After seeing the James Corden interview I think I finally resolved my own internal conflict about Zayn’s departure and the state of relations between Zayn and the lads. Since Zayn left I have wanted, in the worst way, to believe the split was amicable and the friendships (though bruised) were still solid. Now, I’m afraid, relations appear to be quite strained. Of course, this is based on educated speculation – as such, this is my opinion and subject to change upon the discovery of further evidence (you are free to form your own, differing opinions.) Discussion is always welcome and my ask box is open. I have no intention of painting Zayn or any of the lads as the “bad guy or guys” in this.
The lads have an unusual, multi-faceted relationship. They are very close friends, brothers, a family and in some ways all married to each other. Looking at 1D as a family, Louis is the dad (sorry Liam.) Louis is protective of the boys as individuals and 1D as a family, gives them advice and plans for their future. Nurturing Harry is the mom – he’s very in touch with the boys emotionally. Harry was the first to befriend Zayn and draw him out of his shell (early on, Harry was Zayn’s rock.) Liam is the responsible big brother. Zayn is the middle child (often they feel ignored, or left out compared to the oldest or the baby.) Niall is the, much adored, baby of the family. The lads’ family roles could be shuffled a bit – depending on circumstances, but I don’t want to go there now. I really don’t want to get into romantic love in this post – that would just blur the focus of where this is headed. The lads all made a shared life commitment (marriage) to one another when they became 1D – it’s not a job you can leave at the office. For this post I think looking at 1D as a marriage is most helpful.
I don’t think Naughty Boy ever liked the idea of Zayn being in a boy-band. He thought Zayn was wasting his talent with bubblegum pop and failed to see the band 1D is becoming. I really believe that NB softly, subtly, began to sow seeds of discontent in Zayn from the moment they met. Perceptions in life can have a huge impact on happiness and contentment. If you are looking for signs you are persecuted, underappreciated or left out you will find them. I think NB was able to (imperceptibly at first) nudge Zayn’s focus from the positive aspects of 1D to the negative. Let’s face it, there are a lot of negatives to being in 1D and Niall told a HUGE lie when he said the four of them enjoy EVERY part of it. Zayn has had his share of grief as a result of 1D. He has been the target of really ugly anti-Islam bias - his father and heritage been buried more deeply than Harry and Louis’ love. Over time Zayn became less and less content with his life in 1D and NB was ready and waiting to offer Zayn an alternative – another place to go.
With regard to FOUR, I think the lads really wanted to include Zayn’s writing. They have insisted on sharing solos equally, I don’t think they would want to exclude one of their beloved brothers in any way. It’s possible that Zayn decided to leave shortly before FOUR was finalized – at that point it would make sense to leave his writing off the album. Another strong possibility is that Sony may have vetoed Zayn’s songs thus becoming the “last straw.” Whatever the case may be, Zayn was losing faith in his marriage to One Direction and almost looking for a way out by this point. I’ve been married over 20 years – sometimes it’s as easy as falling out of bed, sometimes you have to resolve to make it work and re-commit daily.
Sometime last fall, I believe Zayn asked his “husbands” for a divorce. He told them it wasn’t anything personal - that he still loved them very much, but he was no longer happy with all the trappings of the life they had together. Zayn wanted to build a new life on his own. This would explain Zayn missing so much of the FOUR promo. (I’m hardly the first to make that point.) The lads would have all been in turmoil at that time and I’m sure there were lots of tears and arguments, even begging and pleading. I’m sure they all considered disbanding. (Sorry Niall, when Zayn said he wanted out even you wondered if it was worth continuing without him.) I think they worked out terms for the “divorce” last fall and Zayn agreed to stay until the end of the first leg of the tour. During this time Louis clung to Zayn – I think he wanted to cherish their bruised friendship and also, just maybe, convince Zayn to change his mind. Of course, there was tension, but the boys still loved Zayn and he them – they tried to make the best of their remaining time together. Although, Zayn would naturally be pulling back during this time. Subconsciously, he would be preparing and insulating himself to soften the shock (to himself) when he left. The lads did not want Zayn to leave, like Louis; they were all trying to hold on and hoping he would change his mind. I’m sure the tension caused a lot more rifts, fights and hurt feelings than usual for our boys.
Something snapped in March. I can’t begin to speculate what happened, but Zayn decided he couldn’t take anymore – he wanted OUT! The whole “Zayn cheating” scandal was concocted as a way for him to exit – a typically stupid 1DHQ stunt where he had to leave to save his love relationship. When Niall prompted the boys to share their last OT5 on stage hug – Zayn seemed very withdrawn, he was already gone. I believe HQ was hoping to get him back for the last few shows of the Asian leg, but Zayn was intractable. The boys were left really upset and heartbroken. Even if Zayn had left when planned, it would have been a huge, ugly realization that it was REAL and FINAL their beloved Zayn was gone. I don’t care how long you have to prepare for something like this, when it finally becomes REAL it’s one hell of a blow. Zayn probably felt relieved at first, but I think guilt was soon to follow. He painted himself into a corner and couldn’t get out without completely losing face – Zayn has never been okay with losing face or looking foolish. If guilt isn’t dealt with it can lead to resentment and eventually bitterness – I think Zayn has a lot of resentment and is feeling very defensive now. It seems like the lads were too focused on their own pain (and the tour) to reach out to Zayn and assure him he was still very much loved. I believe they all let their own pride and anger stand in the way of reaching out in love. To his credit, Zayn did have some nice words for the lads at the Asian awards – I think he had to say something like that, but was also holding out an olive branch. I would hope the lads talked with him and thanked him for the speech, but I wonder if they did. If Zayn’s kind words were met with silence, the wedge would have been driven even deeper between them.
Naughty Boy could not have been more pleased when Zayn left. He stole Zayn away from the most successful band in the world and he felt pretty damn smug about it. At every opportunity, NB rubbed salt into the open, bleeding wounds of Liam, Louis, Harry and Niall. He has no interest in an amicable divorce – only his own self-aggrandizement. I think he looks at Zayn like a trophy, a prize he won while the boys loved him like a brother. If Zayn had cut ties with NB or convinced him to stop tweeting (about Zayn) friendships might be healing instead of burning right now. I believe that Zayn did write that “Remember when…” tweet. I wish his twitter gatekeepers would not have published that one, but they did – they used it for publicity. Louis did not “play nice” with NB – given circumstances I can understand why. At this point, I think Louis very much regrets the twitter war with NB, only because it further damaged his friendship with Zayn. Of course, tweets are not very reliable as we don’t really know who composed them or the true motivation behind their publication. NB, however, is not really famous – it would be quite unusual for someone in his position to have their social media managed.
It was the Corden interview that convinced me things really are bad between Zayn and the lads. I wish Louis has said out loud, “I love Zayn like a brother and I am truly sorry for hurting his feelings.” Maybe he wasn’t allowed to say it – maybe he just isn’t ready to. Louis did not want to talk about Zayn. He did talk about holding his tongue – I think he does regret the whole mess (as far as Zayn is concerned not NB.) His rambling about needing to bite his tongue more was sort of a half apology – unfortunately, I don’t think it will help matters. Liam was as honest as he dared to be and I think his heart is really aching over Zayn right now. Niall does not want to discuss the heavy stuff – he only wants to show his light-hearted side publicly. Harry made sure he mentioned Zayn in the bread truck story - he shared a happy memory and included Zayn. Harry is holding onto positive feelings for Zayn and hope for reconciliation - I really hope he has spoken to or messaged Zayn.
If Zayn ever returned to 1D I think it would be many years from now. My hope is that they will work to repair their friendships and Zayn will take his place with other friends and family who are outside of 1D. People change careers all the time, but strong friendship should endure – if enough humility and forgiveness is present. I hope Zayn will soon realize that NB is not a true friend. I imagine he’s telling Zayn everything he wants to hear, but really he’s just using Z. Reconciliation will be doubly difficult as long as the “other woman” is between them – crowing over her conquest and spoiling for a fight. Relationships are hard sometimes – those closest to us have great power to hurt us. It’s when we harden our hearts toward one another that bonds are not healed. I’m praying for five soft hearts and Zayn borrowing words from Harry for NB, “You, my friend, are not my kind of pal.”