After spending the last few days devouring defenses of teen girls who love One Direction and crying with recognition at the innocent fun and joy the band brings its fans, I have only a few thoughts about the value of boy bands, particularly in the lives of girls. At a time in life when boys are often behind girls in maturity and girls are aching for partnership and romantic understanding, boy bands are the avatars that serve as stand-in boyfriends when peers won't cut it. They love the objects of their affection deeply and without condition. The reality is often that the boy band members are actually a fair bit older than the teens and have carefully polished responses that awaken teen desire but they fill an important gap in the lives of girls who crave more than the sexual and fleeting attention of their peers. Zayn Malik seemed to be a gentle, sensitive person who would make an especially great boyfriend for young girls because of his profound love for his female family members and his commitment to his girlfriend turned fiancee (though that's been called into question lately.) He is also preternaturally beautiful and damn if the boy doesn't know how to dress. It is understandable that he will be missed. We'll miss you Zayn, we hope its not goodbye forever.