Could meeting her new man's parents mean that this one is for keeps?

Geri Halliwell leaves exclusive San Lorenzo restaurant in London's Knightsbridge last week with American actor Jerry O'Connell and his parents Michael and Linda. The former Spice Girl receives a warm farewell hug from Michael and a kiss from Linda. The fact that Jerry - who at 6ft 3in is a full 13 inches taller than Geri - introduced her to his parents is a strong sign that he intends to keep her in his life.

Geri Halliwell once confess: "I think we all know that relationships haven't been one of my strong points." But if these photographs are anything to go by, that could be set to change.

The 31-year-old pop star seemed to all the world a woman in love when she was spotted leaving the exclusive San Lorenzo restaurant in Knightsbridge, London, with the man who is reported to be her new boyfriend, Jerry O'Connell.

Wearing a fashionable short kilt and a broad smile, Geri could barely conceal her happiness as she nestled up to the 29-year-old American actor who, at 6ft 3in, towers over the diminutive singer.

"She was leaning into him very closely and holding his hand," said an observer. "They looked really comfortable in each other's company."

It also looked as if she'd already been welcomed into the family, as joining the couple for dinner were Jerry's mother Linda and father Michael. They couldn't have given a more obvious seal of approval when, after the meal, they each gave their son's new girlfriend a big hug before she jumped into a taxi with Jerry and drove off into the night.

Geri, who's recently been living in Los Angeles, met Jerry - who used to date Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar and has admitted in the past: "I'm the kind of guy who can't keep a plant alive for a week, let alone a relationship: - earlier this month on the set of Fat Slags, the movie based on the irreverent Viz magazine cartoon strip. She has a cameo role as Paige, a personal assistant to the two main characters wile Jerry, who has also appeared in Jerry Maguire and Scream 2, plays her boss, Sean Cooley.

"They got on well and decided to pursue their friendship with several dinners" said a source. "It's very early days but there's an obvious attraction there. Jerry introduced her to his parents, which is a sign that he intends to keep her in his life."

The romance is just one aspect of Geri's life which appears to be more stable and fulfilled. Having struggled with the eating disorder bulimia for most of her life, making her look positively waif-like at times, she recovered her voluptuous curves. She was even spotted in the lingerie shop Agent Provocateur where, it was rumored, she bought new underwear to fit her more rounded figure. A spokesperson categorically denied rumours that breast implants were responsible for her curves and a friend of the star confirmed: "Geri's looking great and it's all 100-per-cent her own. She's happy, fit and healthy and, through a sensible diet and fitness regime, is very much back to her best."

What's clear is that Geri no longer relies totally on her body image to give her confidence. "I've been underweight, I've been overweight and I've been moderately in the middle, and the fantastic lesson I've learnt is that my personal self-esteem can't hang on what I wear," she said recently.

Her career has also continued to develop. She has successfully branched into TV presenting with Pop Stars: The Rivals and her pursuit of an acting career is also going well, including a cameo appearance in the cult TV show Sex And The City. Along with Victoria Beckham, Geri has been able to maintain the high public profile she enjoyed in her former incarnation as Ginger Spice in the Spice Girls.

Success in her love life, however, has continued to elude her. She has been linked to a number of men in recent years, including Chris Evans and Robbie Williams, who later unkindly compared Geri to a "Demonic little girl playing with dolls and a tea set".

She described her brief romance with Chris Evans, - rumoured at the time to be a publicity stunt - as "authentic as relationships go, in my shabby experience of relationships".

Her romance with 26-year-old American Demian Walker, whom she met last year in a pet shop in Los Angeles, lasted only a matter of months. Describing it as her "first proper relationship in ages" she said: "Life is a messy experience and, in the past, I simply wasn't ready to commit. I thing becoming famous arrested my development.

"I was emotionally immature and as a result, unable to have strong, intimate relationships with men.

"I appreciate that, for Demian, there's an awful lot of baggage to take on board and it requires a huge amount of tolerance. It's not glamorous. Only time will tell how he copes with my fame."

It's not just her high profile, however, that puts pressure on her relationships. As Geri admits in her second autobiography, Just For The Record, She has high expectations of any prospective boyfriend. "The qualities I want in my man run form 'loves his mum', 'sexy, good looking', 'funny', 'affectionate', to 'healthy bank balance' (healthier than mine) 'has faith in God' and likes my dog'."

But despite the fact that she finds relationships"one of the most difficult things to do well in life", she also believes they make for one of life's most rewarding experiences." I used to feel it was such a weakness to admit that I need other people, but what I've learnt is that life is a 'we' thing and not an 'I' thing," she said recently. "And it's not all about 'me, me, me' because we're not designed to be alone."

For this reason she admits she "still can't help believe in the fairytale of being swept off my feet and finding the one." Perhaps, no, she has.