By Natasha Burton
Whether or not you’re looking for a lasting relationship or a fun fling, meeting someone for the first time can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Here are some ways that you can make your impromptu encounter with a new potential friend or lover more meaningful—and lot more fun—than a typical first date.
1) Avoid the chain coffee shop.
While Starbucks is great for your morning latte, it’s not exactly the best place to take a first date–unless you want to show him or her that you don’t know of any better places in your neighborhood. Instead, suggest meeting up at the family-run java joint in between your offices or homes. In doing so, you’ll be supporting a local business, which is always a plus in this economy, and you’ll also be more likely to find a table—most chain coffee shops these days tend to be packed with great-American-novelist-hopefuls furiously pounding their laptop keys. So not romantic.
2) Choose a wine bar, not a sports bar. Sure, it might be stereotypical to say this, but no man should even attempt to get to know a woman in a bar filled with TVs. Instead, make your meet-up happen at a more low-key place, like a wine bar or a gastropub. One of the benefits to going to one of these venues is that, if you’re worried about exhausting the typical chit-chat of where you went to school and what you do for work—and that you’ll be left struggling to keep the small talk going—you can do a tasting flight (or two!), which will naturally help you steer the conversation to topics other than yourselves.
4) Turn to technology for assistance. If you can’t think of a good meeting spot that’s close to both of your apartments or offices, you might want to enlist a some local online tools to help you think of an interesting place to connect. Use sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon to discover new bars and coffee shops open near you, and read the user ratings to find out which places people loved—or hated—most. If all else fails, use your date’s profile page for clues of places he or she might like to go.
5) Have fun, no matter what. No matter where you choose to meet up, get excited for your face-to-face connection. Maybe Starbucks really was the only place that was convenient for both of you. And while it might not be the ideal venue of a first date, if you can manage to keep the conversation going over the whir of espresso machines—and maybe even have a little fun while you’re at it—you just may have found yourself a good match.