around me all the time? Is this someone who adds to my life?

What are those things that you look for to determine whether somebody’s additive to your life?

People who stimulate me and don’t just agree with everything I say. And people who are funny. When I meet people that feel very genuine and pure, I hope to keep them in my life. Because that’s the only way that I’m going to stay close to the ground in any capacity. But also, part of learning is keeping the wrong people in your life for a period of time. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way a couple of times, for sure.

Tell me about the day-to-day of life on the road with Taylor Swift for The Eras Tour.

What’s been so fun about this tour is getting to perform in places I haven’t before. And I’m quite jet-lagged because we’re all over the world. So sleep is super important. The hardest thing is turning your brain off and getting everything to quiet down. But I’m grateful for my inability to turn my brain off at times because that’s when I come up with ideas. I feel creative. I feel excited. After a show, I think a lot about what I want to do differently the next time and what I want to do with my own show in two years.

I did two legs of the Emails I Can’t Send Tour, and that was amazing, but it was a much more rigorous schedule. I feel so genuinely lucky on The Eras Tour because I get to perform a set that I’m super comfortable with, and then I get to watch one of the greatest performers every night. My favourite thing to do has always been to watch people who look so comfortable in their bodies onstage, like Madonna and Britney and Prince. Sometimes when you don’t have a mirror in front of you and you can’t actually see how you look, a lot of the learning comes from watching a video back and thinking, 'Oh, I thought I was giving more than I was actually giving.' And it’s been a very tall order being on a stage that big because — and this is not even to sound like a pick-me, like when girls are like 'I’m so small, I can’t reach the top shelf' — I’m literally 5 feet tall. So sometimes when I’m on that stage, it feels so huge that I just have to be larger than life in some capacity.

It almost feels like a Broadway show because everything is so synchronised but at the same time feels so in the moment. That’s an art. It’s really hard to teach. It’s really hard to learn. And I feel so lucky that I get to watch Taylor perform every time. It makes me want to tour the world again, which is a good feeling.

It sounds like you’re really energised and excited by what you’re doing — I can imagine that if you weren’t, you’d risk burning out.

Yeah. I’d be smoking a pipe a day. It would be rough. No, I’m still very much in love with it. I think that’s the whole goal, to keep falling in love with what you do all the time in new ways. With this industry, if you’re focused on the wrong things, it can be easy not to feel that way. If you’re focused on the things that excite you and the things that bring you that inspiration, that joy, it’s a more lighthearted experience.

What would be “wrong” things to focus on?

Anything that makes you question your own innate feelings and ideas and emotions. You read all of these interviews with artists in the past where the work that they were the most criticised for or the work that they were the most scared of was the thing that felt the most honest to them. And I always try to keep that in mind — to not take what other people say too heavily.

Considering that you’re in a much more constant feedback cycle than previous generations, you have to be particularly intentional about taking a step back and knowing what noise to drown out.

Correct. You have to be discerning, protect your energy, as they say. Because everyone has the ability to say whatever they want. And you’re like, do you have a degree in anything? People comment all the time, sounding like vocal instructors talking about technique, and then you go to their profile, and they’re literally working at GameStop [an American electronics company]. And by the way, no offence to anyone that works at GameStop because I love GameStop. But I just mean it in the sense that people will be doing something so different with their lives and have opinions on things that they aren’t an expert on.

Knowing what to actually take to heart is always going to be difficult, but especially, I think, at this age. It’s nice to have friends in the industry you feel like you can trust. You need to have people who have been through similar things and can be a normal friend and just happen to have this job as well.

Louis Vuitton jacket and skirt. Ohliguer rings. Ippolita earrings.Photographs by Brendan Wixted. Styling by Cassie Anderson.

What are some of the ways that you lean on those friends?

It ranges from things like, 'Can you come to the gynecologist with me?' And also, 'Can you listen to this song and tell me if it should go on my album?' I feel very lucky that I have friends I can ask those things of because having this job can feel very lonely and weird because you can’t turn it off. Genuinely, I’ve been in situations where I’ll go to some sort of doctor’s appointment, and they’ll ask me questions about while they’re checking me out, and I don’t know how to respond.

One of my best friends has taught me the art of people-watching. It’s very easy to be so focused and zoomed-in on your own stuff that you miss the funny things that someone is doing next to you or down the street. When I look at more than just my bubble, it ends up inspiring a lot of lyrics and song ideas.

I feel like the most interesting people have a real curiosity about the human condition and want to learn from people around them and put that into their art. It’s about trying to make sense of the threads that pull us all together, what shared experiences we have.

On your time off, when you go out and socialise, do you feel like you’re able to connect with people here in New York?2 Because in the beginning, I had a really hard time. But now, I’ve made so many friends in New York, like at different restaurants or people who are working at stores or store owners. I’m so interested in people here because I feel like they always have some wild stories that are really inspiring to me. I’m curious if you feel that way here too.

2. Sabrina moved into an apartment in downtown Manhattan in 2021 and splits her time between New York and Los Angeles.

Absolutely. There are so many fascinating, deeply ambitious people.

A lot of hungry innovators. Meeting other people who also are like, 'Oh, I really want to make this, and I really want to do this' and who are actually taking the steps to do it always makes me want to do more. And the only way the world keeps moving is if we keep making stuff, if we keep changing through new ideas and conversations. That sounds so dramatic. But every time you meet someone random, it’s never random. It’s for some reason. You’re supposed to learn something. I’ve had so many strangers in New York tell me things that I will put on my gravestone.

Are you having these conversations with people who know who you are, who are fans?

Most of those conversations are with an older man or woman who has no idea who I am or what I do. And for whatever reason, we are in the same place at the same time and can get deep on things. They’ll be like, 'I was alive in the Second World War, and I can tell you about my affair.' It’s just so interesting. I definitely have regrets about not asking my grandparents enough questions. So now I try to have those conversations a lot more and see what I can learn from other people.

So I understand how you approach friendships and meeting new people. Can we talk about how you approach dating?3 As you put your hands over your face to hide!

A lot of it, for me, has been fate. I know that’s super broad, but I don’t actively look for it. The relationships that I actually want to put my energy into have to be so interesting or invigorating because they take me away from the other things I love. So yeah, it’s fun and it’s messy. I think I’m still just at this place where I’m really enjoying the newness of all of it.

3. Sabrina and I had breakfast in January, when rumours of her and Saltburn actor Barry Keoghan were fuzzy at best. Now, based on pics from the Met Gala and social media activity, their romance seems to have blossomed further, but her team did not respond to a request for comment on the matter...so do with that what you will.

Mugler coat and boots. Cartier rings and necklace. Photographs by Brendan Wixted. Styling by Cassie Anderson.

Do you use apps?

No. I have one app, and I usually just never open it. But there would be times where I would just want to see that other people exist. I know that sounds weird. Because when you’re on tour for a very long time, you’re just like, oh my god, there’s no one around.

Just tens of thousands of screaming girls.

Yeah. It’s either screaming girls or it’s people you work with. So when I was a lot younger, I was like, 'Maybe I should get an app to see if there are human beings.' But I’ve never, ever, ever, ever gone on a date from an app. It’s always just been by fate and by chance, people I meet or people that I connect with through friends and things like that.

I’d imagine your experience is very different from the average 25-year-old.

I don’t know. What’s an average 25-year-old? What was your dating experience when you were 25?

I’m a terrible example. My husband and I started dating in college. I was 23 when we got engaged, which is wild to think about now in my thirties.

Oh my god, you’re one of those. My best friend just got married and she’s my age.

Do you like the guy [she's married]?4

Oh, I love him. He’s amazing. It just made me feel like I was so behind or something. And then I realised, no, no, no, she’s just ahead.

4. A question that I asked without realising she was more likely than not talking about Joey King, el-oh-el.

Everybody’s on their own timeline. I have friends who have gone through divorces in their twenties.

I love how we’ve normalised that. Because that makes me feel a lot less scared when it comes to dating in general. When I was younger, the one thing I always thought was, why would I date this person if I didn’t see myself marrying them? I just wouldn’t even put energy into it. But now I have a mentality that there are relationships that are meant to be in your life, even if it’s only for a couple of weeks.

Tory Burch dress. Paris Texas heels. Cartier necklace. Ippolita earrings. Photographs by Brendan Wixted. Styling by Cassie Anderson.

And you learn something from everybody. Of course, in your case, you can unwittingly become the subject of a media frenzy based on even the briefest of relationships.

I’m not really aware of that until I have someone random that I didn’t tell 'Oh, I’m dating this person' tell me, 'Oh, you’re dating this person.' It’s a weird thing and it’s so funny because it might be someone that I talked to three times, and I haven’t even decided if I like them. But it’s like, if you’re two feet away from them, then you are together.

And then your gynecologist is going to ask, 'So, is this why you need birth control?'

Exactly. They’re going to ask you about it when you open your legs. That’s the weirdest part. I wish more people knew that there’s nuance, as opposed to taking everything on the internet as fact. They know in their own lives that they might be texting someone but not in a relationship. But for some reason, it’s very black and white when it comes to the internet and the way that people on the internet are portrayed. I have to laugh at it though, because sometimes I read some funny shit, but it almost feels like I’m reading about someone else.

Do you have a type in general?

Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think I have a type. But the internet loves to just put pictures next to each other of men who have the same hair colour. I’m super attracted to a lot of the things I look for in friends, because I want to be with someone who’s going to be one of my best friends. So a lot of it is energy and humour and being genuine. I will say I’ve always connected more with people who are really in touch with their emotions. I mean, none of those relationships have worked out so far. Sometimes I think I’d be better off with a mime.

You’re like, 'I’ll just fill in the blanks.' I’d imagine, too, that people in a creative industry can be particularly in touch with their emotions.

Yeah. The funny thing is that the relationships that people know that I’ve had are obviously with people in this line of work, but they don’t know about the ones that aren’t. I just don’t know if the apps are ever going to be a thing that makes sense for me because I love meeting people in person, and I love getting to know someone through talking. I love talking so much. You can tell. You’re like, 'I know.'

Fannie Schiavoni dress. Fleur du Mal bra. Cartier ring. Photographs by Brendan Wixted. Styling by Cassie Anderson.

The perfect interviewee. It’s great that you’re not holding yourself to some societal standard or clock when it comes to where you should be, especially when you’re at such an exciting time in your life with so many wonderful things going on.

I mean, we can’t all get engaged at 23. Holy shit. That’s amazing though. I think about that sometimes. Obviously, it would be so lovely to know that I have my person. I always think about the Cher interview when she’s like, 'I don’t need a rich man, mum. I am a rich man.' I don’t know if it’s necessarily as simple as that, but whether I’m alone or with someone, I always go, 'I’m supposed to be here right now.' So I just try to think about it like that. I feel like life will work really hard to give you clarity and understanding in one section of your life over another. So sometimes when I’m working, everything feels super aligned and makes sense, and that’s when maybe my personal life doesn’t feel as clear and then vice versa.

Okay, so across your personal life and your professional accomplishments — of which there are many — what are some of the things you love most about yourself?

I love this question. I think the fact that I really, really do love to find the humour and joy in things, even if they feel really dark and heavy. That’s saved me a lot of the time. Ooh, answering this is tricky. Because you’re like, am I going to say my hair? I’ve always loved the way I care about my friends. When I love people, I just care about them so much and want them to feel loved and seen. And then third, I would say I like my ass. I will do squats till the day I die.

Okay, being that this is Cosmo — and that you graced the world with the horniest Christmas music of all time5 — I have to ask: Have you ever used a Cosmo sex tip? And do you have any sex tips for our readers?

No one’s ever asked me this. I feel so honoured.6 Honestly, this sounds weird to say, but when I was in my early teens, I read the Cosmo sex tips. Jesus. Sex tips, I feel like... [At this moment, two waiters seem to start making their way to our booth, and she pauses.] Let me just bring them over to the table as well so they know.

5. 'Fruitcake', featuring lyrics you’ll just have to hear for yourself if you haven’t already.

6. Dear reader, I can confirm: Sabrina genuinely lit up in surprise and excitement at this question.

Right, if you could just stand on the bench here…

Yeah, exactly. With a megaphone. This is so funny. I feel like it’s so different for everybody. I mean, at the end of the day, my whole thing right now is, whatever you do, don’t get pregnant. That’s the way I’m living my life. So that’s my sex tip. Be smart. Use protection.

It’s funny too, writing the outros, because I feel like I’ve learned a lot more about sexuality through writing those than people think. I think people think I’m just obnoxiously horny, when in reality, writing them comes from the ability to not be fearful of your sexuality as opposed to just not being able to put it down.

Quine Li look. Maison Ernest heels. Tiffany & Co. necklace.Photographs by Brendan Wixted. Styling by Cassie Anderson.

But, in a real way, my advice is: Do whatever feels most comfortable to you. You can be curious and ask questions, but a lot of it is just going to be you learning yourself. So do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable and safe. Boring answer.

But so important. Thank you for humouring me with that.

Of course. I feel like now I’m going to get in the car and be like, 'I had way better sex tips.'

Cosmopolitan UK's June/July issue is on sale 21st May. Sign up to our newsletter here.

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Hearst Owned

Cover: Tory Burch dress. Marlo Laz ring (left). Ippolita ring (right index). Maison Raksha ring (right, middle).

Stylist: Cassie Anderson. Hair: Danielle Priano at Kalpana. Makeup: Carolina Gonzalez at A-Frame Agency. Manicure: Naomi Yasuda at Forward Artists. Set design: Stockton Hall at Atelier Management. Shot on location at Virgin Hotels New York City.

Executive producer: Abbey Adkison. Director of photography: Janet Upadhye. Gaffer: Justin Mulroy. Second assistant: Nick Sansone. Production assistant: Joshua Cornejo. Editors: Sarah Ng and Amanda Evans. Sound: Sarah Ng. Motion design: Ying Chen.

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