It’s the Little Things. Zayn Malik broke One Direction fans’ hearts when he announced on Wednesday, March 25, that he’s leaving the group after five years — but the 22-year-old’s exit wasn’t a surprise to members Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson.
According to a source close to One Direction, the band “knew it was coming.” Earlier this week, Malik announced he wouldn’t be performing with the rest of the group on their On the Road Again Tour — and, to his bandmates, “things felt different this time," the source says.
“He just wasn’t happy,” the insider explains to Us Weekly of the former X Factor contestant’s decision to exit the globally successful group. “He felt he had gotten everything he can out of being in the band and that it was now time to change his life and be away from all the craziness."
Another source tells Us that Zayn had a “very hard time adjusting to this level of fame” and he just couldn’t take it anymore.
“He was always the more shy and introspective one,” the insider explains. “The stress got to him and he just realized he wanted a normal life. It just got to be too much.”
The decision was a difficult one for Malik to make, but he had his bandmates’ support. "Zayn announced his decision yesterday morning. He apologized for putting everyone in this situation and he spoke to each band member personally,” the first source tells Us. “Everyone will miss him.”
Malik, who is engaged to girlfriend Perrie Edwards, also explained to fans he just wanted to experience normal life. “I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight,” he said in a statement. “I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world."
Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!