Says Gadoua, "too many women hide behind their kids as an excuse not to date." Be upfront and respectful, but don't apologize for wanting to date.

"Most children just want their parent to be happy, and may be less likely to object than you imagine," she says.

Watch @S_C_’s “Family Feud”: https://t.co/We5Ol PBr Ll pic.twitter.com/8Suek P8Crd […] Here comes the officiate … Anna Faris officiated her Unqualified podcast cohost’s wedding in a pale pink dress and Ugg boots. ❤️,” Faris captioned a photo from herself at Sim Sarna’s wedding on Friday, December 29, via Instagram.

If it's truly awful, take a step back and wait some more. Gadoua, who runs dating workshops for women, asks them to free-associate words that come to mind when they think of "dating." Not surprisingly, words like "awful" and "dreadful" come up.

Contemplating the dating scene, many divorced women feel not just garden-variety nerves, but "actual terror," says Dr. Just remember that your fears are normal—after all, you are dealing with or have dealt with a major betrayal and upheaval—and that you don't have to jump all the way in. Tell a few trusted friends that you're interested in meeting people. "Sit down and craft a statement of what, exactly, you're after. If you feel the same way, she offers this advice: "I suggest you try to reframe it as an adventure, or as an education," she says.

But if you were thinking that searching for companionship online is strictly for losers or perverts, forget it—that's as outmoded as dial-up.

"Online dating is not only mainstream, it's one of the best ways to widen your search, rather than just hoping that you'll meet someone in the coffee shop," says Dr. And these days, there's a site for everyone, from e Harmony and Match to niche sites like JDate.

Whether it's been one year or six since the divorce decree, you may never know with absolute clarity that you're truly ready for another relationship.

Instead, "it's usually clear when you're not ready," says Susan Pease Gadoua, a therapist and author of .

"You can see what you might want in a relationship going forward," she says, even if it's not with any of these guys. "Just say, 'I'm enjoying dating you, but I want you to know that for now I'm also seeing others casually.'"Hopefully it's obvious to you that if you have children at home, you shouldn't bring dates around unless it's somewhat serious.

That said, don't let a fear of your children being upset or disapproving stop you from getting out there if you feel ready to.

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Dating after divorce can be a minefield for the midlife woman.

That is, "when the very idea turns you off." But you can decide that you're ready to at least try.