The One Direction alum also calls girlfriend Gigi Hadid "super intelligent"

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated July 28, 2016 05:00 AM
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ELLE UK/Nabil Elderkin

He’s dating a supermodel and has scores of adoring fans, but Zayn Malik admits he still struggles with self-confidence.

“I just don’t have it in me to feel fully secure in anything I do. I always strive towards something better,” Malik tells Elle UK for its September cover story, available Aug. 3. “It’s why I think sometimes I come across the wrong way, a bit distant.”

Malik, 23, stunned fans in March of last year when he announced he was quitting One Direction – the boy band that rocketed him into superstardom.

He has since launched a solo career and hints that he has no regrets about his bombshell decision.

“At that time in my life I felt I had done everything I could do there and I just needed to change it up,” he says. “It didn’t feel brave.”

At the time of his exit, Malik said he was seeking some “private time out of the spotlight,” and in the new interview admits that the glare of fame can be a strain.

“I’m just stressed out trying to control how I’m perceived. I think about things a lot” he admits.

The candid comments come six weeks after Malik cancelled a show at London’s Capital Summertime Ball due to anxiety.

He wrote on social media at the time that the “anxiety that has haunted me throughout the last few months around live performances has gotten the better of me” and that “with the magnitude of the event, I have suffered the worst anxiety of my career.”

Girlfriend Gigi Hadid swiftly showed her support for her beau on social media, praising his “bravery.”

In the new interview, Malik left little doubt about his feelings toward his on-again love, opening up about their bond.

VIDEO: Gigi Hadid Reveals Which Sports Illustrated Bikini Shot Zayn Loves Most!

“She’s super intelligent, I think that’s why it works so well,” he says. “And we do the same type of job so we get that with each other.”

He also gets personal about the other ladies of his life – his mom and three sisters – and how they make sure fame doesn’t go to his head.

“I enjoyed the womanly influence. I have a lot of respect for women because of them. They are so strong, powerful and do everything themselves,” he said. “When I go back to Bradford they treat me exactly the same. It’s why I only ever go back for a few days, otherwise they have me taking out the bins.”