Firstly, let's under underestimate Niall Horan's pulling power. He is, after all, reportedly dating Jose Marino's daughter at the minute (IMAGINE pre date doorstep banter), and has enjoying the wiles of Barbara Palvin and other beauties.
— Mirror Celeb (@MirrorCeleb) June 2, 2015
So, in other words, Ellie DID enjoy some dates with Niall Horan, but she was never with Ed at the time. Or ever, as it happens. Therefore Sheeran's 'Don't' is clearly based on someone else entirely. Or Ellie Goulding, and she had no idea she was also dating him at the time. It happens. Just ask Taylor Swift... We are, of course, jesting.
Ellie tells the July edition of Elle: "I did go on a few dates with Niall, but I was never in a relationship with Ed. I have absolutely no idea where that came from and why it was turned into such a big thing... I find it so frustrating that female musicians are constantly defined by the men they have or haven't dated. It's something I've talked about with Taylor a lot. She definitely feels that. She gets bothered by it. It's like, you can be a great artist, you can write great songs, but the thing that everyone is going to talk about is some relationship they think you have had or not had. It's definitely something we both think happens to female artists over male artists."
As for Ed's side of things; he told Entertainment Weekly of "letting it slip" the ditty in question was about Ellie: "I never let it slip. What happened was one of the newspapers in England just printed that it was confirmed when it never was. We got in touch, and they took the story down. But obviously the damage had already been done by that point because every other newspaper picked up on it. So I never actually confirmed it."