In an interview with the Evening Standard, the singer admitted that dating someone who is used to fame like Hadid, whose mom once starred on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, “definitely” makes romance in the spotlight easier.
“But,” he added, “I can understand how it can look, that you’ve got these two people in a ‘power couple’. That’s not something I want to be a part of. I’m with her because I like her and I hope she’s with me because she likes me.”
He continued, “When we come home, we don’t really talk about that s—. We just spend time together as a normal couple, cook food, watch TV, have a laugh.”
The singer and the model first started dating in late 2015, and have been inseparable ever since. Yet, Malik says he’ll never get accustomed to the public tracking their every move.
“In New York [where Hadid is based], you can sometimes get out in the early hours of the morning for a walk,” he shared. “But there’s no underground parking here, no escape routes. So they’re going to get pictures, they’re going to find you. In L.A. [his own usual U.S. base], it’s more catered to these things — you’ve got back entrances and that.”
In the lengthy interview, Malik also got real about growing up in the Islamic faith as the son of a British Pakistani man.
“I take a great sense of pride — and responsibility — in knowing that I am the first of my kind, from my background,” he told the outlet. “I’m not currently practicing but I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture. But I’m just me. I don’t want to be defined by my religion or my cultural background.”
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He shared, however, that before fame, he experienced prejudice: on his first trip to America, Malik underwent three security checks before even boarding the aircraft.
“First they said that I’d been randomly selected, and then they said it was something to do with my name, it was flagging something on their system…” he shared. “Then when I landed, it was like a movie. They kept me there for three hours, questioning me about all kinds of crazy stuff. I was 17, my first time in America, jet-lagged off the plane, confused. The same thing happened the next time too.”
Malik isn’t mad about the experience, though. He said, “I understand the level of caution that needs to be taken, especially now, in the light of certain events at home. I don’t think there’s any benefit to getting angry — it’s something that comes with the climate. I understand why they’ve got to do it.”