THE BLOG
01/30/2012 12:14 pm ET | Updated Mar 31, 2012

Finding Love Again: Advice for the Divorced Woman

The legal freedom that comes from a divorce decree does not necessarily give you an emotional divorce or prepare you for the rest of your life. Resist feelings of hate, resentment, or becoming a camp follower. Any one of these could ruin your happy future, keeping you tied to the man you should leave behind.

Even if the final vote in your breakup was his not yours, you will live to see the day you can thank the man for leaving you -- but only if you can vow now to do what you need to do to recover and heal.

The process of divorcing is almost always painful and filled with anger and grief, but being divorced is an opportunity for an upgrade -- not a sentence to lifelong loneliness.

Are You Ready To Love Again?

Answer these questions to determine whether to start shopping or take time to further heal:

When you think of your ex?

A. Would you happily slaughter or soundly beat him?
B. Do you resent your time together and dwell on the emotional pain and upheaval but are trying to figure out what life by your own definition means?
C. Are you on track to neutrality or forgiveness, proactive in your future and relatively uninvolved in his?

When you think of yourself?

A. Is it with overwhelming self-pity or feeling hopeless?
B. Are you up and down emotionally but feeling OK most of the time?
C. Has self-esteem and self-worth flowed back into your world and have you recently laughed heartily, preferably at yourself?

When you think of the next man in your life?

A. Are you repelled, sickened, or terrified at the very thought?
B. Are you cautious but curious -- you can joke and feel some turn on?
C. Is this an exciting concept that you can feel as well as visualize?

Do you feel an expansion of loving feelings?

A. More like wishing the world would go away and an attack team would nullify your enemies.
B. A happier self seems to be emerging and a few more people seem to actually be drawn to you.
C. Well being and well wishing of your fellow woman and man have returned.

Do you believe you are lovable?

A. Not willing to give anyone the chance -- risk adverse and I'm not crazy about me
B. Feel that way more and more.
C. Definitely a yes, and even easy to love.

What is your attitude toward men in general?

A. Low -- am first to warn friends about the pitfalls and join in every opportunity at bashing.
B. Realize my situation was not reflective of all relationships.
C. Appreciation and trust and believe I could be good at selection.

Tally your answers.

If you chose A's and B's, don't begin dating yet. Take a rest break to heal more first. Moving into a new relationship without emptying your baggage means your new love and eventually your lovingness will be dumped on or worse, you are vulnerable to attracting a man with his own matching set of bags. Don't go there.

B's with some C's means ready to roll. Don't wait for perfect. You are free to have a brand new clean version of who you are now -- re-invent yourself and find the man who suits you best.

But do follow these steps:
Bypass what didn't work in your marriage in choosing the new man but don't over credit his lack of these deficits -- be open to the new pluses and minuses in the company you keep.

Don't compete with your ex's time table -- he or she who is quickest to be in a new relationship is not necessarily the winner.

Don't bring a jury on your dates. Good friends, family, and children may have valuable opinions but no one knows what goes on between two people. You retain the right to choose.

Be constantly expanding your level of acceptance -- you need a shopping list of requirements in the man you will re-marry as a safety net but the man of your dreams may not be like anyone you can currently imagine.

Expect to be treated well from the minute you meet a man -- if you aren't, you aren't his dream girl so move rapidly on to a male with better eye sight.

Lighten up -- finding new love is not funeral attendance. Don't play ball with ineligibles but if you know they are eligible by your decree, don't over think -- have a ball.