Harry Styles has something to say to ex Taylor Swift – and it’s not what you’d expect.
The singer opens up about his brief 2012 romance with the pop star in Rolling Stone‘s new cover story – albeit begrudgingly.
After being prodded by Cameron Crowe – who interviewed Styles for the feature – the star joked he was going to the restroom and never returning. Yet, when asked if he had anything to say to Swift now, Styles replied, “Certain things don’t work out. There’s a lot of things that can be right, and it’s still wrong.”
“In writing songs about stuff like that, I like tipping a hat to the time together,” he continued. “You’re celebrating the fact it was powerful and made you feel something, rather than, ‘This didn’t work out, and that’s bad.’ 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— ever. So thank you.”
Styles, 23, and Swift’s second date to the Central Park Zoo in New York City that year was famously invaded by the paparazzi, a moment that the former One Direction member said taught him a lot about mixing his fame and romance.
“When I see photos from that day,” he said, “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. 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. But at the heart of it – I just wanted it to be a normal date.”
And, yes, Styles is aware that the failed relationship maybe spawned some hit songs – namely, Swift’s “Style” and “Out of the Woods.”
“I mean, I don’t know if they’re about me or not …” he told Rolling Stone, adding, “but the issue is, she’s so good, they’re bloody everywhere.”
Styles said that he, too, writes from experiences (One Direction’s “Perfect” is thought to be about Swift), noting, “I’m lucky if everything [we went through] helped create those songs. That’s what hits your heart. That’s the stuff that’s hardest to say, and it’s the stuff I talk least about.”
So has Styles ever told Swift how he feels about the songs? “Yes and no,” he said, noting that Swift doesn’t need praise from him: “They’re great songs … It’s the most amazing unspoken dialogue ever.”
Styles’ own highly anticipated record, set to drop May 12, takes inspiration from a romance.
Though he wouldn’t name the woman (Styles was linked on-and-off to Kendall Jenner last year), the singer said, “She’s a huge part of the album. Sometimes you want to tip the hat, and sometimes you just want to give them the whole cap … and hope they know it’s just for them.”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.