Moving on after someone dies: 7 tips for dating again

Losing a partner is one of the most difficult things someone will have to go through. How will you know when you're ready to date again? Here's some advice.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Bela Gandhi

Last season, "This Is Us" fans finally learned how Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died. But when season three premieres this week, audiences will finally learn what happens next. How does Rebecca (Mandy Moore) move on with her life? And how does she find love (with Miguel) again?

What we do know: It won't be easy for her — or for everyone watching (stock up on tissues!).

Losing a partner is one of the most traumatic things a person can face. Whether it was from a long-term illness or spontaneous loss, the road through the tunnel can be long and arduous. Sometimes, it seems as if the darkness will be perpetual. But one day, you wake up, and think to yourself, "I don't want to live this life alone." Perhaps the idea of dating again has found a spark.

When you've felt the little spark, or even just the inklings of the spark, what are the best ways to get back in the saddle? Here is some advice.

1. Know when you're ready.

Does the thought of being on a date excite you, or repulse you? Have you processed your grief enough to be able to enjoy another's company that could turn into romance?

There is no "right or wrong" about when you'll be ready. Many people are ready months after the death of their partner, and for others, it takes years. The most important thing is that you have this conversation with yourself, and aren't trying to satisfy someone else's idea of when you're ready (or not).

This decision should come from within — and it's subject to change if you find that you aren't ready just yet.

2. Know that it's OK to compare.

Human beings compare everything — it's in our nature. You will compare new people to your old love, and that doesn't mean anything bad. It also doesn't mean that a new person won't measure up. In the beginning, you might compare them to your lost partner.

Don't hold yourself to unreasonable standards, and know that comparisons are more than OK, they're part of our DNA.

3. Be open to new packages.

Love usually comes in an unexpected package. Be open to people who are both similar to and different from your partner.

Know that new love is possible, and happens often (even when you think it can't ever be as good). Your best bet is to know that this new person will probably look, sound and be different, and that's more than OK. Be open to people who are older and younger as age is often "just a number." As long as you feel at ease and safe with this person, and attracted to them — you'll be in good shape!

4. Enlist a dating village.

Build a group of people around you who are positive and encourage you to get out there again. Ask them to support you and not let you give up. Recruit friends who will keep you motivated, and who have good instincts on people.

5. Use online dating wisely.

Get some new great photos that you love and pick one site or app to start with. I like big sites and apps, as they have big denominators, and lots of people to choose from.

Be positive in your messages, and you don't have to bring up the loss of your spouse.

6. Keep your "me time" sacred.

You have grown, out of necessity, into enjoying your own company and solitude. Make sure that you continue to do things that make you happy, and spend as much time as you need on your own too.

There is no need to rush into anything that doesn't feel right. If someone is putting pressure on you to "move things along" and it seems too fast for you — communicate that gently. The right person will not only understand that, but give you the space you need. The wrong person will make you feel badly, and can even threaten to leave. Good riddance to anyone who isn't willing to respect your wishes.

7. Be patient, persistent and positive.

Finding new love takes time — and it can take dozens of "frogs" to find a prince or princess. Slow the process down and try to enjoy the journey. Even if you get disappointed by someone, know that great love will come to you — and stay positive (or "psychotically optimistic") about this prospect. Anything good takes time and effort.

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