The 23-year-old singer covers the May issue of Rolling Stone magazine, and is quite candid during his interview with writer Cameron Crowe about what it was like to date the superstar. "Certain things don’t work out," he says of his split from Swift. "There’s a lot of things that can be right, and it’s still wrong."
The two dated from October 2012 to January 2013, and Swift's "Out of the Woods" and "Style" songs from her 1989 album are reportedly about the One Direction member. As for whether he thinks the tracks are actually about him, Styles responds, "I mean, I don't know if they're about me or not…but the issue is, she's so good, they're bloody everywhere. I write from my experiences; everyone does that. I'm lucky if everything [we went through together] helped create those songs. That's what hits your heart."
When Crowe asks if Styles has a specific message for his ex, he quips, "Maybe this where you write down that I left!"
"In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together. You're celebrating the fact it was powerful and made you feel something, rather than 'this didn't work out, and that's bad,'" he adds. "And if you run into that person, maybe it's awkward, maybe you have to get drunk...but you shared something. Meeting someone new, sharing those experiences, it's the best s**t ever. So thank you."
Like Swift's lyrics, Styles admits that there is a girl that's "a huge part" of his self-titled solo album -- but he's not naming any names. "Sometimes you want to tip the hat, and sometimes you just want to give them the whole cap," he shares. "And hope they know it's just for them."
Styles also looks back on the photos taken of himself and Swift on their date in New York City's Central Park, and confesses that it was an uncomfortable time. "When I see photos from that day, I think: Relationships are hard, at any age. And adding in that you don't really understand exactly how it works when you're 18, trying to navigate all that stuff didn't make it easier," he recalls. "I mean, you're a little bit awkward to begin with. You're on a date with someone you really like. It should be that simple, right? It was a learning experience for sure."
Styles continues, "But at the heart of it, I just wanted it to be a normal date."
The "Sign of the Times" singer confides that he admires Swift's music, but has he ever told her that? "Yes and no. She doesn't need me to tell her they're great," he says. "They're great songs...It's the most amazing unspoken dialogue ever."
In 2015, One Direction released the song "Perfect," and ET asked Styles if the boy band's song was inspired by his relationship with Swift, especially the line: "If you're looking for someone to write your breakup songs about, baby, I'm perfect."