Think dating in groups is only for teenagers at the local mall? Well, dating in a group setting is actually on the rise for adults as men and women opt for new ways to connect. After all, hasn’t everyone had enough awkward dinners seated across from a stranger asking, “So, what’s your favorite color? And how many brothers and sisters do you have?”
Most people don’t love dating for the obvious reasons: There’s so much uncertainty and everyone’s busy trying to read everyone else’s mind. Yet dating in a group setting can offer a great sense of relief to all daters – particularly those who dislike dating.
In a word, guess what the key to successful dating is. Got it? It’s being – wait for it – r-e-l-a-x-e-d. People shine and show the best parts of themselves when they’re at ease and relaxed. Within that context, one’s guards are down and his or her sense of humor can flow like a peaceful river. The goal, of course, is to figure out how to get relaxed so that you can have the most successful dating experience!
Dating in groups is one of the best ways to relax when dating. First, there’s lots of distraction, which helps to take the pressure of any strange stare-offs between two people who just met but feel the pressure to get along as if they’ve known each other for years. Dating in groups also reduces the pressure to find The One. By getting together in a group, everyone walks into the situation thinking, “Even if I don’t like so-and-so, at least I can hang out with my friends or maybe even meet some new ones.” The pressure is off – and that, like Martha Stewart loves to say, is a good thing.
Where to Go When Group Dating: Typically, I tell people that first dates are best shared in a public place with plenty of stimulation around them: festive restaurants or outdoor shopping malls, or activity-based dates, such as bowling or miniature golf. When the date is exclusive to only two people, having others around at a bit of a distance can help to reduce the pressure and anxiety of getting to know someone new. But when you date in a group setting, don’t make plans that are too complicated or involve technical detail.
Criteria for Types of Group Activities:
- Eating and drinking with a group is a sure-fire way to kick off a fun date. Pick a place that is conducive to adult groups, meaning that you’ve checked it out beforehand and know it will fit the group’s needs.
- Avoid restaurants that typically have a wait or long line; are too loud for sustained conversation; and won’t pressure you to wrap up the meal to turn the turn the table over for the next guests.
- Order a couple of pitchers of festive drinks – and they don’t have to be alcoholic. Sharing pitchers with a new group is a surprisingly great way to get everyone communicating: passing the pitchers, sharing, and communicating from the outset.
- Choose a place that has a wide range of food – both meat and vegetarian – as well as a full bar, in case anyone in the group wants to have something alcoholic. No matter what your views on alcohol are, the truth is that a glass of wine or beer can go a long way in relaxing one’s nerves – and getting the conversation flowing.
The Invitation List: Doing a group date with a friend or acquaintance is a good idea. Among everyone you know and would consider doing a group date with, choose the ones who are natural conversation starters to accompany you. You know that friend who always seems to be in a good mood, and always seems to get along with everyone? Take him or her.
The Do-Not-Invite List: You know that best friend you always want to run everything by? Yeah, don’t bring her! Seriously, men and women who walk into a group date scenario often want to drag their best friend with them so the friend can do a subtle (or not so subtle?) evaluation and check out the new prospect. The problem with this approach is that your date is going to know why your best friend is there – for a ‘Crazy Check,’ let’s be honest – and it’s going to put your actual date on edge if he or she is being scrutinized.
The next time you make arrangements to meet someone new, recruit another couple or two and try a group date on for size. You might surprise yourself by how much you like it, and you might find that group dating relaxes you infinitely more than the traditional, one-on-one model.
Have you ever gone on a group date – what did you think of it?
Dr. Seth Meyers has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.