How can you find time to date when you barely have time to shave your legs? Jewish dating coach and image consultant Neely Steinberg has written extensively (and virally!) about the topic. In this interview, she offers pointers for dating once you’re newly single, with kids.

What’s your advice for someone whose self-image might be bad after being divorced—for instance, maybe they were the one who was left, and they feel unwanted or unlovable?

Take some time to be alone, to learn how to be alone again. Sit with your feelings of loneliness. You will get through it. It will make you stronger and less likely to dive in and settle for an unhealthy relationship, because you know you can thrive on your own. Find a support network—trusted friends in healthy relationships, a coach, a therapist, mentor, et cetera—people who show you evidence through their words and actions that you are, of course, lovable. Together, you will help re-build your self-esteem and get back to a place where you’re ready to love again.

Where can people meet, if they have kids? We’re already so busy, and my sense is that a lot of people get stuck in their routines and are a bit afraid to branch out, and that the world of online dating could seem too millennial.

I’m going to have to push back on this one. Online dating is an incredible tool for your dating tool belt, no matter what age. It doesn’t have to be your only means of meeting people, but it should still be one way. After all, 35 percent of relationships today begin online, so why dismiss those odds? Online dating allows you to take control and create dates for yourself—a great opportunity, especially when you’re a busy professional. There are so many generic profiles out there, so make sure yours is well-written, playful and engaging, so it stands out from the crowd.

Look at other profiles and take note of the ones that stand out. Ask yourself, why is this different? How does it make me smile and draw the reader in? Then try to emulate that style.

Next, put yourself in the person’s shoes who might be reading your profile. How are you showing him or her why you’d be someone they just have to go out with and get to know?

Also, show, don’t tell. If you’re funny, make a joke or tell a story that shows you’re funny. Engage the reader through specifics. And you need to commit to online dating, rather than just checking in once every couple of weeks.

That being said, there are other, offline ways to meet people. Meet-up groups are always good, because they zero in on specific interests, so you know you already have one thing in common. Maybe pick one or two and focus on those, instead of spreading yourself too thin. Or get into a hobby or two that you’ve always wanted to do, like a hiking group, for example, and commit yourself to it. It’s better to become part of long-term rather than short-term opportunities, like one class or event, because then you can start forming deeper connections with people and build your network, thereby increasing your chances of meeting someone.

How do you cope with feeling left out when all of your friends are still couples?

I think you just need to tell yourself that it’s going to be hard. There’s no magic cure for feeling left out; sometimes you just need to muddle through and embrace that feeling rather than push it down and ignore it. Obviously, you can branch out and start making new friends who are single, but it’s not like you’re going to drop all of your old friends who are in relationships. So you just need to take a deep breath and tell yourself that it’s going to be difficult sometimes when you’re around your coupled friends, but that you’re better off not being in a relationship that isn’t working. The only thing lonelier than being alone is being in an unhealthy relationship.

How long should you wait to feel a spark? When do you know when to cut your losses, and when do you know you should stick it out?

It’s tough to assign a number of dates, because, well, this is dating, not algebra, but given my experience working with women over the years, I’d say you have a pretty good idea after date three if there’s a spark and something more you can build on. Sometimes, especially for women, feelings take a while to blossom. So I always encourage them to go out a couple more times if they are on the fence about someone. You never know what can switch on for you. If you’re not feeling anything after date three, it’s probably best to move on. I also encourage women to look for the positives in their dates instead of just immediately poking holes or looking for things to critique. I call it heart-based dating, rather than ego-based dating.

What do you think the most important qualities are to look for in a partner, especially at middle age?

Consistency, integrity, emotional availability and a positive outlook on life. Of course, you want a physical attraction, and one or two common interests are nice. But without the other things, a relationship won’t last long. Chemistry is only half the equation.

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