Perrie and Zayn met on The X Factor in early November 2011, whilst Perrie was competing and One Direction were guest performers. Zayn first tweeted about Little Mix by showing support for them on November 19, 2011. By December, media heavily speculated Zayn and Perrie had begun dating. However, Perrie initially denied reports weeks later, responding to claims she dumped him with "How can I dump someone I barely know?"
In April 2012, Zayn tweeted Perrie for the first time, saying "Tonight was fun, let's do it again sometime ;) xx". They were photographed kissing the following month. In August 2012, Perrie celebrated EID with Zayn and his family. Cheating rumors rose during August and September 2012, but all appeared well in November, as the couple bought their first puppy together. They spent Christmas and New Year's Eve together with Zayn's family.
In January 2013, photographs of Zayn asleep in bed were leaked online by a waitress claiming to have slept with him. The claims were never confirmed or denied and "Zerrie" continued dating. They celebrated their first anniversary in Paris in April 2013. In June, Zayn and Perrie got matching tattoos and Zayn got an arm tattoo of a woman wearing a beanie, which he confirmed as Perrie a few months later.
Zayn and Perrie's engagement was confirmed on August 20, 2013, at the premiere of One Direction's This Is Us documentary film. In February 2015, Zayn was embroiled in another cheating scandal when pictures of him holding hands and hugging a woman surfaced online. Zayn tweeted angrily about the accusations saying "I love a girl named Perrie Edwards". He was signed off from One Direction's On The Road Again Tour the next day and left One Direction permanently a week later. All appeared well between Zayn and Perrie through to June, where a video of Perrie referring to herself as "Perrie Malik" was released.
On August 4, 2015, Perrie confirmed to E! News that she and Zayn had split up. Media reported he had broken up with her via text message, but Zayn denied these claims to Fader Magazine in November. Perrie also denied Little Mix's song "Hair" was written about Zayn, as writing took place before they split up. Little Mix continued an amicable relationship with One Direction.
On March 25, 2016, Zayn released his debut solo album "Mind of Mine" through speculations that the songs "It's You" and "Pillowtalk" were written about Perrie, especially "Pillowtalk" that is a song about sex and was written while the duo were still dating. However, Zayn never denied or confirmed those rumors.
On October 16, 2016, Little Mix released "Shout Out To My Ex" a song depicting the recovery process after a bad breakup. The lyrics mention "thank you for the tattoos" and "it took four long years to call it quits", leading media outlets to report the song was partially about Zayn. The music video depicts the band throwing various items from their car, including a teddy bear holding a love heart, which was a gift Perrie received from Zayn. In late 2016, Zayn covered his arm tattoo of Perrie.