Liam Payne has admitted Cheryl is still "the most important" person in his life.
The 26-year-old singer split from the former Girls Aloud star last year but he still feels "lucky" to have the mother of his two-year-old son Bear around.
Liam - who is now dating model Maya Henry - said: "They're so important to me -- Cheryl as well.
"She's one of the most, if not the most, important people in my life. I'm lucky I have someone who understands what I'm going through."
The 'Strip That Down' hitmaker admitted he didn't understand 36-year-old Cheryl when they were together.
He said: "The one thing I was missing as a man in the relationship I had, was a level understanding about what she was feeling about stuff.
"I think I learnt through away being that, while I want to protect her, there's a big part of her that wants to protect me."
The former One Direction singer even joked he and Cheryl could get back together "if she plays her cards right" but admitted he'd be in trouble for saying so.
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Liam was just 23 when he became a father and he admitted he started parenthood in a "bad place" because he was worried about the pressures.
Speaking during new documentary 'Ant Middleton and Liam Payne: Straight Talking', he said: "Becoming a dad at such a young age, it's such a difficult thing.
"And I think I built fatherhood up so much in my head that it kind of messed me up to start with. I started in a bad place with it.
"I think it spooked me out early on, and I was just worried I would not be enough to look after the both of them."
Despite his comments about the 'Fight for This Love' hitmaker, Liam recently admitted he'd never had a relationship like his current one with 19-year-old Maya.
He gushed: "I'm really happy right now and things are good. Now that I've found someone who's my best friend as well as my partner. It's massively changed things for me.
"She's just so relaxed about everything. Someone who's completely got your back with everything is just the wildest thing.
"I don't think I've really experienced that before in someone, so it's quite a wonder to watch."