Liam Payne says girlfriend Maya Henry is ''genuinely'' his ''best friend''.

The 26-year-old singer has been romancing Maya for several months, and has said it's ''quite a wonder'' to have found someone who ''completely'' has his back no matter what.

He said: ''I've found someone who's genuinely my best friend. She's just so relaxed about everything and someone who's completely got your back with everything is just the wildest thing. I don't think I've ever really experienced that before in someone so it's quite a wonder to watch actually.''

The 'Strip That Down' hitmaker - who has two-year-old son Bear with his former partner Cheryl - admitted that dating in the spotlight has been ''really hard'' for him, but he's now come to the realisation that his fame isn't worth ''sacrificing [his] happiness'' for.

He added: ''For the longest time, living such an exposed life made dating really hard. I'm kind of at the place in my life now where I just realise it's not worth sacrificing my happiness just because somebody might see something. I don't have anything to hide, so I'm really happy right now and things are good.''

And the One Direction star also spoke about having his heart broken in the past, as he said he didn't ''understand'' love until he felt the ''sting'' of heartbreak.

Liam - who broke up with Cheryl in 2018 - told MTV News: ''Honestly with love, I think you don't really understand it until it gives you that sting. It took a long time for me. Something really hurt me and it kind of made me appreciate love and people a lot more.''

Meanwhile, the 'Bedroom Floor' singer recently said Maya, 19, always manages to put ''the biggest smile'' on his face.

Posting a picture of them cuddling on social media, he wrote: ''Sometimes I don't recognise this happy guy... sure glad you brought him back though.

''This has been my most amazing release week to date! Massive thank you to all my team @stevefinan @simonolive73 @jordenpinchen @conorleebutler @adamfkelly @stockersstory for helping setting it all up and making it run smooth @artisthbtl for f***in with my sound can't wait to perform it with you.

''my team on the ground here in nyc @republicrecords for supporting my record and @capitoluk for getting my record together and putting up with my self conscious shit then last but not least this one @maya_henry for always keeping the biggest smile on my face through all the stress and making me realise how perfect my life really is love you all let's stack this sh** up (sic)''