Your moment has finally come. It’s time for your prince or princess to see you, be swept away by your good looks, charm, and wit, and fall deeply and madly in love with you. But how should your fairytale ending begin? What story do you want your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to pass down for generations to come?

One of the biggest decisions you will face once you decided to meet is where you should meet. What place should you sit in or which activity should you engage in that will best help you determine if this is someone worth getting to know? There’s no one right answer to this, but there are a lot more options than you might realize. 

Go for coffee. I know. Cliche. Ovedone. Stereotypical. Boring. But here’s the thing; it’s still one of the best options out there. Why? Each person attending has the ability to control the length of time of the meeting. Not the one for you? Drink quickly and get out. Really enjoying yourself? Savour your drink, get a snack, maybe order a few more. Not sure if they like you or not? Pay attention to how quickly they are consuming their beverage. A coffee date has the ability to last 20 minutes or 3 hours, which makes it a lovely flexible choice for a first meeting.

Go for a walk. This one is my personal favorite. For one, it’s outside. Fresh air is energizing, natural light brings out the beauty in everyone, and you aren’t looking at the same boring backdrop wall the entire time. On top of that you get to experience how you move together, find out if you will help one another over difficult parts in the path, and will get an idea of what each of you notices about the world around you. It will also tell you if you are able to keep up with each other physically, and if you do it right it might even give you the opportunity to touch. A walk can be as long or short as you want, and as public or as private as you want. Personally I prefer well used forest paths in the middle of the day, but if your thing is meeting strangers from the internet in a deserted park after midnight all power to you. Maybe bring some mace or something though, just in case.

Meet for drinks. The “adult” version of the coffee date, this can happen at a restaurant or a pub. I don’t recommend a bar or strip joint, there’s just too much noise and too many distractions. Meeting for drinks can go really well, or really badly, depending on the individuals involved. Do you drink the same thing, or at least compatible things? If one person is into high end wine and the other drinks Bud Light things might not go so well. If they need 5 or 6 drinks to relax and you don’t drink at all that can be pretty awkward. Meeting for drinks will tell you a lot about a person, but it can also be a little riskier than meeting for coffee. Not just because of the things you will learn about each other’s drinking habits and comportment once you have had a few, but also because for some people meeting in the evening and consuming alcohol comes with expectations about what will happen once you leave the establishment.

Play a game or do an activity. Mini golf or billiards are my top choices, but if your city offers different options by all means use one of them. Board or card games work too, if you can find a public establishment that provides or allows them. Bowling isn’t great as it is difficult to maintain a conversation when you are taking turns going up to throw the ball. Games are a great way to learn about someone; how they think, how they react to winning or losing, and how well they can maintain a conversation while engaged in an activity. One on one sports work if you are both fairly fit and don’t mind getting sweaty in front of one another. Rock climbing offers all kinds of opportunity for touch, particularly if one person is teaching another. Having something to do when you meet can make things a lot easier, whether you decide you like the person or not.

Check out an event. If there is a trade show in town, a fair, a game, or a weekly trivia night at a local pub, go check it out. Even if you don’t want to spend any money crowd watching together can be a lot of fun. Bonding through experiences and learning what someone else sees in a moment you share is a great way to see if you want to share anything else. If you can’t find an event then you probably aren’t trying very hard but don’t worry, there’s a backup plan for that too. Go shopping. Even a couple laps around your local Costco can tell you a lot about the person you are with, and at the very least you might get a few free samples out of it.

Get a meal together. Another classic, but not one that I am a fan of. The principle is the same as going for coffee or getting a drink, but there is an added level of expectation with a meal; that you will stay until the end. One of the worst first dates I’ve ever been on involved a brunch that just would not end. I love brunch, but we were such a mismatch that all I wanted was out. Unfortunately, he ordered two courses and held the bill hostage until the date stretched out to almost 2 hours. Which is forever when you aren’t interested. Then there is that awkward moment of who pays to deal with. Personally I recommend leaving meals until you are sure you want a second or third date with the person, but again, it’s up to you.

See a movie. Probably the most ‘done’ date in human history, it is also a horrible way to get to know someone. On paper sitting close together in a dark room sounds great; in reality, you may as well go alone. You can’t talk during a movie, so how are you supposed to get to know one another? Sure, you will be able to find out if they can sit still in a chair for a few hours, and might get some insight into how they smell or how well their digestive tract does or does not work, but that really isn’t enough information to determine if you want to see someone again. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Save movies for after you already know you want to hold hands, cuddle, and see what you can get away with doing to one another in a public place.

Netflix & chill. If all you are looking for is random stranger sex or the exciting possibility of becoming someone’s backup skin suit then by all means, Netflix and chill away. Otherwise just don’t. Anyone offering to host is looking for some serious action, and anyone accepting an offer, even an offer with pre-defined restrictions put on it, is still going to be expecting something. Plus, do you really want a complete stranger knowing where you live? There’s a definite air of desperation that comes with an offer to ‘chill’, or with the acceptance of an offer to ‘chill’. If that’s your thing then good for you, not judgement here, but if you are looking for more you are not going to find it down this road.