THE BLOG
11/30/2014 03:40 pm ET Updated Jan 30, 2015

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Dating After a Divorce

Now that you are divorced or otherwise single, what are you looking for? You've probably been asked that question, or a variation of it, many times, and it's not always easy to pin down an answer. Most of us can readily identify what we don't want, but putting a finger on exactly what we're looking for in a partner and/or a relationship is often a difficult task.

As a relationship expert, I've found that many of our wants come from things that we've experienced in past relationships, or from things we've not experienced but would like to. We hold on to pieces of past relationships that we perceive as "good," and we tend to drag that baggage into new relationships.

But this type of behavior raises a very important question: Is this fair?

The answer is "not really." It is very important to enter into each new relationship with no preconceived ideas. Try to leave behind your past, and look at the new woman/man in your life with fresh eyes and an open heart. But, that does not mean that you should walk in with heart in your hands, ready to commit.

Below are three questions that you should ask yourself as you're preparing to start dating again.

Question 1- Are you looking for a serious relationship?
If your answer to this question is yes, then your approach to dating may be a little different from the tactics used by someone looking for a casual setup. Ask your new love interest important questions before going on that first date.

Questions such as "are you looking to just 'date' or are you looking for a serious relationship" will help you narrow down your search to a man who has similar relationship goals. Most men will share their intentions, especially if they have been divorced, but there are a few who won't, so always, always trust your instincts.

Question 2 - Are you looking to date many different individuals at the same time?
If your answer to this question is yes, you've set a solid starting point. Make sure to tell anyone you are thinking of dating, that you're not interested in a monogamous relationship at the moment; you are simply interested in dating and having a good time.

I have found that many of the women on my website, as well as some of my friends believe that an honest approach works best for them. Also, talking with the male members of my site, honesty is an approach that they appreciate very much. Single and divorced men don't want to waste their time any more than we do. Honesty is really the way to go!

Question 3 - Are you simply interested in friends with benefits?
This is the tricky question, but if you're being honest with yourself, it's really not that hard to answer.

If your answer to this question is yes, then again, honesty is the best way to go. There are many men/women who are not interested in this type of relationship at all. They do not like the idea that the person they are "seeing" may be intimate with other individuals. In my opinion, it's important to share this type of information up front. You don't want to hurt or offend anyone, but if dating is not something you want, nor does it interest you on any level, then you don't want to be involved with someone who does.

Finally, and most importantly, remember that when you accept an invitation for that first date after a breakup (or extend an invitation!), the event is exactly that... JUST A DATE. Leave your baggage at home. Don't spend your time with a new interest talking about all the wrongs of your past relationships. Don't compare him/her to your past, expecting things to feel normal. Chances are he/she won't be the same and things won't feel normal.

Dating is very different than it used to be, and you truly may not know what you are looking for at first. Take time to figure it all out before you get serious with someone new. You know what you do not like, but your wants and likes may change daily, and that's ok.

Don't over think everything. Give yourself a break, take a deep breath, and jump! You truly will be just fine!