Zayn Malik, PAPER Magazine

PAPER/ Paola Kudacki

As the newly minted solo Zayn Malik, the previous boy band crooner has had quite the whirlwind year. He debuted a new album, a new 'do and a new leading lady all in a matter of months. With his revamped career amassing millions of music video views and a number one international album, Malik won't be regarded as a "former member of One Direction for very much longer. 

Instead, the mysterious dark-haired hunk with a scruffy beard and smoldering eyes is busy igniting headlines all on his own, as easily with his sultry tunes as with his on-and-off romance with one of fashion's most notable rising stars, Gigi Hadid

However, for as in demand as the "PILLOWTALK" crooner may be, Malik is not so keen on being the life of the party. 

"I don't really enjoy going out too much and partying. 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," he said in the new "SEXY" issue of PAPER

Who better to be his couch partner than Hadid? While their romance remains in a state of flux—one minute they're broken up, the next they're holding hands—it seems the Maybelline covergirl makes the perfect partner for Friday nights in.

"We'll see each other tonight and probably watch a film," he revealed. "Netflix and chill. Yeah, we do that a lot."

Zayn Malik, PAPER Magazine

PAPER/ Paola Kudacki

When they aren't perusing Netflix, you might find the young couple horseback riding together during their time off—a hobby Hadid has honed since she was a child. While Malik doesn't mind a pretty face, he's even more intrigued by a woman who can be his teacher. 

"I've always said and I still stand by it: I find intelligence attractive," he explained. "When I learn something from somebody and they teach me something, that's an attractive thing for me. Obviously, I find physical appearance attractive as well, but it's definitely squared more towards a personality as I've gotten older because you can't have a long-term relationship unless you get on with the person. It doesn't matter really about the exterior."

Zayn Malik, PAPER Magazine

PAPER/ Paola Kudacki

However, there is one exterior element Malik is particular about—his facial hair. While he wasn't allowed to sport any scruff while a member of One Direction, his beard has since become a part of his signature look, thanks in part to inspiration from this Oscar winner. 

"Facial hair was a weird thing. I think it's cause I just looked old. And they didn't like that. I always wanted a beard. I think every dude does when they're young," Malik continued. "Seeing Al Pacino in Carlito's Way—I needed the goatee after that. I was like, 'I wanna be Al Pacino.' I've always been obsessed with that, and I had to shave it off. I used to get a bit sad."

He's not so sad about his newfound success—an affirmation that going solo was a good decision. 

"I feel like everybody looks for some sort of approval from some form in their life, and my fans are my approval," he admitted. "It's a sense of achievement that you can't really explain."

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