Looking for love is an exciting prospect. But when your situation is that you've just suffered the loss of a love through death or through divorce, the process of matchmaking for yourself can be challenging. You need to put to rest the old relationship before you can be free to love again.
Fail on this and you'll hit all kinds of problems. You may choose a partner who's absolutely right for you while you're in mourning for the loss of love - but who a few years down the line, when you're through your grief, is totally wrong for you.
Plus if you are still involved with a previous partner emotionally, you simply aren't free and available for a new one. If you try to form a relationship, you could well find that however much your new partner cares for you, you simply can't return their love and the matchmaking process will fail.
Work Through the Emotions
The first and most important thing to realise is that whether it is death or divorce that has separated you from your ex, it is still a kind of bereavement. You need to mourn.
So let yourself cry. Let yourself get angry about what happened. Let yourself get nervous about what the future holds for you. If possible, do all this with support - of friends, of family, or of a professional counsellor. If you feel yourself getting depressed - if your sadness is impacting on your sleep patterns, eating patterns or energy levels - then again get help from a counsellor or your GP.
Learn the Lessons
If you've divorced, you'll be thinking through how you need to act differently in the future to make your next matchmaking process succeed. If you've been widowed, then you also need to discover what you need to do differently next time - because however much you may want to simply repeat the happiness of your marriage, your new partner won't be the same person.
The process you need to go through in order to move on is the same. You need to think back through your relationship and understand what went right and what went wrong; did you make the right choice of partner, did you treat them well, how did you cope if there were problems? You need to think about how you succeeded in matchmaking - but also how you need to be different in order to be successful this time round.
Read the Signs
You're working through the emotions and learning the lessons of your previous relationship. But how will you know that you're ready for a new relationship? Here are three good signs.
First if you feel calmly and quietly neutral or good about a previous partner - as opposed to still grieving and angry. Second if you're starting to follow your own instincts and make your own choices - as opposed to still seeing your ex every day or still going on the same holidays as you would have done with your spouse. Third, if you feel able to give a new partner a special, central role in your life - as opposed to thinking that everyone would be a very poor second to your former partner.
If you're showing these signs, then it's a fair bet that you've recovered enough from your past relationship to not only choose a new partner who will make you happy but also be emotionally strong enough to make them happy. In which case, go for it - and start dating again.