When Zayn Malik quit One Direction in March 2015, he ditched the tween subject matter, too, opting to sing pretty overtly about sex and intimacy on his first solo album Mind of Mine. And while it's a move typical of former teen stars trying to appeal to an older crowd, Zayn insists it was an organic move on his part.

"It wasn't a conscious decision to make [the album] sexual or refer to sex," Zayn said in an interview with PAPER Magazine for their summer 2016 'Sexy' issue. "But I just found out that a lot of situations that I was in were quite sexual situations -- all of the time. I enjoyed singing about [sex], clearly.”

Zayn also admits that during his transition from boy band member to solo star, he was worried his fans may not embrace his new musical direction. So when he realized the majority of them are in it for the long haul, he felt an overwhelming amount of gratitude.

"There've been a few moments where I've been really taken aback," he said. "I feel like everybody looks for some sort of approval from some form in their life, and my fans are my approval. It's a sense of achievement that you can't really explain."

He continued, noting "to still be valuable by yourself is an important thing."

And while Zayn admits at the start of the interview that he’s “been partying too much and not looking after myself and eating enough food,” he maintains that’s atypical behavior for him. It's part of the reason he prefers longterm relationships to casual dating, he says.

"I don't really enjoy going out too much and partying," he said. "I like to have my own time and be at home, and I kind of need a partner with me to do that. I just like the security of that. It feels good to me. It feels right.”

Head over to Paper Magazine to check out Zayn's full cover story.

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