Part of being a “normal 22-year-old” is having the freedom to spend time with loved ones, and that’s exactly what Zayn Malik has been doing since leaving One Direction in March in the middle of the band’s world tour, citing stress as a major factor for his departure.
“It’s like any other job, really – sometimes you have to move on because you’re not enjoying what you’re doing as much,” Malik’s former bandmate, Liam Payne, explained on the U.K.’s Capital Breakfast Show on Wednesday. “He wanted to go and spend some time with his family and missus.”
The missus in question is Perrie Edwards of British girl band Little Mix; the couple became engaged in 2013, though they have not announced plans to marry anytime soon.
Malik keeps (relatively) social-media silent, but Edwards has been posting selfies of herself with her fiancé on Instagram now that Malik no longer keeps the kind of hectic schedule that has 1D on track to release their fifth album in five years this coming fall.
Liam Payne Admits to Missing Zayn Malik
Of course, Payne, 21, admits to missing his bandmate, but knows that Malik “had to do what he had to do, really, for himself.”
As for One Direction, “We’re just going to carry on doing what we’re doing,” Payne continued. “We wish [Zayn] all the best with whatever he goes into. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
RELATED VIDEO: Zayn Malik Quits One Direction: ‘I Want to Be a Normal 22-Year-Old’
At the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, the four remaining members of 1D took home the award for top duo/group.
Payne – who was the first to invoke Malik’s name following his departure from the group in an emotional missive – made sure to thank the absent contributor to the achievement: “There’s one more person to share this with; that’s our brother, Zayn,” he said from the MGM Grand Garden Arena stage.
(No, you cried over the use of the word “brother.”)