04/09/2012 12:33 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2012

Press 'Enter' To Start Dating

"Do I dare look for a boyfriend online? What site should I use? How do I protect my privacy? Can this really be happening?" Fran asked herself these and many other questions before she ventured into the weird and sometimes wacky world of online dating. This certainly wasn't what she had planned when she walked down that aisle many years ago with her (now) ex-husband. Presently all of her friends seemed to be married or in a relationship, so she wasn't about to ask them for advice, and it seemed way too bizarre to go online to get tips for online dating.

Eventually, through a great deal of trial and error, Fran began dating online. She even figured out a few rules for herself, and set up some boundaries and helpful guidelines along the way. In time, she began to feel safe and even a bit playful.

Here are some of our tips for online dating post-divorce:

1. Do your homework. There are many dating websites out there that range from general sites that are free and open to all to sites with some guidelines for membership or specific types of people using them (for example Christians, older people, professionals, etc.) Give this some thought; which one(s) would suit your interests?

2. Get creative, but stay private. Build a profile that reflects who you are: your interests, the type of person you are, what makes you tick and who you are searching for. Consider including a dating name for yourself. It's not a great idea to use your true name on a site as it's easy to find out who you are and where you live based on surprisingly little information. You can also maintain your privacy by not using your personal email address. Choose a catchy name for yourself -- maybe one that makes you feel sexy and sophisticated!

3. If you don't want to put a photo up online, don't! You may have to become the "searcher", though, instead of waiting to be searched and found. You can share your photo with the suitor privately -- you are in control of that decision. If you choose to put up a photo, try to find one that is fairly recent and truly resembles you. Photos that misrepresent who you are today can complicate things right from the start and leave your date feeling duped.

4. Start searching, and start having fun. Remember, this is supposed to be pleasurable, right?

5. If it gets overwhelming -- too many emails, too few emails, too many uncomfortable moments -- take a break. There's no hurry. Loads of eligible men and women will be there tomorrow or the next day, too! Take your time.

6. Don't share too much too fast. Dating is about discovery. It can be a great temptation to tell the other person everything right up front -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. There's no need to hurry, so try to take it slow and let your connection build naturally, over time.

7. Remember to stay public. If you begin a private or offline conversation with someone interesting, be sure to log into your dating email account to do so. There's no rush to get too personal too soon, right? The same holds true for when you decide to meet. Do so publicly: arrive separately, stay where there are other people and leave separately. Be smart!

Good luck! Dating is as much about luck and being in the right place at the right time as it is about skill. Put yourself out there and may the odds be forever in your favor!