"It was never a big deal to begin with. The media made way more out of it than it is," a source close to Swift says. "They went out on a few dates and realized this was just not going anywhere."
A Lautner source corroborated that perspective, adding that the fact the two rising stars lived nearly a continent apart was a big factor in the low-key break-up.
"They became good friends and then went out a few times, but he lives in L.A. and she lives in Nashville and their busy schedules kept it from becoming more than it was," the source tells PEOPLE.
Representatives for Lautner and Swift had no comment.
The day after Lautner, 17, made a Dec. 12 Saturday Night Live appearance in which he "defended" Swift's honor, he flew down to Nashville to surprise Swift for her 20th birthday party. Sometime after the party, the pair decided that it made more sense just to remain friends.
The couple, who met while filming the upcoming Valentine's Day, had been spending time together since October. Photographers first got hip to the relationship when Lautner was spotted attending two of Swift's concerts in Chicago, and the teen stars reunited three weeks later at an L.A. Kings hockey game.
The down-to-earth pair were photographed earlier this month getting cozy over frozen yogurt after dinner at an L.A. Benihaha, and Lautner even met the 'rents: Swift's mother Andrea joined the two for a relaxed dinner at Bistro Garden in Studio City in October.
Reporting by JULIE JORDAN and CYNTHIA SANZ