Among the list of criteria for dating in 2020: Get you a partner who will come hard for anyone that dares call you out on social media.
Because Gigi Hadid wasn't having any of that when YouTube personality Jake Paul criticized boyfriend Zayn Malik in February. Boasting how he "Almost had to clap up zane from 1 direction because he is a little guy and has an attitude," Paul tweeted, "Zane ik you're reading this... stop being angry cause u came home alone to ur big ass hotel room hahaha."
Except as Hadid was quick to point out to her nine million-plus followers (more than double those of Paul, for what it's worth), the former One Direction-er turned American Music Award-winning R&B vocalist really has very little to be angry about. "Lol cause he doesn't care to hang w you and your embarrassing crew of YouTube groupies ..?" Hadid replied. "Home alone with his best friends like a respectful king cause he has me, sweetie. Unbothered by your irrelevant ugly ass. Go to bed ..."
Unclear if Paul followed her advice, though he did delete the tweet.
Score one for the couple sometimes known as Zigi. Two really, because for those keeping track at home, this pairing is definitively set to the on-again position.
There's been more than a few switches in the four-plus year saga of the in demand musician and his supermodel muse. Ignoring any brief breakups that may have occurred with their fans remaining none the wiser, the 27-year-old Brit and the nearly 40-time Vogue cover girl have split some three times, most recently in late 2018.
But not only have they reunited each time that much stronger—a source told E! News after their December 2019 reconciliation that "the break between the two was needed,"—they've remained in each other's corners throughout. When fans were quick to assume his April 2019 missives were subtweets directed at his then-ex, Malik set the record straight, calling Hadid "the most amazing woman I've ever known" and someone who "does nothing but love and support me when lord knows I don't deserve it. So if you have anything to say @ me and I'll put you the f--k straight."
And now he's defending for two, the 25-year-old's pregnancy fulfilling a dream she's been harboring for some time. The California native has "always wanted to start a family," with Malik, a source told Us Weekly.
Because even through their times of hardships, one fact has remained clear. As an insider recently told E! News, Hadid "has always had a soft spot for Zayn."
That much was clear from the jump, when three months into their coupling, the Victoria's Secret model swiped back at a fan who took issue with her dating Malik after romances with Cody Simpson and Joe Jonas. Commenting on a photo Hadid had posted with the former boy bander, the social media troll suggested Hadid practice her walk "instead of having a new bf every 2 weeks." (Never mind that the likes of Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Miu Miu and Lanvin seem to think the runway vet's strut is just fine.)
"I've dated 3 guys in 3 yrs, hun," she replied. "My walk can always get better; I hope the unrelated bitterness in ur heart can too."
The words were snappy, but the DGAF attitude was completely genuine. Because, frankly, it was hard to be all that annoyed while in the throes of a romance with such auspicious beginnings.
Malik told Britain's Evening Standard in 2016 that he'd first spied the model and Tommy Hilfiger designer at a November 2015 Victoria's Secret bash and asked her out for a date later that week. At popular NYC eatery Gemma, "We played it cool for, like, 10 minutes," Hadid recalled on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2017, "and then I was like, 'You're really cute.' We connected, like, really quickly. We have kind of the same sense of humor."
By the time of the February 2016 troll back-and-forth, the couple had already filmed Malik's steamy "Pillowtalk" video, confirmed their coupling in a radio interview and settled into a familiar routine that included home-cooked chicken, sweetcorn pie and Yorkshire pudding courtesy of Chef Z and encouraging words from his gal, G, Malik feeling comfortable enough to share his struggles with anxiety.
That May saw them take over the Met Gala red carpet with their collaborative Versace and Tommy Hilfiger ensembles and sweet PDA. And by the following summer, Malik was having to bat back talk of their power couple status, explaining they were just two regular people in love who happened to be super talented and really, really, really, ridiculously good looking. (As in, attractive enough to shoot a joint cover of Vogue in Italy. NBD.)
"That's not something I want to be a part of," he told Evening Standard in June 2017. "I'm with her because I like her and I hope she's with me because she likes me. When we come home, we don't really talk about that s--t. We just spend time together as a normal couple, cook food, watch TV, have a laugh." Such was the case when they reunited in March—following Hadid's busy fashion month—for a homemade meal of veggie paella, chicken and butternut squash with pals.
Another hallmark of their romance has been family time, the two celebrating Christmas with their clans—her mom Yolanda Hadid and model siblings Bella Hadid and Anwar Hadid and his mom Trisha Malik and sister Safaa Malik—and Eid al-Adha with their mothers.
Through three breakups—a brief June 2016 split; another in March 2018 and the recent yearlong separation that saw Hadid flirt with the idea of giving Bachelorette contestant Tyler Cameron her final rose—that core of their coupling hasn't changed.
The key to their success, she told Evening Standard back in 2016, was having "very similar interests outside of work." They "cook a lot together and do art together," she continued, "and we're each others' best friends. We both feel we can talk about anything and learn a lot from one another."
And so when Malik began reaching out to a single Hadid late last year, his overtures were pretty difficult to resist. "She has always loved him," the insider told E! News of the reconciliation. "Zayn had been working on his music and focusing on his health and is in a really good place currently."
Hadid, meanwhile, was contemplating a future that might not always include endless runways. "I think that as I get older... well one day I'll start a family and I don't know if I will always be modeling," she recently told i-D magazine, the first glimpse into her motherhood dreams. "I love the creative side of fashion, it's so fulfilling. The people I work with make me so happy, I'm so lucky to be around them. But who knows? Maybe I'll take up full time cooking!"
For now, she's wholly focused on the bun in her oven. A few months in, she has begun sharing her secret to close friends and family, a source told Entertainment Tonight, who are, naturally, as thrilled as the duo themselves. "Once Gigi and Zayn got back together at the end of last year, it was like they never skipped a beat," said the source, "and knew what they had was special."
It's certainly a love worth defending.
(Originally published March 4, 2020 at 3 a.m. PT)