Divorce is scary and difficult for most people. Entering into the scary abyss of the legal and emotional turmoil of divorce triggers so many emotions. Pain, fear, grief, anger, sadness, guilt, and even relief are normal feelings. It’s important to know that most people go through a divorce in similar ways as they mourn the death of a loved one. It hurts and it’s hard! But after the dust settles and you’ve taken some time to lick your wounds, there is a moment when you might start thinking, “I am lonely.” “I would love to share my life with someone, of course they would have to be the RIGHT someone, what am I doing and IS IT TIME???”

Having a lot of questions and concerns about what your family and children might think, how do I do this and how can I make sure I don’t repeat the past are normal. My first response is to relax and take a deep breath, you can do this! Here are some things to consider before you start swiping right or left on Tinder:

Close One Relationship Before Opening Another

In order to start something really great you need to have a clear mind and can’t be clouded by your past relationships. We live in a culture that values multi-tasking, but trust me on this, dating is not one of those areas! Therapy is a great way to challenge yourself to see if you’re ready to make the plunge.

Fall In Love With Yourself

I am in no way suggesting you go out there and become an arrogant narcissist! There is a huge difference between loving yourself and thinking you’re better than everyone else. It is important to do a deep inventory of who you are and what you stand for in your life. What qualities are you proud of and which ones do you bring to your relationships? What qualities do you want from others? This may sound cliché but please think about this for a moment. If you get all dressed up and go on a date to an upscale restaurant, (the kind where they give you cloth napkins), and you order their “special dish of the night” with ingredients you might not know but, hey, you’re feeling adventurous. The steamy meal makes its way to the table, and your mouth starts craving the beautiful yumminess in front of you. Then you take a bite and realize this is all eye candy and it’s awful! You look at your date and politely say, “This looks good but tastes like garbage, would you like some?” This is what happens when we try to make ourselves look good and cover up our flaws and insecurities. You have to love and respect all of you, value even the areas you want to change. Before you can share your life with someone else and expect them to love and respect you. You must love your own dish!

Getting Comfortable in Your New Jeans

You have just been going through a lot of growth and change, understanding the difference between who you are now and who you were is crucial to your growth. Why on earth would we want to keep making the same mistakes over and over again? If you hate the fit of a pair of jeans do you keep buying the same brand and style? Unless, you’re masochistic, life can hurt and be painful. Learn the first time around and you won’t keep getting presented with the same issues.

Is it APPropriate and Where Can I Meet People?

The dating field has changed! The last time you have dated was during a different millennium and you may be feeling out of the loop. Online dating apps are not as out of the ordinary anymore and can offer some easy and convenient ways to dapple in the dating pool, but don’t dive in without your life vest. Please remember, this is a pool without a lifeguard, so you need to be cautious and practice safe surfing! Be honest and be direct about what you are looking for in a partner and take your time. Emailing for a while and talking on the phone is a good way to get to know if this person may be a potential date. Always meet in a very public place and it may be a good idea to have friendly backup waiting around in the wings.

Intimacy and Sex, Things are Getting Serious

There is a huge difference between sex and intimacy. Sex is strictly biological, nuts and bolts! Intimacy is more like your software, when all of the components are running smooth and you’ve got a good connection. This usually takes downloading time to make sure all systems are talking to each other. You want to make sure you’re sharing the same operating system. Sexual intimacy is a combination of the two and if done correctly it can be a powerful work of art! Don’t rush this. Have a conversation about expectations and how you are feeling about taking things to the next level. If you can’t talk about it you probably shouldn’t be doing it!

Meeting the Kids

Just because you may believe this person is the one you’ve waited for your whole life, your kids may feel completely different. Our children love us and want us to be happy, but they also probably love both of their parents and still working through not living together and a divorce. Take this very slow and only introduce them after you have done some “life together”. Most things are fun, shiny, and exciting when they are new. Get to know the real ingredients for a while before committing to sharing them with your children.

Dating and thinking about having another relationship is exciting and terrifying all at the same time! Believe me when I tell you, most people feel the same way you do. There are a lot of people out there who are waiting to share their life with someone just like you. Don’t forget to breath, take it slow and be brave. You can really do this!

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