Making yourself vulnerable by dating new people is never easy, but it can be especially challenging if you are just starting to date again after a divorce. You might feel like the “rules” of dating have changed, or worry that you’ll have trouble trusting someone new after the end of your last long-term relationship. But keep in mind that dating can give you the chance to meet someone to whom you feel a close connection and with whom you might enter into a satisfying relationship. The key is remembering to be open, patient, and comfortable with yourself.

Houston Relationship Counselor Gives 5 Tips for Dating after Divorce

Go at your own speed. There’s no rule that you have to start dating once a certain amount of time has passed, so don’t let well-intentioned friends, family members, or your ex pressure you into dating before you’re ready. You should feel that you’ve moved past your last relationship and aren’t just dating out of fear of being alone or to show up your ex. And once you start seeing someone, take the relationship at a speed you’re comfortable with. If the person you’re dating doesn’t respect your wishes to take things slowly, then they’re probably not someone you want to be with.

Train yourself to think positively. If your last relationship ended badly, it might feel difficult to go into dating with a positive mindset. You might worry that there’s no one out there for you, or that your last relationship ended because there’s something “wrong” with you. Learn to reframe your thinking in a positive way. For example, even if a first date goes badly, tell yourself that going on the date was at least an educational experience.

Don’t get into the mindset that you have a certain “type.” This limits you and could cause you to miss out on meeting someone with whom you share a real connection. You should also avoid comparing new people that you meet to your ex; recognize the men or women you date as whole people with their own complex lives, not just people whose characters are based on qualities that they may or may not share with someone from a past relationship.

Recognize what you want. Maybe you’re hoping to eventually enter into another meaningful and long-term relationship, but it’s also okay to just want to go on a few casual dates or even desire something in between. Figuring out what you actually want to get out of dating will help you better understand how to approach the dating landscape.

Be patient. Keep in mind that the first date you go on probably isn’t going to lead to a long-term relationship, and don’t take it personally if a handful of dates fizzle out. Know that you can’t rush something as important as a long-term relationship, so be willing to take your time and use dating as an opportunity to meet new people and grow as a person.