"Joel was my boyfriend for two years and I loved him — he was a very important part of my life," she tells the magazine. "All that stuff about the age difference between us being the reason we broke up is just not true; I never felt the age difference. Breaking up was just something that I felt needed to happen between us … we e-mail all the time now and are at a really good place."
Duff, whose new album, "Dignity," was released this month, says that even though she and Madden seemed very different, they actually had a lot in common.
"People thought we were an unlikely couple, but we really weren't that different," she says. "After two months, I didn't even see his tattoos anymore, because that's not who he is. He used to say, 'I don't think there are too many people out there who really get you, but I do.' And he did. I could be stupid, silly, funny, or crazy, and he got it. He gave me a sense of confidence and independence I didn't have before."
Photos: Hilary Duff
Madden is currently dating "Simple Life" star Nicole Richie. Rumors circulated that songs Duff's album — including the song Gypsy Woman — were about Richie. Duff told USA Today recently that Gypsy Woman is actually about the other woman who broke up her parent's marriage.
2"It's interesting — half the record was written when I was in a relationship with Joel, and the other half was written after we'd broken up. So together, the album is just really personal," she says. "So many of the songs are about things my family has gone through. I was scared to write about that stuff at first, but then I thought, 'Why try to make it seem like I have a perfect life when I don't'?"
Duff also fesses up to being insecure about her body and admits that she got a little too skinny recently.
"I have the same insecurities about my body that every girl has, and I made a conscious choice to get in shape. I've always been a junk food eater, but I started paying more attention to what I put in my body and cut out foods like pizza, chicken fingers, and french fries," she says. "But I hit a period when I got too skinny. I wasn't too obsessed with it, but I did learn that there have to be days when you just don't think about it.'"
The new issue of CosmoGirl! magazine hits stands April 17.