Former X Factor star knows what it's like to date a younger man

Rebecca Ferguson knows how Caroline Flack feels after her split with 18-year-old Harry Styles last month.

Former X Factor star Rebecca, 25, dated Harry‘s One Direction band mate Zayn Malik when he was 18 last year – and received a lot of criticism for the romance.

‘I can empathise with her because I went through a similar experience,’ says Rebecca.

‘I know what it’s like.

‘I don’t think she’d want to hear my advice but anyone (thinking about entering) a relationship with someone younger has to go with their own gut instinct.

‘You can only live for you and do what makes you happy.’

Xtra Factor host Caroline, 32, was even the victim of death threats when she was dating Harry, who was 17 when they were together.

‘People won’t always agree with what you’re doing, but it’s down to your own conscience,’ says Rebecca.

‘You’re deciding whose happiness you choose and whose opinion you listen to.’

SEE PICTURES Harry Styles and One Direction perform new song Gotta Be You on German TV show>>

SEE PICTURES Harry Styles and One Direction at Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball 2011>>

SEE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO Teen Now meets Harry Styles and One Direction>>

SEE VIDEO One Direction mobbed by screaming fans in London>>

NEW PICTURES One Direction promote new single What Makes You Beautiful on Radio 1>>

Esme Riley