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“Girlfriends Are Our Emotional Safety Net”: Q&A With Dr. Judith Sills

[Giveaway winners have been notified. Check your email!] Are you divorced, widowed, on an extended break from dating? Are you “of a certain age” and thinking about dipping your toe back into the dating pool? We know that many of you are dating “the second time around.” So, we jumped at the opportunity to interview Judith Sills, PhD, author of the brand-new Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You’ve Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted—especially after reading her views on female friendship! In this 288-page guide, clinical psychologist and New York Times bestselling author Sills leads readers through each stage of the “re-entry” process. It’s an honest, witty, and sophisticated look at midlife dating, and definitely “not your daughter’s dating guide.” Here’s a woman who really knows relationships—and, she’s funny—so we were thrilled that she took some time to answer some questions especially for  Read on for our interview—and all the details on how to win one of FIVE FREE COPIES of the book! 

Q. Why did you write this book? A. I wrote Getting Naked Again to stretch out a hand to every woman who — possibly unexpectedly, maybe deliberately — finds herself standing alone at mid-life. She’s out of a marriage, or widowed, or she’s been occupied with her kids and her career. Now she’d like to add a little romance to her life, with a date, a companion, a lover or maybe even a husband. But it’s been a while and she doesn’t know what to expect. She’s not sure these days where to meet men, how to signal her interest, who pays, who kisses, what to reveal about herself or not. And she often doesn’t have many single girlfriends with whom to talk this over. That woman sometimes feels invisible, but she’s on my mind all the time. I feel she often gets silly, unrealistic advice, which can make the awkwardness of dating harder.  I wrote Getting Naked Again to make that woman smarter and more successful in love. 

Q. Who is your target audience? A. She’s had her kids; they may be out of the house by now or on their way. She’s dating now to suit herself, rather than to find a suitable partner with whom to start a family. She’s more confident these days, less concerned with what others think. At the same time, she’s really uncertain about what she does or does not want from a man these days — marriage? Dates? Money? Time? She’s an interesting mix of self-assurance and insecurity about her appeal to men. She is finding her way and I wanted to write a book that would help her find it.

Q. How does being newly single affect female friendships? Should you expect to lose some girlfriends as a result of your divorce/breakup/loss? A.Throughout life, every change of relationship status affects female friendships. Just as marriage sometimes distances us from our still-single girlfriends, becoming single can create a distance with our still-married friends. Some of that distance is the sudden absence of common interests; some is the sudden sense of sexual threat that you may pose. Getting Naked Again includes a chapter describing how to navigate the intricacies of these changes.

Q. Your number-one piece of advice for reentering the dating scene is “Solidify your female friendships.” Why is that so important? A. When a woman is single after years of a marriage, or finally living alone because the kids have left home, she is out of some harbor and on the open seas. That open sea is scary, exhilarating, fun and hurtful. Girlfriends are our enduring emotional harbor and we need them even more when we are open to all the romantic elements. They are our emotional safety net. 

Q. Any advice on how to do that (solidify female friendships)? A. Female friendships are strengthened as all relationships are: by liberal amounts of time, attention and shared experience. And, especially when you become single, you need to be sensitive to the sudden marital anxieties you stir in your friends.

Q. What is your favorite thing to do with girlfriends? A. My favorite thing to do with my girlfriends is the same as everyone’s: TALK.

Judith Sills, PhD, is a regular contributor and relationship expert on The Today Show, and was a columnist for Family Circle for many years. She is the author of many bestselling relationship books, including Excess Baggage: Getting Out of Your Own Way, A Fine Romance, and The Comfort Trap.  She has a Philadelphia-based private practice. You can learn more by visiting her website at

Great news, girlfriends! is giving away FIVE copies of Getting Naked Again: Dating, Romance, Sex, and Love When You’ve Been Divorced, Widowed, Dumped, or Distracted, courtesy of Hachette Book Group. There are three ways to enter:

  1. Leave a comment telling us why you need this book. 
  2. Subscribe to our weekly emails and leave a comment telling us you did so (new subscribers only).
  3. Tweet or blog about this contest and leave a comment telling us you did so.

Do one or all three. Good luck! Contest will remain open until 11:59 P.M. CST Monday, February 2. Then, five winners will be chosen at random from the infamous pink hat. Winners will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Only residents of the U.S. or Canada are eligible to win. No P.O. boxes, please.


  1. OH Do I need this book!

    I’m not only divorced twice but haven’t dated in over 10 years….

    Dating to me seems like a very scary world but now that my daughter – and only child – has gone away to college I do feel like it’s time….but I have no idea how to do it.

    I need help and support – encouragement or I may never do it….!! I’m tired of being alone.

    Comment by Beth B. — January 30, 2009 @ 2:15 pm

  2. I wrote this book for you. I hope you’ll let me know if it helps give you courage. You won’t need a huge amount – just a forward step in the right direction can pay off in some very happy times.

    Comment by Judith Sills — January 30, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  3. I tweeted here and here because it’s too good a title not to at least explain…and the subject is worth more than 140 characters of “heads up”.

    This seems like a great approach for the any of us weary of having to cheerfully tell our “story” one more time. (A friend and I joke that a first date is like interviewing a therapist. Did she laugh at the right jokes? Did he look bored when you were telling the most important part?)

    Comment by Julie Bestry — January 30, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  4. Thanks, ladies, and good luck! Keep those entries coming because there are 5 copies to win!

    Comment by Dawn — January 31, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  5. Thank you, Dr. Sills, for visiting our site. I hope it’s gratifying to hear from your target audience. Obviously there is a need for your book!

    Comment by Dawn — January 31, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

  6. I need this book because I am 5+ years into widowhood and I have a 5-year-old who wants a new daddy. Not to mention that I haven’t been “intimate” physically or emotionally with a man since my husband’s death (nor have I even had a meal with an available man). I’m also very self-conscious about my appearance, and keep telling myself I have to lose weight first.

    I remember dating back in my 20’s and I don’t want to be that insecure, “I like whatever you like” kind of woman who gets completely lost in a relationship. I’d love to strengthen female friendships, but I probably need a push to make that happen. It’s too easy to pretend I don’t really have wants or needs, you know?

    And I do really firmly believe I need to have a good relationship with myself before putting myself “out there” to get muddle up in someone else’s idea of a relationship.

    Comment by Melissa D — January 31, 2009 @ 6:05 pm

  7. I need to get naked again! ;)

    Comment by Valerie M — February 1, 2009 @ 12:54 am

  8. tweet

    Comment by Valerie M — February 1, 2009 @ 12:55 am

  9. I would love a copy of this book…it sounds like just what I need….a good book to inspire me to figure out what to do next. I have been divorced for 4 years and still feel like I am healing…my three children are my number one priority. I am terrified of dating, marriage, blending new families, and all the other aspects of my new life that I have never dealt with before!

    Comment by Jacqueline — February 2, 2009 @ 12:34 am

  10. I would love a copy of this book because I need a sense of direction in life. Thank you.

    Comment by choklate — February 3, 2009 @ 11:20 am

  11. this would be perfect for me since I have no idea where to start out again since my divorce….

    Comment by Pamela — February 4, 2009 @ 9:30 am

  12. A copy of this book would be a great gift for me to give to my boss. She has just started dating again after a messy divorce. The divorce was years ago and she is just gaining her confidence back. She is such a beautiful lady and this book would be just the kick she needs to face dating head on!! Thanks!

    Comment by Diantha — February 5, 2009 @ 10:14 am

  13. I tweeted

    Comment by pamela — February 17, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

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