Hunter Hayes Talks New Single 'Heartbreak' and Why His Upcoming Album Has No Love Songs
Even in trying times, Hunter Hayes is a hopeless romantic.
The 27-year-old country crooner is back at it again with some adorable words to tell his “future better half” in his new song “Heartbreak,” marking his first single in nearly three years and a taste at his upcoming third studio album, which highlights “transformation of personal growth and the hardest form of that.”
While it’s inevitable that life will sometimes break you, Hayes embraces change and uses heartbreak as one of the biggest “growing experiences.” The singer perceives dating as “exhausting” and “weird,” and wrote “Heartbreak” based on an offhand comment made by a friend when he decided it was time to get back out there following his split from longtime girlfriend Libby Barnes last year.
“I’m not in this for any reason other than finding a life partner,” he tells PEOPLE about his outlook on love and navigating the dating world. “I got nothing really on my agenda other than finding a teammate, a soulmate.”
“It was a combination of things — me really wanting to write to that person, but me also really wanting to just explain what I was going through on the search,” he continues about the song’s meaning, which he wrote literally sitting alongside the sea dreaming of his next fish. “I started writing it on my trip to Hawaii at the beginning of last year, where I sat on the edge of the ocean and wrote nearly two pages of lyrics that approached a love letter to someone I’ve never met.”
Although his heart may have been tired, he wasn’t going to let heartbreak get the best of him. Rather than letting the sadness take over his life, Hayes decided to look at the reality as “one step closer to the ultimate discovery.” Taking the “most transformative years of my entire life” and turning them into something his fans could relate to, Hayes “scrapped everything” from the project he was working on for nearly four years and flipped it into something that spoke no one’s truth but his own.
“I said, ‘This is the record I want to make,’ I named the album and I gave myself a clear picture of where I wanted to go topic wise and what I wanted to talk about,” he says about his forthcoming album, which is due out later this year.
“At the end of the day, as long as the music was something that I was proud of and that I knew I was there for and present in [that’s all that mattered],” he continues. “I spent a lot of time trying to write a record or trying to write songs that people wanted or that the industry expected of me.”
Believe it or not, love songs weren’t on the agenda for his next album. But just because they didn’t necessarily fit the “theme,” Hayes couldn’t stray too far from the topic that built his career.
“There were no love songs on the record because with the theme of the record, there wasn’t supposed to be,” he says. “It wasn’t going to have any love songs because that wasn’t the chapter of my life, but I wanted to write this series of songs to my future better half because I know I was being shaped into the person I really wanted to be when I found her. I was really passionate about wanting to write to this stranger.”
On a constant mission to make certain his romantic partner feels like a top priority, the aspect of first embracing his own flawshas played a critical role in finding his forever.
“I don’t know if I’m the only one — I don’t think I am, but I don’t want to speak for everybody — but I definitely have changed a lot about myself to make some relationships work. The best part about when they don’t work is that you get to go back to being yourself again and realize someone is going to love your really quirky things,” he says about becoming himself again after heartbreak, admitting in the song he’s experienced some “s— relationships.”
“You were built and designed to be something different and unique, so there’s no reason to leave behind magical, weird parts of your personality just because someone doesn’t necessarily 100 percent approve,” he adds.
When it comes to finding the one, Hayes simply wishes to meet someone who accepts all of his characteristics — the good and the bad — and he intends to do the same.
“At the end of the day, finding someone who lets me be myself is all I really want,” he says about what he looks for in a girl. “I want to be embraced entirely as I am — flaws and everything. I’m full of flaws. I’m the furthest thing from the person even I want to be, but at the same time I want someone who loves me exactly who I am and appreciates that, because at the end of the day I know that I will want to embrace those imperfections about the other person. We’ll complement each other.”
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Hayes reveals that he’s since met someone with those attributes, though he remains mum on further details.
“I’m with someone and dare say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” Hayes tells PEOPLE. “It’s funny to me because I searched and searched and searched, and when I stopped searching something beautiful found me. Apparently, that’s how it happens!”
“I find myself in this incredible movie-like scenario and in disbelief of how easy it can be when you don’t have to try,” he continues, while keeping her name under wraps. “I’m very happy.”
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Dating hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the “Wanted” singer. Last August, Hayes first spoke about his split from Barnes — whom he first introduced to his fans when he brought her to the 2014 CMA Awards — to PEOPLE Now, revealing music is his therapy and helps him through the stages of heartbreak.
“I had to let it go through and you hear it on the album, you hear every step of it. The good, the bad, the denial, all of the processes. And honestly, too, the after, the moving on, the starting over with weightlessness,” he said. “I think that’s what allowed the record to be so vulnerable because I had kind of no one to talk to, so I have only this record to make for the world to hear what I was feeling so heavily.”
Aside from pouring his heart into relatable music, Hayes relies on himself to remain positive when life may feel like it’s falling apart.
“It’s really easy to get bogged down and it’s also really easy to take someone’s feelings about you and turn them into your own,” he says about relying on positivity to pick him back up. “You tend to not like yourself because someone else decided you weren’t right for them. That’s a really hard place to be because often times that’s just because we’re in a really vulnerable state — we’ve given our heart to somebody and they weren’t the ones we should have trusted with it.”
“Heartbreak” is available for download and purchase now.