James Argent has denied that he has romantically reunited with his ex Lydia Bright following a whirlwind of speculation.
Last month, reports emerged that the former lovebirds, who split in 2016, were back together after "meeting up in secret" and "spending time together".
However, the former The Only Way Is Essex star, 34, has denied the claims, and admits that he finds it "frustrating" when girls won't approach him following his weight loss transformation because they believe he is back together with Lydia.
"We want to be in each other's lives forever. She's one of my closest friends. We care about each other and respect each other, but we think anything else than staying friends would jeopardise that," Arg, who has shed 13 stone, said.
He added to The Mirror: "I want to be able to see Lydia when I'm not having a good day as she's somebody I turn to for help, but we can't do that at the minute because we get pictured, and everyone says, "they're back together'.
"I have girls who think ", aren't you with Lydia?" So they don't bother with me. It's frustrating."
As well as labelling Lydia his close friend, James also explained that he also feels free to turn to Lydia's mother Debbie for advice.
In December, it was claimed that James and Lydia were spending a lot of time together after becoming friends again earlier in the year.
An insider told MailOnline at the time: "James and Lydia have been spending a lot of time together in recent weeks.
"They became friends again at the beginning of the year but now they're starting to develop more serious feelings for each other.
"Everyone knows James has never stopped loving Lydia and the idea of her taking him back has spurred him on throughout his weight loss journey," they continued.
The pair had begun dating in 2008, and stayed together for eight years before splitting in 2016.
Since calling it quits, Lydia gave birth to her daughter Loretta in February 2020, whom she shares with ex-boyfriend Lee Cronin.
Meanwhile, James recently revealed he's planning on putting some weight back on after shedding 13 stone in nine months.
He underwent gastric sleeve surgery in April 2021 after being told by doctors that if he caught Covid-19 at 27stone, he would find it difficult to recover.
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