Just days after One Direction’s Liam Payne, 19, experienced the pain and humiliation of 24-year-old dancer Danielle Peazer dumping him after two years of dating each other, he has found comfort in the arms of his longtime crush Leona Lewis, 27. Lewis (who bears a striking physical resemblance to Peazer) has also experienced a recent breakup, since her two-year relationship with 23-year-old dancer Dennis Jauch has also ended.
The Sunday Mirror first broke the story of Payne and Lewis’ budding relationship. A source told the Mirror: “He is really excited about how things are going with Leona. As soon as the chance came to ask her out he grabbed it – and they really enjoyed their dates together. Although they were in London they managed to stay out of the limelight and are really into each other.”
Besides having recent breakups with dancers, Lewis and Payne also have “The X Factor” U.K. in common. Lewis was the show’s winner in 2006. One Direction came in third place on “The X Factor” U.K. in 2010. Before One Direction came along, Lewis was the biggest worldwide star to emerge from “The X Factor.” Payne and Lewis are also represented by the same management company (Modest! Management, which is based in London) and are signed to the same record company (Syco Music, the record label co-owned by Simon Cowell and Sony Music). One Direction and Lewis were each mentored by Cowell on “The X Factor” U.K. when he was a judge on the show.
As previously reported, Payne has been leaning on his One Direction band mates for emotional support. Sources say that One Direction’s Harry Styles has been trying to cheer him up and has been advising Payne to enjoy the romantic options that come with being a pop star.
An insider tells me exclusively that Styles encouraged Payne to get together with Lewis: “Harry is a big believer in not moping around after a breakup. Out of all the lads in One Direction, Harry’s the one who’s most enjoying the amorous attention that he’s getting from attractive celebrities because of his fame. He was one of the people who told Liam to ‘go for it’ in getting together with Leona, since Liam doesn’t want to really want to have a playboy lifestyle of juggling several women at the same time. Harry thinks the sex that Liam will have with Leona will do wonders for Liam’s self-esteem at the moment. She’s single, Liam’s single. The timing is what it is. Maybe it’s fate.”
Insiders say that Payne and Lewis are bracing themselves for the criticism they will be getting for their relationship, but Styles is giving Payne a lot of advice on how to handle it, since Styles has experience in having a controversial relationship with an older woman. (From October 2011 to January 2012, Styles dated “The Xtra Factor” co-host Caroline Flack, who is 15 years older than he is.)
“Harry has been encouraging Liam to let go of some of his inhibitions and hang-ups,” the insider adds. “Liam has been the ‘good, safe boyfriend’ for so long, and he still ended up getting hurt. This is Liam’s way of doing something a little dangerous while being able to live out his fantasy of being with Leona.”
Another source says, “Even though Liam and Danielle were very much in love, she was always just a little bit insecure about Liam’s crush on Leona, which he’s had even before he and Danielle got together. Danielle is the one who ended things with Liam, but it’s got to hurt her that he’s moved on so quickly with Leona, of all people.”
Some people close to Payne are worried that Lewis may be using him, since her career is fading, while One Direction’s career is red-hot.
An insider says, “Part of Liam must wonder if Leona would be as interested in him if he were a struggling, unknown singer. She’s never dated someone this much younger than she is. At least with Danielle, she was with him before One Direction became massive around the world. Leona must be flattered by how much Liam adores her, but we hope she doesn’t break his heart when she wants to move on to someone closer to her own age. She’s much more experienced than he is when it comes to relationships.”
Before Lewis dated Jauch, she was in a 10-year relationship with producer/A&R scout/former electrician Lou Al-Chamaa. By all accounts, Peazer was Payne’s first serious relationship.
Lewis’ third album, “Glassheart,” is set for a U.K. release on October 15, 2012. One Direction’s second album, “Take Me Home,” is due out in the U.S. and Canada on November 13, 2012, and in other countries on earlier dates in November. The first singles from each album (Lewis’ “Trouble” and One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young”) are out in the U.K. within a week of each other. Since One Direction and Lewis both have new music out around the same time, people will undoubtedly speculate that Lewis and Payne’s relationship is a publicity stunt.
The insider says, “It’s not a publicity stunt. Liam is doing what many blokes would do if they could be with a celebrity they’ve had a crush on for a long time. No one really thinks this relationship with Liam and Leona will last. Danielle and Liam broke up because he’s been so busy. Leona is even busier than Danielle is, so the problems that broke up Danielle and Liam will be tenfold for Leona and Liam. Liam should be allowed to have fun, but if he really falls in love with Leona, he doesn’t deserve to have his heart broken.”
More on Liam Payne and Leona Lewis:
Leona Lewis weighs the pros and cons of dating One Direction’s Liam Payne.
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.