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IT was always a stormy pairing - but it now looks like football star Paul Gascoigne and his ex-wife Sheryl are an item again.

The Everton star splashed out pounds 1000 on a Valentine's night treat in an exclusive Manchester hotel.

The couple wined and dined in a luxury suite, complete with its own butler, before Gazza showered Sheryl with gifts, including a dozen red roses.

But he's by no means the first celebrity looking for that ex-factor.

Elvis' daughter Lisa Marie Presley last week called off her romance with Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage and returned to ex-hubby Danny Keough.

Lord Of The Dance Michael Flatley and Gladiator star Russell Crowe have also been spotted with their lost loves, Lisa Murphy and Danielle Spencer.

But is splitting up really the answer to shocking a fading relationship back to life?

According to new research, the answer is - yes. The study, in the United States, found that lovers who reunite after years apart enjoy more successful relationships.

They also found that people who rekindle passion with their first loves are 76 per cent more likely to stay together - almost double the rate of the rest of us.

Professor Nancy Kalish, of California State University, who conducted the research, said: "Perhaps absence really does make the heart grow fonder."

Of the 1000 people who took part in the survey, older couples reckoned their increased maturity, and the thought they had rediscovered a soulmate, were the reasons for success. We challenged psychotherapist Gill Coleby to put five star couples on the couch to find out if love will bloom, second time around.

Gill, who is based in Sidcup, Kent, specialises in relationship counselling. As director of the Coleby Centre, she helps people transform their lives through mind and body therapies. She believes a lot of people go back to ex-lovers because it conjures up feelings of security.

She said: "There are many unconscious motivations in going back to an ex. Very often there is a feeling of unfinished business.

"When needs don't get met the first time around, and we haven't addressed the issue in ourselves, this leaves us open for a second round."

Gill says there are some people who cannot handle being single.

She added: "Human beings are habit makers. We are prone to doing the same thing over and over, just because it's comfortable."

Gill says there are four main reasons why relationships fail - poor communication, thwarted intentions, unfulfilled expectations and people who interfere.

But second-chance success only happens when you learn from mistakes of the first encounter.

Gill added: "Both parties and the relationship have to have changed somewhere. It isn't enough to say sorry and carry on in the same way.

"If a couple split and really work at understanding what made the relationship fail, then raising their awareness and developing their skills at being in a relationship forms an excellent platform to build on."


Definitely Maybe

Who: Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer.

First meeting: Gladiator star Russell and Home And Away actress Danielle met when they starred together in 1990 film, The Crossing. They became an item 12 months later.

Him on her: "Danielle's head is not turned by fame. She is very grounded and a good match for me."

Her on him: "Russell and I have a special relationship. People get the wrong idea about him but he is actually very gentle, intelligent and loving."

Reason for split: Work commitments drove them apart after five years when Crowe moved to Los Angeles to pursue his film career.

Ex factor: The two have remained friendly - it was Danielle who Russell turned to after his messy split from Meg Ryan.

Gill's verdict: A definite maybe. Russell has said he regrets not paying more attention to his relationship with Meg Ryan. Maybe that has caused a change in his values. Perhaps now he will be able to prioritise his relationships as highly as his career.


Gazza needs help

Who: Paul and Sheryl Gascoigne.

First meeting: In a wine bar, 11 years ago.

Him on her: "The only thing I regret was when I hit Sheryl and that is the only thing I would change."

Her on him: "I know he's emotional and likes to mull things over before he talks about them. But he is one of the most generous men."

Reason for split: Before they were married, they split up at least half a dozen times and twice broke off their engagement. The final straw came when Gazza beat up Sheryl in a room at Gleneagles Hotel.

Ex factor: Since their divorce, they have been seen together on numerous occasions, most recently their Valentine night at the five-star Lowry hotel in Manchester.

Gill's verdict: I would never recommend anyone to rekindle a relationship that has become violent. Men who have been violent need a lot of professional help. Sheryl also needs to examine why she allowed the situation to go on for so long.


Hollywood soulmates are like sister and brother

Who: Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley.

First meeting: Their romance began when they starred in the 1987 flop, Rowing In The Wind.

Him on her: "She's the nuttiest and messiest person in the world. Apart from anything else, we are really good friends."

Her on him: "I absolutely worship him. I would have dinner with Hugh every night."

Reason for split: Sex - or lack of it - became an issue after US police caught Hugh with a prostitute on Sunset Boulevard. Hugh later admitted that Liz hadn't fancied him for years, although she said splitting from Hugh was "like amputating my left arm."

Ex factor: The couple are still partners in their production company, Simian Films. Although Steve Bing is the father of her unborn baby, Liz has vowed Hugh will have a big part in raising the child.

Gill's verdict: Highly unlikely. From the outside looking in, they have always seemed more like brother and sister - there is no sexual chemistry there. Liz has a powerful sexual presence which would probably be high maintenance - possibly too high for Hugh.


Millionaire too vain

Who: Michael Flatley and Lisa Murphy.

First meeting: The Lord Of The Dance star met model Lisa in 1999 at a Dublin nightclub. They spent much of their time at Flatley's pounds 10million Castlehyde mansion just outside Fermoy, County Cork.

Him on her: "I am at a stage in life where I have found the perfect person. I would love to have children with Lisa. She is an incredible lady."

Her on him: "He is the love of my life."

Reason for split: Flatley ended the romance last March. Lisa, 29, was reported to be devastated when they went their separate ways.

Ex factor: The couple were spotted larking around in Barbados on holiday.

Gill's verdict: No chance. A man living in a pounds 10million castle who believes he has the 'perfect person'? With that kind of grandiose expectation, how can a truly loving relationship survive? I would hope Lisa moves on and is able to meet someone who wants to be with her because she is a living, breathing person and not just a perfect princess.


Just let the past go

Who: Matt Goss and Martine McCutcheon.

First meeting: The former EastEnder and ex-Bros star were first spotted kissing and canoodling at a string of top London nightspots in 1998.

Him on her: "I've known her for years and she's a fantastic girl. We really click."

Her on him: "Matt is decent and loyal and I don't know why other men can't be like him."

Reason for split: Matt, 34, moved to LA after Bros broke up, while Martine stayed in London to concentrate on her acting and pop career.

Ex factor: Matt was the first person Martine turned to after she learned her last boyfriend, James Mason, had been cheating on her. They have since been snapped strolling arm-in-arm around Beverly Hills.

Gill's verdict: Possible. But Martine sounds like she is angry with someone else. It will be good for her to see someone she knows, and who is happy to see her while she is in LA. But love can't develop if you haven't let go of the past.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 17, 2002
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