Starting over: Dating after divorce or widowhood

Mar 2, 2009 at 1:26 p.m. ET

In her new book, Getting Naked Again, New York Times best-selling author Judith Sills writes that a return to dating is an emotional whiplash, pure and unavoidable.

Middle Aged Couple
For women "floating out there in single space," whether they have been widowed, divorced, or detached, Sills offers advice on how to re-enter the dating world.

Ready or Not

According to Sills, you know you're ready to date again when you no longer cry uncontrollably, have stopped talking about your ex or fantasizing that he is coming back, have gotten a handle on any self-destructive tendencies, and have stopped reliving and/or regretting the past.For women in transition, Sills asserts that meeting someone new is more than just a numbers game. "[Its] bringing the right mind, body, and spirit to that numbers game," she states. In short, dating is less about whom you meet, and more about who you are when you meet him.Do you still have the same interests now that you are no longer a part of a "we"? Or have you found that by losing your partner, you have also lost enthusiasm for certain activities and beliefs that you once thought were you? Especially if you are the type of woman who loses her identity when she enters into a relationship, it may take time to decide who you are, much less what you want, now that you are single."You need an evolving sense of self," advises Sills of the process of what she calls "turning single."

Fear Factor

"At its deepest psychodynamic level, getting naked again involves fear," writes Sills.
And before you can rise from the ashes of a past relationship, you first must address it.Two of the most common fears women face when re-entering the dating game are the fear of being alone and the fear of making a mistake. One can leave you recoiling from an otherwise great guy when you really want to be in a relationship and the other can cause you to engage in a series of drunken one-night stands when you don't.However, before you can successfully date again, you must first bring that fear into consciousness and make a decision of how to channel that anxiety into a healthier way. Sills recommends activities like meditation, exercise, and prayer to combat these emotional roadblocks.

The Comeback Kid

"Certainly we date again because it's a drag to sit home on Saturday night," says Sills, but also because "romantic life is really nothing more than a playing field; increasing your capacity to give and receive love is the prize."For more info on Getting Naked Again, visit

More relationship advice:

Love in 90 Days: A Q&A with Dr. Diana Kirschner 
9 Dating New Year's resolutions for 2009
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