With divorce rates on the up, if you’ve found yourself back on the market after several years, you’re far from alone. Here’s how to prepare yourself for romance once more.

If you’ve recently come out of a long-term relationship, it can feel unusual going about everyday life on your own. But after a while, you’re likely to feel ready to put yourself out there again in the hopes of meeting someone special.

That concept can certainly feel daunting for many, and that’s completely natural given that the dating world is probably very different nowadays to the last time you were immersed in it.

But if you follow this step-by-step guide, you will be better equipped to date again.

1. Date when YOU feel ready

Not when your friends tell you is the right time or because you feel you should. Be honest with yourself and listen to what your body is telling you – your heart, head and most importantly, your gut instinct. If you’re ready to start dating again, great. But if not, don’t beat yourself up. Instead focus on the most important person: you.

2. It’s ok to be single

If you’re used to being in a couple, being single can be a real transition. Coming to terms with the end of a relationship or marriage is a daunting, exhausting and emotional time. It’s wise to take some time out before diving head first into a new relationship. Don’t forget that it’s ok to be single. It’s ok to go out on your own – to the cinema, to friends’ parties, on a trip. It can be incredibly empowering to embrace being happy and comfortable in your own company.

3. Have a good support network

Be it a group of friends, family or a trusted confidante, you’ll need someone to cheer you on, support and encourage you. Having someone to chat over your dating experiences with means you’re not doing it on your own.

4. Remember not all men are like your ex

If you’ve been hurt in the past it can be easy to fall into the ‘all men are the same’ trap. There are amazing men out there but by tarring them all with the same brush you restrict your chances of finding someone new. Building trust can be a challenge, but it’s crucial for a relationship to work.

5. Leave the past behind and focus on the benefits of moving forward

The past is like a battered, comfy old jumper – the type you only wear in the privacy of your own home. But where’s the fun in wearing a battered old jumper every day? It’s time for something that’s fresh, new and a perfect fit. Think of the future and get excited about the opportunities it holds and the people you will meet. Letting go of the past allows you to be open to new opportunities and to finding love.

6. Filled with fear? Dip your toe in

Dating after a long break can feel nerve-wracking and that’s perfectly natural. There’s no need to dive right in so take it slowley.

7. Talk to your children 

Depending on the age of your children and when you feel the time is right, let your kids know you’re dating. There’s no right or wrong time to do this, each family is different, but if you’re serious about dating it’s an issue that will need discussing. Resist introducing your children to anyone until you know there is a level of commitment from you both in place and then take it slow.

Good luck!