Let’s be real. Even when we feel really fantastic about ourselves, being on the dating scene can make even the most self-confident among us feel a little unsure. After coming out of a divorce, it can be hard to even know where to begin, especially if we have kids. If the last time you went on a first date it was still in the 1900s (yikes!), you might be skeptical about dating online. Trust me, the world of online dating has changed, and now it is the easiest and most reliable way to meet the type of people you are looking for.

Here are a few quick do’s and don’t to help you get started.

dos and dont’s for dating after divorce

Do: Mention that you have kids in your on-line profile.
Your kids are a part of your life and anyone who is going to date you deserves to know about them. The fact that you have a few rug rats running around is not the kind of thing that you want to surprise someone with on date five! Some people worry that outing themselves as a mom or dad might be a turn-off to potential date, but really, if you having kids is a deal-breaker for someone, then that’s not a person you want to be dating.

Don’t: Say too much about your kids.
Your kids are a part of your life– but they are not who you are. You were a complete person before having children and will be a complete person after your children are grown. Make THAT person the one who goes on the date– and the one who you present in your on-line dating profile. This can be tricky for the newly single, who are used to having their identities wrapped up with their children (most of my kids’ friend still have no idea what my name actually is). Take some time to think about who you are, when you are not “Sophie’s Mom.”

Do: Post photos of yourself on your profile.
I know, it makes you feel vulnerable. This is just one of those things that you have to do – -and to be really blunt- – you better do it well. No pictures of you five years and 10 ten pounds ago (who are we kidding- twenty pounds ago). That might seem like a good idea, but all it will do is make you more nervous when it comes time for your first date. Also, no selfies in the bathroom mirror. Go on YouTube, watch some video about how to get a good picture (the “chin forward” guy is a personal favorite), and enlist the help of a good friend if need be. Nothing is sexier than self-confidence. Having good photos sends the message that you think you’re attractive and worthy of attention.

Don’t: Post pictures of your kids
You know that thing I said earlier about not saying too much about your kids because dating is about you; it’s like that. When you post a picture of you and your child together, it sends the message that dating you is a package deal. In truth, you can go on many, many dates, with many many people, with none of them ever meeting your kids. In fact, I would recommend that you do so. I’m sure your kids are adorable and I’m sure that some of the very best picture you have of yourself is with them. One word: crop.

Do: Practice the hard lines
Repeat after me: “My ex is a good person: we just couldn’t make it work anymore.” This is what you say when asked about your ex- – or something like it, as long as you can say it with a straight face. You might still be hurt, or angry, or bewildered, but save it for your therapist.

Do: Believe in Karma
What goes around comes around. Really, the reason you’re even reading this article is probably because you want to invite more into your life. Maybe you simply want companionship, or maybe you want to find out once and for all if it’s possible to really fall in love. Whatever it is that you want, start by giving to others what it is you want for yourself. If you want to feel less lonely, try making a point of smiling and saying hello to people to other people who also look lonely. If you want a deep love, focus on developing a deeper love for those relationships you already have (think kids, your bff, your crazy sister in Wyoming, etc). Go looking for what it is that you want. You’ll be surprised with all the ways it will show up.

Don’t: Play games with your dates
A lot of people will tell you that dating is like playing a game, but I think it’s helpful to think of it as a game that you are playing with yourself. If you are trying to figure out how to make people do what you want, you’re never going to win. If, however, you think of your time dating as a time to challenge yourself to be more honest, more open, more confident, and more self-assured, then even if you face disappointment and hurt feelings, you end up all the better for it.

Don’t: Dwell in the hard places
When you are on a date, sometimes you have to walk a fine line between being presenting yourself authentically while still being about to talk about the hard parts of your life without sounding like your writing lyrics for an Emo band. Your divorce, your career frustration, that year in college you dropped out to sit home and watch “Wheel of Fortune” because you were so depressed- – these are things to talk about once you are in a healthy relationship, but they will end up weaseling their way into the conversation while you’re dating. Be ready. Think about how you will talk about the sensitive parts of your life with grace.