Losing a long-time spouse or partner may make you feel painfully alone. Perhaps you miss the companionship and intimacy that comes with a relationship. If you find yourself wondering whether it's too late to look for love, take heart in knowing that there's no need to stay lonely.

Whatever your age, there are plenty of like-minded individuals out there interested in friendship, romance, and even marrying again. Here's what you need to know/how to ease comfortably back into the dating game once again.

Before you even consider dating...

"...take a step back and examine your own behaviors and emotions," says Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of Finding Love Again. Think about where you are emotionally, and where you'd like to be.

"Many people who have experienced divorce or the loss of a loved one don't really know who they are anymore," Orbuch says. "They may have been in a relationship for so long that they've begun to compromise and change for the other person." If you don't reflect on who you are and where you are going, you could run into relationship problems, Orbuch cautions.

Process and work through your feelings toward your ex.

"In my research, I found that divorced singles who were able to say they felt emotionally neutral about their ex were significantly more likely to find love again," Orbuch says. If you're feeling a lot of anger toward your ex-partner, Orbuch suggests writing a very truthful letter to him - but not sending it. "Put it into a drawer so you can see it," she says. Just getting it out on paper can be therapeutic.

Reflect on the qualities you want in another person.

"You may find they are different than those that were important to you when you were younger and that can be surprising," Orbuch says. "But it's important to know what you are looking for."

Approach online dating cautiously.

Yes, it's easier to meet people with similar interests on line but that doesn't mean you should rush right out to dinner with the first guy you connect with on Match.  While online dating can seem easy, it's important to proceed with caution, says Joan Allen, MA, relationship expert and author of Celebrating Single & Getting Love Right: From Stalemate to Soulmate."Arrange your first meeting in a public place—like a coffee shop. Never give out your home address, and don't have him pick you up at home. "It sounds like common sense but if you just came out of a marriage and haven't dated in a while, it's possible to be a little naive," Allen says.

Meeting people the old-fashioned way-in person-still works.

If online dating ins't your cup of tea, it's okay. Go ahead and take that painting class that's always appealed to you, sign up for a cooking class, or volunteer at a pet shelter. "Following your passion—whatever that is—is a wonderful way to meet someone with similar interests," Allen says.

Let your friends know you are open to dating.

Orbuch recommends spending time with friends and asking if they know anyone who might be right for you. Friends can be wonderful resources. And who knows, a friend may know a friend who's friends with your future soul mate.