01/25/2016 03:34 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2017

Miley and Madonna: Love The Second Time Around

Pop star Miley Cyrus was spotted wearing an engagement ring after she and former fiancé Liam Hemsworth reunited over New Year's in Australia. Multiple sources revealed that Miley had been struggling to move on from Liam, and has never fully gotten over him.

It appears the feelings are mutual, as the couple is giving it another try. And they aren't the only ones people are talking about when it comes to wondering about the possibility of rekindled love. Superstar Madonna and movie star ex-husband Sean Penn have reportedly been spending more time together lately, and were recently seen at a hotel bar. All of this can be heartening for those who wonder about doing something similar with a previous partner.

Hearing these stories can make people believe in romance and the value of a shared history. But it also raises the questions: How do you know when an old loved has the potential to come back to life, and when is it best to leave an old relationship where it is: in the rearview mirror?

When you see old lovers like Miley and Liam, and Madonna and Sean, get back together, it might make you think about reaching out to an old but extinguished flame. There are times when that might require a deliberate act, actually calling or contacting someone from your past, or it can happen in a more spontaneous way, such as when you run into someone you once dated at a wedding or a reunion. Either way, it is good to take stock before jumping in with both feet.

The most important barometer for gauging what to do is to consider how and why your connection ended in the first place. It is ironic that in wondering if you should begin again, it helps to go back to where it ended, but that is where you might find the best answers. If the circumstances that broke you up didn't have anything to do with the attraction and passion you felt for each other, and might still feel, it is possible that giving it another go could be a fine idea. It is also possible that even if there were problems, you have both grown and changed, and with the wisdom and distance you now have might be better able to deal with and manage them. The same issues that were front and center when you were first together might not bother you anymore, or might be more easily worked out.

On the other hand, if your relationship ended badly and there is still a lot of unresolved anger, there is the chance you will find yourself returning to that unhappy place. Also, if there were behaviors, habits, or personal traits the other person had that were intolerable for you, and that person still exhibits them and has not changed his or her ways, it may be better to leave the relationship in the past with the fond memories of what you once shared.

Once you have sorted that out, it may be that you feel your ex is really your lost love. In this new time and place, where both of you have mellowed, it may be viable and pleasurable to give it another chance, as Miley and Liam seem to be doing, and as Madonna and Sean may be flirting with trying. Only time will tell if they will prove to be stronger than ever after their time apart. Madonna said it straight out in her song Stay: When you walked out my door, I knew you'd be back for more, Let's leave the past behind, True love is so hard to find.

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