Dr Dina McMillan gives advice for second (or third) time around single mums looking for love.
It can be hard to get out there after being married, says single mum Sarah, 38.
"I was married for 10 years," she says. "We got married when I was 21. We had drifted apart as our careers took different directions, and I got custody of our daughter Lucy."
"I didn't date for a long time," Sarah says. "I was so busy trying to hold it together. I had a high-pressure senior job and a five-year-old. I used to envy people in comas, I was so tired."
Sarah's mother began to stay with her when she needed help with Lucy, and this took the pressure off. "Then a work colleague set me up on this blind date."
Dr McMillan says take it easy when you first get back out there.
"On the first date, conduct yourself in a friendly fashion but don't jump in with both feet," she says "Be honest and easy-going. Even if you're very attracted to him, resist the temptation to kiss! If you don't do anything physical, you actually increase the likelihood of seeing him again."
"He was gorgeous!" Sarah says. "And, being French, he was like, 'You're the best thing' — completely over the top. It was really nice to be attracted to someone again and to feel beautiful and wanted again."
After a few dates, Sarah fell for her Frenchman's charm. "I'd lost my dating skills so my cynicism radar was gone and I was confused," she says. "I felt like a teenager again. But he was just so hot and it was fun."
I have kids
"Be up front about the fact you have children," Dr McMillan says. "Some guys would rather not deal with this particular situation. If that's the case, it's better to eliminate them early rather than risk getting attached."
Sarah learned this the hard way. "I was 'Cinderella' because I had to be home by midnight for the babysitter," she says. "He said, 'You're really gorgeous but I don't want to see you anymore — you're a mother and mothers are boring.' So we left it at that."
Keeping the faith
Don't get discouraged if you don't find someone straight away, Dr McMillan says.
"Give yourself some time to adjust to dating again. You're looking to find someone who's a good long-term match for you and your kids."
Sarah moved on. "I got into the rhythm of being single again as a different person," she says. "I had another low-commitment, long-distance relationship and that ran its course as well. Then I met Pete ... [when] I was at the races for work.
"There was a connection there and we have a lot in common, like art. He was also divorced and had two kids. A couple of weeks later we went on a first date. It's been on since then!
"The children have to come first and your partner has to realise that, and with Pete it's never been a problem if I had to break a date."
Meeting the kids
When do you introduce your children to your new partner?
"Even if your new guy is nice, meeting him will be a little confusing for them, so wait until you're sure the relationship is going to be pretty serious," Dr McMillan says.
Sarah agrees. "Pete is the first guy I've let Lucy see me with besides her dad," she says. "That was really important. But you can't let your children dictate who you date. We've been together for nearly four years but because of the children it's gone slowly. We haven't lived together yet ... We're talking about it."
Get out there
Think you might be ready to date but don't know where to look for love?
"Dating sites, fun adult classes like wine-tasting, scuba diving or rock climbing, signing up for a community sports team, or attending business-oriented seminars — there are a huge number of ways to meet new men," Dr McMillan says.
"Don't hesitate to go to female-only or female-oriented activities," Dr McMillan says. "The love of your life could be a friend or relative of someone you meet there. When out and about, the secret is to keep your non-verbal behaviour friendly and open. Be approachable. Be yourself. Enjoy being single because it won't last forever!"