10/25/2009 AT 9:00 AM ET
British singer Leona Lewis has reacted with dismay to some of the media chatter about the fact that she is still dating the same boyfriend she had before she found fame.
Lewis, 24, has been with electrician Lou Al-Chamaa since she was 17 and calls him her “best friend” in a new interview.
When she was asked about the “snide bewilderment” that accompanies references to their enduring love, she says, “It does make me angry. Because he’s a great person. And it doesn’t matter what you do in life, what your job is, where you come from.”
Speaking to The Observer, she says, “This is real life, it isn’t make believe. For people to think that you should leave someone because, all of a sudden, you’re a singer and you have opportunities. I feel very sorry for them.”
Lewis, who shot to fame on the British talent show The X Factor, still lives in the gritty area of Hackney, east London, where she grew up and says she stays grounded by surrounding herself with people she has known for years.
“All my friends I’ve known since I was really little. It’s not that I don’t let new people in,” she says in the interview, “but I do feel safe with people that really know me, who know who I am.”