So you're single. And you're fed up with being alone. Let's face it, not many of us actually prefer being single: most people find they are happier, more fulfilled and more secure when they are in a (good) relationship. But just because you are feeling the urge to date and mate, it doesn't necessarily mean you are ready for it.

Reasons you might not be ready to date

  • Still distressed about your last break-up (sad, angry, bitter, confused , unable to sleep or concentrate, obsessed...)
  • Disrupted social life; decimated friendship circle ... It can take months or even years to get your life back on track following break-up.
  • Need to relocate, change job, get a job ...
  • Messed-up finances
  • Low self-esteem ... An astonishingly common problem, even among people who appear to others to be well sorted and successful.
  • Shyness ... Again, many people - including those who you'd least suspect of it - are very shy in certain situations.
  • Lack of direction ... When life has kicked them in the teeth, many people lose a certain amount of drive and can become bad at making plans, taking positive action or even responding to invitations.

Things that can happen if you try dating before you are ready

  • If you do meet someone, you will irritate or bore them by harping on about your sad recent history rather than focusing on your current date.
  • Rejection will be hurtful and and damaging to your fragile self-esteem; it could send you into a serious depression.
  • You may become obsessive about online dating, speed dating etc - an expensive, futile and depressing experience.
  • You could get into a rebound relationship, with potentially disastrous emotional and practical consequences if for one reason or another it all goes horribly wrong.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Can I truthfully say i have moved on from what has happened in the past?
  • Am I emotionally strong? Confident? Do I like myself? Am I comfortable with the way I look and behave?
  • Do I have a good friendship circle that I can turn to even if my love life goes pearshaped?
  • Am I on top of life? Do I have an active social life, and plans for the future?
  • In short - what kind of shape is my 'personal aura' in? When people meet me do I come across as a positive individual with lots going on in my life rather than someone who is rather down and negative?

If the answer to all these is YES then you are (probably) ready for dating! The world is your oyster - but make sure you read our dating safety tips before you proceed!

If you are not sure, then why not ask a trusted friend or family member for their opinion.

If the answer is NO, then you may well benefit from holding back for a time while you tackle a few issues. Remember - you don't have to do this alone. Single Living's New You programme has been designed to help you work with a adviser to identify problem issues and tackle them one by one, and there are also masses of counsellors, therapists and life coaches who may be of use.