Just a few days into the new year, and already many are diligently working on keeping their new year’s resolutions. For singles, a popular task to tackle is to make a more concerted effort to get back into the dating scene.  But the older you are and the longer you’ve been out of practice with playing 20 questions, the more daunting this might seem.  Here are 5 simple tips that my divorce clients have found helpful when getting back out there:

1. Cast a Wide Net– Rather than put all your eggs in one basket, make sure you check out various dating sites (and ask a friend to check in on you after a new date).  If online apps aren’t appealing to you, then maybe consider reaching out to a matchmaking service that will do some of the vetting for you. You can also look into group activities or take a class that interests you to increase your chances of meeting others with a similar passion.

2. Be Mindful– People have different dating goals, and a lot can depend on how long they’ve been separated or how acrimonious their divorce was.  Try to be curious and not make assumptions about someone’s dating intentions.  Some may just not be ready for a serious relationship, and others may lack the capacity to be flexible on certain criteria that they want in a partner, so don’t take rejections personally.  Focus on what you need and clearly identify your deal-breakers.

3. Follow the Golden Rule– Be respectful of each other’s time by showing up on time, being polite and ready to have fun while playing 20 questions.  Try not to make that first date feel like a job interview.  And if you’re not feeling it, just be honest but in a kind way– don’t ghost, breadcrumb or cushion.

4. Take Your Time: Enjoy getting to know someone, going on trips together, meeting their friends and family, and planning fun adventures.  Just remember, everyone is typically on their best behavior during the honeymoon phase.  Use this time to do your due diligence by collecting various data points and making sure that your dreams and aspirations align.

5. Moving In Together: You truly don’t know someone until you have lived with them for a while, so why not play house before you buy a house together?  Of course for this to be a successful exercise, it’s important to discuss upfront expectations regarding the division of chores as well as household expenses.  For some, cohabitation will be a sufficient end-goal, while others may want a commitment that ends in marriage.  Honestly share your thoughts on this, and also pay close attention to how you both deal with conflict and manage money.

Ultimately, none of us can predict whether a relationship will go the full distance, but we can certainly do our best to be more discerning during the dating process while looking for that right match. Just take your time, don’t ignore red flags and address difficult topics head on, especially before you make any big commitments together.

By Regina A. DeMeo