Relationships

Mastering Group Dating

Looking to hook yourself -- and your friends -- up with a group of girls? Make it a sure thing with the Internet’s latest social hybrid: the group date.



Grandpa always said, If you shoot into a barrel of fish, you’re more likely to hit one. And now, Pap, we understand the metaphor: group dating.

Group dating works with the same rationale, and efficiency is the name of the game. The mechanics are a lot like dating in high school before you had your driver’s license -- when Mom dropped you and your friends off a block away from the local roller rink, where you would swagger (or so you hoped) over to a group of equally anxious and awkward girls.

Add the Internet, then fast forward a few years, and here’s how it works now: You round up a group of male friends and join a group dating site. Meanwhile, a woman rounds up her own pals and joins the same site. Both groups meet. The result: “A bunch of people having a good time without the pressure of one-on-one dating or the worry of being stuck on a date so dull you wish an asteroid would hit,” says Janet Nooners of New York, who’s coordinated bimonthly group dating parties since January.

It's a lot like a typical Friday night, only instead of hoping you'll meet some new people, you actually do.

Pros

  • You’ll have a gaggle of wingmen instead of one sacrificial one.
  • You'll see how she interacts with your friends. Can she deal with your bud’s gross sense of humor? Can she engage in conversation with the group nerd about the latest Discovery channel series?
  • You can save yourself a dinner tab and three hours of yammering about someone named Manolo or Jimmy Choo. And you don’t have to try to look like you know or care what a slingback is. Instead, you can quick-sample the options and save your time for the girl who’s actually worth it.
  • You can perform due diligence without actually having to perform. “Thanks to your best friend’s ingenious banter, you can find out that she loves Rottweilers, has her scuba license and is dying to go to Burning Man,” says Nooners.

Cons

  • Increased competition. Scenario: Three eager men, one sexy woman and her two crabby friends. Someone's going to hit it off, and it might not be you.
  • Peer pressure. Your best friend can be a wee bit critical. Sometimes it's better to get to know a lady without your buds pointing out that she has “man hands.”
  • Not-so-secret secrets. You’d rather keep some things to yourself when you first meet a new gal, such as that time in South Beach when you belted out four Madonna songs at the Chili’s karaoke night -- a tale your friends may share immediately. “No matter how subdued and polite you seem right now, she’s listening to that story as a warning,” says Florida’s Charlene Anthony, who met her current guy on a group date.
  • Uncontrollable buddies. One of your friends alienates a group of delectable babes, who would otherwise be totally into you. Repairing the damage may be impossible.
  • Wingman duties. During your “shift,” you may have to strike a delicate balance of distracting mousy, snort-laughing friend of hot girl while politely deflecting her exponentially aggressive advances.

Tips

  • Communicate beforehand. Huddle with your friends and decide what’s good gab fodder and what’s off-limits. For instance: “References to ex-girlfriends or jokes about herpes,” says Gregg Barkley, who group dates in Los Angeles. Or “anything that involves quoting of movies between you and your buds -- girls don’t get that.”
  • Coordinate outfits. “If everyone dons jeans and Affliction T-shirts, you’ll look like a boy band,” warns Anthony. “Or worse, if you’re all wearing khakis and polos, the one of you with jeans and a black tee will look like a free-thinking lead singer” (while the rest of you come off as his nerdy entourage).
  • Come up with an escape route. Decide beforehand on a hard deadline to hit the road. Consider dropping a hint in the beginning of the evening that you absolutely must meet the other half of your crew by midnight. If the night goes well, you can pretend to cancel.
  • Stay positive. Even if you don’t end up meeting Ms. Right this time, you can feel happy for your bud who always leaves empty-handed -- but scored that night. And since it was a “group date,” you’ll double your number of Facebook friends each time.

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Dr. Belisa Vranich is a clinical psychologist, author and public speaker. Former sex and health editor for Men’s Fitness magazine, she currently co-hosts “Therapy Thursdays” on CRN1 radio.

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