| June 7, 2012

So, your divorce is final, and the realization of your newfound freedom came rushing up on you like a locomotive.

That alone takes a lot of adjustment. But once you've settled into your new status as a single woman, the next question isn't easy, either. How soon is too soon to start dating again?

Timelines can be hard to navigate. Even if your relationship with your ex was off-key for years, you may be worried that eyebrows will wag if you start making music with another guy too soon after the ink dries on those divorce papers. Family and friends, especially children, can be critical of and hurt by your decision to date sooner than when they are ready.

To put it bluntly, if you are depending on others to give you the go-ahead, you may never get back in the dating game! Do tread carefully on their feelings, but firmly remind your well-meaning friends and family members that you are in control of your own love life.

Once that's established, here are a few tips for getting your feet wet amid hostile stares.

1. Get to know what you're looking for in a guy. It's easier to enjoy dating if you can create a general idea of your dream man.

2. Choose the settings most appropriate for you. Family outings and introductions might not be the best approach at first if your relatives are going to glare a hole into his forehead. If you live in a place where "everybody knows your name," don’t worry. Have fun with it: Find new places to create memories with your beau!

3. Finally, listen to your gut! If your return to dating feels uncomfortable, don't ignore it! I've been guilty of doing things just to prove a point to people who've made me mad. But if you get that feeling in your gut that makes you uneasy, listen to it! The most important thing is for you to be ready once you step back into the dating scene. That way, your confidence will be unmistakable and no one — not even your family — will be able to begrudge you the happiness you deserve.

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