They say love is sweeter the second time around. But when the first is actually more of a breakup or a divorce, can you really look forward to a second chance at love?

Being a 2nd-time singleton shortly after you have become a divorcee could be anything but exciting if you haven’t been in the dating circle for a long time. And there are reasons for the anxiety. Dating today is a totally different thing from the dating that you knew. But don’t be disheartened. A woman as charming as you won’t wait long until you find true love — again.

The most important No-No the moment you decide to be available again is to NEVER compare your dates to your ex. Although it is natural to make a mental comparison, using your ex as a standard for your future partner is a very unfair thing, not to mention very foolish. Whether you seek your ex’s good attitudes in your present dates or you immediately spot the same uncanny bad character flaw, comparing the ex and the present prospect is a plain dead end. The wise thing to do is to find a guy whom you like as he is, so there will never be a point of comparison.

Don’t look back. Forgetting an ex means forgetting an ex, and not reminiscing good memories. Remind yourself that ex means past. If time and again you look back, you will never fully see what’s before you. Decide once and for all if there’s a point in holding on and hope for a reunion, or if you need something more than what you had and be happy about your new-found freedom.

With relationship breakdown on the increase, what's the secret to making a second partnership work? Learn from your mistakes and be ready to tackle problems

After a break-up you feel like you'll never find love again. But then you do - and it feels amazing. Sadly, however, a much higher percentage of second committed relationships fail than first ones do. In America a staggering 80% of second marriages fail. This is why even if you're not planning to remarry, you need to take care when you move into a 'second- time-around' relationship.

Leave the past behind

Only move into a new relationship when you're over and well clear of the old one. It's tempting to leap into romance on the rebound from a break-up, but, without realising it, you may choose your new partner unwisely. The distress that comes with relationship breakdown may affect your judgement, and you risk bringing baggage and upset from your old relationship into your new one.

Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to heal, and this involves going through all the natural stages that follow a break-up. Do enough crying. Get as angry as you need to be. Work at building your confidence back up. Work through the natural grief, fury and depression, in order to feel ready to love again - without the baggage.

Make sure you learn the lessons that have come out of your old relationship. Think through how you met, how you chose to be with each other, how your love developed, how you handled problems. Think about what went wrong and why. Once you know this, you'll be far better placed to make a second relationship work.

Get to know your new love

It's particularly important to really get to know the person you are committing to in a second relationship, because of what both of you are bringing more into the situation: more age, more experience, more history - and more potential for problems.

Don't just judge your new partner on surface details like his looks, the sex and his lifestyle. Talk about how you feel, how you think and what you want out of life? Make sure you discuss not only your past relationships and what went wrong, but your early life and how this has shaped you into the person you are.

These conversations don't need to happen on the first date, but when a real sense of commitment starts to form, you do need to talk these issues through. It'll not only help you to understand each other better, but by talking intimately about your experiences and feelings you'll naturally feel closer, too.

A final tip: Don't treat these conversations as normal chats, with each of you chipping in and arguing. You'll need more emotional space than usual to talk these issues through. Take it in turns to talk. Give each other the space to express your feelings.

Get the deal straight

One of the potential problems each partner faces is that they have different expectations of the relationship. This is true of every relationship, whether it's your first time around or third. But if you've previously had a long-term relationship, you'll have a more fixed idea of what to expect, and your ideas may clash.

Check out each of your expectations ahead of time. Here's a checklist of topics to discuss. Take it in turns to talk and then compare your answers.

A: What do you mean by 'a committed relationship'? What do committed partners do that people who are 'going out' don't?
B: How do you ideally see us being once we're together, whether that's living together or married?
C: How do you imagine things changing between us once we're together?
D: How will you want me to be once we're together?
E: What do you think is the man's role in a committed relationship? What do you think is a woman's role?
F: What about the practicalities: where would we live? How will we manage our money? Would I work? Would we start a family together? How often will we see each other's families? (These issues are particularly vital for second time around relationships.)

If you share similar answers to these questions, then you've no big problems to tackle. You may, however, find you clash over some of these issues and have pinpointed areas that need tackling. Basically, you need to work to understand each other's expectations and to negotiate a deal that suits you both.

Helpful hints for long-term lovers

It can be tempting to think that because you've already had a committed relationship before, you know all the basics. But being with someone long-term can mean that you get out of practice with the simple but vital things like good communication. Make time to brush up on the basics and to remind yourself of what it takes to make a partnership work. This checklist will help you to get started:

A: Have time alone together every day, just touching down on what's happened in your day and how it's affected you
B: Express your needs - unless you each ask for what you want, you'll never get it
C: When each of you wants different things, learn how to get win-win solutions
D: Manage your critical emotions; don't dump anger or blame on each other but, equally, don't let dissatisfaction with the relationship fester
E: However long you've been together, celebrate each other and the relationship
F: Keep talking - particularly when you feel low or things are tough between you.

Problem spots

Some problems crop up again and again. Here are four of the most common problem spots, and some advice on how you can handle them:

1. Blending lifestyles

The older you are, the harder it is to move into someone else's life or have them move into yours. Be prepared to accommodate. Allow each of you to have 'private space'; if possible, your own room where you can have things your way.

Allow each other to spend time alone each day. Make sure you do things together - but that you also have the opportunity to do things independently.

Be respectful and tolerant of each other's habits. If you like to have breakfast in bed on a Sunday but your partner rises early to go for a jog, take it in turns to keep each other company - even if that means you have to go for a run!

2: Ex problems

It can be tricky to cope if an ex is still part of your partner's life. The secret is to remember that you have split from your respective exes for very good reasons and have now chosen to be with each other. The ex, however difficult and awkward, is history. Put your jealousy to one side and concentrate on developing a united front. Make a deal with your partner about how you're going to handle your exes. If you sense that, actually, you or your partner are still not entirely over an ex, then you will have to face up to the fact that you are not truly committed to your current relationship.

3: Coping with kids

The secret to avoiding difficulty is the same secret that underpins all strong relationships - communication. Talk about how you are going to handle your respective children. Discuss your expectations and, in particular, how you're going to handle disciplining your kids. Talk to your children. The more they feel involved in your commitment, the more they will feel able to support it.

4: Repeating the same mistakes

If you find yourself slipping into the same horrendous situations with your new love as you did with your old one, don't panic. It's not surprising you do that - after all, there's one major unchanging factor: you! Of course you'll fall into the same traps and meet the same challenges. But it is possible to change.