Whether it's been one year or six since the divorce decree, you may never know with absolute clarity that you're truly ready for another relationship.Instead, "it's usually clear when you're not ready," says Susan Pease Gadoua, a therapist and author of .Perhaps even thornier than pondering what to wear on a date, where to go, who pays—not to mention how you even find people to date in this brave new world of Internet match-ups—is getting over your reluctance to take a stab at it. "A divorced woman may feel very vulnerable at this stage, in part because she used to have a spouse to 'protect' her and now she has to go out into the world on her own," says Diana Kirschner, Ph D, author of .But it's also tough, she adds, because once you're on the dating scene you can feel like a teenager again, in that shaky, unconfident, not-sure-if-he'll-call sort of way.While every locale has its own either spoken or unspoken standard as to what is an appropriate period of time between a divorce and starting to date again, it is a good idea to place your own needs and feelings as the priority.The most important factor to keep in mind is that in beginning to date again after a divorce you are regaining your status as a “single,” and it is generally best to not hold off on doing this for too long.Kirschner, to build up a fantasy of what he is like based on his profile and the emails you exchange."My rule of thumb is to meet in person within two weeks of making online contact." Might as well find out as soon as you can if the chemistry is virtual—or real.
That said, don't let a fear of your children being upset or disapproving stop you from getting out there if you feel ready to.Says Gadoua, "too many women hide behind their kids as an excuse not to date." Be upfront and respectful, but don't apologize for wanting to date."Most children just want their parent to be happy, and may be less likely to object than you imagine," she says.Seeing yourself, and presenting yourself, as a single is the most productive means in preparing to move on with your life after a divorce.In making this decision, you should take care that you not fall into two of the most common mistakes; the first is isolating yourself from socializing and social contacts; the second is getting into another relationship long before you are ready to do so.If it's truly awful, take a step back and wait some more. Gadoua, who runs dating workshops for women, asks them to free-associate words that come to mind when they think of "dating." Not surprisingly, words like "awful" and "dreadful" come up.Contemplating the dating scene, many divorced women feel not just garden-variety nerves, but "actual terror," says Dr. Just remember that your fears are normal—after all, you are dealing with or have dealt with a major betrayal and upheaval—and that you don't have to jump all the way in. Tell a few trusted friends that you're interested in meeting people. "Sit down and craft a statement of what, exactly, you're after. If you feel the same way, she offers this advice: "I suggest you try to reframe it as an adventure, or as an education," she says.Both of these common mistakes are counterproductive, as both will stand in the way of your immediate need, which is to reestablish yourself as a single, independent person.Going back into the social arena of should mean standing on your own two feet and taking the first steps in your own life without your former spouse; this should be your main priority.Check out our Guide to Online Dating to learn the basics including setting up a profile to taking a relationship offline.Once you "meet" someone online, it's easy, says Dr.