There eventually comes a time after your divorce when you start thinking it would be nice to have someone in your life again. And there’s only one way to find that person: dating. It may sound like a frightening idea after being married for so long, but following a few simple rules will make it much easier. Take Your Time. You’ve just ended something serious, and being single again doesn’t mean you have to get back on the market instantly. Take the time to collect yourself, grieve the loss of your marriage, and understand what you want out of your life and in a future partner, and date when you’re ready. Don’t let anyone force you to date when you aren’t up for it yet, and don’t dive into a relationship with the first person you meet. You deserve to slow down and have the chance to make the right choice. Put Your Kids First. Your children need you now more than ever to show them that their lives can still be stable and happy. If you’re always heading out the door for a date, then they may feel alienated or abandoned. Never put the needs and interest of a new relationship over those of your children. Spend time with them and help them understand that you’ll always be there for them. If you have split custody, use the time when they’re at your ex’s house for dates. Keep Your Dating Life Private. While you should probably let the person you’re dating know that you have kids, you shouldn’t introduce them right away. If the relationship doesn’t work out, you don’t want to keep parading new people in front of your children. Give it six months or so and then consider letting your kids meet your new partner. Don’t Settle. When you’re freshly divorced, it’s easy to feel lonely. You may worry that nobody will ever be interested in you again. This is normal, and it’s exactly why you shouldn’t settle for the first person who comes along and finds you attractive. If you have certain qualities you’re looking for in a partner, then go find someone who has them. Be Honest. There’s no shame in being divorced or being a single parent, so don’t feel that you have to hide the truth from a potential partner. After all, you’re looking for someone who likes you for who you really are. By the same token, don’t spend the entire time discussing your previous marital issues, dwelling on the past, or comparing your date to your ex. Be honest, share the facts, and move on. Have fun! After a divorce, dating sounds like an awkward, scary thing. But with a little bit of time and practice, you’ll start feeling more competent and confident. Go out with people you find interesting and pleasurable to be with, and don’t worry about whether or not this date will lead to another trip down the aisle. Just enjoy yourself! Remember to always do what’s right for you. If you don’t think you’re quite ready to date yet, then don’t let anyone tell you that you should be. Keep some distance between your kids and your new companion until the time is right, but be honest about your life and your family. Most of all, make sure that you’re relaxing and having fun. That’s what dating should be all about!