If there is a spark after the first message which leads to lively correspondence and mutual interest, it’s time to consider a physical meeting. If you feel the time is right, it probably is. So, don’t wait and don’t be afraid: Ask!

The chances of being rejected are slim if there is a good online report between two people. Suggest meeting for a drink after work, or for coffee on a Saturday morning. Even dinner at a restaurant goes for a first date. The important thing is to just do it. You have nothing to lose. Even if you do get rejected, there are plenty more fish in the online dating sea.

Traditional gender roles aren’t as strict when it comes to online dating. Women should be just as comfortable suggesting a first date than men. Maybe you are dealing with a shy man who is just waiting for some encouragement from you.

Once the question has been popped and you’ve agreed to meet, the next step is to decide on a location. Anywhere goes as long as you both agree and are comfortable with it. Some people like to “play it safe” by meeting in a public place during the day, others prefer something more intimate like a romantic candle lit dinner at a restaurant. Invitations to parties or special events are also not uncommon. Being comfortable with the environment is key to the success of the first date.

Of course, there are less suitable places for a first date. Our experience has taught us that loud clubs, movie theatres and your own home aren’t great places to first meet.

It’s obvious why clubs and movie theatres aren’t the ideal places to get to know someone better. It’s loud and there are other things to focus on. What will you learn about each other if you stare at a movie screen or dance floor all evening?

Meeting at someone’s home is a no-no from a safety perspective, even if the other person promises his friends or housemates will be there. How will you know until you arrive? What if he or she is not at all like on their online dating profile? For the very same reason you shouldn’t invite anyone to your own home for the first date. You may have flirted online, but you remain strangers until you’ve had time to get to know each other in a neutral environment.