Reflecting on purity clauses in his old contracts -- that were made null and void if his behavior transgressed their Draconian rules -- Styles told the publication he wept with relief when he learned as a solo artist his contracts didn't have those conditions. "I felt free," the singer says of the pivotal moment.
Constant questions about his sex life as a teenage boy band member left him in an impossible position -- desperate for privacy while his career was dependent on a certain image. When he found clever ways to avoid or dodge those types of invasive questions without offending those asking, he was left thinking, "Why do I feel like I'm the one who has done something wrong?"
"For a long time, it felt like the only thing that was mine was my sex life," Styles told Better Homes & Gardens. "I felt so ashamed about it, ashamed at the idea of people even knowing that I was having sex, let alone who with."
"At the time, there were still the kiss-and-tell things. Working out who I could trust was stressful," the now 28-year-old recalled. "But I think I got to a place where I was like, why do I feel ashamed? I'm a 26-year-old man who's single; it's like, yes, I have sex."
His lyrics as a solo artist and his penchant for wearing dresses -- including that Gucci number on the cover of Vogue -- has made him a conservative target. However, demands from either side to state his sexuality and exactly how he defines himself feels "outdated" to Styles.
"I've been really open with it with my friends, but that's my personal experience; it's mine," he told the publication. "The whole point of where we should be heading, which is toward accepting everybody and being more open, is that it doesn't matter, and it's about not having to label everything, not having to clarify what boxes you're checking."
The singer-turned-actor has been romantically linked with Olivia Wilde since the beginning of 2021. Wilde directed the pop star in her soon to be released film "Don't Worry Darling."