Meet our expert
Corinne Sweet is a leading relationship psychologist. For more information on Corinne Sweet, visit www.corinnesweet.com
We all long to be loved – whether romantically or by friends who accept us for who we are, but life can take cruel twists, leaving us widowed or divorced or simply feeling alone. Even if you’re not looking for romance, most of us would like more friends, particularly when retirement or an empty nest means we may have more time and freedom but are less likely to meet people in day to day situations.
Whether it’s love or friendship you’re looking for, you can’t just sit at home waiting for the phone to ring. However, don’t make your search for a relationship the centre of your life. Concentrate instead on keeping busy, meeting a range of new people and, of course, making sure you continue to nurture existing relationships with your old friends or family. You’ll instinctively know when the time is right for a new relationship
“Strong friendships are important as they help us through all the ups and downs in life: relationship breakup, birth, death, new jobs, weight loss, and new love,” says relationship psychologist Corinne Sweet. “Friendship is the glue that bonds us together.”
Life after divorce
Searching for romance after a marriage break up can be tough. Whether you initiated the divorce, or it was your partner’s choice, it can be tricky to let go of old habits and resentments. Even ifthe divorce was your decision, it’s important to allow yourself time to grieve for your marriage – after all, life as you knew it has ended and whatever follows is unknown and daunting.
Use this period to really get to know yourself, as it’s almost certain your married life will have been spent learning to compromise and trying to please others. Now’s you chance to explore hobbies you might not have had time for, travel to new places, make time for friends, get fit, and allow yourself to unravel the bitterness and emotional baggage that a divorce can sometimes bring.
Take your time
If you’ve been bereaved, looking for a new love initially will be the last thing on your mind, but given time it may be something you wish to pursue.
“Widows and widowers need plenty oftime to grieve and recover,” says Corinne. “Take the time to get used to your own company. It’s important to have time to learn who you are alone before throwing yourself into something new.”
You’ll instinctively know when the time is right for a new relationship; don’t let well-meaning friends pressure you to ‘find a new mate’.
What do you want?
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, the first sensible step is to really think about the qualities you’d like in a partner or friend.
“A good friend is honest and thoughtful, but also will tell you the truth when you need to hear it,” says Corinne.
“When it comes to a potential partner, It’s best not to have too many specific expectations or a shopping list of desired traits,” adds Corinne. “This can lead to disappointment and you could miss out on someone right under your nose.”
While you might dream of someone tall, dark and handsome, a more reasonable approach would be to think about the attributes that you can’t do without – a shared sense of humour, or similar morals, for example – and try to be flexible about other details.
“Try to make friends with people of both sexes, have fun and enjoy their company. Keep an open mind, and if it’s right, romance will grow naturally,” adds Corinne.
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A new start
Learning something new is a great place to start: you’ll grow in confidence and never be short of something to talk about, with the bonus that you might just make friends for life (and possibly find love) while you’re at it.
“The best way to meet someone new is to take up new activities,” says Corinne. “Community gardening, singing, photography, travel, fitness classes – anything that gives you the opportunity to meet new people.
"Why not start a lunch group with your existing friends and ask everyone to bring along one friend of the opposite sex?” suggests Corinne. “And if you do meet someone you like, don’t be afraid to ask them out – it’s fine for women to take the lead. At first, make it a small, low-key outing, such as a coffee in a cafe or trip to the cinema, not a full-blown date.”