WHEN mother of two Sarah suddenly found herself single at age 30, she came to the daunting realisation that meant getting back into the world of dating.
The Ipswich woman said many people shared her fears of getting back into the dating game, though it wasn't an issue many spoke openly about.
"My now ex-husband was my first boyfriend. We met when I was at university so to find myself back in the dating game at age 30, on the other side of a 10-year relationship with two young kids, was horrifying," she said.
"I hadn't had dating experience of any kind and had quite relished the fact I found the one first time around.
"That wasn't to be though and I had to get back out there again.
"A lot of my friends are still happily married or in relationships, so to even find someone to be my 'wing-woman' was difficult.
"I've met women and men in my situation and we all agree it's so hard to find someone and go through this dating process."
Two years after her separation, Sarah - whose name has been changed to protect her privacy - decided to bite the bullet and agreed to go on a blind date set up by a friend.
"Turns out the guy wasn't great and after a few dates I did tell my friend she could never do that to me again, but it did get me back out into the dating scene," she said.
Sarah said balancing work and motherhood made her take a different approach to dating than when she was younger.
"I have a lot less tolerance. I know this time around who I am, want I want in life and what I won't stand for," she said.
"I guess that might mean my standards are too high and that's okay because I think I settled too much on my first (relationship).
"My children are also important to me, I am upfront about them when dating."
Since her first date, Sarah has tried meeting people through friends, online and even through speed dating.
"I am trying to be open to putting myself out of my comfort zone just to see what these avenues are like," she said.
"As with anything in life, you could meet fabulous people but you could also meet some 'crazies'."
Sarah offered her advice to others who are now finding themselves in a similar situation and assured those feeling nervous that they were not alone.
"Oh gosh, it is scary (and) it is fraught with unknowns, but at the same time if you don't try it how will you know what it's like?" she said.
"I know people who have had fabulous success at events or online and it's those success stories that are great motivators for others to try or to keep going with it.
"But (I would like) to tell people there are plenty of us out there, you aren't alone.
"Take comfort in the fact there are many people as frustrated as you are.
"Dating is hard in general, not just as a single parent or divorce.
"You have to persist with it, sometimes it works out, most times it doesn't, and then you have to start again with introducing yourself, going 'back to the drawing board' again and again.
"But I think if you know who you are (and) what you want from relationships, you can't go wrong."
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