“The X Factor” U.K. 2006 winner Leona Lewis, 27, and One Direction’s Liam Payne, 19, are starting to become closer after painful breakups of long-term romances with other people. And although Payne and Lewis are in the “hanging out and getting to know you better” phase of a relationship, sources say that there is definitely mutual romantic interest. Payne has always been open about having a crush on Lewis, but Lewis is carefully looking at the pros and cons of getting romantically involved with Payne.
Payne’s relationship with 24-year-old dancer Danielle Peazer (his girlfriend of two years) ended around the same time that Lewis broke up with 23-year-old dancer Dennis Jauch, whom Lewis dated for two years. Peazer and Payne met through “The X Factor” U.K. in 2010, when she was a dancer on the show and Payne was a contestant. (One Direction came in third place on “The X Factor” U.K. in 2010.) Jauch won the German version of “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2007, and three years later he was a backup dancer for Lewis, which is how they got closer and later romantically involved.
An insider who knows Payne and Lewis says, “Leona is very private when it comes to her love life, so she has to decide if she can handle the scrutiny from media and fans if she decides to go public with dating someone in One Direction. She and Liam knew that the media would eventually find out about them hanging out together, but they’re not ready to publicly comment on the end of their previous relationships and the beginning of what may be a new romance for them. If Leona had no interest in dating Liam, she would have quickly denied it by now.”
So why is Lewis interested in Payne, beside the obvious fact that he’s successful and attractive? “People often do unexpected things after they’ve gotten out of a long-term relationship,” the insider says. “They want a fresh start, and they sometimes date people who are different from their most recent ex. Dennis was less famous than Leona is, and Liam can relate to Leona when it comes to the demands of being famous. She often paid for a lot of things in the relationship with Dennis, because he makes less money than she does. Leona is flattered by Liam’s obvious affection for her, and it’s a nice change of pace that she doesn’t have to carry the financial weight if she and Liam become boyfriend and girlfriend. She also admires him as a person, since he has a strength of character and a down-to-earth personality that she doesn’t find too often with other entertainers.
“Leona and Liam also have a lot in common besides a love of music and mutual attraction for each other. They’d rather spend a quiet night at home than going to loud nightclubs and parties. They’re both very family-oriented. Leona is rather shy in some ways, and Liam sees her as a challenge, since she is more reluctant to get romantically involved with him than he is with her. She’s very aware of all the harassment and abuse that One Direction girlfriends get from jealous fans.”
Before Lewis dated Jauch, she was in a 10-year relationship with producer/A&R scout/former electrician Lou Al-Chamaa.
Is Lewis interested in Payne as a career move? “Liam is more on her level, when it comes to fame and money, compared to her previous boyfriends,” says the insider. “So it’s hard to deny that’s a factor in their mutual interest in each other. But she doesn’t need him to help her with her career. If anything, she’s sort of dreading all the hassles she’s going to get from paparazzi and jealous fans, so that’s why she’s treading cautiously with Liam.
“The age difference between her and Liam isn’t as much as an issue for Leona as much as the craziness around One Direction with the paparazzi and obsessed fans. She’s worried about how her life might change when it comes to privacy and safety issues. Many of her fans are over the age of 30 and wouldn’t know who Liam is if he passed them on the street, and her fans aren’t the type to chase her down the street. Leona is thinking about how she’s going to deal with One Direction fans if she steps out in public with Liam.
“Danielle was great about being patient when fans would stop her and Liam in public and ask for autographs and photos. But Leona is more introverted than Danielle, so it could be much trickier for Leona in handling the kind of hysterical attention that Liam and One Direction get. She’s never dated anyone who’s a teen idol, so this is all new to her. She has to decide if Liam is worth it. If she and Liam become boyfriend and girlfriend, and the relationship ends, it will probably be because she’ll get tired of dealing with the hassles of being a One Direction girlfriend.”
So why are Payne and Lewis willing to jump into a relationship with each other so soon after ending other long-term relationships? The insider says, “They both hate being alone. Ever since they’ve became famous, they always had a significant other to lean on, and they don’t feel confident enough to take time to be unattached. They both don’t want to be part of the ‘celebrity dating scene’ of casually dating a lot of different people. They’re also not the type to sleep around with a lot of fans. Liam and Leona are finding solace in each other in a close friendship that could turn into something more.”
Is Payne dating Lewis to get revenge on Peazer and make her jealous? The insider laughs, “Well, it’s pretty obvious that Leona and Danielle look a lot alike. Liam seems to have a ‘type.’ But he’s had a crush on Leona for quite some time. It’s not so much about getting revenge on Danielle, but it’s more like if there’s any woman in the world who could make Liam feel better and help get over his breakup with Danielle, it would be Leona.
“People shouldn’t be so quick to judge about how soon is too soon to start dating again after a breakup, because many people who’ve gone through a bad breakup would jump at the chance to date someone they’ve had a crush on, if it helps them deal with the breakup. If that crush happens to be famous, and you have the ability to date that person, who are we to judge? Liam has now accepted that Danielle doesn’t want to get back together with him, and he knows he has to move on, but he’s finding it terribly difficult to be on his own.”
Lewis and One Direction are represented by the same management company (Modest! Management) and are signed to the same record company (Syco Music, the record label co-owned by Simon Cowell and Sony Music). What do the “handlers” think about Lewis and Payne dating each other?
The source says, “People think One Direction are puppets, but Simon Cowell and management don’t control what their artists do in their love lives. The work schedule is an entirely different matter, and there are a lot of control issues in that area. If the artists show up for work on time and continue to be productive and successful, that’s what management and the record company care about. Someone in One Direction can be out all night partying and show up for work feeling hung over, but if he shows up on time and is professional, that’s what matters most to management and the record company.
“Most people’s bosses don’t tell their underlings whom they can or can’t date, unless there’s something legally stated in the company’s rules, and in those cases, the employee signs a contract agreeing to those terms. But the majority of the time, it’s not like that for people in their work situations. If someone’s personal life interferes with his or her work, that’s when management might step in and say something.
“Harry Styles would never have dated Caroline Flack in the first place if management controlled his love life. And Simon is in no position to judge who his artists date, since it’s common knowledge that he’s slept with several of his employees, not to mention strippers, porn stars and other women in the sex industry. Everyone in One Direction is an adult and they can make their own decisions on their love lives.”
October 2, 2012 update: Payne has confirmed that he and Peazer have broken up and aren’t getting back together. Click here for more details.
October 14, 2012 update: In interviews, Lewis has been describing Payne as “sweet and lovely,” but she refuses to publicly discuss further details about their relationship. However, she did comment to the Sunday Mirror about what she thinks about Payne and about dating a younger man: “Liam is very handsome and very sweet… but he is young. He’s got his head screwed on and has good values and morals. We’ve known each other for a good couple of years. I met him through our label and management plus we would bump into each other at shows …
“Dating someone younger depends on their maturity and it depends on the person. Guys date girls who are younger than them but I feel that girls are normally more mature. Maturity is the main thing for me. If you are going to go young you have to find the right person. Dennis is younger than me as well but he’s very mature and you kind of forget about the age then …
“You don’t want people to just be wanting to get to know you because of who you are. That is just cheesy and weird. Usually I meet people through work and not just randomly. I could never just go up to someone in a bar.”